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To the Edge of Eros

To the Edge of Eros

(p.319) Chapter 19 To the Edge of Eros
Ann ChartersSamuel Charters
University Press of Mississippi

In the early 1960s John Clellon Holmes began to describe in his journals his sexual experiences in graphic detail. He wanted to become “whole again” by shedding the sexual inhibitions he believed were the cause of all human violence in the world. In an essay titled “Revolution Below the Belt,” which received Playboy’s Best Non-Fiction award in 1964, Holmes expressed his strong dissatisfaction with conventional attitudes toward sex and his desire for a “New Consciousness.” His journals reflected his desperate sense of loneliness and his obsessive physical desire, what he termed his “despair-become-lust.” Consistent with this obsession, Holmes found himself fantasizing a sexual experience, a ménage a trois, with both his wife Shirley and their neighbor, who previously had a brief affair with Alan Harrington. Yet he refused to acknowledge that his adventuring to the edge of eros had ruined his relationship with Shirley. Holmes also thought of writing a novel with an erotic theme, but was unable to finish the project.

Keywords:   eros, John Clellon Holmes, sexual experiences, sexual inhibitions, violence, New Consciousness, Alan Harrington, Shirley Holmes, sex, desire

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