“Vile Book”

“I am not sure what is wrong with the other people who read this book who seem to think it is exceptionally good writing. At the end of the day the story is of a grown man who destroys a child’s innocence, leads a former lesbian wife to suicide and adopts two additional children to molest later in life. It is sickening. For all the grand words used to describe the book, it is nothing but a new twist on pedophelia [sic]. By explaining it through the eyes of man consumed by it, the author tries to perhaps makes him more human and makes the subject more palatable. Rubbish. I threw the book in the trash in the Orlando airport and poured my drink on top of it. That was the only time I had any delight related to this book! It does not even deserve one star”

(Amazon book review by Judith Poch Armata)


 

It may seem perverse of me to have chosen a novel as the second of my ‘three essential paedo-reads’. A novel – a work of the imagination – can prove nothing, furnish no evidence or data, facts, arguments or experiences.

Fiction, however, mediates between ‘knowledge’ and ‘experience’ much as a landscape photograph mediates between a map and the experience of actually being physically present in the landscape the map and photograph represent.

Moreover, to extend the simile, a good landscape photograph will furnish the viewer with an experience not available even to someone stood at the very spot from which the photo was taken. The insight and artistry of the photographer and the peculiar genius of the medium add much that surpasses the unmediated experience.

And it may seem doubly perverse not to have chosen ‘Lolita’: that masterpiece of hebephilia, acclaimed by Kind and un-Kind alike as the great love novel of the twentieth century.

Maybe the reason ‘Lolita’ is considered a classic whilst ‘Dream Children’ is treated as ‘bin-fodder’ is because the public is not ready for a hero who is an active paedophile whose relationship with his loved-child is the most pure, beautiful, unsullied and noble thing in the book. Nor is the public ready for a paedophile who is left unpunished by the author, or a loved-child who is unharmed by, and grateful for, her paedophile’s love.

As a ‘paedo-read’ A.N. Wilson’s ‘Dream Children’ succeeds where ‘Lolita’ fails.

A(ndrew) N(orman) Wilson published “Dream Children” in 1998. Its publisher’s blurb reads as follows:

“Oliver Gold, the brilliant, ascetic writer and philosopher, has lived quietly and happily for eight years on the outskirts of London as a 41NwEQ0zqiL._SX332_BO1,204,203,200_lodger in 12 Wagner Rise. His sudden decision to marry and move to America precipitates a crisis in this household of women, all of whom owe fierce, idiosyncratic allegiance to Oliver and want to save him and their world from an unsuitable, inexplicable match. Yet in the end it is only Bobs, the twelve-year-old [sic*] who is Oliver’s constant companion, who knows his dangerous secret: it is from her that Oliver attempts to flee. In a series of dramatic tableaux, unfolding over the course of many years, A. N. Wilson threads the dark labyrinths of Wagner Rise and illuminates the tragic consequences of these attachments. With this provocative novel about forbidden love, Wilson has produced a stunning, haunting literary work-a Lolita for our times.”

(* Bobs is actually ten years old when the main events of this novel take place)

The ‘dangerous secret’ mentioned in the blurb is that Oliver Gold and Bobs are lovers. They are the central, and most interesting, characters in the novel. The twists and turns of the novel really serve to establish and test this relationship.

Oliver Gold’s sexual history starts when, at the age of nine, he’s seduced by a step-mother. At the age of 14 he engages in sexual relations with an older boy at boarding school. At university he has a bad experience when he tries to prove himself as ‘normal’ with a fellow female undergraduate.

Gold goes on to have a successful career as a professor and public intellectual. However he becomes possessed by what he describes as ‘erotomania’: an obsession with little girls that means he can no longer focus on the creation of his philosophical masterwork. Gold, after reading Hegel, becomes increasingly blocked and disillusioned with his own intellectual capacities.

A kind, avuncular old colleague suggests that he takes a couple of years off and Gold decides to move to London to write a commentary on Dante, and ends up in a spare room (next to Bobs’s room) at n°12 Wagner Rise.

Bobs, the granddaughter of Janet, the doyenne of the house, has just had her third birthday. Her biological father has long vanished from her life.

Bobs and Gold become very close:

“..even though Bobs had lost a father, she had gained someone so much more interesting and sympathetic. Oliver was an uncle, a brother, a godfather, and a friend to Bobs. He had also taken over from Lotte many of the functions of a nurse or governess, collecting the child from school, preparing high tea, taking her to Brownies.”

In what must be one of the most moving vomiting scenes in all of literature Bobs is violently and repeatedly sick one night. Gold, who is ‘more than usually fastidious about the bodily functions’ hugs Bobs, ‘messy and stinking’ with vomit though she is, comforts her, strips ‘off her sodden pyjamas’, cleans her up in the bath and puts her to sleep in his bed. Once he’s finished cleaning her room, her bed and her toys, he snuggles ‘beside the sleeping form in his own bed’, and realises just how intensely he loves Bobs and ‘that he would be prepared to do anything for her, putting his own life in jeopardy for hers, should that be necessary.’

But as Bobs reaches double figures Gold starts to worry about her growing up. The only way out that Gold can see if for him to get married and emigrate:

“Bobs herself was changing. Soon she would grow away from him; and this was another reason for wishing to escape, to make a sweet wrench, rather than a gradual frigorification. From the day he first met her, as a very young child, there had been something bittersweet in their love […]”

The announcement of his engagement comes out of the blue. Bobs is heart-broken by this, though she refuses to show it, and the household of admiring women he lives with is thrown into turmoil.

And here start the events which the novel chronicles…

The Good vs the bad

There are actually two child-adult sexual relationships in this novel: the good one between Bobs and Gold and a genuinely abusive one. Through this opposition Wilson explores the nature and ethics of intimate relationships between adults and children.

Gold and Bobs’s relationship is based on mutual love and respect and is consensual and playful. Wilson gives no physical details, but when the Bobs, as an adult, recalls a moment of intimacy she remembers something involving ‘bananas and cream’. She also acknowledges that the case of sexual abuse:

“… and her own were different; that though certain things had passed between her and Oliver which a lawyer would have deemed unsavoury, she had never lost her virginity, and therefore never lost her power.”

There is a hint that their intimacy (presumably during the six months of heightened intimacy preceding the novel’s main events) may have involved orgasms, at least on Gold’s part:

“[Gold] was still visited, on a few days each month, by an undirected and overpowering lust. If Bobs could satisfy this, so much the better…”

The novel’s abusive relationship is coercive, the abuser starting to rape the girl when she is six years old.

Bobs and Gold keep their relationship secret throughout the novel. For its seven year duration both partners wished it to continue, and after it ends Bobs doesn’t feel bitter or regretful about it. However the abusive relationship makes national news after the daughter puts her abuser on trial (thus exemplifying the mechanism by which the world at large generally only gets to know of abusive relationships).

Whilst the victim of the abusive relationship is left damaged by her experiences, the emotional legacy of her relationship with Gold is more complex for Bobs.

