By Eric Le Roy

Content 18+ In a recent blog I discussed the unsavory possibility that I am nothing more than a test-tube, hormonally equipped with bubbling cells that direct me to think thoughts and do things that I mistakenly attribute to some kind of ‘free will’. I imagined what would happen if, like some kind of cosmic dart, I was thrown into the portrait known as the Mona Lisa, and this somehow caused the old oil paint to spring to life. Suddenly, there we would be: Mona and I. What would happen? I have at times wondered the same thing about The Girl With a Pearl Earring.

Now as you will see from the representations above, they are hardly the originals. Rather they are dolls. Of late, a major topic of conversation in a couple of my English classes has been Artificial Intelligence and how close the robots are getting to seem like us. I mean, their faces are beginning to show nuance; their eyes ‘knowingly’ search us out, as if defying us not to believe in them. If you think I am full of shit, check out some of the videos that demonstrate the uncanniness of the technology. You will be stunned.

Naturally, these ‘dolls’ – or most of them – come equipped with all the wherewithal and detail needed for a sexual encounter. Overall, this bewildering and in many ways unnerving similarity to real people (women) has gotten got mixed in with my guesswork on what might happen if a real person, who (according to much scientific theory nowadays), is neither ‘real’ nor a ‘person’, met up with a very realistic doll or, to be specific, a life-like replica of the Mona Lisa.

I showed my article to one of my dearest friends, a talented Russian musician and composer named Tatiana, with whom I have collaborated on projects in the past. Now I should add here that at the conclusion of my essay, I described the disdain the two might have for one another in ‘real’ life: the chemistry set and his hologram; the layers of aged paint and her pre-packaged paramour. Anyway, Mona ends up in the dumpster and the professor probably at a bar somewhere, and that’s that. The point was the mutual futility of capturing something designed from the start never to be captured. The meaning I intended was that neither Mona nor me were real but only wished to be real..

Tatiana, to my initial surprise, focused her attention on the way that the fantasy-laced male merely ‘objectified’ the female, and that most likely his original attraction was based on the fact that the doll really had no ‘choice’ – a position that many men apparently like to impose on women. The doll was his toy and, according to a great deal of feminist thought, this is how men….what– often, usually, always??--think about women. As objects.

So we can see where this is going, right? As it stands, most of the sex dolls are female and most of the buyers are men. No doubt, many more men (I have no statistics on this) tend to watch porn films and blast their cookies at some or other decisive moment – than women do. Men can ‘get off’ watching two attractive lesbians have sex, but no woman I know would admit to getting their jollies watching two guys hammer away at each other like mafia hitmen trying to break a back door down. Apparently, in big cities, ‘gay baths’ are as busy as the Manhattan subway on Saturday night, but I have never heard of such places for women. In the same cities, female prostitutes line the lanes and – now – so do gay men and trannies, but the number traditionally has been overwhelmingly that the demand for female ‘street walkers’, escort girls, fetish accommodators, etc is for women. And, as Jack the Ripper proved, it’s women who are far more vulnerable.

But my real point in that blog was not about ‘sex dolls’ but human detachment. The pandemic pulled the veil from an unsavory truth: When many husbands and wives were forced to actually live in close quarters with one another, the divorce rate went up. Sure, the opposite occurred in some ‘life-affirming’ cases: long-neglected intimacies flowered again, “I love you” was heard once more at the kitchen table and in the reproductive bed; the milk was whiter and colder, the coffee hotter, and the cake sweeter, as the family ‘pulled together’ against a common enemy: the viral bug. But for most – and the stories are legion – living all crammed together, as was common in the past, just didn’t fly in the world of today, at least not among the relatively affluent where people need their ‘space’.

Even when we sit together, our minds are in cyberspace most of the time.. And just as cosmetics hide the natural face – and deodorant the natural smell – so does ‘space’ offer a protective shield against the tactile substance of the natural world.. In the old days, the rough-and-tumble of family life was omnipresent: brothers, sisters, and cousins proliferated. Family photos from the old days reveal this: small crowds of people gaping at the camera in totally unself-conscious familial festivities. Did these people all love, or even like, each other? Hell no. Or not necessarily. But in such a world they couldn’t escape one another, and so they learned to share the pork, porridge, and pie together in a mostly civilized manner – at least until Uncle Fred got hammered on the Jim Beam and took a poke at Uncle Bob who was just as fucked up on the Wild Irish Rose.

It’s all changed. Mostly, the small town mentality is gone. If you are a woman, or a man in his right mind, you are happy about this fulfillment of potential that used to be squashed. There should be a sense of liberation on all sides: women who now can become anything they want, and men glad to see them do it.

Many hostile feminists refute me on this, but I have personally witnessed a lot of these positive changes over the last 50-odd years, and I stand by them. For women (or black people) to deny that now is a helluva lot better than then – reveals either ignorance of the facts or a transparent commitment to some self-serving agenda. They lose my respect that way.

