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Making Marriage Work by Forgetting Love and Sex
Gay Talese is an American journalist and a nonfiction writer. He wrote for The New York Times in the 1960s after working for its copy and obituary sections. In the 1950s, he was one of the first writers to add minute details, use literary flairs, and begin articles in medias res.
His groundbreaking article "Frank Sinatra Has a Cold" was named the "best story Esquire ever published," and he was credited by Tom Wolfe with the creation of an inventive form of nonfiction writing called "The New Journalism."
He has written many non-fiction books, beginning with 1964’s The Bridge: The Building of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. His 2006 autobiography A Writer’s Life focuses on his trials and failures as a writer, such as having a profile piece rejected by The New Yorker, which ironically reviewed the book positively and said it had a “distinctly moving” quality.
Gay Talese was named the winner of a George Polk Award for career achievement. The awards, presented by Long Island University, are considered among the top prizes in U.S. journalism. His latest book is High Notes: Selected Writings of Gay Talese.
Question: What does it take to stay married for 50 years?
Gay Talese: I had no desire ever to marry. I feared marriage to tell you the truth. Ironically, the marriage that I knew best was my parents’ marriage which was a very healthy, wonderful marriage, sixty years, and I also but I thought the marriage – my parents being partners in the business, having a store I told you were very close day and night. It was almost claustrophobically close, and they had only two children. I was the first born. There was a daughter born four years after me, so the four of us were in this very tight family and these very tight quarters, but my parents were so compatible; almost to the expense of their children where they were – and I felt that the marriage that had was just too close and suffocatingly so. There’s no freedom there. They were under the gun. I mean my mother and father were rarely out of sight of one another, and my father never would make trips without my mother. They’re together all the time. This togetherness was obsessive at least I felt so, so I thought I never want to be so linked to another person. I wouldn’t have a sense of adventure, exploration, or the option I’m doing things on my own without necessarily announcing in advance what I wanted to do. My ambition as a young boy was to travel freely not to have an itinerary, not to be committed – that was one of the major things, to a person or to a situation, not to be dependent. I wanted freedom. Journalism afforded that. I mean of all the occupations, if I were a doctor I wouldn’t be free out of the, you know the confinement of the career of being a physician or anything. I wanted to be free. I wanted to write about other people to escape. A lot of escape is in my mentality with a desire to escape into other people’s stories. It’s all a matter of getting outside yourself.
Question: Is love important to a marriage?
Gay Talese: Love is not important. You know what’s really important that’s more important than love, respect. What keeps a marriage together is not love. What keeps a relationship together whether it’s marriage or relationship outside of marriage, a committed relationship; it’s respect. No one can define love. Sometimes people associate sex with love. You know boy I’m in love. You can be in love in a way that you can maybe convince yourself is a definition that subscribes that is particular to you, but it’s very vague. What is not very vague is respect. If you don’t have respect for a person especially a spouse, there’s no way that relationship can survive. You lose respect for a person it’s all over. They could be the sexiest person, the most beautiful person, the greatest sexual mate. They could perform you know all the acts of physical love in ways unmatched in the universe, but if there’s a limited respect or not great amounts of respect, it’s over.
Question: What about sex?
Gay Talese: No. Sex is not important to a good marriage. No. You want to know more ask me a better question, but it’s true; sex is not important. Sex is very temporarily important in the beginning because the quest for companionship and compatibility is certainly fostered by active and fulfilling sexual experience – absolutely true. Sex is in the beginning of the mating game very important. Sex is the lure – the allure of a woman who can through sexual appeal attract a man who’s attracted to her because she’s sexy because in bed she’s very, very fulfilling. But that’s okay for a while. That’s not gonna carry you through years. The only thing that’s gonna carry you through years is being compatible with a person, having a lot in common, shared values, and I keep repeating respect for one another; that is it. Without respect the game is over.
