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Arabian nights

A frequent student gripe about coursework is that what we’re learning has no relevance to our lives. For relevance, fortunately, we can turn to the library. A quick stroll through my favorite section turns up riveting titles like The clitoral truth: the secret world at your fingertips (Perkins Stacks 306.772 C436),” written by Rebecca Chalker with “illustrations by Fish,” an individual whose ability to draw clitorises (clitori?) apparently resulted in enough fame to merit taking on just one name, like Bono or Christo. Other good titles include Gaydar: the ultimate insider guide to the gay sixth sense (Perkins Stacks 306.7662 R447) and Temptations: Igniting the Pleasure and Power of Aphrodisiacs by Ellen and Michael Albertson (Perkins Stacks 641.563 A334).

The last book in this list is a particularly awe-inspiring addition to the sum of human knowledge, consisting of ten chapters from Neptune’s Gift: Oysters, to The Cooking Couple’s Best Sex Diet. In this post-Valentine’s Day period, one gets the impression that many campus couples are experiencing romantic ennui, a cooling of amorous passions that can have disastrous consequences for relationships. Happily, by marshalling the forces of the Duke University Library System, y’all can avoid this tragic fate.

In chapter nine, Edible Orgy, the Albertson’s recommend using one’s imagination to come up with a themed encounter built around food and eroticism. Examples they suggest include rock and roll star, geisha-samurai, and the president and the intern. A sample program for their “Arabian Nights Edible Orgy”:


“Arabian Nights Grazing Tray: Hummus, stuffed grape leaves, pita bread, olives, dates, and pomegranates.

Camel’s Milk Express (milk, saffron, cardamom and honey)


Turkish Coffee

  1. Put Arabian Nights grazing tray items on a platter

  2. Make Camel’s Milk Express

  3. Feed each other items either in bed or on a carpeted floor

  4. Serve postcoital Turkish coffee and baklava

  5. Try a little belly dancing and read each other Tales from the Arabian Nights. Then re-enact one of the tales. Extra slave girls and eunuchs are optional.”


The fact that an academic library owns books like these is enough to choke one up with love for the university and all it stands for, an ivory tower where no kind of inquiry is discouraged and all varieties of knowledge are accumulated, criticized, and applied. Even though a paperback about aphrodisiac cooking may not be as useful to humanity as a treatise on astrophysics, it has a place on the nightstand of every physicist, and a place in inspiring her. Undoubtedly, love is the most useful motivator of them all.

Unlike SpongeBob Squarepants, these books have not yet attracted the eye of Sauron (operated by liberals and conservatives alike), which suppresses anything it finds disagreeable. But a political climate where free inquiry and fun library reading are encouraged may not be with us forever. The governor of Colorado is working to have an academic fired for making idiotic comparisons between Sept. 11 victims and NAZIS in an essay when he should be discrediting him with evidence and argument, and school boards are perverting science curricula by majority vote. One worries that with the rising tides of conservatism and intolerant religiosity in America libraries may eventually come under attack by the armies of Revealed Truth. When they do, we Knights of the Clitoral Truth must be ready for battle.

Matt Gillum is a Trinity senior. His column appears Wednesdays.


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