Semiotext(e) is to be praised for bringing to the English-speaking reader yet another work of incalculable significance. Published in France in 1973, Tony Duvert's 'Good Sex Illustrated' is as relevant today - if not more so - than ever. Utilising a contemporary five-volume 'Sex Education' encyclopaedia to demonstrate his points, Monsieur Duvert provides a brutal analysis of the established sexual order, together with its duplicitous role in enforcing the advanced, self-perpetuating, exploitative social order.
"Man is only exploitable if he produces something. The golden rule of a society of exploitation will therefore be: all expenditure must produce. Since sexual expenditure is unproductive, it must be severely restrained."
At the outset, Duvert exposes this economic underpinning of the contemporary sexual order, and subsequent chapters build upon this theory through detailed analysis of the manner and language adopted when providing sexual education to young people. He critiques the current (seemingly unchallenged) principle of providing 'age-appropriate' information, and considers the [dis]information provided for different age groups (7-9, 10-13, 14-16, 17-18, adult). In this way, he is able to portray how the medicalization of sexual information is deliberately targeted to achieve maximum social conditioning at each stage of life: inculcating the idea that The Family is of paramount importance; imposing the notion that the primary and ultimate goal of sexual activity is reproduction; limiting and diverting all other 'wasteful' sexual urges; deceitfully presenting sexual activity as something emotional and complex; instilling in young minds the notion of guilt and the desire to exploit others, and so on.
Although concerned with such monumental socio-political issues, 'Good Sex Illustrated' is brilliantly crafted, in lucid, simple - yet uncompromising - language, making it highly accessible to all readers, regardless of the state of their economic understanding. Though harsh and scathing, the work contains a phenomenal degree of wit, which lightens what would otherwise be a dark and depressing read. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. Enormous gratitude is due to (the criminally underrated) author Bruce Benderson, who diligently translated the book with extreme attentiveness to the nuances of Duvert's work, and provided an insightful introduction, assessing how the theory has stood up to the test of time.
NB. 'Good Sex Illustrated' is only the third of Duvert's books to be translated into English (the two others are the exceptional novels: 'Strange Landscape' and 'When Jonathan Died') - we can only fervently hope that his brilliant mind is made widely accessible through translations of his other works.