The books last chapter takes place seventeen years after Bobs (now ‘Roberta’) and Gold had anything to do with one another. Roberta, now 27 years old, has made contact with Gold and is preparing to meet him.

She has grown into something that Gold (a Ruskinian socialist) probably would not have approved of: Armani-suited and something in Finance.

“Her childhood self had gone, like her childhood skin. She was a different person […]”

Roberta, preparing herself “for meeting the only man she had ever loved” reflects knows that she will never again fall in love:

“Love […] She had only felt if for a human being in this one instance, and she knew that on that level of intensity it was an unrepeatable experience.

This hints that the real danger of a paedophile’s love is that life can never again live up to the ecstasy and exhilaration it brings to the child’s life. To quote the same passage from Margaux Fragoso’s ‘Tiger, Tiger’ in two consecutive posts:

“…time with a pedophile can be like a drug high. There was this girl who said it’s as if the pedophile lives in a fantastic kind of reality, and that fantasticness infects everything. Kind of like they’re children themselves, only full of the knowledge that children don’t have. Their imaginations are stronger than kids’ and they can build realities that small kids would never be able to dream up. They can make the child’s world… ecstatic somehow…”

Gold’s culpability

Gold’s moral failing isn’t his love for Bobs, which is profound, requited and beneficial. Nor that he allowed their love to eventually become physical. His culpability lies in that he abandoned Bobs and, in doing so, betrayed her.

Gold’s troubles, and those his entourage at n°12 Wagner Rise, start when he confronts the sorrowful prospect which many of us face – one’s loved-child is growing up, becoming less and less the child you loved, and growing away from you.

This is something many paedophiles have to confront: whilst the paedophile may still love the growing child, their preoccupations become those proper to adolescence: they increasingly turn to their peers for companionship and romance, and become increasingly preoccupied with ‘fitting in’.

This makes the novel particularly poignant for me since I feel that I once acted as did Gold – leaving a girl too soon because I felt she was growing away from me and I couldn’t face the slow drifting apart. Decades of reflection and regret have convinced me that this was an act of cowardice on my part. My loved-child’s reaction to my going showed that she was not ready for me to disappear out of her life.

Wilson also reserves a sting for the very last line of the book. He conjures the possibility that, whilst Bobs (now Roberta) has given up on love, Oliver Gold has moved on and, in his late 60s, found himself another ‘dream child’. This makes Roberta’s inability to fall in love again one-sided and more poignant: maybe Bobs, after all, wasn’t the love of Gold’s life.

A.N Wilson

It’s inevitable that on reading a book like ‘Dream Children’, a book that, against the grain of society, gets paedophilia so right, one should speculate as to why the author would wish to write such a book, and whence came his insights into this most misunderstood and misrepresented of loves.

At the age of seven Wilson was sent as a boarder to Hillstone Preparatory School in the Malvern hills. In 2011 Wilson wrote an article entitled “The paedophile headmaster, his sadistic wife and the schooldays that scarred me forever” about the abuse he experienced and witnessed there. At this boarding school Wilson and his fellow pupils experienced the worst form of paedophilia (though ‘paedosadism’ would be a more appropriate word: precious little ‘philia’ was displayed towards these poor little boys).

“Mr Barbour-Simpson was a paedophile, who was extremely skilful at hiding his proclivities from other grown-ups.

[…] But I am optimistic, not just in personal terms.

For not only can my life never, ever be as bad as it was during those six years of imprisonment in a madhouse, I also believe that however awful life might be for some unfortunate children in Britain today, there are surely no schools like that any more.

The public consciousness of the dangers and evil of child abuse is one of the best things that has happened in my lifetime.”

Note that while he describes the headmaster as a ‘paedophile’ it is ‘child abuse’ that he condemns. Wilson also wrote in the Financial Times:

“We are, rightly, much more vigilant than our parents were about paedophiles and much more aware of the lifelong damage they do to their victims.”

Here he seems to be condemning all paedophilia regardless, not just ‘sexual abuse’.

Could it be that the enlightened attitude in ‘Dream Children’ is just a device, a virtuoso act of impersonation in which he convincingly inhabits a position he has no sympathy for in real life?

And is it of significance that Gold moves to n°12 to write a commentary to Dante’s ‘Divine Comedy’ (which metamorphoses into a chronicle of his love for Bobs) and Wilson in 2011 published ‘Dante in Love’?

There is another factor that may have influenced Wilson’s Manichaean conception of paedophilia.

a digression on boarding schools

In England there has been generations of small upper-class boys who were systematically sent to private boarding schools. It seems that till recently the masters had a pretty free rein to exercise control, sexual or otherwise, over their charges. This may have occasionally taken a benign form. But surely the power imbalance between the boys and the masters, and a culture of secrecy, complicity and impunity would be conducive to the exploitative and coercive abuse Wilson experienced.

The other side of the coin is that these small boys, having been torn from their homes at a young age, and often desperately lonely and afraid, would be in great need of affection, attention, love and reassurance. They would turn to their peers for this, to older boys and, yes, maybe even to friendly masters. The conditions were such that these boys, sleeping in dormitories, had many opportunities for intimacy.

A theory that particularly interests me is that a key factor in the emergence of paedophilic feelings is an awareness, based on experience, that children are sexual beings (see ‘Sexy Kids: could this be the real cause of Paedophilia?’). The boarding school environment seems tailor-made to this end. And may explain why it seems that enlightened and nuanced views on paedophilia have frequently come from an older generation of men who’ve emerged from boarding schools.

One example of this is the late Brian Sewell. In episode n°7 of the Radio 4 programme ‘Saturday Night Fry’, which deals with ‘Moral Panics’, he excoriates hysterical attitudes towards child sexuality and paedophilia. Sewell is quite radical, drawing the line only at intimacy with ‘babes in arms’ (interestingly enough all the episodes of Saturday Night Fry are available on YouTube – except episode n°7!)

(you can download an mpg of this episode from this dropbox) 

Other ex-boarders who have expressed subversive views round these issues include (off the top of my head) Simon Grey, Michael Davidson, George Melly and Stephen Fry himself – this article from the Guardian is interesting on this subject too.

conclusion

Those who hate paedophilia and child sexuality will be shocked by this book. Readers like Judith Poch Armata (who seems to have read the book to the end: presumably in the hope that Gold suffer some kind of retribution, and/or that Bobs’s life be reassuringly destroyed by the relationship) clearly feel that the book is all sympathy and no condemnation. More sanguine members of the un-Kind population will think that this ‘shock’ is the book’s very point. Paedophiles are likely to see the novel as a vindication of consensual paedophilia.

Who is right? Has Wilson, by presenting it at its best, sought to write a more effective condemnation of paedophilia than the most harrowing misery memoirs? And if this was Wilson’s intention has he been too subtle, pulling the trigger only once the quarry is out of range?

With ‘Lolita’ one never really loses sight that Humbert (x2) is a selfish monster motivated by lust: with ‘Dream Children’ the opposite is the case: Oliver Gold is presented as such a paragon of love and devotion that any sense that this might be ironic is absent up until possibly, and only ‘possibly’, the novel’s last line.

