Acting on desire I: lust, context
9 February 2008
Sex is not the answer. Sex is the question. ‘Yes’ is the answer.
— Swami X
Okay, I’m going to be experiencing this Pluto square in angular houses for a while, so sex, or rather, the part of the psyche expressed via sexuality, is probably going to surface quite often in my discourse. As it happens, serendipity (or synchronicity?) dictates that material that falls into my lap in recent weeks, or that I gravitate towards, seems to have something to say about the subject. And I don’t mean porn, though that can have its uses.
Some of that material includes Planet Waves‘ ‘Love, Lust and Compersion’ report, Naomi Wolf’s reflective Promiscuities (1997), which has had its share of detractors, Gabriel García Márquez’ Love in the Time of Cholera (1985), and Ang Lee’s exquisite Lust, Caution (2007), material which may well weave itself into future posts for a time.
A couple of weeks ago, I was considering the difficulty of sitting with desire over two posts (I & II), charging in both instances that it is necessary to separate the desire from the object of desire. I used a leather jacket in one example, and another human being in another.
I’ll come back to human beings in a bit, but I bought that jacket today, when the price was reduced by 50% from £24.99 to £13.00. After my volunteer’s discount, it came up to £10.00. The lady whom I work with even put it aside for me. Have I succumbed to my initial lust for the jacket? Is it a different desire from the one from two weeks ago? Has anything changed? Yes, and no.
What has changed? I’m two weeks older for one, slightly better financially, and the price has come down. What hasn’t changed? The fact that the object of desire is still separate from the desiring. The jacket is still the jacket. It is the context of my desire for it that has changed, a context that changes with circumstances, histories, tastes and preferences. Is that merely an excuse for moral degeneracy? I don’t think so. Moral resoluteness has its own contexts, too.
Substitute that jacket again for another human being with his/her own desires and changing contexts and there you have the mass tangle of communications, motivations, and interpretations, we call human relations.
Part II .
Image taken from Wikimedia Commons.