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Larry McMurtry, Lonesome Dove And honestly, the literary s was all about Lonesome Dove. It is now a canonical pillar of the American western, perhaps the most uniquely American of all genres—and no more so than in Texas, where it ranks with the Bible and the Warren Commission Report. Don DeLillo, White Noise This is an essential novel of s America not only because it was written then, and not only because it was popular and acclaimed then it won the National Book Award , but because it hacks directly at the culture of that time.

Coke is it, Coke is it, Coke is it. Nowhere is Mr. Exhausted by the paranoia of Watergate era, and the panic of the oil embargo and the Iran hostage crisis, the nation sought the comforts of old-fashioned Hollywood movies, delivered by an old-fashioned Hollywood actor. White Noise even eerily presaged the Bhopal gas leak with his airborne toxic event. Toni Morrison, Beloved With remarkable speed, Beloved has, less than 20 years after its publication, become a staple of the college literary curriculum, which is to say a classic. When the book first began to be assigned in college classrooms, during an earlier and in retrospect much tamer phase of the culture wars, its inclusion on syllabuses was taken, by partisans and opponents alike, as a radical gesture.

The conservative canard one heard in those days was that left-wing professors were casting aside Shakespeare in favor of Morrison. But the political rhetoric of the time obscured the essential conservatism of the novel, which aimed not to displace or overthrow its beloved precursors, but to complete and to some extent correct them. In Slate , Stephen Metcalf agrees. Were it simply a matter of social redress, we could all go home now, the Dead White Males having been forced to cocktail with a Living Black Woman.

It deserves, in other words, to be asked, Yes, but are you any good?

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Tom Wolfe, The Bonfire of the Vanities What is amazing is that he gets away with it. Salman Rushdie, The Satanic Verses We were not surprised to discover that contact comfort was an important basic affectional or love variable, but we did not expect it to overshadow so completely the variable of nursing; indeed; indeed, the disparity is so great as to suggest that the primary function of nursing as an affectional variable is that of insuring frequent and intimate body contact of the infant with the mother.

Certainly, man cannot live by milk alone. Love is an emotion that does not need to be bottle- or spoon-fed, and we may be sure that there is nothing to be gained by giving lip service to love. A charming lady once heard me describe these experiments and, when I subsequently talked to her, her face brightened with sudden insight: "Now I know what's wrong with me," she said, "I'm just a wire mother.

She might have been a wire wife. We believe that contact comfort has long served the animal kingdom as a motivating agent for affectional responses. Since at the present time we have no experimental data to substantiate this position, we supply information which must be accepted, if at all, on the basis of face validity:. One function of the real mother, human or subhuman, and presumably of a mother surrogate, is to provide a haven of safety for the infant in times of fear and danger.

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The frightened or ailing child clings to its mother, not its father; and this selective responsiveness in times of distress, disturbance, or danger may be used as a measure of the strength of affectional bonds. We have tested this kind of differential responsiveness by presenting to the infants in their cages, in the presence of the two mothers, various fear-producing stimuli such as the moving toy bear illustrated in Figure A typical response to a fear stimulus is shown in Figure 14, and the data on differential responsiveness are presented in Figure It is apparent that the cloth mother is highly preferred over the wire one, and this differential selectivity is enhanced by age and experience.

In this situation, the variable of nursing appears to be of absolutely no importance: the infant consistently seeks the soft mother surrogate regardless of nursing condition. Similarly, the mother or mother surrogate provides its young with a source of security, and this role or function is seen with special clarity when mother and child are in a strange situation.

At the present time we have completed tests for this relationship on four of our eight baby monkeys assigned to the dual mother-surrogate condition by introducing them for three minutes into the strange environment of a room measuring six feet by six feet by six feet also called the "open-field test" and containing multiple stimuli known to elicit curiosity-manipulatory responses in baby monkeys. The subjects were placed in this situation twice a week for eight weeks with no mother surrogate present during alternate sessions and the cloth mother present during the others.


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A cloth diaper was always available as one of the stimuli throughout all sessions. After one or two adaptation sessions, the infants always rushed to the mother surrogate when she was present and clutched her, rubbed their bodies against her, and frequently manipulated her body and face. After a few additional sessions, the infants began to use the mother surrogate as a source of security, a base of operations. As is shown in Figures 16 and 17, they would explore and manipulate a stimulus and then return to the mother before adventuring again into the strange new world.