It’s a book that in several places moves me to tears. It is the best depiction of paedophilic love I have read in fiction. And it so eerily and uncannily echos a period of my own life that it could almost be from my autobiography.

28 thoughts on “Three Essential Paedo-Reads: “Dream Children” by A. N. Wilson

  1. TNSO, why are you so hung up on these stupid categories? All they do is drive a wedge between minor-attracted people. I believe them to be just another device employed by mental health professionals to further isolate our community.

    Dr Alfred Kinsey: “The world is not to be divided into sheep and goats. Not all things are black nor all things white. It is a fundamental of taxonomy that nature rarely deals with discrete categories. Only the human mind invents categories and tries to force facts into separated pigeon-holes. The living world is a continuum in each and every one of its aspects. The sooner we learn this concerning human sexual behavior, the sooner we shall reach a sound understanding of the realities of sex.”

    You say: “I am hebephile, at the level of Leonard and all others.” For your information I am not, according to the criteria, hebephile I am paedophile, being primarily attracted to pre-pubescent boys and girls with cut-off at age 13 (see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pedophilia). The fact that these categories are not mutually exclusive numerically, but overlap, emphasises their nonsensicality in my view.

    Not that I give a damn really … all I care about is that I am minor-attracted and proud to be so. I have worn the single child-lover butterfly logo, yes, the one banned by the FBI, on my clothing for all to see for five years now. Unfortunately, no-one has challenged me; if they did, I would relish the opportunity to proffer my point of view.

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    1. >”I have worn the single child-lover butterfly logo, yes, the one banned by the FBI, on my clothing for all to see for five years now. Unfortunately, no-one has challenged me; if they did, I would relish the opportunity to proffer my point of view.”

      Where can these be bought?

      I don’t know if I’d have quite the courage to wear one but I’d like to at least face the prospect, the option, of doing so.

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      1. Hi LSM

        I designed it using Powerpoint. I took the PPT file to a dingy t-shirt shop run by Asians behind a factory in Bristol. They took the design and got a punkha wala to hand weave the logo onto two T-shirts and two Polo-shirts for me. Simple as that!

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    2. Feinmann0, if you want to know why I do, please look here, without prejudice, here I tell to all my sincere feelings, word at word:

      https://agapeta.wordpress.com/2015/11/16/components-of-love/#comment-367

      PS: I made a pedophile flag, only with pink and blue color, and also wanted to make a flag with the Clogo, but I did not dare do it if the police or anyone noticed of that.

      And when I told about the “same level” is that I use a translator, sometimes I do not do well the syntax (writing this cost me a hell), I meant that I defend hebephilia as all of you defend pedophilia, at the same level of being dedicated to it, not that you or Leonard are hebephiles.

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    1. ‘I’ll be fifteen in a few months.’

      ‘And you will still be too young.’

      So I guess this story is not set in the European countries of Albania, Austria, Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Liechtenstein, Macedonia, Montenegro, Portugal, San Marino, or Serbia [14+], or come to that, even in Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Greece, Iceland, Monaco, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Sweden [ 15+].

      The patchwork quilt of different legal consent ages testifies to the curious logic underpinning this very specific law around the globe. No lawmaker appears to give a fig about the very real harm high numbers cause. As an aside, one need not look too far and wide to see why underage teen pregnancy and abortion rates historically and currently, are sky-high in both the US and the UK. The reluctance on the part of families and schools to educate kids from an early age on human sexuality in these totally failing countries, creates the deplorable statistics we see.

      Good on you BJM for daring to raise the topic; the more author’s communicate the real-life problems created by odiously high age of consent laws the better in my humble opinion.

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      1. Thanks for the compliment.

        I tried both to show the abusrdity of age of consent laws (by having her want him, of course) and to create a situation in which I hoped the reader would be sympathetc toward/with him.

        In my reading, it has become very obvious that the great difference between other cultures and our own is just the matter of “education”, or, more accurately, that other cultures leave children to discover, or actively engage in practical teaching of sexual matters.

        And yes, it was written with a British/American/Australian audience in mind.

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        1. But it is just not a very big difference, is it? The difference could not be more extreme, even if you wrote a horror novel about it, when you compare the US with the countries I have referenced earlier. I am thinking here of the child abuse meted out by professional people in the US, the so-called bastions of all that is right and good, but in reality the Gestapo, by any other name. Specifically: legal agencies, mental health professionals, prisons, re-adjustment centres, civil commitment centres who consign and condemn children as young as nine to a futile and miserable life as registered sex offenders (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LqZ3b10KjBc). No words can adequately express what I truly feel for the hideously deformed orks that comprise the sexual abuse industry stateside – the UK is equally guilty; but then, it is the 52nd, or is it 53rd US state on this and many other issues.

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          1. Sorry to say this, but the UK is the 53rd… Australia got in there first, beginning with the US Military colonisation during the “war in the pacific”. They just never left, and now we follow them everywhere.

            And yes, it is an extreme difference, too extreme for easy comprehension (by me, at least).

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    2. I have no idea what you’re saying there, but as you put the word “hebephilia” I am forced (by a strange force) to write this:

      As you can see I am hebephile, at the level of Leonard and all others in this blog on pedophilia, so here I’ll explain my opinion:

      The consent laws are an aberration against nature. Sex, pregnancy, marriage and everything else in this regard, it should be legal at puberty without any fixed age, if at 9, 10,11,12 etc no matter, the nature made us different, and pretend that all evolve at the same age is a crime against nature. Both heterosexual and homosexual, boys and girls, women and men, no matter, we were created to have romantic and sexual relationships at puberty and prohibit this in any way, is an aberration and (soon) punishable crime.

      Also, pubescent are not children but young, this is the first thing you have to understand, I do not like “children”, but they are not teenagers, adolescence is an invention of psychology and psychiatry to infantilize youth, and eradicate relationships with pubescent, also to enslave the young with that unnatural concept of “minor”, in short, an aberration that shows the wickedness of that cult called psychology.

      Hebephilia is, of course, 9/10 to 14 years, varying according to the pubescent boy or girl own growth.

      PS: Sorry for this, Leonard, but it is hear the word hebephilia, and I can not control myself.

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    3. Hi BJM,

      I’ve read through the story a couple of times and really enjoyed it – there is some lovely writing (the paragraph ending ‘Why would I talk when I barely knew what was going on?’ I found very effective and the observation of how friends and spouses explore issues differently was quite revelatory.

      Another great bit of observation is:

      “That’s the problem when people really listen to you, really listen: they hear all the things you haven’t said, the things you don’t want to think.”

      and

      “We seemed to understand each other so thoroughly, but it may just be that we didn’t really care, and didn’t have to live with each other’s oddities.”

      It’s also great that nothing really happens – so much meaning in our lives is found concentrated in moments where almost nothing occurs, but behind that ‘almost nothing’ is a kind of tap root that bores down through one’s existence and dreams.

