Is Sex & Erotic Infatuation for its
Own Sake always Unsatisfying?
In all times and places human beings have found sex close to irresistible, and this even apart from the relief of bodily craving. Sexual union is the one activity in which a man can feel wholly himself, having his way, neither God nor man intervening, the woman responding. In the four-thousand-year-old Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh, the prostitute, having seduced the virginal Enkidu, says to him, “Now you are like a god.” So any man might feel, for about ten minutes. What else in our world makes a man feel godlike, even for ten minutes? There is a mystical, magical element in sex which survives any number of unmagical, un-mystical experiences of it.
Sex without love is an empty experience; but as empty experiences go, it’s a pretty good empty experience.
As we grow old we are apt to forget the state of extreme sexual excitement in which we spent the years between sixteen and twenty. There was a musical comedy in the early twenties called The Cabaret Girl, in which Miss Dorothy Dickson starred. Today it would seem, I suppose, as comic as The Boy Friend, but, during my first year after leaving school, I saw it six times, and every time but one in a state of continuous physical excitement. (That one time an understudy had taken Miss Dickson’s part.)
Graham Greene (from A Sort of Life, 1971)
The lust of the body. . .has the fatal power of making everything else in the world seem uninteresting while it lasts.
C. S. Lewis
Sex is the only mysticism offered by materialism, whose other toys—like motor cars and aeroplanes and moving pictures and swimming pools and flights to the moon—soon pall. Sex pure and undefiled; without the burden of procreation, or even, ultimately, of love or identity.
Nobody was ever the better for the carnal act.
It is not difficult to see why vested interests are liable to favour a sexual revolution. Nothing is more calculated to induce acceptance of the social and economic status quo than erotic obsessions when they are divorced from love or procreation. These, especially the former, can prove subversive forces in that they stimulate individual and particular emotions and loyalties, whereas eroticism is generalised and therefore conducive to a conformist state of mind. Bread and circuses have to be paid for by the State; pornography is cheap and in plentiful supply. Marx said that religion was the opium of the people. Sex is better.
[The following passage is from Dan Greenburg’s Scoring: A Sexual Memoir, 1972.]
Burt was everything I was not—a good-looking Jew, a big muscular guy, a player of ball, a screwer of girls—a non-complicated, non-analytical, non-neurotic, non-guilt-ridden, completely spontaneous guy. A Hebrew shegetz. He became my roommate, my confidante, my instructor in the art of scoring with women, my best friend. And, without deliberately setting out to do so, I betrayed him every chance I got.
The differences in our thinking about women were very basic. I thought in terms of Friday night dates, Saturday night dates, how many dates you had to have with a girl before you tried to kiss her good night. Burt didn’t think in terms of dates at all. He thought only of scoring. He’d call a girl up, go over to her house and f___ her. Or, if she was busy, he’d call up someone else and go over and f___ her. He didn’t think, as I did, in terms of Meaningful Relationships. He thought of getting his d___ into as many p______ as he could, with as little aggravation as he could.
He didn’t think, as I did, in terms of Rejections. He thought in terms of temporary delays. If a girl was busy the night he wanted to see her, or if she put him off the first time he made a pass at her, he tried again. And again. And again. He didn’t know the meaning of No. He didn’t sulk. He didn’t let his feelings get hurt. He didn’t seem to have any feelings. And maybe that’s the point: the difference between consistent scorers and me was that they never even knew when they were getting rejected.
[Alec Guinness’s gay actor-friend Bobby] Flemyng told Alec how, in middle age, he had felt disappointed by the course his career had taken and had hoped ‘above all to find passion—an ignoble and selfish ambition, I fear, given the circumstances and with my responsibilities.’ He had found passion, he wrote—but too late, too unsuitably and, some would say, ‘too falsely.’ He said he wished he had had the courage either to pursue this passion, thereby hurting his wife and daughter; or reject it and spare them. In the event, he had tried to do both, which had caused the greatest possible distress to all concerned. The past three years had been a time of great suffering: if there was an alternative to sexual jealousy, he wrote, he’d like to hear of it.
