Sex for the Millennium

Harold Jaffe
Black Ice Books/FC2 ($9)

by Trevor Dodge

Sex for the Millennium, Harold Jaffe's sixth collection of fictions, opens another front in his relentless guerrilla campaign to seek out (and eventually destroy, no doubt) a narrative expression that is appropriate and necessary for the deeply conflicted, hypersexual morality wonderland we live in at the razor's edge of the 20th century. As the new millennium's slouching birth is ticked away—picosecond by picosecond—on every website and wristwatch from Wendover, Nevada to Tirgoviste, Wallachia, Jaffe's extreme tales find our darkest sexual taboos as ready-made material suitable for broadcast in a society that is most turned-on by the things which turn its collective stomach.

Jaffe's collection of 12 fictions reads more like a recipe for a pipebomb than any sort of AA-inspired recovery program, each ingredient essential to the chef's master plan. In a hypertext companion essay of sorts, "Slash and Burn: A Narrative Model for the Millennium," Jaffe claims that the American artist must imbue herself with media culture, technology, and ideology, then, "in the spirit of a guerrilla, find a seam, plant a mine, slip away. These seams are the rents, or fault lines, in the web of interlocking ideology which prevents us from being ourselves."

Jaffe attacks moralist ideology with a barrage of narrative weaponry which includes the sexual escapades of a cancer patient, snuff porn, vampirical S& M among the blood of dismembered corpses, Oedipal orgies replacing bowling as a nuclear family activity, love letters to mass murderers, strap-on sex, partially transgendered she-males, child prostitution, serial killer as occupation, and a staged world-record-setting event in Madison Square Garden where a female porn star takes on 212 guys, one-by-one, until they are all spent. Sex for the Millennium heralds the new millennium as the ultimate gang-bang of technological discourse where, according to one of the collection's many disembodied voices, "having a dick ain't what it used to be. These days you're better off without it."

Sex for the Millennium discovers us "being ourselves" by stripping its characters down to their most basic impulses and desires; simply being in the 21st century promises to be a constant and violent struggle between morality and eros. With a parade of talking heads like Dennis Rodman as cultural anthropologist, Charles Manson as TV voodoo personality extraordinaire, and the Unabomber as messiah-cum-teenage heartthrob, Jaffe's fictions always remind us that we are more "ourselves" when creating the spectacle than preaching against it. SEXFTM is the soundtrack of a cultural moshpit where we are most human through our inhumanity. Like Leonard Cohen before him, Jaffe too has seen the future. And it is murder, baby.

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Rain Taxi Online Edition, Summer 1999
| © Rain Taxi, Inc. 1999