“In Search of Pure Lust” by Lise Weil — A Visionary’s Memoir

Weil, Lise. “In Search of Pure Lust”, She writes, 2018.

A Visionary’s Memoir

Amos Lassen

The seventies were quite a time in this country and those of us who were there remember the decade as one of pulsing sexuality. This was the world that Lise Weil came out in. She founded “Trivia: A Journal of Ideas”, a radical feminist literary and political magazine, in 1982, which she edited for nine years and brought her into the worlds of publishing, writing and activism. Her memoir is so much more than just her story; it is also a look at the 70s and 80s as experienced journalistically. After living in that world for 15 years, a friend invited her to a Zen retreat and big changes were soon underway. She began to self-examine and she learned a different approach to desire than the one she was used to. She realized that she was not only on a search of pure lust but also in search of pure love.

This is quite a candid memoir and Weill has something to say about everyone including herself. She was a visionary feminist and as we read we share that with her. We get a mixture of the personal and the political and understand that it is impossible to split those with Weill. She came into what was known as the golden age of the lesbian feminist movement, a time “when we lived the belief that we were reinventing culture and society from root to flower.”

Weil’s memoir is both a history of an age now gone and a tribute to a time when one could become someone just as she did. I found it fascinating how the intellectual and the erotic come together in the women’s movement. It was a time when women embarked on their quest for freedom from the patriarchy they felt roped them in. The revolution of that movement was shared by women who have become icons. Weil has recreated vivid scenes though which she often moves through time and space freely and we follow her easily. We also see her transformation when she eventually finds her way to meditation and self-reflection.

It was Lise Weil and all the other radical feminist writers of that time who pushed the envelope after having challenged themselves, each other and the world. The battles that were fought often brought forth freedoms including the freedoms that we have today. I feel so much wiser for having read this.

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