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Nerve‘s longevity is quality driven

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Ms. Tek has posted an entry for the sexually adventurous extolling the virtues of some material considered pornography. I think it is a good time to remind folks there are options for those of us who are less, um, outgoing. One of them is a favorite online magazine.

One effect of being a longterm Internet user is one sees different sites develop or fall by the wayside. I have been a member ofNerve.com, a site that publishes tasteful material about sexual issues, for several years. The magazine began as online only, branched out into real world publication and now operates on a Salon-type model — offering regular and premium content. Over the years, the contributors to Nerve&‘s nonfiction, fiction and photography sections have become increasingly mainstream.

This excerpt from the introduction to the fall fiction issue exemplifies the kind of thoughtful discourse I have come to expect of writers for Nerve.

. . .Many modern stories with sexual content are clever, intelligent, provocative, sad and funny. In the best ones, the characters are marvelously human. But in our sophistication and scrupulous questioning, it seems we have lost something — the force of that animal which can come out of “nowhere,” tear your precious personality to pieces, then melt back into the dark to quietly lick its paws.

Describing this experience is very hard. Describing it while maintaining the delicacy and complexity of your characters is even harder. This is a dilemma for the modern writer who chooses to write about sex: make your characters genuine personalities without being restricted by the limits of human personality; evoke the enormity and ferocity of sex without demonizing it or making it exclusively about feminine shame. Part of the difficulty may be in that last part — people are now leery of rendering feminine shame, or shame of any kind for that matter. It’s almost as if we’re too cool for it. But shame is a profoundly human experience, and we risk it every time we encounter a force bigger than ourselves. From my point of view, the older writers sometimes tried to avoid it by palming it all off on the skank. But it’s even worse to try and correct that by writing as if shame and uncontrollable depth don’t exist at

My only complaint is the site has become less contributor friendly. I, and other contributors to the old Nerve, lost our sections at the site during its latest retooling. Though the alteration saves the magazine server space, it also reduces the diversity and communal nature of the site.

Note: A version of this entry also appeared at Mac-a-ro-nies.

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