conditioned to ache for soul
Our strangest cultural ideal:
fulfillment as an individual happens lost in
the bliss of the neural reward of
The idealization of sex
as a force for personal liberation and
self fulfillment would have struck the Greeks, icons of
sexual liberation as very naive.
To the Greeks, Eros was a powerful force of nature, volatile and
Necessary for life to continue but prone to sudden
Greeks invent a
repertoire of images to communicate
insanity, burning disease,
the violence of war all
expressed the rationality destroying power of sex.
a soul nurturing flame, Eros is the conflagration that burns Troy and leaves
its plains strewn with corpses, an inferno lit by the illicit passion of Paris
imagery of Eros, the Greek Cupid, has been emptied of its sinister
connotations and signifies instead our sexual
The Greeks understood that
cultural controls were necessary both to limit
the force of sex and to exploit its creative energy.
the institution of marriage, emotions like guilt and shame, reason itself, all
were devices for clipping Eros' wings.
Marquis de Sade and Leopold von
Sacher-Masoch explained to us what happens when we
liberate Eros from social
The verbs of "having" and
"getting" so commonly applied to sex bespeak the degree to which
sex has been commodified.
We do not
speak of "giving sex" or "sharing sex" because of our self-definition as
separate, discrete individuals.
The deepest spiritual function of Eros
is to melt the boundaries that enforce separation.
Sexual intamacy, more
than any other relationship, is diminished and debased by its commoditization.
For the same reason, sex has an enormous subversive potential.
The sharing of self involves the dissolution of the separation in which
Ecstasy awaits us when we throw off separations shackles.
regimes have exhibited great hostility toward sexual licentiousness -
a form of repression that George
Orwell identified as a key feature of totalitarianism.
"In what is
considered the "developed" world economies
a new "freedom" of "sexual
expression" has emerged into the international social cultural psyche which
began with the French
Revolution which introduced
sexual "freedom" and
sodomy - the willful destruction of the
large intestine in sadistic rituals.
In this new 'First World' of
the base animal instincts and
unnatural desires are glorified as life
Attempting to excise the transcendental core of union
between two unique discrete beings of the First World is the goal of
that remains is, depending on
the context, an inconsequential
pleasure, a biological function,
rank animality, obscene
temptation, or a frightening taboo.
of these honors the sacred dimension of sex, which ancient Taoist and Tantric
practice saw as nothing less than a gateway to the transcendence of cosmic
Potentially a touchstone
for reconnecting with the true unity behind our all-consuming play of
individuation, potentially a
secret window through the veil of our illusory separateness,
sacred sexuality has been reduced
to a fuck." - Charles Eisenstein
the Social Darwinistic way of
viewing sex act as entirly self fulfilling in and of itself, guilt and shame
have been discarded as hypocritical,
reason has been dismissed as
the instrument of repression and
neurosis while purely
physical pleasure is supposed to satiate
the spirits desire for divine
Radical feminists who
meticulously catalog the depredations of heterosexual Eros are silent about the
darker side of homosexuality.
Sentimental rhetoric blinds us to poison dripping
from the arrows of Eros.
off liberated sexuality as liberated sexuality sells product.
People easily confuse confuse sexual
passion with compassion.
Compassion based solely in
pleasure in another is not compassion at all.
"To be in love is merely to be in a state of
perpetual anesthesia -
to mistake an
ordinary young woman for a goddess. " - H.L. Mencken
Men and women have always depended on
each other for survival.
Romantic love is the universal human
emotion that bonds men to women and women to men.
This poses a puzzle
as we expect evolution to produce rational mechanisms of mate
From an evolutionary perspective, no single decision is more
important than the choice of a
How does blind
passion - a form of dementia that consumes
the mind creating emotional dependency
through delusional idealization possibly
evolve to solve a problem that might
be better solved by cool rationality?
While rationality sets a minimum
threshold on who qualifies as a mate, rationality profoundly fails to predict
the final choice.
Romantic passion has a tragic side.
Juliet died of poison.
Romeo chose to kill himself rather than live without her.
based on romantic passion have pervaded
Japanese culture for
centuries, a final vindication of the intensity of a person's commitment.
When parents and society conspired to keep lovers apart, lovers
sometimes tied themselves together and jump off a cliff or hurl themselves into
The most perilous side of romantic passion, however, comes not
from a folie à deux, but from a folie à un -
the demonic possession that consumes a
person when romantic passion is not reciprocated.
Unrequited romantic passion is
the foundation for fatal attraction
and the experience of unrequited
passion is quite common.
By the age of 25, most people have
experienced unrequited romantic passion at least once, either as a would-be
lover whose passions were rejected
or as the object of someone's unwanted romantic desires.
One of the
great romantic passion stories in history is that of Nicholas and
inherited the Russian throne at the end of the 19th century.
his adolescence his parents started looking for a suitable mate.
