Back from AWP and the World Is Ending

I’m back from the AWP literary conference in Chicago with my suitcases full of books, and my email inbox full of work that will be keeping me busy for some time. In days to come, I hope to share photos and anecdotes of our many memorable moments at the conference, plus brief reviews of some poetry books and journals. I will say this: you haven’t lived till you’ve seen a sign language interpreter trying to keep up with Dorothy Allison’s “Frog Fucking”, a performance piece which includes some toe-tingling action with two women and a strap-on, as well as a scene where she and an equally drunk gay friend compete to see how many buttered carrots they can shove up their asses. (I hope my accountant isn’t reading this…there goes my business-expense tax deduction.)

Allison’s piece was arousing, unsettling, comic, angry, melancholy, even spiritual. She was generous with her honesty about the entire range of emotions and roles we can play with our partners, showing how sex can help us integrate the parts of ourselves we might have considered unacceptable. The comic side of sex is a great equalizer, teaching us humility; the complete exposure of our kinks and quirks in a trusting relationship can clear away shame and self-deception.

All this is to say that I am not a prude, but the following item in the Springwise business trends e-newsletter still had the power to shock me:

The web has spawned new ways to track just about everything under the sun—from our finances to the foods we eat—so why not our sex lives too? Indeed, Bedpost is an online application now in private beta that helps consumers do just that.

Bedpost is an entirely personal application, password-protected from the prying eyes of others, and stresses that it offers absolutely no social networking features. Rather, it is a way for consumers to keep track of the sexual encounters they’ve had by logging in and entering some key details after each one. Users begin by creating a profile for the partner involved in their most recent encounter and then clicking on the calendar to indicate when the encounter happened. Then, they enter not just the time it happened, but also how long the encounter lasted, some descriptive tags and a star-based rating of the experience. The site then records all that information and presents it in a map of activity for the month on the user’s dashboard. For a historical view, Bedpost tracks summary statistics including frequency, average rating, and totals for the month and year so far. “Solo sex” tracking is also available.

I’m sorry, but using a spreadsheet to keep track of your masturbation episodes has to be the ultimate in pathetic geekiness.

I suppose some form of “Bedpost” has always been with us: Don Giovanni had Leporello and his “catalogue”; the playboys of our parents’ generation had their little black books. But the efficient coldness of tracking and rating your one-night stands on a computer, as if they were just another form of business contact data, seems to be taking us one step further toward sexual dis-integration of mind, body and spirit.