There was in 1959 a change in my life - a change essential for my sanity.These are the opening words of the extract from Brian Sewell's autobiography published recently in the London Evening Standard and available on their website under the title The sex life of Brian Sewell: Story of my 1000 lovers. I have already posted on one aspect of this piece - the pleasures of the flesh. That post will, I think, indicate to you that the style of life adopted by Brian Sewell after the change of 1959 is not one to which I would apply the descriptor "sanity".
In the first two paragraphs of the published extract, Brian Sewell describes turning away from a practise of Roman Catholicism that was "a dry discipline scarcely spiritual", a practise that had been "much troubled by my sexuality" (ie homosexuality). Now what Brian Sewell would have us believe is that this turning away from Catholicism was necessary for his sanity because it then liberated him to practise his homosexuality, removing the tension in his life that otherwise existed between Catholicism and his homosexuality.
However, if we consider the utter licentiousness in which Brian Sewell describes himself as engaging after this change in his life, then we can perhaps recognise that even his rather dry relationship to Catholicism was actually exercising an important influence in his life before he abandoned it. It was exercising a moral constraint. It is possible to read the first two paragraphs of the London Evening Standard extract and see that, though Brian Sewell admits to finding what he terms "chastity of the imagination" impossible, he had nevertheless sustained a physical chastity in so far as involvement of other people was concerned. Brian Sewell uses the word "turbulent" to describe the pressure on him, though one might also see this as an experience of the necessary effort to try and overcome a temptation to a behaviour that is recognised as morally wrong. It was the experience of a moral constraint, the maintaining of a boundary to human behaviour against a strong desire to cross that boundary. One suspects, from the subsequent events that Brian Sewell describes in this extract, that it was a moral constraint that he was willing to abandon with a certain readiness.
So the question being asked in this post is the following. Was the change in Brian Sewell's style of life a change "essential for my sanity", as he wishes to present it, or the abandoning of a legitimate moral constraint, of value both to Brian himself and to society as a whole, and the abandonment of which led Brian to a life of promiscuity?