      There are one or two things that I’d not so much put a red line through as a question mark next to – a couple of places where you repeat a word too soon (‘barely’ in the first paragraph and ‘run’ further on), and I’d look at the ‘hidden away’ in “hidden away like catfish in the deeper holes.” I feel ‘hiding like catfish in the deeper holes’ might be better – the passive sense of ‘hidden’ conjures an image of someone going along the river with a basket full of catfish looking for deep holes to hide them in.

      I found the story very effective and absorbing and happily recommend it to all the readers of this blog.

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      1. Thanks Leonard, I’m glad you enjoyed it, More importantly, I’m pleased that some of the observations found a place in your thought.

        I always think about repetitions very carefully, and in this story, as in most of my work where they ocurr, they were used as a means of emphasis, though I would be hard put to remember just why I wanted the emphasis where it is.

        I did think of making the young woman younger (referencing feinmanno’s comment here), but I was trying to get it published in magazines, and thought that 14 might make it more acceptable to editors. I was wrong. It went to over a dozen magazines and was rejected (or simply ignored, by some) by them all.

        As for the catfish in their holes, I am quite happy with a bit of ambiguity there. Perhaps, after all, they have been hidden away by someone else.

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  2. Reading this blog has given me three book titles to search out. Thanks very much.

    Your review of Dream Children paints it in such a good light that it will be hard for the novel to actually live up to expectations, though I’m optimistic. Lolita had a similar problem for me, and while I found the writing exquisite, I couldn’t finish the book because of how much I despised Humbert Humbert. I don’t that will be an issue with Dream Children.

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    1. I hope and trust you will enjoy ‘Dream Children’. It’s a much lighter read than Lolita and, yes, Gold to me actually comes across as a sympathetic and likeable man.

      Let us know what you think of the book after you’ve read it mr/mrs/miss Anonymous!

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  3. I really enjoyed your review, Lensman, and I will share some comments on it while making it clear from the onset that I haven’t yet gotten to read Dream Children. Hence, my commentary will be based on your stated observations, without any “additional” observations about the book beyond them, which I’m not currently qualified to make.

    First, the idea of “abusive pedophilia” at these infamous boarding schools. I have no doubt that in too many instances this actually went on (even if exaggerated to a degree by the media), largely because of the negative opportunities presented by what you aptly described as a hermetically sealed, highly authoritarian environment where the child residents are at the mercy of the adult staff. But I think it’s largely unfair and probably inaccurate for pundits refer to the seemingly plentiful examples of abusive adult monsters (along with more than enough abusive older boys) who apparently thrived in these settings as “pedophiles,” whether of some “abusive variety” or otherwise.

    As I and others in the Kind community have stated numerous times before, the very definition terms “GLer” and “BLer” describe far more than simply an adult (or much older youth, as the case may be) who has a raw physical attraction to children and/or younger adolescents. Genuine pedophilia and hebephilia, as the suffix “philia” was clearly intended to suggest, includes the full gamut of feelings for underagers in our preferred AoA and gender(s), along with a conscience, full capability of empathy, a natural emotional rapport with these underagers, and most often sexual desires that are on the level of our preferred AoA rather than fully teleiophilac desires that we want to impose upon underagers. That is the connection between the “lover” in “Girl Lover” (or “Boy Lover”) and the “philia” in “pedophilia” and “hebephilia” as distinct attraction bases or preferences. Contrary to the arguments of some, “GLer” and “BLer” are not essentially meaningless terms that can be used virtually any way the user wants to use them, and they do not refer to a state of physical lust sans all the other components of romantic feelings and the aesthetic appreciations that come with it.

    Yes, it is possible for a genuine MAP to “go off the deep end,” to be an unscrupulous person, or even to be corrupted by a position of such unadulterated power over others. But whilst acknowledging the fact that we are as flawed as any other humans, how many of these boarding school abusers were likely genuine MAPs/Kind folk? It sounds to me like these were largely (if not mostly) examples of the same types of individuals who rape or sexually abuse subordinate individuals in any type of heavily insular environment where strict hierarchies of power occur: in prisons, mental hospitals, cult communes, etc. Are all men who rape other men, or women who rape other women, in these places genuine examples of LGBT people, but simply of an “abusive variety?” Or are many of them not even truly homosexual at all, but sadistic opportunists who are “getting off” on imposing dominance and humiliation on others for their personal egoistic gratification?

    It would seem to me that many of these boarding schools would be locations where such vile opportunists would thrive, and even be psychologically “bred,” at alarming rates. Power over others is a known corrupting influence on humans, but our WEIRD culture only considers power and authority to be a “bad thing” under selective circumstances. Our entire system is based upon hierarchies of various sorts, including on an international scope with powerful nations like the U.S. and Britain “calling the shots” and often bullying economically and militarily weaker nations into complicity with their own values and interests. Our culture glorifies power over others and the concept of authority at least as much as we decry it for the corrupting influence that it is on the human psyche, both individually and collectively. Oftentimes our culture defends it as a “necessary evil,” because it forms the basis of our class-divided economy and thus plays a potent role in almost all of our most cherished institutions. I should ask how often such abusive situations went on at the democratic boarding schools that followed the Sudbury model in comparison to their far more typical totalitarian and “sealed” counterparts?

    Of course, since our Western and Northern cultures (i.e., WEIRD cultures) are highly gerontocentric, authority of adults over youths is considered a “given.” It has numerous rationalizations designed to bolster this state of affairs (e.g., the notion that “wisdom” and experience/good judgment automatically increase with advancing age in all cases; that younger people have “faulty” brains; that their natural idealism is a “bad” thing). The many daily instances of adults in positions of power on all levels who routinely disprove these rationalizations are ignored and portrayed as individual failings. That would only hold true if such failings weren’t so constant and blatant in the adult-controlled world.

    Since adult authority over younger people has to be at worst, tolerated; and at best, glorified, these many examples of sexual abuse occurring in the environment of these totalitarian boarding schools are blamed not on the nature of the environment and the effect having such unadulterated power can have on people in such positions, but on “pedophilia.” Comparing such abuse to legitimate examples of “pedophilia” is akin to making commentary on the dynamics of homosexuality by focusing upon same gender rape in prison populations. Some of these abusers may have genuine homosexual inclinations, but what do actions like this have to do with homosexuality per se when the typical LGBT person, especially outside of such settings, does not behave anything like that, and are fully emotionally equipped with a conscience and the capacity for empathy? This is equivalent to the common political phenomenon of the U.S. government and media reacting to increasing incidences of spree killings not by conducting a highly introspective analysis of U.S. culture’s glorification of war and the use of armed force as the “solution” to so many international problems, or for hegemonic imperialism in general; but by placing a simplistic emphasis on the over-availability of guns to U.S. citizens as the sole or main problem at hand. These are classic diversionary tactics from the real issues, and I think MAPs and all intellectuals need to keep these things in mind when assessing these incidents.

