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The Sun Magazine

Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

Books: Beyond Portnoy

Review Of Philip Roth's The Professor Of Desire

It was not until recently, looking ahead to this review, that I read Portnoy’s Complaint for the first time. I was glad I had waited. Even eight years later, I could still remember almost word for word passages quoted in the countless reviews; in the midst of the hoopla that surrounded its publication, it was almost impossible to give it a fair reading. What was shocking about Portnoy’s Complaint in its day was not just its treatment of masturbation, which until that time had been something of a taboo subject in fiction (since Portnoy, fictional characters have been allowed to masturbate openly and with abandon, which must be a relief to them), but also its tone: a distinguished author, a National Book Award winner, had delivered himself of a monologue that sounded more like the routine of a night club comedian, and a dirty one at that. Often ignored was that Portnoy ’s Complaint is a wonderfully constructed novel that treats serious themes. The narrator adopts his burlesque tone as a buffer for the enormous pain at the heart of his story. He delivers a searing statement of a personal problem that has not been resolved; once he had made his lament, as the psychiatrist suggests at the end, they are ready to begin.

Hillsborough: Queen Of The Piedmont

According to the Hillsborough Chamber of Commerce, “at least 116 late 18th and early 19th century structures” still grace the town’s quiet streets. Many are beautifully preserved and marked for the passerby. One, the Colonial Inn on King Street, still operates as an inn, with Southern-style lunches and dinners served by waitresses in colonial get-up.

The Chain Gang

Few Americans are privileged enough not to have been affected by food price inflation. For most of us, the unexpected rise in food prices during the 1970’s brought with it unwelcome changes in our budget as well as our diet.

Breasts: A Lesson In Self-Discovery

The room temperature should be comfortable but a bit on the cool side to insure the full development of the castle and each of the respective pawns and moats of the areola. Success is best accomplished in a pleasant atmosphere: quiet music; a bed sufficiently hard, but comfortable; and the subject prone — drugged, thoroughly asleep, or unconscious to insure silence and stillness throughout the entire operation. This is a mass, a service, and should be approached and undertaken with a sense of reverence.

Common Sense As Cosmic Sense

In Islamic legend the bridge on which one passes to heaven is narrow and bounded on one side by the abyss of logic and on the other by the abyss of gullibility. To live by the mind is the old Greek ideal of the Apollonian, the pure idea, to live in stasis. To live by the heart alone is to impose no order on one’s world, to burn out in a frenzy. If one does not temper one’s experience with both logic and feeling, both discernment and love, then one is treading close to the edge of the abyss. The unquestioned heart is as extreme as the unquestioned mind. Both are polarities between which the spirit is pitched like a ball to create synthesis and transcendence.

Heating With Wood

Heating with wood has become popular as an inexpensive, safe, and personally satisfying way of staying warm. Many people appreciate being able to keep their houses toasty without relying on the utility company or oil industry. Heating with wood brings us down to our roots — taking wood from the earth, gathering and storing it with our family and friends, sitting around a fire on a cold night.

Temple Sweeper

“The mind creates attachment to the body and the things of this world.…

Shadow Dancing

Healing has an infinite variety of forms. The only way to evaluate any single method is as a positive catalyst of change. Scientists “objectively” measure healing; empiricists “can tell” if it works. But the person being healed either feels better or doesn’t. The quintessence of healing is being well.

David Searls Loves The Sun: A Romance

I rose with the light this morning, but the only Sun I could see was the magazine I fell asleep reading; the November issue, the one with half the Safranskys on the cover. Sy’s elastic deadline, now stretched to the limit, looms as heavy and gray as the weather outside. The time has come to produce something for the December Sun.

Excerpts From Rain, A Journal Of Appropriate Technology

Back about 1973, Gary Snyder and Allen Ginsberg explained in Io-Earth Journal that they were using a “lost technology” such as the impulse, or Pelton, wheel to power their homesteads. In the interview they mentioned how surprised they were that such ecologic techniques were gathering dust unnoticed on library shelves, lost to all except the most curious as progress leap-frogged over them. Most appropriate technologists can similarly recall when they first realized that much of the know-how and wisdom they needed was obscurely catalogued a la Dewey or locked up in the head of some old geezer-guru type who lived nearby. The point is that unless we pay attention to what we’re about and put heads into the space that allows new patterns to emerge from the old realities, we may fail to recognize what is directly beneath our noses. It is entirely too easy to miss one’s own milieu, to fail to perceive the commonplaces of life and livelihood.


On The Astral Plane To Puerto Rico

1, Arthur Milstein, have had a shitty life. I have found difficulty finding gainful employment. 1 most recently had a position carving names on gravestones, but I was dismissed owing to poor spelling. I usually spell well but not under intense pressure. My boss had the four gravestones I made mistakes on placed in the trunk of my car, and I am not strong enough to take them out. The gravestones load down my car terribly. My gas mileage is awful. My love life has been checkered, to put it charitably. For three years I was deeply in love with a woman who is a witch. She would put spells on me, making me lose control. Once she actually changed me into a duck. She made me a white Peking duck and there I was at the pond, the only white Peking duck in the entire flock. I was very embarrassed. In school, my teachers were the worst teachers who had ever lived.

*NOTE: Original copies of this issue are no longer available. Unbound, laser-printed copies will be provided for print orders.



Once we open ourselves, then we land on what is.

Chogyam Trungpa, Rinpoche

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