The behavior of these infants was quite different when the mother was absent from the room. Frequently they would freeze in a crouched position, as is illustrated in Figures 18 and Emotionality indices such as vocalization, crouching, rocking, and sucking increased sharply, as shown in Figure Total emotionality score was cut in half when the mother was present. In the absence of the mother some of the experimental monkeys would rush to the center of the room where the mother was customarily placed and then run rapidly from object to object, screaming and crying all the while. Continuous, frantic clutching of their bodies was very common, even when not in the crouching position.

These monkeys frequently contacted and clutched the cloth diaper, but this action never pacified them. The same behavior occurred in the presence of the wire mother. No difference between the cloth-mother-fed and wire-mother-fed infants was demonstrated under either condition. Four control infants never raised with a mother surrogate showed the same emotionality scores when the mother was absent as the experimental infants showed in the absence of the mother, but the controls' scores were slightly larger in the presence of the mother surrogate than in her absence.

Some years ago Robert Butler demonstrated that mature monkeys enclosed in a dimly lighted box would open and reopen a door hour after hour for no other reward than that of looking outside the box. We now have data indicating that neonatal monkeys show this same compulsive visual curiosity on their first test day in an adaptation of the Butler apparatus which we call the "love machine," an apparatus designed to measure love.

Usually these tests are begun when the monkey is 10 days of age, but this same persistent visual exploration has been obtained in a three-day-old monkey during the first half-hour of testing.

Butler also demonstrated that rhesus monkeys show selectivity in rate and frequency of door-opening to stimuli of differential attractiveness in the visual field outside the box. We have utilized this principle of response selectivity by the monkey to measure strength of affectional responsiveness in our infants in the baby version of the Butler box.

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The test sequence involves four repetitions of a test battery in which four stimuli -- cloth mother, wire mother, infant monkey, and empty box -- are presented for a minute period on successive days. The first four subjects in the dual mother-surrogate group were given a single test sequence at 40 to 50 days of age, depending upon the availability of the apparatus, and only their data are presented. The second set of four subjects is being given repetitive tests to obtain information relating to the development of visual exploration. The apparatus is illustrated in Figure The data obtained from the first four infants raised with the two mother surrogates are presented in the middle graph of Figure 22 and show approximately equal responding to the cloth mother and another infant monkey, and no greater responsiveness to the wire mother than to an empty box.

Again, the results are independent of the kind of mother that lactated, cloth or wire. The same results are found for a control group raised, but not fed, on a single cloth mother; these data appear in the graph on the right. Contrariwise, the graph on the left shows no differential responsiveness to cloth and wire mothers by a second control group, which was not raised on any mother surrogate. We can be certain that not all love is blind. The first four infant monkeys in the dual mother-surrogate group were separated from their mothers between and days of age and tested for retention during the following 9 days and then at day intervals for six successive months.

Affectional retention as measured by the modified Butler box is given in Figure In keeping with the data obtained on adult monkeys by Butler, we find a high rate of responding to any stimulus, even the empty box. But throughout the entire day retention period there is a consistent and significant difference in response frequency to the cloth mother contrasted with either the wire mother or the empty box, and no consistent difference between wire mother and empty box. Affectional retention was also tested in the open field during the first 9 days after separation and then at day intervals, and each test condition was run twice at each retention interval.

The infant's behavior differed from that observed during the period preceding separation. When the cloth mother was present in the post-separation period, the babies rushed to her, climbed up, clung tightly to her, and rubbed their heads and faces against her body. After this initial embrace and reunion, they played on the mother, including biting and tearing at her cloth cover; but they rarely made any attempt to leave her during the test period, nor did they manipulate or play with the objects in the room, in contrast with their behavior before maternal separation.

The only exception was the occasional monkey that left the mother surrogate momentarily, grasped the folded piece of paper one of the standard stimuli in the field , and brought it quickly back to the mother. It appeared that deprivation had enhanced the tie to the mother and rendered the contact-comfort need so prepotent that need for the mother overwhelmed the exploratory motives during the brief, three-minute test sessions.

No change in these behaviors was observed throughout the day period. When the mother was absent from the open field, the behavior of the infants was similar in the initial retention test to that during the preseparation tests; but they tended to show gradual adaptation to the open-field situation with repeated testing and, consequently, a reduction in their emotionality scores. In the last five retention test periods, an additional test was introduced in which the surrogate mother was placed in the center of the room and covered with a clear Plexiglas box.