    As for your putting yourself down for leaving a girl in your life before she was ready to leave, and accusing yourself of “cowardice” for doing so. It’s very good that you are so introspective of your own actions, my friend. All people should be, and perhaps Kind people in particular should be. But I think you’re being just a bit hard on yourself. Sooner or later, you would have had no choice but to move on from her. The circumstances set up by society demand it, and the current laws and gerontocentric nature of WEIRD society puts MAPs into numerous Catch-22 type situations. If we act upon a reciprocated attraction, we risk dooming ourselves to prison and a ruined life, our hypothetical young lover to forced therapy and many forms of iatrogenic & sociogenic harm, and having cherished friends who loved and trusted us feeling betrayed by our actions. However, because we have no choice to reject such relationships from becoming so intimate, and often must walk away entirely at some point for the “greater good” to be served, we obviously risk making the girl we love feel rejected, abandoned, and maybe even betrayed. Doing exactly the right thing in such circumstances, or the right thing at the right time (regarding your own debacle), is extremely difficult to determine. You weren’t a coward, Lensman, you were a confused and conflicted individual who was caught between the proverbial rock of your feelings and natural fear of being hurt and abandoned yourself; and the proverbial hard place of wanting to do the right thing whilst dealing with the effect that love has on one’s psyche. More things could have gone wrong had you stayed than due to your choosing to leave the situation when you did; there is no way to know this, and so you most take solace in the realization that things could have gone considerably worse. And give due consideration to the fact that despite your mistakes, you’re not a bad person, and you were in a very difficult situation.

    I’m sure you’re well aware of how many typical teleiophiles in our society would actually applaud your actions in this case, even though I’m sure they make you feel no better than when teleiophile peers have applauded me for deceiving women in my age group while “trying” to date them because they were all that was available to me under the given circumstances. I’m sure there are peers that do not feel good when we reject them because we are not attracted to them in that way, and if they know the actual reason, it may hurt them even more. But sometimes, my friend, the best you can do in certain complicated circumstances is not a straightforward and definitive right choice, but simply the lesser of two evils. I don’t think any group of people are routinely put into such circumstances, and forced into more corners, than Kind people in today’s society. So don’t beat yourself up over it, even though by doing so, you make it clear that you are a very compassionate human being who is more than capable of feeling remorse for any missteps you may have made with people you love.

    I also ask you and other readers who have not given up due to eye strain at this point (my apologies for that, but I’m on a roll here) to consider that the main “condemnation” that Wilson appears to have made during the final words of the story is also the product of a synthetically created situation by society. Our culture has a powerful notion that in order for romantic love to be true, and in order for someone to be the “love of one’s life,” it must result in a relationship that lasts until one of the partners reach the end of their life. How realistic is this expectation not just for MAPs, whose ideal paramours change faster than any other group of people, but for the many teleiophiles who simply lack a natural inclination towards monoamory? Or the fact that human feelings and emotions, no matter what group you belong to, are highly unpredictable, mutable, and involuntary? If this wasn’t true, why is the divorce rate amongst (mostly) teleiophiles so high in the U.S. alone? And this despite how much our Judeo-Christian tradition condemns divorce, and makes us vow “’til death do us part…” at the altar. At least Wiccans are more realistic about this, and instead use the vow, “for as long as love shall last.”

    A promise of “forever and ever” cannot be made under the best of circumstances, and in fact I’ve read many cogent arguments through the years that eternal monoamory may not be the best or most ideal option when it comes to youths in relationships with each other, or between partners within intergenerational relationships. No single situation will hold true for all these examples of couplings, of course, but I think the general point remains. Therefore, I believe that the main problem here may not be the changing nature of feelings between partners of disparate ages, but society’s insistence that only one type of relationship paradigm is acceptable in order for it to be “true” and legitimate. The pressure and emotional effect this has on partners who are not naturally suited to this paradigm but strive to adhere to it nevertheless can scarcely be imagined, and I think the evidence speaks for itself.

    In accordance with this, could it be that Bobs nee Roberta, at 27, could “never love again” because the expectations of society strongly conflicted with the first and most exciting romantic love she ever had? Because she was expected to only have one “great” or “true” love in her life? I would argue that is the case with many first loves, even if your first love at such a young age is with a peer. A first love experienced at such a “tender” age with a much older person is certainly different and may carry its own sets of “highs,” but is it truly that much more exceptional on an emotional level than a first love at that age experienced with a peer? That is something to think about, no doubt, but does it make any more logical sense than the oft-heard belief from the abuse narrative that a romantic relationship between a young adolescent girl and a much older man is likely to be so much more emotionally “intense” and unique for the girl than a similar relationship with a peer that she is somehow considerably more likely to be devastated and attempt suicide after it ends, simply because of the age disparity? Sharon Thompson’s study in Chapter 7 of her ground-breaking book Going All The Way showed no evidence of this, and as noted, it reeks more of a set of cultural biases and assumptions than anything logically substantive.

    So should we, as Kind people, be asking important questions about the nature of our love, and how it may effect those we would love the most? Of course we should! That is very important, but not just for us; it should be the case for all people who are contemplating such a strong emotional liaison with another person. But society needs to be asking itself all of the hard questions I mentioned too, and for the most part, it’s not doing so. Instead, it puts it all on us to contemplate the right and wrong of every conceivable situation we may encounter, which is a burden that no one person, or any one particular group of people, should have to bear. Perhaps this should be called the Atlas Effect (a socio-psychological term with a cool mythological reference that I’m now officially christening! Woo hoo!). We may think it’s noble to put such a burden on ourselves, but I think many of us run the risk of coming to conclusions that reek of overcompensation when we do this. That can result in sentiment taking the place of reason and common sense, and I don’t think conclusions based on raw emotion alone ever end in good decisions, regardless of intention.

    Finally, to spare everyone’s eyes, I’ll end this diatribe by opining that I agree with Tom that many of the incidents which ensued as you described in the book, particularly in the second half, sound as if they were created to provide the important story component of drama. Though the introspection and thoughts encouraged by the narrative are indeed legitimate, I doubt even the majority of MAPs in this day and age would experience all of the “exciting” and dramatic extremes that Gold and Bobs did, just like the vast majority of young adults never actually experience the events routinely experienced by the cast of TV shows like Melrose Place. Drama is necessary to make a story entertaining, and this should be considered when evaluating the nature and likelihood of the events that occur within the pages of a fictional tale.

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    1. Wow, Dissident – you are the Marcel Proust of paedophilia, the Robert Musil of hebephilia and the Samuel Richardson of ephebophilia!

      >”But I think it’s largely unfair and probably inaccurate for pundits refer to the seemingly plentiful examples of abusive adult monsters (along with more than enough abusive older boys) who apparently thrived in these settings as “pedophiles,” whether of some “abusive variety” or otherwise.”

      Strictly speaking you are right – after all ‘paedophile’ means ‘lover of children’. But we’ve also got to be wary of committing the ‘no true scotsman’ fallacy. Do we define paedophilia so narrowly that it automatically excludes all instances we rightly disapprove of? Or do we settle for a broad definition of a paedophile as someone who finds ‘children sexually attractive’?

