Mondays: Cave Porn


I just finished the second book of the Earth's Children series - The Valley of Horses (Jean M. Auel).


I loved the first book: Clan of the Cave Bears. (You may remember Daryl Hannah in a loin cloth when it was made into a movie in the 80s.) The second book, however, was mostly porn -- cave porn -- and that was unexpected.


I took an intro to anthropology class when I was a freshman at the University of Iowa. I remember the skulls and the mummified bodies and the Australopithecus afarensis specimen named "Lucy". I even remember the professor who had dickies in every color and wore them under thin, cotton pullovers. But I do not remember quite so much mention of "throbbing members" and "moist passages".


I mean, it makes sense, I guess. If I were wandering the earth alone in the middle Paleolithic era dodging dirk-toothed cats and cave lions, and if the continuation of my species depended on the fruitfulness of my loins, maybe I too would grow very very thirsty.


In one particular scene, as Jondalar gave Ayla her "First Rite of Pleasure", he explained between thrusts that it felt good because it would help the continuation of their kind. Because I am as I am, I of course thought of a book about alcohol addiction.


In a very different book, I am learning that dopamine is considered the "learning molecule" and that alcohol (and sugar) artificially increases it. When something feels good, the body releases dopamine, and the dopamine tells the brain to remember that thing and then do the thing again, because the thing is important for survival. In my case, my brain thinks that red wine is keeping me alive, even though I keep telling it that chamomile tea sustains life just fine.


Maybe the stress of modern-day living helps keep the population in check. Everyone is too tired for "outstretched manhoods".


In my early 20s, I worked at a used bookstore in Cedar Rapids. We went through trashy paperback romance novels the fastest. Empty gaps formed on the shelves, and I had to restock and reorganize. All the covers looked the same. They were all written by people hiding behind pen names. And because the store was never busy, I skimmed. In every book, two unconventionally attractive people, Blake and Hilary or Chet and Eva, thrown together by fate, who had denied their growing desires for one another long enough due to a misunderstanding or a tragic past that made them afraid to love again, burst into flames and fell into a sweaty embrace, clawing at one another's skin and clothing.


In the narrow aisles of that used bookstore, I learned there are a finite number of ways to describe genitalia and the act of mashing parts together, and I find all of them embarrassing.


Clan of the Cave Bear was Auel's first novel. She'd been researching the Ice Age for many years -- particularly the years that Neanderthals and Early Modern Humans (EMH) occupied space at the same time. They are loaded with details of the foliage, the landscape, body structure, animals, Neanderthal vs. EMH communication and social structures. I read that in preparation, Auel herself learned primitive tool making, animal hide preparation, and survival. She did her homework.


I don't know what kind of homework she did to describe the sex.

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