The monkeys were initially disturbed and frustrated when their explorations and manipulations of the box failed to provide contact with the mother.

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However, all animals adapted to the situation rather rapidly. Soon they used the box as a place of orientation for exploratory and play behavior, made frequent contacts with the objects in the field, and very often brought these objects to the Plexiglas box. The emotionality index was slightly higher than in the condition of the available cloth mothers, but it in no way approached the emotionality level displayed when the cloth mother was absent. Obviously, the infant monkeys gained emotional security by the presence of the mother even though contact was denied.

Affectional retention has also been measured by tests in which the monkey must unfasten a three-device mechanical puzzle to obtain entrance into a compartment containing the mother surrogate. All the trials are initiated by allowing the infant to go through an unlocked door, and in half the trials it finds the mother present and in half, an empty compartment. The door is then locked and a ten-minute test conducted. In tests given prior to separation from the surrogate mothers, some of the infants had solved this puzzle and others had failed.

The data of Figure 24 show that on the last test before separation there were no differences in total manipulation under mother-present and mother-absent conditions, but striking differences exist between the two conditions throughout the post-separation test periods. Again, there is no interaction with conditions of feeding.

The over-all picture obtained from surveying the retention data is unequivocal. There is little, if any, waning of responsiveness to the mother throughout this five-month period as indicated by any measure. It becomes perfectly obvious that this affectional bond is highly resistant to forgetting and that it can be retained for very long periods of time by relatively infrequent contact reinforcement. During the next year, retention tests will be conducted at day intervals, and further plans are dependent upon the results obtained.

It would appear that affectional responses may show as much resistance to extinction as has been previously demonstrated for learned fears and learned pain, and such data would be in keeping with those of common human observation. The infant's responses to the mother surrogate in the fear tests, the open-field situation, and the baby Butler box and the responses on the retention tests cannot be described adequately with words. For supplementary information we turn to the motion picture record.

At this point a minute film was presented illustrating and supplementing the behaviors described thus far in the address. Unless, of course, the grilled cheese is super fucking incredible. So these four primal forces, along with a few others, all voice their opinion at the same time. In some people, all of the voices are in agreement about the verdict. In others, the voices disagree, but one of the voices is so loud that it drowns out the others.

In both of those cases, The Decision is pretty easy. Something as important and permanent as The Decision requires conviction, and conviction requires a source. No source of conviction, no Decision. Fear and sex drive derive their conviction from the obvious—fear and sex.

And an inertia-y person gets their conviction from the conviction of someone else.

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Those sources are what allow people to make The Decision with relative ease. The brain hears these voices, but it discredits their conviction in each case because the certainty emerges from what the brain sees as an irrational place. For the brain, the only respectable source of conviction is sound evidence. Because the brain, for all its merits, does not do well in this situation, where the outcome is critical and evidence is hard to come by. Not much concrete evidence there.

So you turn and look over at the breakup side of the beam. You see a path, and a couple walking down it. The marriage that might have been. What kind of marriage would that be, and what adventures lie down that road? Again, no real evidence. So you take a closer look at the one thing you have actual information about: your current relationship. You end up here:.

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Fucking great—now what? All relationships—the good ones and the bad ones—have a chart that looks like that, with things in all four of those zones: blue, green, yellow, and red. Because the stakes are so high, you become paranoid about making the wrong choice, and every time you think you might have an answer, you second-guess yourself. The whole thing quickly becomes a mindfuck. And because the diagram and its four zones allow you to so effortlessly construct whatever convincing narrative you want to about your relationship and The Decision, you worry that anything that feels like conviction is just you falling for a narrative created by fear or ego or some other deep-down motivation.

Unable to come to a trustworthy conclusion, the brain person becomes a Paralyzed Pre-Marriage Relationship Person. Until you die, until your partner dies, or until your partner breaks up with you. Maybe if you wait for a while, your fear of being single at 36 will overpower your dedication to rationality? For example:. An overly-broad, one-size-fits-all litmus test is a bad litmus test.

All these litmus tests tell you is that you A feel possessive, B feel attached, and C love the person. In most long relationships—good and bad—the people in them feel all three of these things. The only real information you learn with tests like these is that you are, in fact, in a relationship. That has never happened before in our species.


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  5. Likewise, there are at least a few hundred million people in the world that match your sexual preference. Only one of them is the best possible person for you. Step 1 Find out where your gut is leaning, using thought experiments.