Tuesday, July 27, 2004


(In response to Andi's response to Kurt.   I am, by the way, exagerating my personal history here, which has been quite a bit more nuanced, not to say boring, than I find I am representing it to be.)

Know the sex, and the sex will make you free.

Nobody ever actually said that to me, but it was scripture in my early life, implicit in all kinds of Rousseau-ish manifestos I swallowed whole back in the sixties and seventies. I did my best.

Came a time when I had to look back over my life and ask, all right, so when has sex ever made me free? When does it make good on this promise? Easy to see how it binds me. So when does the freedom part come in?

I don't see how I can honestly answer anything but, probably never. At my age you start unloading the future a bit. Bets that you've made all your life, that have never come off -- you start to think of cashing out and calling it a day on them. I kept betting that if I just found the right circumstances -- the right constellation of partners, and the right supportive culture -- sex would take me somewhere other than obsessive-compulsive land. It's time to step back from the green felt tables and say -- what if maybe it's time to stop playing this game? Now that I've lost steadily for thirty-five years, might it be time for me to see if there's any information to be gleaned from that?

Panic. Because my sexual openness has been a foundational piece of my self-image. Ego-panic. Remember the story of the monk who constituted his Self on the basis of his collar? I have always constituted my Self on the basis of my free sexuality.

I started off to write some nonsense about human society being biologically programmed to be hierarchical -- that we are pack animals, like dogs or baboons, who always arrange ourselves in power relations, and that sex is one of our primary methods for sorting. Who knows, it may be true; I don't see what asserting it could lead to but endless wrangling. The fact is that I am a pack animal, obsessed with hierarchy, and that my strategy has always been one of subverting the ostensible pack order by surreptitious sex. Doesn't much matter how much the alpha male swaggers it, if you make off with his mate. There's the formal hierarchy, but then there's also a shadow hierarchy of illicit sex. Clearly I was never going to make it in the first, but I had a shot at the second.

One of the stories I told myself was that I was not participating in any hierarchical structures at all. I was tearing them all down. I would liberate people from all hierarchy. I don't think I ever very clearly asked myself why I so particularly wanted to liberate the pretty young partners of dominant males, and why I rapidly lost interest in anyone I could actually have. The fact was I was an abjectly hierarchical creature myself; that sex and domination were completely tangled up in my own mind. But I was only vaguely and intermittently aware of it.

There was a fierce joy in being a rogue animal, admitting no laws higher than my own desire, and owning no master. It draws me even now. That predatory intensity, that single-mindedness, that exultation of power. The political story, the anarchism, my very own brand of liberation theology, was just a cover for it; I had no intention of giving it up.

Do I mean to give it up now?

No, not really. I want to turn it. Decisively turn it away from friends and lovers. I don't want to prey on anyone, anymore, not in reality, and not in my mind. But one of the many eerie unexplained results of practicing Ngondro has been a strong resurgence of that ferocity, at odd times, in odd ways. It can float free of human relationships. I'm not quite sure what it is, when it does that. This is one arena where my Nihilism had never taken hold. I had always believed devoutly in the reality of beautiful women. But growing older, and having children, is gradually eroding that belief. Not that they don't exist (do we need to run through that old business again?) but that they don't exist as I perceive them.

What is this thing that burns, then -- this ferocity? I know whose it is. It belongs to Vajrayogini. But how exactly it's supposed to play in my life, I don't know. And really I think I don't need to know. " Just do the practice, and the meaning will reveal itself." The ferocity itself was never a mistake. Attaching it to particular fantasies, and believing in them -- that was the mistake.

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