16, contrary to his parent's wishes, he became obsessed with Alexandra, a
beautiful princess living in England with her grandmother, Queen
objections, cultural chasms, and a
separation spanning thousands of miles, Nicholas was determined to capture
Alexandra, however, found him a bit dull and did not relish
the thought of moving to the harsh
climate of Saint Petersberg.
turns 24 and, having been obsessed with Alexandra for nearly eight years,
resolves to make one final effort to win
Given this state of mind, he is devastated when she
writes saying that she had definitely decided not to wed him. And she asks him
not to contact her again.
Nicholas becomes a stalker and, eventually,
wins her love.
Bonds forged with
romantic passion require protection.
To understand sexual passion we
must understand human reproductive
To produce a single child, women bear the burdens and
pleasures of nine months of
pregnancy - an obligatory form of parental investment that men cannot share.
To produce a child men need only devote a few hours or a few minutes.
Over time the strategy of casual mating proved to be more
reproductively successful for men than for
An ancestral woman, even one having sex with multiple partners in
the course of a single year will still produce only a single child.
therefore evolved a desire for sex with a variety of women.
Evolutionary reasons for the desire for sexual variety suggest
realities provide compelling evidence.
existence of men's sexual jealousy.
Men's jealousy is an evolutionary response to something alarming: the
threat of a loved one's infidelity.
The intensity of men's jealousy
provides a psychological clue that betrays women's desire for men other than
their regular partners.
Second, infidelity is known in all cultures,
including tribal societies,
pointing to the universal prevalence of infidelity.
vary from culture to culture (high in Sweden and low in China), but infidelity
Sexual infidelity causes divorce worldwide more than
any other marital violation, being closely rivaled only by the infertility of
The fact that women have affairs in cultures from the Tiwi
of northern Australia to the suburbs of Los Angeles reveals that some women
refuse to limit themselves to a single partner despite men's attempts to
A third line of evidence comes from
new research on human
If a woman
has sex with two men within the course of a week, sperm competition can ensue,
as the sperm from different men scramble.
When the sperm from
two different men are mixed in the laboratory, kamikaze sperm wrap themselves
around the egg getters and destroy them, committing suicide in the process.
This physiological evidence reveal a long evolutionary history in which
men battled with other men, within the woman's reproductive tract, for access
to the vital egg needed for transporting their genes into the
women have benefitted from multiple sexual partners in countless
The obvious benefit comes from the resources a sexual partner may
Research by Steve Gangestad and Randy Thornhill of the
University of New Mexico reveals that women choose sexual partnerss with
Women who have sex with different men can also produce
more genetically diverse children, providing a sort of "hedge" against
During ancestral times,
disease, warfare, and food shortages made survival a precarious proposition.
The odds were not trivial that a husband would succumb to a disease,
become debilitated by a parasite, or incur injury during a risky hunt or a
The paleontological and cross-cultural records reveal
this clue - the skulls and skeletons show injuries mostly on males.
woman's husband, in short, stood a significant chance of suffering a
debilitating or lethal wound.
Ancestral women who failed to have mate
insurance, a backup replacement in the event that something happened to her
regular partner, would have suffered greatly compared to women who cultivated
Women are five times more likely to experience
sexual desire when they are ovulating than when they are not.
tend to time their sexual liaisons to coincide with the peak of their sexual
desire, when they are most likely to
Sex with husbands is most likely to occur when women were not
ovulating, a strategy aimed at keeping a man rather than conceiving with him.
Women experience sexual desire when they are ovulating, and if they
have an extra martial sexual liaison partner, have urges to have sex with
Spouses experience a signal detection problem.
detection problem is not merely about picking up accurate signals in the face
of an uncertain and ambiguous welter of information.
It is also about
making correct inferences about the cause of the signal.
infidelity is invariably secret, signals emited are intentionally muted.
many couples referred to him in which one of the husband
experienced "morbid jealousy."
Most of his cases were husbands who had delusions that their wives were
sexually unfaithful, and these delusions destroyed the fabric of
As he believed that morbid
jealousy was a psychiatric illness
that could not be cured, his most common recommendation was that the couples
Many couples followed his recommendations.
As he was
keenly interested in the subsequent fate of his patients, he routinely
contacted them after a number of months had passed.
He discovered that
many of the wives had subsequently become sexually involved with the very men
about whom their husbands had been jealous!
Some of these women
actually married the objects of their husbands suspicions.
must have been sensing signs of infidelity.
the wives proclaimed innocence
and declared that their
husbands jealousy was irrational husbands were decieved - and so was the psychiatrist.
Jealousy is a part of
human nature because of the threat of
Evolution has forged elaborate defenses to detect and
fend off threat of loss.
developed elaborate moral codes
in the attempt to reign in muderous passion.
Jealousy can be emotional acid that
corrodes marriages, undermines
self-esteem, triggers battering, and leads to
the ultimate crime of murder.
Despite its dangerous manifestations, jealousy helped to solve a
critical reproductive quandary for ancestral
Jealous men are more likely to preserve valuable commitments to
their own children rather than squandering them on the children of their
As descendants of
a long line of men who acted to
ensure their paternity, modern men carry with them the dangerous passion of
jealousy that led to their forebears' reproductive success.
destroy previously harmonious relationships and is not always a reaction to an
infidelity that has already been discovered but may be an anticipatory response
to intutive feelings of infidelity.
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