      Personally I prefer the broad definition of ‘paedophile’ – which can include nasty manifestations of that desire. To have a definition which exludes the nastier manifestations means that we reject those nasty manifestations as a possiblity for ‘people like us’. It puts off the moral guard. It ‘monsters’ the abusive paedophiles in such a way that could make for ethical complacency.

      Hand on heart, who can honestly say with 100% assurance that, if placed in a position of absolute power over an isolated school of attractive children, in a system that almost guaranteed impunity, that, after a few years, and maybe in the grips of some kind of mental crisis, they wouldn’t be tempted to let one’s ethical standards slip, just that little bit, just this once, not even with that elfin 9 year old with her ready smile and lingering looks etc etc?

      That’s why I think we should distance ourselves from ‘abusers’ but not so much that we no longer worry about our own capacities for letting our ethical standards slip. Good people have committed murders, I don’t doubt that essentially good people have lapsed into manipulative or abusive relationships with children.

      >”whilst acknowledging the fact that we are as flawed as any other humans, how many of these boarding school abusers were likely genuine MAPs/Kind folk?”

      I suspect that the opportunity can both reveal, and also corrupt, the desire.

      Probably many people have a paedophile aspect repressed within them which they only discover when exposed to a large number of ‘available’ children. I never looked at a little boy with desire until I found myself in charge of a cabin-full of them, 9-10 years olds, all eager for my approval and my affection. In a sense the more charming of those little boys opened my eyes to a desire that, till then, I had been unaware of.

      I don’t doubt that the extreme set-up of the old fashioned boarding schools could surprise a repressed paedophile with a sudden desire which he’s not had the chance to come to terms with or work out an ethical code of conduct for. In such circumstances, and presumably because the only way such a person would know of expressing his desire would be built on teleiophilic models, abuse would be very likely.

      To exlude such ‘accidental paedophiles’ would be to define paedophiles as people who are ‘attracted to children and who have also worked out an ethical framework for their desire’ – which would be too narrow.

      >”I should ask how often such abusive situations went on at the democratic boarding schools that followed the Sudbury model in comparison to their far more typical totalitarian and “sealed” counterparts?”

      Yes, it would be a very interesting to know this.

      >”As for your putting yourself down for leaving a girl in your life before she was ready to leave, and accusing yourself of “cowardice” for doing so. “

      Thanks for your consoling words, Dissident. I think the acid test for regrets is ‘if you could go back and do things differently, would you?’ – I think in this case I would. Our relationship wasn’t physically intimate so I think a lot of the fears and problems faced by Oliver Gold in ‘Dream Children’ don’t apply in quite the same way.

      >”I don’t think any group of people are routinely put into such circumstances, and forced into more corners, than Kind people in today’s society. So don’t beat yourself up over it”

      Yes, regrets can hurt, but I think ultimately, when I think back on that relationship I’m glad of the years we had together. Yes, I ended it too soon. I think one just learns to accept that Life can be a bit of a mess and that the option that you will not come to regret is not always clear at the moment when you make the choice. I only beat myself up about it when I feel lonely – the rest of the time I see it as part of the bitter-sweet dance to the music of time.

      >” How realistic is this expectation not just for MAPs, whose ideal paramours change faster than any other group of people, but for the many teleiophiles who simply lack a natural inclination towards monoamory? Or the fact that human feelings and emotions, no matter what group you belong to, are highly unpredictable, mutable, and involuntary?”

      This is a good point. I wonder how likely it is that a real little girl in Bobs’s position would remain, in a sense, in love with their childhood lover?

      My experience is that it is much more likely that, on entering puberty, Bobs would have started to see Gold as a bit of an irrelevance, as something from her past, like an once-loved teddy that she would never show her friends, but about which she will have, at ever increasing intervals of time, vaguely nostalgic thoughts about.

      But this is fiction – and Wilson gives with one hand and takes away with the other – if Bobs is spoiled for teleiophilic love it’s because a paedophiles love surpasses that of normal teleiophiles. In a sense it is up to the teleiophiles to ‘up their game’ not for paedophiles to be less ‘wonderful’ for their loved-children.

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      1. Thank you for giving me your thoughts on my comments, as always, Lensman. They did make me think. Here are my responses to some of your responses that gave me particularly strong food for thought:

        Strictly speaking you are right – after all ‘paedophile’ means ‘lover of children’. But we’ve also got to be wary of committing the ‘no true scotsman’ fallacy. Do we define paedophilia so narrowly that it automatically excludes all instances we rightly disapprove of?

        Of course not, because since many Kind folks have disparate ideologies, including whether or not their conception of children and young adolescents mirrors that of our contemporary gerontocentric society, there would always be MAPs and youths alike who engaged in actions or harbored preferences that some other MAPs and youths alike would not approve of. But I fully believe the line needs to be drawn at two things only: mutual consent and if demonstrable harm of some sort can be proven to be either extant or very likely to occur.

        Or do we settle for a broad definition of a paedophile as someone who finds ‘children sexually attractive’?

        Personally I prefer the broad definition of ‘paedophile’ – which can include nasty manifestations of that desire.

        I think we should definitely differentiate between those who simply have a raw physical (i.e., sexual) attraction to children and/or adolescents, and those who harbor the full romantic gamut, i.e., have a strong emotional, social, and aesthetic component along with the sexual attractions. If you have only the sexual attractions, then I believe you are a child or teen fetishist, and the terms BLer and GLer would not apply to you.

        When I have seen the many instances of these two categories interacting on MAP forums, the differences become quite glaring, and oftentimes the two categories of individuals end up not getting along. This is simply because those of us with the full attraction base enjoy all aspects of girls, and their entire world; we like talking about their influences on us as individuals, their contributions to popular culture, their depictions in art and literature throughout human history, discussions on ethics in hypothetical relationships of all sorts with them (important, this!), what rights they should have as citizens of the nation in which they live, the moments we enjoyed watching them just be themselves in public situations, etc.

        In marked contrast, those individuals who lack the romantic aspects of the attraction have often clashed with those of us with the full gamut because they have little to no interest in discussing anything other than how sexy they are and their fantasies along those lines. A forum that discusses all aspects of girl (or boy) love often ends up frustrating them, and their very narrow interests often end up greatly offending the GLer’s (or BLer’s) who have a much more profound appreciation for kids on all levels. Without passing any moral judgment on the above for the purpose of objectivity in this discussion, it remains understandable why this differentiation is very significant to acknowledge, why the two categories do not get along with each other much of the time during interactions, and why it’s blatantly unfair to conflate the two on the assumption that the sexual component makes all the differences or commonalities that one need be concerned with.

        For this reason, many on the forums have distinguished between pedophile and pedosexual. “Philia” does not refer to a raw sexual attraction alone. The difference is so glaring because what we may refer to as pedosexuals or child (or teen) fetishists lack much of the qualities that enable BLer’s and GLer’s from appreciating kids as full human beings on many levels, and not just as objects of sexual gratification. That, IMO, is not about ethics so much as simple scientific accuracy, which can lead to false assumptions in each direction if both categories of individuals are simply lumped together on the basis of raw physical attraction alone. In fact, I think this has already happened too often in regards to the many biased studies that have been made in the past.

