File spoon-archives/marxism-thaxis.archive/marxism-thaxis_1998/marxism-thaxis.9804, message 89

Date: Wed, 1 Apr 1998 20:55:55 +0200
Subject: M-TH: Re: Socially necessary sex and socially free sex

I wrote:

>>There's just as little point in claiming that sex isn't a biological
>>necessity. No sex -- no more human beings (forget utopian Brave New World
>>test tube dreams!). No more human beings -- species death. But the survival
>>aspect is just the necessary foundation of sex, whose significance for the
>>development of humanity will only become clear when society has made this
>>foundation rock solid and freed up the creative uses of sex -- in other
>>words, the benefits we'll get from *free* sex  as opposed to *necessary*,
>>compulsory sex will only become clear under socialism.
>>A certain minimal amount of sexual time will be necessary for the
>>biological needs of the species, all the rest will be ours to dispose of as
>>we wish.

and James contradicted me:

>This sounds good like a good analogy, but isn't. The analogy does not
>work. A society does not *need* sex in the same way that it needs work.

I thought I made this clear enough -- "No sex -- no more human beings
(forget utopian Brave New World test tube dreams!). No more human beings --
species death." That's what I call necessary. It's primitive sex, the same
as hunting and gathering is primitive work, and as different from sex in
our society as work in our society is from hunting and gathering -- but you
still can't wish either function away!

>It is conceivable (though unlikely) that all procreation could be by
>artificial insemination.

Huxley conceived this kind of conception in Brave New World, and some
sci-fi uses it, but it's so utopian and crackpot as an alternative for our
society or the foreseeable future that's it's typical of James to bring it
in as a serious argument. Unlike a number of our skilled rhetoricians (no
names, no pack drill -- at least for today) who dress the most hair-raising
implausibilities in honeyed words and brazenly take them out for Sunday
walks, James has the masochistic grit to roll them out warts and all. "In
your faces, unworthy, unappreciative mob!" -- Odi profanum vulgus et arceo!

Here's a typical Protestant male perspective:

>Sex take a moment (at least it does with me).
>Work dominates our lives. The sex act is just a small component of the
>overall reproduction of the human species. Work is the reproduction of
>the human species.

Sex is not just reduced to a very foreshortened conception of the sex act,
but to the climax itself. But these things differ (at last a *use* for
reading Henry Miller!), for instance, some people ejaculate longer than
others fuck. Strindberg had problems with this (and he wondered why his
wives didn't appreciate him) -- a typical uptight petty-bourgeois
writer/artist swinging wildly between devil-may-care bohemian and
authoritarian patriarch. Anyway he abhorred what he called "the endless
toil of frogs in the swamp" and preferred the way "birds alight briefly and
wing off back to the heavens" (frog quote is exact, except for slight
poetic licence; bird quote is approximate). He was also much preoccupied by
the "lesbian threat" -- one of his plays is called "Night of the Tribades
[pronounced tribberds = lesbians]"

But what all this does is to ignore the place of sex in our lives and thus
in society. It's a time-and-motion study gone mad, cos it doesn't know what
it's looking at. Just think of all the manoeuvering and positioning and
posturing and preening going on to prepare for a sexual encounter,
preferably a lasting and satisfying one. Just think of all the thought
directly and indirectly connected with preparing, executing and evaluating
sexual encounters. And most importantly think of the imbecility of the
following immortal words (which have earned a place on my wall in a golden

	The sex act is just a small component of the overall reproduction
of the
	human species.

So that's all right, then. Let's forget all this silliness and be Real
Serious Thinkers. Feel uncomfortable? Go to the bog and have a quick
Sherman, so we can get on with the meeting.

>There is nothing intrisic to the sex act itself that makes it the focus
>of the massively inflated (!) realm of the erotic, the domestic realm,
>social intercourse and so on. These things are historical features that
>sieze hold of the natural sex act as the canvass on which to elaborate
>their social meanings.

Look, James, why should this one act of all the millions of possible human
acts (like picking your nose or wiping your arse) have been singled out as
the focus for all the apparatus you describe? Pure chance? An ideological
conspiracy on the part of ruling class propagandists? But in that case why
do advertisers use it as the single most effective way of getting us to
part with what fruits of our labour we dispose of? What's intrinsic to the
sex act is that it is the basis of our survival as a species. It's so
powerful that it's like the sun, extremely difficult to see, even if it's
there all the time and we'd be dead without it. It's more than the sun,
it's the black hole at the galactic centre of human experience, with an
irresistible gravitational pull and limitless power over everything that
comes into its vicinity, including anti-social individuals full of hang-ups
(ie most of us) who find the barriers between themselves and others at
least temporarily torn down in a way that can give rise to acute
existential development. It's the crucible of human alchemy.

The womb and pregnancy and birth are all part and parcel of this great
bedrock of shared human experience, but the division into sexes has given
women a biological monopoly of this sphere, as opposed to fertilization, so
I'll pass on this for the moment.

Now given all this, the control we now have over reproduction (slight as it
is) allows us to navigate a little more safely on the great ocean of sex,
but we're still floating on it in our flimsy craft and very much at its
mercy. Our new control allows several more degrees of freedom in relation
to fertilization and pregnancy (including avoidance and termination).
Together with advances in public health and hygiene, and greater awareness
of the importance of sex and greater opportunities for having it, it means
a lot more people are having a lot more sex for a lot longer (years, not
minutes!) these days than they ever have before, and in a greater variety
of ways. Also a lot more people are turning on to sex and enjoying it a lot
more fully than used to be the case.

>Freeing the sex act, as you argue, might well mean freeing sexuality
>from the sex act: we are alreay well on the way.

But wanking is also a sex act... Perhaps James means "from the sex act with
a member of the opposite sex"`? or "from the sex act with another human

No sex, please, we're British!

Dicks out now!

Down with erections!

Sexuality good, sex act bad!

Close your eyes and think of your .... work!

James for Pope!



PS Here's a little poem that might amuse some of you:

Andra aktens final			Finale of Act II

(Culex)				(Culex)

*Idyllen* sl=F6t sitt gyllene gap		The *Idyll* closed its golden jaw,
med dessa p=E5 sin tunga:		our heroes on its tongue:
f=F6rtvivlan =E4r en egenskap		despair's a way of feeling sore
som passar f=F6r de unga,		that's suited to the young,
   men p=E5 Medel=E5lderns arm		   Middle age provides an arm
   sover Lyckan trygg och varm		   for Luck to sleep on safe and warm
och i ett stadigt *=E4ktenskap* 		and in robust marriage evermore
ska Gl=E4djen st=E4ndigt sjunga.		will hymns to Joy be sung.

(Anopheles)			(Anopheles)

*Libido* bjuder upp till dans		*Libido* calls us to our feet
och alla m=E5ste hoppa,			and all must join the hop,
ty d=E4r den ljuva kl=E5dan fanns		for when we feel that itch so sweet
fick ingen makt att stoppa:		there's none can make it stop:
   du som stel och tillkn=E4ppt g=E5r		   rigid, silent, tightly knit,
   pl=F6tsligt du en raptus f=E5r		   suddenly you'll have a fit
som bet dig *pulex irritans*,		as if a flea had bit your seat
(det =E4r: en vanlig loppa).		(that's *pulex irritans*, the lop).

(From Gradiva och andra dikter/Gradiva and other poems by Goeran
Printz-Paahlson, Bonniers, Stockholm, 1966. My translation.)

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