Piers Paul Reid (Guinness biographer)
Whenever we attempt to exploit sex like any other natural force or try to turn it into an intellectual problem and a matter of conscious emotion, we make a mess of it. Sex is good. It is the intrusion of the rationalising, exploiting mind that pollutes it and makes it turn rotten.
I could be content that we might procreate like trees, without conjunction, or that there were any way to perpetuate the world without this trivial and vulgar act of coition; It is the foolishest act a wise man commits in all his life, nor is there anything that will more deject his cooled imagination, when he shall consider what an odd and unworthy piece of folly he hath committed.
expense of spirit in a waste of shame
Is lust in action; and till action, lust
Is perjured, murderous, bloody, full of blame,
Savage, extreme, rude, cruel, not to trust,
Enjoy’d no sooner but despised straight,
Past reason hunted, and no sooner had
Past reason hated, as a swallow’d bait
On purpose laid to make the taker mad;
Mad in pursuit and in possession so;
Had, having, and in quest to have, extreme;
A bliss in proof, and proved, a very woe;
Before, a joy proposed; behind, a dream.
All this the world well knows; yet none knows well
To shun the heaven that leads men to this hell.
Shakespeare (Sonnet 129)
I’ve had sex, but it’s just not for me. It was boring and, quite frankly, disgusting . . . Take a step back and the concept is very disgusting—swapping bodily fluids. It’s not something you would do ordinarily and it’s not something I would do at all.
Norman Baker (a self-declared asexual)
The boy who first revealed to me the facts of life was clearly a Protestant, since he seemed to have read a little scripture. As the hair-raising news of human reproduction assaulted my scandalized ears, I resorted to the only defence available to me. “Well,” I rounded on him, “maybe that’s how Protestants do it . . .”
Thoughts about Sex & Eroticism
Free love is sometimes love but never freedom.
The sexual freedom of today for most people is really only a convention, an obligation, a social duty, a social anxiety, a necessary feature of the consumer’s way of life.
Pier Paolo Pasolini
Just before her marriage to actor Alec Guinness, Merula Salaman was told by her mother, “You know, this sex business isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.”
The pleasure is momentary, the position ridiculous, and the expense damnable.
None of us know what exactly is the sexual code we believe in, approving of many things on paper which we violently object to when they are practised by those we care about.
In my second marriage I tried to preserve the respect for my wife’s [sexual] liberty which I thought my creed enjoined. I found however that my capacity for forgiveness was not equal to the demands I was making on it.
Sex attraction doesn’t necessarily bring affection in its train. Sometimes it thrives on hostility. Sex can mix and blend with any strong emotion, of which love is only one.
The anger of lovers renews their love.
Terence (from The Woman of Andros, 166 BC)
Sex is the closest that many people ever come to a spiritual experience. Indeed, it is because it is a spiritual experience of sorts that so many chase after it with a repetitive, desperate kind of abandon.
M. Scott Peck
How desolate and ultimately disastrous and destructive is the pursuit of Eros for its own sake.
The Freudian psychologist insists that the sexual impulse is the chief source of psychological suffering and disorder.
As bees their sting, so the promiscuous leave behind them in each encounter something of themselves by which they are made to suffer.
The only thing that sanctifies sex is desire.
Germaine Greer Interview
St. Augustine wrote that nothing drags a good man away from the spiritual life as effectively as a woman, and that a sexual act was without sin only when it was also without desire.
The strongest oaths are straw
To th’ fire i’ th’ blood.
The Tempest (Prospero)
To be always with a woman and not to have intercourse with her is more difficult than to raise the dead.
St Bernard of Clairvaux
’Tis an affect worth consideration, that they, who are masters in the trade, prescribe as a remedy for amourous passions the full and free view of the body a man desires; so that, to cool his ardour, there needs no more but at full liberty to see and contemplate what he loves.
The journey from erotomania to erotophobia is shorter than many people think.
When you’re in love your instinct is to contemplate the beloved. When you’re in lust your instinct is to contemplate your enjoyment.
She [the gifted and glamourous Amrita Sher-Gil] often dined with me at the Cecil Hotel, where her appearance in the dining-room always created a marked impression. This I liked. In relations between the sexes, there is a strong element of exhibitionism.
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