Religion, Sex, and the Romantics: A Manifesto  

rm_connor696 60M
944 posts
8/2/2006 7:46 pm

Last Read:
8/17/2006 9:31 am

Religion, Sex, and the Romantics: A Manifesto


Once again, I spout in a tiresomely didactic mode.

For as long as religion has existed, it seems, sex has coupled with it. Some aspects of that connection lie right on the surface, I guess. Many religions--and I'm including all religions here, not just the six now predominant--focus on creation and sustenance, especially of life. "As above, so below"--so said some bloke with the unlikely pseudonym of Hermes Trismagistus, and so it seems to be. Procreation and nurture in the natural world--sex, in a word--are mirrored in cosmogony and cosmology, in stories that tell us what the world is, how it arose, and how it continues through time.

A somewhat more sophisticated line centers on the religious experience, especially the ecstatic states of rapture and mysticism. Freud identifies these with a sort of ego death (he calls such experiences "oceanic" and suggests that the child must feel someting like this while in the womb). Sex, too, especially orgasm, is supposed to evoke this kind of egoless state, a notion that emerges in the French colloquialism for orgasm: "le petit morte," or "the little death." Here, then, we have another parallel between the two.

But maybe there's one more connection lurking in the wings, one that includes romanticism as well.

The word "romance" derives from a form of writing, those twelfth-century poems written not in Latin but in vernacular French (called "romanz" at the time), which spoke of life among the nobility. They were generally tailored to appeal to courtly women, and so the emphasis lay on love and fidelity, not the violence and worldly power found in epic verse. (Even now, French and German call a novel "un roman" or "ein Roman," respectively).

In nineteenth-century Europe the word underwent yet another transformation, now naming an aesthetic movement that privileged experience over reason, emotional appeal over formal arrangement. In music it gave us Beethoven, Brahms, and Wagner; in literature it gave us Goethe and Wordsworth.

But what runs though all romantic art is a vision of purity, of callings and feelings and ideals that brook no compromise. The knight of the early romances must remain true to his lady even though it means certain death; so too, the romantic hero of the nineteenth century must prefer suicide to any corruption of his or her self-defined mission in life. For such individuals, life serves ideals, not vice versa.

And maybe this, too, helps explain the connection between religion and sex. For the true romantic (and I know there are many hiding out at this site), sex is transcendent. It offers a way of connecting to another that remains inexpressible with inconstant, duplicitous words. (Note that "duplicity" indicates a doubleness, an ambiguity, whereas the romantic, seeking purity, demands unity.) Sex for the romantic blocks out the world and thus anything that might sully the experience. And so too with religion, which provides the ne plus ultra par excellence. Religions obsess over purity because the religious urge is an urge to purity, to singleness, unity, and an exclusionary transcendence.

There's a funny thing about romantics, though: they often masquerade as cynics. I know because I do exactly that. Well, maybe the word "masquerade" is unfair. It's less a mask than a fall-back position, a defensive palisade. Here's the thing. The world is a "big blooming buzzing confusion," to borrow from William James. Even Billy Idol concurs when he sings "there is nothing pure in this world." The world is a cold place for romantics, then, because it's a real place, not an ideal one. We can never fully avoid the ambiguity that infects everyday life. And so a romantic will be betrayed time after time. No one needs to be a cynic who doesn't feel that betrayal acutely; for those of us who do, cynicism becomes almost a necessity.

Still, in my heart I'll choose hope, always and everywhere. I may be predicting the worst, but I'll be hoping for the best; I'll be hoping for one thing, just one thing, without qualification or contradiction, without doubt or disintegration. The impossible dream indeed. The Buddhists warn us that only the void can answer that demand. And yet I grasp for something more, something solid. The smugly clever have often observed that in the myth of Panadora's box, the "gift" of hope was actually the cruellest curse, for it means that we keep on keeping on when any fool can see there's no profit in it.

Well then, put bells on my shoes, a red ball on my nose, and call me Pagliacchi.

song2262 54F
643 posts
8/2/2006 8:30 pm

*sitting at your feet pondering all you say...*

*...and accompanying you on the tubular bells*




florallei 99F

8/2/2006 10:39 pm

The world is a cold place for a romantic...he is the lonely fool waiting for the impossible to happen...and then sometimes the fool finds another romantic...what are the chances?
flo


rm_FreeLove999 46F
16127 posts
8/2/2006 11:45 pm

if you don't keep hanging on, then the only alternative is suicide. i prefer to choose life, and be hopeful about it... life without hope is too damn miserable... that's why my mother accuses me both of being a pessimist (cynic) and a idealistic dreamer. i do think i have a strong grip on the reality of how crap things are, but i guess this makes me only more determined in my hope...

as for the ideal being that ecstatic place beyond words or other expression ... well then, we are only imprinted with that ideal because we have seen it expressed in art, in writing, in painting and in music ... this would imply that it is not beyond expression ... if you are attentive to the artist's expression of it, it can even lead to you finding it yourself ...