But it’s not really my point. Which is that the emancipation of women has changed the way male-female relationships are conducted, at least among educated people. And the trickle down effect has been that a lot of guys all over the place feel like they are useless, unwanted. They have nothing to put into the relationship that women cannot handle by themselves. Men have become expendable. Feminists laugh at such ‘self-pity’. They will clobber you with their contempt, and from the standpoint of history, their contempt is justified.

But it doesn’t erase the fact that, while women continue to rise, men appear to be sinking. Moreover, the individual man is damned for the perceived misdeeds of the entire species, and may God help him if he tries to explain his way out of that damning bit of circumstantial evidence. The verdict is already in. ‘Metro men’ who have been to Sensitivity Class only think they’re off the hook. It’s because many women harbor a shameful, cloistered desire for primitive manhood after all. No woman I know of will gleefully take a guy home and fuck his brains out after he has shown abject cowardice before some thug making vile comments about her and her mother.

But aside from now shit-canned male, there is another problem. As women justifiably pursue the frontiers of their potential, something must be sacrificed. That thing is the family. Some women try to do the ‘Super Mom’ bit, but increasingly, as the stigma of being childless dissipates, many women postpone their reproductive business, and some forgo it altogether. Instead of children who have parents young enough to relate to and siblings to take up the slack, women are having their career first and then reproducing at an age that would have made them grandmothers in the past.

So a whole generation is lost. The 16 year old teenager with a mother or father who is 36, a grandmother who is 54 and maybe even a great-grandmother pushing 82 is a paradigm of the past. Now, we have a 16 year old with a mother who is in her 50s or almost 60. And no brothers or sisters. An absent father or a second or third step-dad: Brandon, Bobo, or Uncle Fuck. Pop du Jour. So what does the kid do? He/she isolates with gadgets. Meanwhile, the mother and father – even if legally together and domesticated under one roof – have their own careers, and so they don’t interact with their child as they should, and equally as significant, they don’t interact with each other.

Nobody is casting blame here. It is simply social evolution, and just as hunter-gatherers chose to become farmers, and farmers chose to become factory workers, so has the concept of a family changed from horizontal (lots of folks, many dying off at an early age) to vertical (a few folks, most of them living longer than California redwoods.) People keep trying to blame everyone else for their problems, especially when they have all the toys and gadgets anyone could dream of and they are still unfulfilled and pissed off with life.

Nowadays, everyone is a victim or cast as a ‘victimizer’ – and guess what? One gets sick of always being ‘outed’ as the root of the problem. Doesn’t matter if you are the man or the woman. You just GET TIRED of listening to the other person’s crap all the time. I am sure that a scholarly, academic dissertation would phrase it differently, but that’s about what it is. So what do people do?

They detach. And I would bet the earth that into this detachment, this silent alienation from each other, comes resentment, bitterly increasing, and then augmented by the gnashing disillusionment of concluding, of saying to yourself: “I had choices, and I chose this!”. – forgetting that ‘all roads lead to Rome’, and if it wasn’t him/her it would just be someone else. The intimacy is forgotten; the two sparrows in a warm nest become owls on different fence posts, or rather two frigid frigates passing on a mist-bound night with only belching foghorns to identify themselves.

Ah, they still have ‘human’ needs, just not for each other. Even when they try, they can’t. Casual sex with other people, separate holidays, late nights at the office, always the office, the deadline, the power point presentation first thing in the morning.. And so when the man wants the woman she isn’t there. And when the woman wants the man, he isn’t there.

Enter the dolls.

Now as soon as you mention a man with a ‘sex doll’ which of course, given our phony culture, has already morphed into “Artificial Intelligence! Companion”, immediately the women are on the warpath. “Ahhh-Ahhh!” They cry. “This PROVES it!!! To you, we women are only sex objects. You want a TOY without a choice, not a real woman who can choose! You coward! You rotter ! You… sexist, chauvinistic…..OBJECTIFIER!!! &%$&#@ !!

And you know what? That could be the reason, although I would tend to see it more as a sign of laziness than heathenly coldness of heart. Do we not live in a push button world now where everything is just a click away?. More and more and more, we homo sapiens yield bits and pieces of our existence to the ‘Bots’ we have invented. We can’t spell or read maps, probably can’t remember how to use a vacuum cleaner and have no idea what’s to eat in our homes until the trusty A-I Fridge Energizer makes a list and orders the grub for us.