The importance of mutual independence
Gay Talese: I think what kept the marriage together during times of stress and there was certainly many times of stress as in any relationship and certainly in our kind of marriage there was because I was traveling a lot. In my research I would go all over the place sometimes to other countries – well beyond my Frank Sinatra experience. There were times when I’d go live in Italy for two or three years when I started writing long books. After my magazine career ended, I was writing books exclusively, and some of them would take five or six years to research. Four or five books that I wrote from the 1960s to the 2006 were books of seven or eight years of being on the road while staying married, but the reason it wasn’t so stressful for my wife Nan with whom I’ve been married now fifty years in 2009. We were married in 1959, and fifty years is this year. One of the reasons that it wasn’t so stressful is she always had a full-time career. She could no less than me fulfill herself in her work. Her work became as she became older and more skilled recognized. There are books now called Nan Talese books/Doubleday, and she’s got her own career. Her writers are among the best - there’s Margaret Atwood, there Ian McEwen, there’s Antonio Fraser, there’s Pat Conroy, there’s Barry Unsworth; there’s all kinds of distinguished literary writers that are published under her imprint, and so it isn’t like she’s ever lived through me. She was never just Gay Talese’s wife, never. I mean she wouldn’t mind – I don’t mean to suggest that she’s very publicity hungry or that she needs reassurance by having her name on the product, but she happens to have her name on the product, her books, so she’s had her independence. And it was so different from my mother and father who were people in the store and day and night within reach of one another and scrutiny of one another. I had a lot of freedom from the beginning and through the 50 years, and I think that’s kept this marriage together.
Recorded on September 22, 2009
The key to a lasting relationship, says Gay Talese, is looking past the 'mating game's' wonted rituals and flowery ambiguities and learning to emphasize mutual freedom and respect.
Vaccines find more success in development than any other kind of drug, but have been relatively neglected in recent decades.
Vaccines are more likely to get through clinical trials than any other type of drug — but have been given relatively little pharmaceutical industry support during the last two decades, according to a new study by MIT scholars.
Sallie Krawcheck and Bob Kulhan will be talking money, jobs, and how the pandemic will disproportionally affect women's finances.
What would it be like to experience the 4th dimension?
Physicists have understood at least theoretically, that there may be higher dimensions, besides our normal three. The first clue came in 1905 when Einstein developed his theory of special relativity. Of course, by dimensions we’re talking about length, width, and height. Generally speaking, when we talk about a fourth dimension, it’s considered space-time. But here, physicists mean a spatial dimension beyond the normal three, not a parallel universe, as such dimensions are mistaken for in popular sci-fi shows.
An article in Journal of Bioethical Inquiry raises questions about the goal of these advocacy groups.
- Two-thirds of American consumer advocacy groups are funded by pharmaceutical companies.
- The authors of an article in Journal of Bioethical Inquiry say this compromises their advocacy.
- Groups like the National Alliance on Mental Illness act more like lobbyists than patient advocates.
The Corruption That Brought Prozac to Market — Robert Whitaker, Journalist<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="bea9cff2b25efc18b663a011a679ba16"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/UyaJExxFPAE?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>Consumer-oriented groups gained steam over the ensuing decades. Their efforts helped inspire the 1938 Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act after over 100 people (mostly children) died from a sanctioned drug, Sulfanilamide. If not for the hard work of these advocates, this case might have been overlooked.</p><p>Early efforts also focused on the food industry, which was increasingly using chemical preservatives. The origin of Consumer Reports can be found in the consumer advocacy movement. Both the food and drug industries were getting a free pass to experiment on citizens with few repercussions.