Simple, Sexy, and Sad

A correspondent on the West Coast took issue with me recently over my admission that in my leisure time I am “inclined to visit movie theaters.” I must confess that I am so inclined, and that I try to use the same kind of judgment he does when he watches television programs, or looks at the pictures in the newspapers, or chooses the ads in his magazines. He goes on to ask whether I have a sympathetic attitude toward “other modern relaxations” (which he does not name).

One of my other “modern relaxations” is to listen to music, sometimes catch-as-catch-can on the radio while I am driving and sometimes by careful choice on a record player. Thus I have come across the name of Rosemary Clooney and have listened to her sing. Sometimes she does better than she does at other times, and then again sometimes her choice of material is better than at other times.

When Time Magazine (another one of my modern relaxations) had Rosemary Clooney on the cover, they quoted her as saying, “Keep it simple, keep it sexy, keep it sad.” She thought this was the clue to her success.

I am not particularly concerned about Rosemary’s success, but I think there is something desperately true about those words in that order. If we keep life too simple—no big thinking or no big thoughts, no big reading in any big books, no big discussions on any big issues—that very simple-mindedness will push us toward the satisfactions of the senses. I think the sex emphasis of our day is probably response to the simple-mindedness of our general culture.

And it follows as the night the day that any life or any culture (take the Roman if you like) that falls over into sex will ...

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