The late great Frank McCourt includes scenes in Angela’s Ashes describing public masturbation (albeit in secluded areas, and a scene up a ladder, staring in the bedroom window of a young woman).
Are we to presume from these scenes that the teenage McCourt was a pervert? If he had been caught by a police officer, for example – even as a minor – might he then have lived a very different life?
Never to become an educator in New York? Or would he have just
fled Ireland faster? Would he have never written his autobiographical novels in later life?
What if he had been caught in New York conducting himself inappropriately?
Would he have been undermined, with a criminal record of some kind? Discriminated against for his perviness? Sent to a workhouse or borstal, or to juvie? Because this stuff – perhaps exaggerated, perhaps not – is likely to have happened to some degree.
There was probably a point in time at which Frank McCourt was masturbating in public – albeit in a secluded location – in or near Limerick City.
What of Joyce and his solicitation of prostitutes through the mouthpiece of Dedalus? And similar self-satisfaction, echoed in McCourt’s work?
If you were to suggest that these men were perverts, or advocates for perversity, what would they have told you to do?
No doubt something more perverse.
No moral to the story.