        Now, let’s go directly into your ethical concerns, which I share with you, for a bit of perspective.

        Personally I prefer the broad definition of ‘paedophile’ – which can include nasty manifestations of that desire. To have a definition which exludes the nastier manifestations means that we reject those nasty manifestations as a possiblity for ‘people like us’. It puts off the moral guard. It ‘monsters’ the abusive paedophiles in such a way that could make for ethical complacency.

        Hand on heart, who can honestly say with 100% assurance that, if placed in a position of absolute power over an isolated school of attractive children, in a system that almost guaranteed impunity, that, after a few years, and maybe in the grips of some kind of mental crisis, they wouldn’t be tempted to let one’s ethical standards slip, just that little bit, just this once, not even with that elfin 9 year old with her ready smile and lingering looks etc etc?

        That’s why I think we should distance ourselves from ‘abusers’ but not so much that we no longer worry about our own capacities for letting our ethical standards slip. Good people have committed murders, I don’t doubt that essentially good people have lapsed into manipulative or abusive relationships with children.

        Note, please, the following acknowledgements I made: “Yes, it is possible for a genuine MAP to “go off the deep end,” to be an unscrupulous person, or even to be corrupted by a position of such unadulterated power over others. But whilst acknowledging the fact that we are as flawed as any other humans, how many of these boarding school abusers were likely genuine MAPs/Kind folk?”

        My point, I should add, is not that MAPs cannot become bad people, or cannot become corrupted by power. We are completely human, with all such inherent flaws, and I’ve said this numerous times before. The problem, however, is in conflating a pedophiliac (or hebephiliac) attraction base with abusive behavior as a matter of course.

        Is it possible to study the dynamics of homosexuality without making an in-depth examination of people who rape individuals of the same gender, or engage in forms of sexual harassment of members of the same gender, in situations where some people have great power over others, whether this is in a prison system or a professional workplace? Yes, because it’s important to distinguish relationships per se, with situations in which abuse can and most often does occur. Just like homosexual attraction in and of itself does not lend itself to abuse, neither does pedophilia or hebephilia.

        The problem is that the general public and the media insist upon NOT putting any blame on the circumstances that most often result in adults sexually abusing kids, because adults having power over kids in a general sense is an accepted staple of our society. So, as a result, it blames not gerontocentric power, but simply “pedophilia.” The sole concern is on the sexual activity, and except in its most extreme forms abuse of any other sort is usually overlooked. In fact, because Joan Crawford’s severe abuse of her kids, particularly her daughter Christina (which always stopped short of inflicting serious physical injuries) lacked a sexual component to it, each of her adult friends, lovers, colleagues, and household staff who were aware of it “looked the other way.”

        The same likely would have been the case today. If the abuse ever took on sexual connotations, however, then the problem would have been blamed not on the extreme degree of power Crawford wielded, but on what would have been described as her “pedophilia.” In such a case, her natural inclination towards power tripping behavior would have been conflated with pedophiliac desire, suggesting that the latter led to the former on its own.

        I am very concerned with ethics, which is why I routinely discuss them here and on the many MAP forums, and why I am firmly pro-choice: to end the types of gerontocentric power imbalances that encourage abuse, just as you know I oppose any type of hierarchy that can result in one race, gender, ethnic group, etc., becoming corrupt with power and discriminating against another group by denying them their full personhood. Hierarchy in general very often leads to all forms of abuse and exploitation, including but far from limited to that of a sexual nature.

        In other words, while I in no way assume that MAPs cannot become as corrupt as a person from any other group if placed in a position of power, I believe that when they do become abusive, it’s despite the fact they are a MAP, not because of it. But the general public presumes otherwise, and in fact has to do so, because our culture accepts many aspects of hierarchy and hegemony. But typical MAPs do not seek power over kids, nor have any special inclination towards power trips, which I think needs to be given due consideration along with all the other ethical considerations that you bring up.

        With all of the above being the case, I do think that in regular relationships, and even in many where the adult is in a position of authority, a MAP who has a natural appreciation for the full personhood of a younger person would be considerably less likely than someone without without these facets to become maliciously abusive. This is why even the FBI admits that the great majority of adults who sexually abuse kids are not naturally of the Kind type. That is, unless you want to define the term “pedophile” so broadly that it can encompass almost anyone you want it to, as Paul Okami warned in one of his studies.

        Also note that no one who is pro-choice opposes laws against genuine rape, sexual harassment, or forced sexual servitude. We simply challenge laws prohibiting consensual relationships, and insist that two age disparate partners have the right to challenge any outside party who accuses the relationship of being “manipulative” or “exploitative.” We do always have to be ethically aware and introspective, while avoiding the temptation to overcompensate; that way lies the route to agreeing with laws that punish without evidence while using “erring on the side of caution” as a rationalization for doing so. Doing such things has led us to the situation we find ourselves in today.

        Thank you again for all the food for thought you gave me, it was quite a banquet!

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        1. Oh yes, and one more possible type of MAP? What about those who are asexual, yet still feel romantic feelings toward children? Much like how there are asexuals of any other sexuality? Just thought I would mention it, as it is generally not something talked about. And on the other hand: having the term pedophile being described by so many as a sexual desire for/attraction to, children, instead of just saying: a sexual and/or romantic attraction toward children. Granted, the romantic aspects are usually mentioned, but not always before others decide they’ve seen all they want to see about the subject. I think it also equally beneficial to mention to others about nonsexual feelings involving children, in the sense of spending time in one another’s company, and growing together as individuals and friends. Not that sexual aspects should not be mentioned, as it’s a part of the whole. But some people are determined to think sex and sexual thoughts are all and everything. People assume MAPs don’t care about children, about whether or not they are happy, safe, have friends… Couldn’t be further from the truth. GRRRRR. Yay for knowing children are not less, that they are in fact equals, learning, as are we all. I know of adults who are far less “mature” than most children I’ve known. Ah, and I’ve checked out Dream Children. Interesting read, though it doesn’t surprise me that he ended up with another girl by the end. I wonder how this girl was treated as a person in her own right. Most of the things I would say about the book have already been said though. Haha. I was simply surprised any author would write a book like this, in which Bobs seemed to have genuine feelings toward

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  4. “A theory that particularly interests me is that a key factor in the emergence of paedophilic feelings is an awareness, based on experience, that children are sexual beings. The boarding school environment seems tailor-made to this end. They would turn to their peers for this, to older boys and, yes, maybe even to friendly masters. The conditions were such that these boys, sleeping in dormitories, had many opportunities for intimacy.”

