Everything is melting in nature. The Apollonian things of western sex and art reach their economic glorification in capitalism. Emotion is passion, a continuum of eroticism and aggression. The major women of tragedy – Euripides’ Medea and Phaedra, Shakespeare’s Cleopatra and Lady Macbeth, Racine’s Phèdra – skew the genre by their disruptive relation to male action. Pornography’s male-born explicitness renders visible what is invisible, woman’s chthonian internality. Few Greek tragedies fully conform to the humanist commentary on them. Female tragic protagonists are rare.Hence the sexes are caught in a comedy of historical indebtedness.
The cool beauty of the femme fatale is another transformation of chthonian ugliness. The pagan dialectic of Apollonian and Dionysian was sweepingly comprehensive and accurate about mind and nature. Happy are those periods when marriage and religion are strong. Name and person are part of the west’s quest for form. The female body is a chthonian machine, indifferent to the spirit who inhabits it. Even now, it is usually men rather than women who claim logic’s superiority to emotion.
Art is a temenos, a sacred place. Rousseau rejects original sin, Christianity’s pessimistic view of man born unclean, with a propensity for evil. The western cells of holiness and criminality are a cognitive advance in human history. Apollonian thing-making is the main line of western civilization, extending from ancient Egypt to the present. The chthonian superflux of emotion is a male problem. Every menstruating or childbearing woman is a pagan and primitive cast back to those distant ocean shores from which we have never fully evolved. Woman does not dream of transcendental or historical escape from natural cycle, since she is that cycle. The permanence of the femme fatale as a sexual persona is part of the weary weight of eroticism, beneath which both ethics and religion founder. Human life began in flight and fear. Sexuality and eroticism are the intricate intersection of nature and culture. Sex is a far darker power than feminism has admitted. The history of costume belongs to art history but is too often regarded as a journalistic lady’s adjunct to scholarship.
The war between Judeo-Christianity and paganism is still being waged in the latest ideologies of the university. Sex is daemonic. Hence the male domination of art and science. Art makes things. The search for freedom through sex is doomed to failure. How we know the world and how it knows us are underlain by shadow patterns of sexual biography and sexual geography. The latent metaphors of the body guarantee the survival of rape, which is a development in degree of intensity alone of the basic movements of sex. Everything sacred and inviolable provokes profanation and violation. We must ask whether the equivalence of male and female in Far Eastern symbolism was as culturally efficacious as the hierarchization of male over female has been in the west. Paganism never was the unbridled sexual licentiousness portrayed by missionaries of the young, embattled Christianity. We are voyeurs at the perimeters of art, and there is a sadomasochistic sensuality in our responses to it. There are no accidents, only nature throwing her weight around. That nature acts upon the sexes differently is proved by the test case of modern male and female homosexuality, illustrating how the sexes function separately outside social convention. Modern liberalism suffers unresolved contradictions. This book takes the point of view of Sade, the most unread major writer in western literature. Like art, sex is fraught with symbols. Woman was an idol of belly-magic. Repression is an evolutionary adaptation permitting us to function under the burden of our expanded consciousness.
The quest romance is a war between identity and annihilation. Mothers can be fatal to their sons. If sexual physiology provides the pattern for our experience of the world, what is woman’s basic metaphor? The femme fatale is one of the most mesmerizing of sexual personae. Rousseauist psychologies like feminism assert the ultimate benevolence of human emotion. Our focus on the pretty is an Apollonian strategy. Buddhist cultures retained the ancient meanings of femaleness long after the west renounced them. In the beginning was nature. The capitalist distribution network, a complex chain of factory, transport, warehouse, and retail outlet, is one of the greatest male accomplishments in the history of culture. My explanation for the male domination of art, science, and politics, an indisputable fact of history, is based on an analogy between sexual physiology and aesthetics. Christianity, wiping out paganism’s secular glamours, tried to make spirituality primary. Our knowledge of these fantasies is expanded by pornography, which is why pornography should be tolerated, though its public display may reasonably be restricted.
And erection is a thought and the orgasm an act of imagination. Capitalism, gaudy and greedy, has been inherent in western aesthetics from ancient Egypt on. Sex cannot be understood because nature cannot be understood. The evolution from earth-cult to sky-cult shifts woman into the nether realm. Nature’s cycles are woman’s cycles. Through concentration to projection into the beyond. Male sex is quest romance, exploration and speculation. Man, the sexual conceptualizer and projector, has ruled art because art is his Apollonian response toward and away from woman. The cumbersome, solipsistic character of female physiology is tediously evident at sports events and rock concerts, where fifty women wait in line for admission to the sequestered cells of the toilet. Woman’s current advance in society is not a voyage from myth to truth but from myth to new myth. Western love has been ambivalent from the start. The most effective weapon against the flux of nature is art. Mythology’s identification of woman with nature is correct. There is no such thing as “mere” image. The identification of woman with nature is the most troubled and troubling term in this historical argument. The female body’s unbearable hiddenness applies to all aspects of men’s dealings with women. The westerner knows by seeing. The old “double standard” gave men a sexual liberty denied to women. Concentration and projection are remarkably demonstrated by urination, one of male anatomy’s most efficient compartmentalizations. The daemonism of chthonian nature is the west’s dirty secret. The power of the eye in western culture has not been fully appreciated or analyzed. Tragedy’s inhospitality to woman springs from nature’s inhospitality to man. This book shows how much in culture goes against our best wishes. Woman’s body is a secret, sacred space. Feminism has been simplistic in arguing that female archetypes were politically motivated falsehoods by men. Tragedy is the most western literary genre. We are moving in this chapter toward a theory of beauty. Everything great in western culture has come from the quarrel with nature. Androgyny, which some feminists promote as a pacifist blueprint for sexual utopia, belongs to the contemplative rather than active life. Tragedy plays a male game, a game it invented to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Paganism is eye-intense. Western culture has a roving eye. We could make an epic catalog of male achievements, from paved roads, indoor plumbing, and washing machines to eyeglasses, antibiotics, and disposable diapers. Art is order. The pagan ritual identity of sex and violence is mass media’s chief check to the complacent Rousseauism of modern humanists. The western eye makes thing, idols of Apollonian objectification. The ghost-ridden character of sex is implicit in Freud’s brilliant theory of “family romance.” The Bible has come under fire for making woman the fall guy in man’s cosmic drama. Society is an artificial construction. Sex object, art work, personality: western experience is cellular and divisive. What has nature given man to defend himself against woman? Every month for women is a new defeat of the will. Both the Apollonian and Judeo-Christian traditions are transcendental. Capitalist products are another version of the art works flooding western culture. Feminism dismisses the femme fatale as a cartoon and libel. Woman’s reproductive apparatus is vastly more complicated than man’s, and still ill-understood. Western culture from the start has swerved from femaleness. Word-worship has made it difficult for scholarship to deal with the radical cultural change of our era of mass media. Profanation and violation are part of the perversity of sex, which never will conform to liberal theories of benevolence. That popular culture reclaims what high culture shuts out is clear in the case of pornography. The woundlike rawness of female genitals is a symbol of the unredeemability of chthonian nature. Man’s metaphors of concentration and projection are echoes of both body and mind. Judeo-Christianity has failed to control the pagan western eye. Nature is a Darwinian spectacle of the eaters and the eaten. The male genital metaphor is concentration and projection. The femme fatale was produced by the mystique of connection between mother and child. Nature is a Darwinian spectacle of the eaters and the eaten. Sexual freedom, sexual liberation. And that’s why elephants fucking hate us.