[blog freelove999]


rm_connor696 60M
834 posts
8/3/2006 7:21 am

    Quoting song2262:
    *sitting at your feet pondering all you say...*

    *...and accompanying you on the tubular bells*


Yeah, I can fall into pompous-ass mode when I write, can't I? Conversation is easier--you can see the other person rolling his or her eyes!

Speaking of pompous asses, I can never see the phrase "tubular bells" without remembering the album by the same name. It might have been before your time; it was a concept thing written and performed by a sixteen-year-old wunderkind named Mike Oldfield and used on the soundtrack for The Exorcist. Not that it was bad--it wasn't--but it definitely took itself seriously.

But at least you didn't add any tympani!


rm_connor696 60M
834 posts
8/3/2006 7:24 am

    Quoting florallei:
    The world is a cold place for a romantic...he is the lonely fool waiting for the impossible to happen...and then sometimes the fool finds another romantic...what are the chances?
    flo
Ah, I'd have to say the chances are less good than one--okay, than I--might hope. Especially if one or both have their cynic faces on. But it must be awfully nice when it does happen.


rm_connor696 60M
834 posts
8/3/2006 7:33 am

    Quoting rm_FreeLove999:
    if you don't keep hanging on, then the only alternative is suicide. i prefer to choose life, and be hopeful about it... life without hope is too damn miserable... that's why my mother accuses me both of being a pessimist (cynic) and a idealistic dreamer. i do think i have a strong grip on the reality of how crap things are, but i guess this makes me only more determined in my hope...

    as for the ideal being that ecstatic place beyond words or other expression ... well then, we are only imprinted with that ideal because we have seen it expressed in art, in writing, in painting and in music ... this would imply that it is not beyond expression ... if you are attentive to the artist's expression of it, it can even lead to you finding it yourself ...
Heh. Maybe mother's sometimes do know best--some mothers, anyway.

Yes, indications of those ecstatic states abound, as do procedures for attaining them. And clearly they lead a lot of people to the pursuit of those states. I meant merely that those representations can capture the states themselves only indirectly, incompletely, perhaps metaphorically. Rapture is, to use a fifty-dollar word, ineffable--but fortunatly, not unattainable!

BTW, good luck with all your deadlines.


rm_FreeLove999 46F
16127 posts
8/3/2006 12:16 pm

you are cordially invited to A baby blog party!!... hope to see you there!



[blog freelove999]


TheOracle2006 105F

8/13/2006 1:52 pm

Methinks ye thinks too much on colloqui... if Lady Melancholy could redirect thy tongue to return to thy Quest, oh Errant Knight, thy skill will thus transform to trill my maidenhood's delight.

- L'Oracle de L'Amour

To catch the Oracles attentions the man must have a lust for the fantasitic imagination. He must be able to tell a tale without base words. Understanding the Art of Seduction with a True Heart is the only premise to enter the Cave of the Oracle.

If you please... write to The Oracle and we may explore some unrequited corners of our minds... lustfully.

I turn the page: ODE ON MELANCHOLY by John Keats

Veil'd Melancholy has her sovran shrine,
Though seen of none save him whose strenuous tongue
Can burst Joy's grape against his palate fine;
His soul shall taste the sadness of her might,
And be among her cloudy trophies hung.

Hi again


rm_connor696 60M
834 posts
8/13/2006 9:40 pm

    Quoting TheOracle2006:
    Methinks ye thinks too much on colloqui... if Lady Melancholy could redirect thy tongue to return to thy Quest, oh Errant Knight, thy skill will thus transform to trill my maidenhood's delight.

    - L'Oracle de L'Amour

    To catch the Oracles attentions the man must have a lust for the fantasitic imagination. He must be able to tell a tale without base words. Understanding the Art of Seduction with a True Heart is the only premise to enter the Cave of the Oracle.

    If you please... write to The Oracle and we may explore some unrequited corners of our minds... lustfully.

    I turn the page: ODE ON MELANCHOLY by John Keats

    Veil'd Melancholy has her sovran shrine,
    Though seen of none save him whose strenuous tongue
    Can burst Joy's grape against his palate fine;
    His soul shall taste the sadness of her might,
    And be among her cloudy trophies hung.
Alors, la tristesse peut chanter un chanson seduisant, bien sur--et de temps en temps je me demande s'il faut la connaitre pour savoir vivre une bonne vie. C'est a dire qu'il faut savoir ce qu'on peut perdre a fin de prendre conscience du valeur d'espoir et de la vie meme: sans l'ombre, le soleil ne va faire qu'un desert.

Quant a ma langue . . . c'est la langue d'amour, n'est-ce pas?!


TheOracle2006 105F

8/16/2006 10:28 pm

Pardonnez mon traducteur français... pour He ne parle pas aussi fluent que vous... mais le bruit est toujours doux... J'espère ne pas vous effrayer mais vous attirer
TheOracle2006
en particulier
[post 463385] "So the lover must struggle for words." T.S. Elliot
L'Oracle de L'Amour

Hi again


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