    Yes, I confess to being a victim of the child abuse meted out to me during my time at boarding school, contemporaneous pretty much with that of the author of Dream Children. By abuse I mean: the total absence of love including the unrequited love for other boys, the harsh discipline imposed by adults on pupils being replicated in turn by older boys on younger boys via physical or mental cruelty, the separation from family for huge periods of time, the hermetically-sealed community completely devoid of any femininity. It could hardly have been a more nightmarish environment for this rather sensitive paedo-boy to have been placed in.

    No, the stigma and ridicule of anything remotely ‘gay’, in other words homophobia during the 1960s, proved to be a highly effective deterrent to any intimacy at my school at that time.

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  5. You say: “‘Lolita’: that masterpiece of hebephilia, acclaimed by Kind and un-Kind alike as the great love novel of the twentieth century”.
    Quite to the contrary, it is not a “love story”, it is a reactionary book by a pseudo GLer (or a hypocritical one), showing kinds as egotist and abusive monsters driven by uncontrollable desires (indeed, the book uses the word “monster”).
    Humber Humbert is a lazy good-for-nothing who imagines being in love because he is infatuated with his own libido. He does not love Dolly, he does not talk to her, he is not interested in her life or her thoughts, he just wants to fuck, and attempts all manipulations for this end but finally loses at the game. His lazyness extends to the plot, in that it must be another boy who deflowers Dolly, that would be too hard for him.
    This book is a testimony to the cultural decay of the parasitic bourgeoisie in the epoch of imperialism. I read that the infamous Nabokov Nabokov compared Humbert Humbert to Lewis Carroll, and some critics have likened the style of N.N. to that of L.C.: it is like comparing George Walker Bush with Abraham Lincoln on the ground that both belonged to the Republican Party.
    Extolling that book as a masterpiece of GL shows just the extreme poverty of the GL literature.

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    1. >”Extolling that book as a masterpiece of GL shows just the extreme poverty of the GL literature.”

      That’s hardly fair, Christian. Whilst I did describe it as a ‘masterpiece of hebephile literature’ I think that the qualities that make it a ‘masterpiece’ are not ones that make it a great representative of girl love. In the next paragraph I suggest that the fact that un-Kind can accept it as a masterpiece stems from his essentially cynical and unsympathetic depiction of paedophilia.

      I go on to say:

      “With ‘Lolita’ one never really loses sight that Humbert (x2) is a selfish monster motivated by lust: with ‘Dream Children’ the opposite is the case…”

      I do think Lolita is great literature. But that does not mean I agree with his depiction and treatment of girl love. I also think that ‘Doctor Jeckyll and Mr Hyde’ is a masterpiece but that does not mean that I approve of murder nor of violence towards prostitutes.

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    2. That’s exactly what I think. Thank you for existing, Christian, I just want to say that.

      To Leonard: And I do not think it’s a “masterpiece” which is the “masterpiece”? the first half is an erotic work, nothing more (I got sexually excited at times), not about “love”, and the other half is a mess without sense, there is nothing “masterpiece” from any point of view, even if Nabokov would have put hebephilia as an divinity-like attraction, it would be just another mediocre work.

      The novel also uses the word “rape”, by the way.

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  6. Dream Children, I agree, is a more essential read for Kinds than Lolita – essential because the reader cannot help but ponder (fruitfully) whether Gold is a hero, villain or something in between, a flawed individual, as we all are, doing his best with a difficult hand to play, not least because his thoughtfulness alone negates the possibility of moral certitude.

    The fact that it is essential does not mean it is satisfying, though.

    I found some elements very satisfying. As a portrait of Kindness it would be hard to better. The writer clearly knows his stuff to a suspicious degree. Nabokov always denied you have to be obsessed with nymphets to write well about them, insisting that an artist is an artist by virtue of imagination. But since his death this has begun to look less sustainable: it seems he was Kind.

    Less satisfying to me is Wilson’s introduction of bigger flaws than necessary in Gold’s character as it is revealed in his handling of what looks like becoming a tragic denouement. Lolita was ruined, I thought, by the melodramatic plot turn in which Humbert Humbert ends up as a murderer. Likewise Dream Children. Whether Gold actually murders anyone or not is less to the point than the fact that the thought is there, and the planning.

    I suppose what I would have preferred is something more frankly propagandist: I wish the public had been challenged by another version of Dream Children, one less gratuitously OTT in its later stages; one in which they might find themselves really struggling to identify their objection to a Kind guy with genuinely kindly feelings. Much as all of us as Kinds need to think deeply, challenge our “rationalisations”, and squarely face the toughest scenarios our love can throw up (I don’t mean the vomiting episode!), the average non-Kind reader has probably never faced such a challenge. Getting such challenging material published and read, of course, would be an even bigger challenge.

    PS It seems one now has to press the “Like” button before being allowed to post a Comment! As it happens, I liked this blog enormously, so there was no problem. But what if I’d disliked it? Objectors might have interesting comments, no?

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    1. Some interesting thoughts there, Tom.

      I put a lot, maybe ‘most’, of Gold’s apparent flaws down to the basic need for crisis, conflict and a hero under pressure to drive a plot-based narrative. Gold’s intention to murder Bobs does seem extreme – and really one senses that he could never really have done it (well, that’s if one doesn’t count death by reckless driving as ‘murder’).

      >”Much as all of us as Kinds need to think deeply, challenge our “rationalisations”, and squarely face the toughest scenarios our love can throw up (I don’t mean the vomiting episode!), the average non-Kind reader has probably never faced such a challenge. Getting such challenging material published and read, of course, would be an even bigger challenge.”

      Yes, such a novel would be wonderful – and I don’t doubt that some reputable writers capable of writing such a novel are Kind, but it would be a big risk for them to do so. I wonder if this is what Wilson did, but sufficiently muddied the water with the more melodramatic aspects of the plot for a ‘hue and cry’ to be averted? I do think ‘Dream Children’ does address many of the challenges and joys of being Kind.

      >”PS It seems one now has to press the “Like” button before being allowed to post a Comment! As it happens, I liked this blog enormously, so there was no problem. But what if I’d disliked it? Objectors might have interesting comments, no?”

      Hmmm, gremlins… what happened exactly? What did you see (or not see) when you went to write your comment?

      I find that there’s not that much control of comments in the WordPress Dashboard – I’ve recently set it so that people can comment anonymously without using an email address – maybe that’s causing problems. Would you try posting some text Tom and see if it’s still doing it (no, that’s not a sneaky way of getting extra ‘likes’ 😉 )

      Like

      1. This time I see two buttons, as I think should be the case: a Like button and a separate Reply one. Last time, I could see only a Like button. When I pressed it, the Reply option magically appeared!

        Like

        1. Thanks for that, Tom. I’m glad it’s working properly again. I guess things can go wrong. Occasionally I try visiting my blog from a different ISP just to see how it functions for visitors and to check that the comments work as I intend them to – I somehow manage to resist the temptation to systematically ‘like’ all my posts.

          (Gremlins do seem to occasionally arise – at the moment, and despite my best efforts, my spell-check facility seems to have set itself to Serbo-Croatian or Finnish or something…)

          Like

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