22 APRIL 1972, Page 28

Perversion of sex

Sir: As readers of The Spectator will know, my theory is that what seems to us like " liberation" in sex is often a new form of enslavement. Yet we cannot see it. The dichotomy is neatly illustrated in A Chapter of Accidents by Goronwy Rees, discussing the behaviour of Guy Burgess. He is said to have conducted a "very promiscous and somewhat squalid sexual life." Rees says that "His sexual behaviour also had a generous espect," though he was "gross and even brutal in his treatment of his lovers."

The "generous aspect" Rees implies is in the absence in him of "inhibitions," and the way in which Burgess regarded sex as a "useful machine for the manufacture of pleasures." Burgess went to bed with anyone "who was willing and not positively repulsive" — and "in doing so," says Rees, "he released them from many of their frustrations and inhibitions." This all sounds like a new freedom, as do many of the films and stage shows which today offer us " release."

However, in the next breath Rees says, "Guy had the faculty . . . in some curious way, maintaining a kind of permanent domination" over his lovers. He fulfilled this role of introducing people to perversions, Rees says, with " almost a sense of public service." Later, he would advise them on their sexual lives — as a combination of "father confessor and pimp." (One wonders what damage he did there.) The passage (on page 113-114) is worth reading. It reveals how the processes operate by which the sexual pervert manages both to dominate, subvert, and diminish the sexual capacities of others, and to exploit them, with cruelty and meanness — but at the same time involve the other person in an insane delusion — so that he seems to be doing this for the best of all possible reasons. He manages even to leave the ex ploited individuals with a glamourised and even idolised image of the pervert himself, and his sordid activities. This itself is a mark of his power over them.

If we examine in the light of this the claims of certain publishers of magazines, producers of " sex " shows, and producers of perverted films, we can see that today the whole sophisticated public has been seduced into the moral inversions and deceptions of the pervert — so that cultural artefacts which in fact deplete our sexual energy.and emotional life are seen by us ak.," liberating" and "a new dimension." Even Rees seems unwilling to believe the picture of treachery, and the vicious impulse to dominate, which he reveals, about Burgess and, indirectly, about our own cultural perversions.

David Holbrook Yonder, Lustleigh, Newton Abbot, Devon