Once Works Well was pure technology. Now it seeks merely to divert.
Pansy subjects - Verse! Opera! Domestic trivia! - are now commonplace.
The 300-word limit for posts is retained. The ego is enlarged

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Oh oh, it's second childhood time again

Sensual or sensuous? My dictionary distinguishes. The more common sensual carries “overtones of sexual desire and pleasure”, the more neutral sensuous covers an appeal “to the senses but without the feeling of self-indulgence and sexiness”. My personal mnemonic will now be a Guardian reader and a Daily Mail reader.

So let’s have examples. Sensual taste (boiled bacon with parsley sauce), smell (Wright’s Coal Tar Soap), sound (Kirsty Young saying anything), touch (my fake silk – but uncrushable – shirt from Exact Tailoring Services), sight (Port Underwood, NZ South Island, at dawn).

We’re missing one sense: movement, not seen but experienced. Alas it’s not available to all, regarded as too terrifying, too vulgar, too laddish. But motorbike riding is right up there. For those who have only driven cars there is a comparative metaphor which, I fear, hinges on birth control methods.

Steering a car is banal: turn the wheel left and you go left, fumble that stick thing and the gearbox responds – in its own good time. With a bike, steering is closer to thinking: in both meanings of the word (ie, leaning and tending to) you incline yourself towards passage through a corner. The foot flicks, the gears change. More speed? You’ve got it. You’re part of cold, real nature. There’s risk and perhaps foolishness; but have you never willingly made a fool of yourself? Definitely sensual.

PUZZLE On November 5 I mentioned a TV programme in which a beautiful woman analysed self-portraits by famous artists. The woman’s beauty proved integral to the programme and I explored this, clumsily, badly. The title of the post was obscure and there were five comments, one of them mine. Stats reveal this has since attracted 43 pageviews. What’s going on out there?