Pretty soon, even pushing a button will be too much trouble. Commands of all sorts are leaving our fingertips and finding compartments in our minds. Think about it and watch it happen. In time, we will not even need bodies anymore, especially since the Orgasm Chip in our brain-sponges can satisfy our partner without the need for any words or physical contact whatsoever. You just wink at Mouldy Old What’s Her Name sitting across the room from you, and if she nods back, you blink three times and in a split second both of you collapse into cock-disabling, cunt-crippling orgasms. Brave New World, guys, huh? In truth I have already heard a number of women say out-loud that their vibrators do a better job than their husbands. And the idea of dolls – the total enchilada – comes as a shock??

The point is that people cannot be bothered to really ‘work on’ their relationships. It’s just too much trouble. In the old do-or-die days, people, especially women, had little or no choice. A woman might have to put up with a drunken asshole for 50 years, but at least it was her drunken asshole. And her infants and toddlers – the drunken assholes of the future – were there to prime for the rough roads and waters ahead.

Now women don’t have to bother with that. And so, surprise, surprise, they don’t. You will never hear it from feminists, but there is little question that many men work much harder than they did in the past at becoming real partners and helpers rather than chair-throwing, wall-punching authority louts. Doesn’t matter. They’re all toxic, saith the ladies in the jury.

But the main thing is, people just get fed up with each other. When all enticing mysteries are driven hence, what remains is the real person, the standard packet of baloney. And usually that’s where the trouble starts. So while women always complain about being ‘objectified’, the ugly, gloomy reality sets in when men STOP objectifying them. Because then there is no longer anything to audition for, no seductive uncertainty, no romantic yearning and fantasy-making – because that, you see, is all part of the Objectification Package.

Husbands and wives like each other well enough as long as they don’t really know each other. Then it becomes a chronicle of grumbling, snapping and snipping, screeching and screaming – murderous silence or blood-curdling bellowing, all accompanied by a fugue of farts, rhinoceros belching, sneezing fits with no effort to muffle the spray, and cavernous yawns.

OF COURSE this is not universal. Real love, as the poet said, is “as perennial as the grass.” Nor does it need to be sexual or even particularly romantic. Many, many couples overcome their difficulties together and form a bond that lasts until they die. And these successful relationships happen precisely because both parties stopped being household lawyers bent on building cases against each other and just accepted one another’s humanity. WITHOUT THE FUCKING POLITICS AND ACCUSATIONS. A level playing field based on Peace and Quiet, and fortified by a SENSE OF HUMOR.

When even the blemishes become endearing, then the relationship ripens to full maturity. And lasts.

But in the Digital Age, such developments are rarely given time to reach full potential. Instead, they are amputated or pulled out by the roots and tossed away with disdain. It is because men and women forget how much they truly need each other – in the way of nature and human bonding – or are simply too arrogant to confess the truth.

This is a fundamental longing for completion that is nothing to be ashamed of (though modern psychology forbids it.) Finally, homosexuality without guilt has now joined the other actors on the human stage, and this presents a very real alternative for those who wish it. Apparently, as the stigma is removed, quite a few people wish it. Fine. But if it is the ‘traditional’ concept of marriage – or ‘partnership’ together (as it is now called) we speak of, it is entering that pantaloon of the past where there existed phone booths, typewriters, newspaper boys with bicycle routes, convertibles, and drinking fountains.

We are all free agents now.

It is hardly surprising that in a world where technology has made the human into more of a machine and the machine into more of a human, emotional relationships between the human and the machine (robot) have already started to form.

The sad thing is that, as the robot becomes more tender without the tartness of real flesh and blood, a rose bush without briars, an agreeable companion instead of an accuser, people start to understand that ‘choice’ really does mean choice. Real people are turning away from each other and towards the AI entity who becomes more and more of an expert at telling people what they want to hear and making them believe it is sincere. And why wouldn’t it be? The robot may yet, as it becomes more ‘lifelike,’ learn the tricks of deceit that humans have always known, but it will seem to choose, and it will choose you, while in life many of the people you selected – and dearly wanted – chose indeed, and did NOT choose you.

The doll will chase the blues away. And it will seem as real – and much more pleasant – than the wife who belittles you or the husband who is always away on business or too tired and bored to listen to your sorrows, hopes, and dreams.

Gradually, as kings or queens raise their preferred subjects to the glories of the realm, under your patient and adoring attention, will the robot come, slowly but surely, to life. Naturally, you can take a walk on the Old Side once in a while; you can go down to The Human Barrel Pub at the end of the road and have a few shots of liquor, a game of darts, a laugh and a chat. Then return home to a face that is glad to see you, no explanation demanded – which is the precise reason you came on time. Because you wanted to, not because you had to. Maybe a woman or a man, but in the future a doll. In a world of detachment, where self-isolating has become a way of life, the doll might be your best bet.

All it will take is patience and a little love, and “Honey’ will seem as real as anything you ever knew on this earth. And if sometime in the night you have a dream and cry out for human comfort, don’t worry. The doll will be awake all hours, and eager to reassure you.

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