Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A Lust For Life (part six of seven)

Objectification is at the heart of Lust. That, and enculturation. What one tribe or people or continent finds appealing can be off-putting to another. We are taught to see beauty, to want certain things above others, and to feel unsatisfied until the object of our desire is attained, particularly in the grip of lust, of our sexual desire. Lust does not truly love, does not carefully consider the person behind the looks, does not take into account the feelings beyond the flesh; lust gets focused much on gratifying the self. Love goes awry.

Perhaps more of a male problem than a female, at least as far as popular culture will have it, lust as a symptom arises in failed relationships, broken marriages, heartbroken teenagers, and unwarranted bravado. Lust excuses abuse. Males do much with lust. Females too, but males are more aggressive, more open about it. And advertising caters very much to lust; most images are of sexually desirable females, rather than males, especially if the advert can promote the item along with scantily clad 'beauties'. Females have suffered greatly under the guise of appealing to men. Chinese women with their feet bound. African women with their necks elongated. American women with their chests enhanced. Men with uncertain egos ready to buy a female's attentions. Lust is very evidently a trade, an industry, a commodity, a plaything. It is cheap and expensive at the same time. And it is so endemic to our culture that our movie posters glare with it. Children are raised with the precepts of becoming desirable according to the constructs of coquetry, of looks, of fashion, of attitude and behaviour. What once made a man or women a wastrel may now make him or her 'really cool'. And attracting lust, an art form of itself, becomes an industry perpetuated by those who would take advantage of our wants, desires, wallets, and instincts. 'Sexy' is our ubiquitous barter.

Instinctual lust is likely atavistic, as ancient as our origins in order to perpetuate the species. Birds and bees do it. Animals preen and puff with attractors. But man is now sophisticated, and if sophistication be thought of as the ability to conceive of what the consequences to another might be, then essential curtailment of instinctual selfishness might more readily come to mind than enacting or even pursuing the thoughts that would demean, objectify, and render another little more than self-gratifying. At root of man's inability to control his mind, his desires, his instincts, is selfishness. Sophistication would have it that we consider the other. And the difference between having sex and making love is vast indeed. Love is a spiritual affirmation of emotion; sex is temporal.

Celibacy is easiest sustained by one who has 'been there, done that' and is imbued with such love that in the beloved's absence there is intention not to betray the monogamy, however long. Virgin priests practice celibacy, honouring The Ideal Love (and would that such souls be ancient enough for such abstention easily to be undertaken offhandedly). Self-sacrifice is best practiced with peace and contentment. The man who flagellates himself, who hurts himself in agonies in order one day to get into heaven? He best be a willing participant, a conscious chooser, or what's a heaven for? To deny sex is not to deny love. Lust in our virginal teens is not the same as lust when we are experienced adults. And when we are yet more caring, yet more aware of the impact of our very thoughts and instincts upon another, so do we realize that lust, as a thing of what was once essentially selfish, is but a thing now to be invested in no more. One evolves, gradually. After all, in the lust for life, love, an unconditional ingredient, takes finding.

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