Alaa Al Aswany on Writing About Sex

al Aswany:    I think that was a vision of literature, for sex, all the time.  I don't think I’m a very exceptional case because simply, in our daily life, we approach sex either as a pleasure or as a taboo.  For literature, sex, I would say even, I don’t like very much the term sex.  I would say the physical relation, right?  And the physical relation between two partners in literature means much more because you need sex not only for pleasure.  Sometimes you need to perform a physical relation with your partner because you are scared or because you are desperate or because you are looking for intimacy, or because you want to be protected by a mother, for example, or you would like to discover your partner or to take control, many things.  And this is a very rich human domain.  Accordingly, it’s a very rich literary field.  I mean, you cannot ignore sex or physical relation in literature.  It’s many things more than just a pleasure, you see?  Or you achieve the pleasure through many, many roads, you see?  It is an art.  It is a way to express yourself.  It is even a way to discover the world.  It is a way to discover your partner.  I don't think that you know really your partner without having sex with him or with her, you see, because this is one, it’s the moment of truth, you see?  And you could discover your feelings after having the physical relation, much better than before, you see.  What is left, you see.  In the few seconds after the pleasure, the physical pleasure, then you discover exactly how much you feel for this person, you see?  It’s very, very mysterious and rich moment, and accordingly it’s a big challenge for a fiction writer.

Alaa Al Aswany examines the human body.

Why health care should start long before you reach the hospital

The issues that determine your health go way beyond seeing your doctor.

Sponsored by Northwell Health
  • The average American spends about 24 hours a year at the doctor's office.
  • What you do the other 364 days a year mostly determines your health.
  • Michael Dowling discusses Northwell's focus on environmental, social, economic and other social determinants of health.

Horseshoe crabs are captured for their blue blood. That practice will soon be over.

The blood of horseshoe crabs is harvested on a massive scale in order to retrieve a cell critical to medical research. However, recent innovations might make this practice obsolete.

An Atlantic horseshoe crab in an aquarium. Photo: Domdomegg via Wikimedia Commons.
Surprising Science
  • Horseshoe crabs' blue blood is so valuable that a quart of it can be sold for $15,000.
  • This is because it contains a molecule that is crucial to the medical research community.
  • Today, however, new innovations have resulted in a synthetic substitute that may end the practice of farming horseshoe crabs for their blood.
Keep reading Show less

Stress is contagious–but resilience can be too

The way that you think about stress can actually transform the effect that it has on you – and others.

Big Think Edge
  • Stress is contagious, and the higher up in an organization you are the more your stress will be noticed and felt by others.
  • Kelly McGonigal teaches "Reset your mindset to reduce stress" for Big Think Edge.
  • Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
Keep reading Show less