There be dragons!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Consciousness and sex

If consciousness is the problem, that is, if self-awareness, being self-conscious is the human difficulty, then why is sexuality such a big deal? Not that it isn't a big deal; it is. Rather, why is our identity of self so wrapped up with our vision of sexuality and so intimately tied to the sexual life we choose to engage in? What is the connection between our sexual life and the self-image we deal with on a regular basis? We, as the only creature that seems to be aware of its self, the only creature that makes effigies, the only creature that lies or laughs, seem also to be the only creature with difficulties concerning our sexuality? Why not eating or sleeping? These things define us to a degree, but not nearly as powerfully as sexuality. Nobody, as C.S. Lewis notes, pays money to slowly see a pork chop unveiled.

Perhaps "power" is the key word. Self-consciousness assumes power over things. It considers that because it knows it exists it therefore must be in control. Yet urges creep up on us, some to lesser degree, some to greater. The greater the urge the greater power it has over us and the less we think we are in control. Since the urge to sex is one of the most powerful urges, Aphrodite is very strong, it has a great deal of power over us; it can even enslave us; make us feel driven by it. And the whole while it seems to inflate our opinion of ourselves to unhealthy degrees - perpetuating the myth of our immortal divinity.

The struggle against this urge forces us, then, to redefine our own self-image, to learn humility and know our limits, to come in contact with our own mortality.

Moreover, it seems, that as we do construct effigies we, like Pygmalion, tend to mistake our effigies for the reality. We make a God out of our gods and think that our perceptions are the reality. But there is a vast lacuna in that relationship between what is and what we think is. This is particularly true, it seems, with our self-image; we think that we are greater than we are. Perverse or rampant sexuality seems to reinforce this misguided self-image and makes objects out of the other people with whom we engage; it objectifies them.

So perhaps our sexuality is tied up with our inappropriate self-image and thus blinds us to the reality of the world such that we become enslaved to it. Mastering it might prove the thing to give us clear vision of who we are and what the world really is. And conversely, those who do not attempt to master it would continue to see the world darkly.

1 comment:

  1. It's a shame so many people find themselves at opposite ends of this extreme. On one hand, there are people so obsessed with their own sexual power that, like you said, this empowerment objectifies them. Conversely, there are people who think so little of themselves that they can't recognize their own qualities. Instead of admiring themselves like Narcissus, they are reviled by their own God-given bodies. Humility is good, but take it down a notch! In both cases, reality is distorted. One exaggerates and perverts a Truth; the other denies it.

    I would add that we mustn't deny our sexual self-image entirely. How do I put this? If you're hot, you're hot. Just don't obsess over it. Like you said, we are mortal. It won't last forever. If we don't get over it, we'll end up looking like so many celebrities who can't accept the fact that they are growing old. Ewwwwwwwww!