</p><p>These movements provided a social foundation for important advocacy work in the second half of the century. Female-led groups evolved to focus on women's reproductive rights, AIDS, and mental health. As the authors write, these groups struck a balance between working <em>with</em> and <em>against</em> current trends. Sometimes you need to craft legislation with officials; at other times, you have to rage against the machine with everything you've got. </p><p>Advocacy marked an important turning point in public health (and culture in general). These groups were tired of placating to a medical model that treated the male body as the standard. This wasn't limited to anatomy. As I <a href="https://bigthink.com/coronavirus/pandemic-warnings-rp-eddy" target="_self">wrote about last week</a>, a high-profile 1970s-era conference about the role of women on Wall St featured no women on stage. You can imagine what reproductive health looked like during that time. </p><p>Advocacy groups made real impact in public health. Then the money began pouring in. </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"These groups were funded largely by individual donations with some foundation support, but in the late 1980s, newer women's health groups moved to professionalize, effectively splitting the women's health movement."</p><p>A number of groups resist corporate ties to this day, such as the National Women's Heath Network and Breast Cancer Action. Too often, however, groups argue that their existence depends on corporate funding. This can lead to uncomfortable compromises. </p><p>An estimated two-thirds of patient advocacy groups in America accept funds from the pharmaceutical industry. Pharma companies gave <a href="https://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1007/s11673-019-09956-8.pdf" target="_blank">at least $116 million</a> to such groups in 2015 alone.</p><p>For example, over a three-year period, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), which was founded by two mothers whose sons suffered from schizophrenia, received nearly $12 million from 18 pharmaceutical companies. The largest donor was Prozac manufacturer, Eli Lilly. By 2008, three-quarters of NAMI's budget was funded by the pharmaceutical industry. It gets worse:</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"An Eli Lilly executive was even 'on loan' to NAMI, paid by Eli Lilly, while he worked out of the NAMI office on 'strategic planning.'"</p>
A customer waiting for his medication at the Headache Bar in a pharmacy in Sydney, Australia. Among the items on sale are 'Paigees with Chlorophyll' and Alka Seltzer on tap.
Photo by Dennis Rowe/BIPs/Getty Images<p>This influx of cash skews public understanding of drugs. It also influences advocates to overlook real problems caused by pharmaceutical interventions, especially when it comes to mental health.<br></p><p>For a real-world example, consider how Xanax came to market. As journalist Robert Whitaker <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2e829xdb4AA" target="_blank">explains</a>, an <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1463502/?page=1" target="_blank">initial study</a> was conducted to determine efficacy in treating panic attacks. After four weeks, Xanax was outperforming placebo, which is common with benzodiazepines over short-term usage. But it wasn't a four-week study; it was a 14-week study.</p><p>At the end of eight weeks, there was no difference in efficacy between Xanax and placebo.</p><p>At the conclusion of the study after 14 weeks, the placebo outperformed Xanax. By a lot.</p><p>Why is Xanax still prescribed for panic attacks? Because the pharmaceutical company, Upjohn, only published the four-week data. The 14-week data was not in its favor. Nearly forty years later, over <a href="https://www.statista.com/statistics/781816/alprazolam-sodium-prescriptions-number-in-the-us/" target="_blank">25 million</a> Americans receive a prescription despite its <a href="https://drugabuse.com/xanax/effects-use/" target="_blank">long list</a> of side effects and addictive profile. </p><p>As the authors note, many consumers are not aware of how advocacy groups are funded.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"An international study of groups in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and South Africa found that the extent of relationships with industry was inadequately disclosed in websites that addressed ten health conditions: cancer, heart disease, diabetes, asthma, cystic fibrosis, epilepsy, depression, Parkinson's disease, osteoporosis, and rheumatoid arthritis."</p><p>That's a tangled web of relationships. Pharmaceutical industry funding negatively impacts the work advocacy groups should be focused on: protecting us. NAMI, for example, claims that as a "natural ally" to the pharmaceutical industry, it helps consumers access "all scientifically proven treatments." When the industry ignores evidence of long-term damage caused by its treatments, you have to wonder what's being advocated. </p><p>Although, as the authors conclude, that question is easy to answer. </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Instead of drawing insights from patient experience to set organizational agendas and challenge industry agendas, today's groups are silent on high prices and drug harms, oppose efforts to regulate these basic rights, and demand access to drugs that challenge the safety and effectiveness."</p><p><span></span>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank">Facebook</a> and <a href="https://derekberes.substack.com/" target="_blank">Substack</a>. His next book is</em> "<em>Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."</em></p>