Cribb Pretext: This is a passage describing the present thoughts of Dr. Obispo who happens to be in the initial stages of secretly seducing the young girlfriend of his patient, Mr. Stoyte. The “ninety-nine” is being uttered by Mr. Stoyte at the request of Dr. Obispo to supposedly help improve his auscultation of Mr. Stoyte’s heart and lungs.
The assumed matter of tumescence and detumescence naturally occurring as a normal event or dynamic in the action of a nurturing and satiating love versus the possible unnatural, detracting and misleading addition of such forces/impurities to the principle of love is at the heart of this exchange. Dr. Obispo thrives on taking the emotionally thrilling tumescence/detumescence that almost all who haven’t given up completely on the existence of love, hold onto as the central component of their sustained belief, and irrefutably altering that sustaining belief by undeniably extracting that appealing emotional ebb and flow charge (of tumescence/detumescence) from any kind of “romantic” or “spiritual” notion. He wants to obliterate the spiritual notion of true love by displaying that the emotional ebb and flow originate only in the physical realm and even more so in situations associated with deception, corruption, manipulation, debasement and debauchery. He does this to feed his own insecure ego and to justify the absence of any spiritual force within his own being.
Interestingly, Dr. Obispo’s observations are in part correct. The tumescence/detumescence is all about its own sake and it does originate only in the physical state. The dynamic should not be confused as a spiritual force or component. The part not discussed in this passage, is that higher love escapes physical emotional charge (tumescence/detumescence) or at least acknowledges it for what it is and keeps it confined in its limited proper context. Sex can involve love or be removed from it. Not all sex is the same and as appealing and physically satiating as great physical sex can be, it is no match whatsoever for great physical sex coupled and catalyzed by the inclusion of upper transcendence. Sex of lower transcendence involves deception, degradation, and debasement…..the negative and draining flow of energy from one to another. It is spiritual only on the level of a basic animal. Sex of upper transcendence is uplifting, nurturing, and catalytic in union. It is a fission reactor for both members in spiritual energy, balance and love. Dr. Obispo does not believe in or acknowledge that “love” or any force of upper transcendence exists and he is comforted by turning as many people as he may away from any chance of believing or potentially experiencing such a force.
He believed in scientific truth. Facts were facts; accept them as such. It was a fact, for example, that young girls in the pay of rich old men could be seduced without much difficulty. It was also a fact that rich old men, however successful at business, were generally so frightened, ignorant and stupid that they could be bamboozled by any intelligent person who chose to try.
“Say ninety-nine again,” he said aloud.
Ninety-nine chances out of a hundred that they would never find out anything. That was the fact about old men. The fact about love was that it consisted essentially of tumescence and detumescence. So why embroider the fact with unnecessary fictions? Why not be realistic? Why not treat the whole business scientifically?
“Ninety-nine,” Mr. Stoyte went on repeating. “Ninety-nine.”
And then, Dr. Obispo went on to reflect, as he listened without interest to the whisperings and crepitations inside the warm, smelly barrel before him, then there were the more personal reasons for preferring to take love unadorned, in the chemically pure condition. Personal reasons that were, also, of course, a fact that had to be accepted. For it was a fact that he personally found an added pleasure in the imposition of his will upon the partner he had chosen. To be pleasurable, this imposition of will must never be too easy, too much a matter of course. Which ruled out professionals. The partner had to be an amateur and, like all amateurs, committed to the thesis that tumescence and detumescence should always be associated with LOVE, PASSION, SOUL-MATING—all in upper-case letters. In imposing his will, he imposed the contradictory doctrine, the doctrine of tumescence and detumescence for tumescence’s and detumescence’s sake.
After Many a Summer Dies the Swan
Aldous Huxley 1939