23 August 2005

The People vs. Chastity

Norman Mailer on masturbation
Q: Do you think you're something of a puritan when it comes to masturbation?
A: I think masturbation is bad.
Q: In relation to heterosexual fulfillment?
A: In relation to everything -- orgasm, heterosexuality, to style, to stance, to be able to fight the good fight. I think masturbation cripples people. It doesn't cripple them altogether, but it turns them askew, it sets up a bad and often enduring tension. I mean has anyone ever studied the correlation between cigarette smoking and masturbation? Anybody who spends his adolescence masturbating generally enters his young manhood with no sense of being a man. The answer--I don't know what the answer is--sex for adolescents may be the answer, it may not. I really don't know.
[exerpted from The Presidential Papers by Norman Mailer, copyright 1960, 1961]

Nietzsche on Chastity:
I love the forest. It is bad to live in cities; there, there are too many of the lustful.
Is it not better to fall into the hands of a murderer than into the dreams of a lustful woman?
And just look at these men; their eye shows it —they know nothing better on earth than to lie with a woman.
Filth is at the bottom of their souls; and worse still, if their filth still has spirit in it!
Oh to be were perfect — at least as animals! But to animals belongs innocence.
Do I counsel you to deny your instincts? I counsel you to innocence in your instincts.
Do I counsel you to chastity? Chastity is a virtue with some, but with many almost a vice.
These are continent, to be sure; but doggish lust looks enviously out of all that they do.
Even into the heights of their virtue and into their cold spirit doth this creature follow them, with its discord. And how nicely can doggish lust beg for a piece of spirit, when a piece of flesh is denied it! You love tragedies and all that breaks the heart? But I am distrustful of your doggish lust.
You have too cruel eyes, and you look wantonly towards the sufferers. Hasn't your lust just disguised itself and taken the name of fellow-suffering?

Tom Wolfe on "Le Mariage blanc"

From "The joy of no sex"

"And so I began my adventures in abstinence. For about a week, I felt pretty sorry for myself: 'tis a far, far nobler thing I do, etc., etc. Then, the perks began to kick in. As Sharon's and my sex life had dwindled, I had been reduced to the status of a frantic little corgi looking to hump somebody's leg, constantly wondering whether tonight would be the night I'd get some -- Yes? No? Maybe tomorrow? Maybe if we double up on the K-Y? Maybe if we watch "Emmanuelle" first? Now I realized that for the first time in months, maybe years, I felt like a full-grown, adult male again. By taking fucking out of the marital equation altogether, I had regained some measure of control over my yapping libido, and recovered some dignity in the bargain.

My libido, of course, was not so easily convinced. It still wanted to know where the snatch was. Jacking off in my forlorn bed, like Lester Burnham auto-eroticizing in the shower at the beginning of "American Beauty," I was that most abject thing on earth: a masturbating middle-aged married man. But one of the dirty little secrets of celibacy is that, counterintuitively, the longer you go without intercourse, the less you care. Over time, I found that I'd rather read another chapter of whatever it was I was reading than get frisky with myself. I had my self-respect back, and I finally finished "A Man in Full.""

This is no harangue about the virtue of a sexless existence. I am not a "Jimmy Swaggert" who has the audacity to stand before you wagging my finger and telling you to stop having sex - all the while (for 20+ years it turned out), he was visiting a prostitute during his free nights.

I have checked my hubris at the web portal (the webmaster is kenneling it for me for a small fee while I write this).
I just think that sex has assumed an entirely overriding role in our society and it needs to be examined.

With the advent of the AIDS epidemic and all the other attendant STDs that occur as a result of sexual excess, the "need" for recreational sex/masturbation has been cast in a new light. Gone are the "free sex" mantras from the drug-addicted hippies. But there is a pale haze that exudes through our country of "if it feels good, do it." That, unfortunately, is a hangover from the 60's and 70's that doesn't seem to be going anywhere fast.

I like that quote by Norman Mailer. I think he zooms in to the center of the issue at hand and asks the tough question - Is it wrong to have too much sex? Is chastity just for priests, medieval knights and vestal virgins?

Kids who are tutored to steer towards abstinence are told that they are robots and are denying their essential human nature...

Much more on this later....

No comments: