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     Volume 7 Issue 31 | August 1, 2008 |

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View from the Bottom

It's is Always the other Person's Folly

Shahnoor Wahid

"Chaste to her husband, frank to all beside
A teeming mistress, but a barren bride..."

--Alexander Pope

Promiscuity is a trait that is as old as time itself. Adventurous people try to elevate it to an art form even though others may have serious reservations about the idea. The former kinds say that it can be an art if done with grace, flamboyance and romanticism. They say it is no use trying to live like a saint because others will always have the best of both worlds. So, why not delve into it now? Strong logic that. They say that wantonness, immorality or promiscuity for that matter will be around until the horn of angel Israfel will rent the earth asunder.

Alexander Pushkin

In most cases men take the initiative to sow the seed of licentiousness if however the climate is found suitable for a good harvest. Some hold the view that women step out and become adventurous more out of desperation and anger to avenge truant husbands more than anything else.

Whatever the case, tales of promiscuity still remain the number one topic around tea tables, anywhere. Men and women love to talk for hours about a poetess if she is found more liberal than what society allows her to be or a retired general if he has eyes for beautiful women.

Nevertheless, there is the downside of this so-called adventure that needs to be kept in mind. It can land one in the oddest of all situations if caught red handed. But those who manage to get away claim to be the happiest of all people in this world. And these people are the ones who again write, "Frailty, thy name is woman." How scandalously sacrilegious!

No, I am not endorsing promiscuity nor am I denouncing it. I am simply making some observations that might open the eyes of some of our incorrigible friends. Well, before taking a leap into the unknown world of pleasure I would recommend reading the story of Alexander Pushkin. We know his beautiful wife loved to dance in the most lavish dance halls of Russia of the times of the mighty Zars. In one such dance party, she met a handsome young army officer from the French Embassy. They liked one another and danced to their hearts' content. But their relationship did not end after a dance or two. They began to meet one another and carried on an affair quite boldly before amused eyes. Angered at her infidelity, Pushkin, after a heated argument one day, challenged the young army officer to a dual. The fate was sealed for Pushkin who was not a good shot. In the dual he was badly wounded in the chest and died after suffering from gangrene.


Then we have the tales of many escapades of Don Juan and Cassanova to remind us of the olden (or is it golden?) days of chivalry and promiscuity, and those romantic serenades under the moonlit sky.

Here is what Wickipedia tells us about him. "Don Juan (Spanish) and Don Giovanni (Italian) is a legendary, fictional libertine whose story has been told many times by many writers. Don Juan is a rogue and a libertine who takes great pleasure in seducing women and (in most versions) enjoys fighting their champions. Later in a grave yard Don Juan encounters a statue of the dead and, impiously, invites him to dine with him; the statue gladly accepts. The father's ghost arrives for dinner at Don Juan's house and in turn invites Don Juan to dine with him in the grave yard. Don Juan accepts, and goes to the father's grave where the statue asks to shake Don Juan's hand. When he extends his arm, the statue grabs hold and drags him away, to Hell.

Depending upon the rendition of the legend, Don Juan's character is seen from one of two perspectives: a simple, lustful womaniser who seduces wherever he can, and as a man who loves every woman he seduces, with the gift to see her true beauty and intrinsic value. The early versions of the legend of Don Juan portray him in the former light.

Another, more recent version of the legend of Don Juan is José Zorrilla's (18171893) nineteenth century play Don Juan Tenorio (1844) wherein Don Juan is a villain. It begins with Don Juan meeting his old friend Don Luís, and the two men recounting their conquests and vile deeds of the year past. In terms of the number of murders and conquests (seductions), Don Juan out-scores his friend Don Luís. Outdone, Don Luís replies that his friend has never had a woman of pure soul; sowing in Don Juan a new, tantalising desire to sleep with a Woman of God. Also, Don Juan informs his friend that he plans to seduce his (Don Luís's) future wife. Don Juan seduces both his friend's wife and Doña Inés. Incensed, Doña Inés's father and Don Luís try avenging their lost prides, but Don Juan kills them both, despite his begging them not to attack, for, he claims, Doña Inés has shown him the true way. Don Juan becomes nervous when visited by the ghosts of Doña Inés and her father; the play concludes with a tug of war between Doña Inés and her father, for Don Juan, the daughter eventually winning and pulling him to Heaven.

And What About Cassanova? By now, he had become something of a dandytall and dark, his long hair powdered, scented, and elaborately curled. He quickly ingratiated himself with a patron (something he was to do all his life), 76-year-old Venetian senator Alvise Gasparo Malipiero, the owner of Palazzo Malipiero, close to Casanova's home in Venice.[16] Malipiero moved in the best circles and taught young Casanova a great deal about good food and wine, and how to behave in society. When Casanova was caught dallying with Malipero's intended object of seduction, actress Teresa Imer, however, the senator drove both of them from his house. Casanova's growing curiosity about women led to his first complete sexual experience, with two sisters Naneeta and Maria Savorgnan, then fourteen and sixteen, who were distant relatives of the Grimanis. Casanova proclaimed that his life avocation was firmly established by this encounter. Scandals tainted Casanova's short church career."

Coming back to the more modern times, the escapades of John Kennedy, Bill Clinton, Prince Charles, Diana, Shane Warne and Imran Khan will be talked for many more years. Many of the famous novelists and short story writers of the world also enjoyed secret rendesvous with lovers. Some got caught, some got away. Their secrets were dug out from their letters after their death.

It seems media benefits from all such juicy tales because they get to publish the stories and earn a profit. And we know how the paparazzi make a fortune selling the pictures of celebrities caught unawares! So, like it or not, promiscuity will be around, and as always, it is the folly of the other guy.

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