A man’s heart, like any other organ withers with disuse. It’s possible not only to forget how to love, but also how to receive love from others. If I can’t love the woman inside myself, how can I love the one outside? No wonder Aubrey left.
It isn’t a problem specific to me, though. I can see it everywhere, now that I know what to look for. The modern man and woman have strayed so far from Asherah’s description of a wholesome, balanced relationship that I could scarcely visualize that either.
Sex has been an on-demand commodity for so long that I can’t remember a time when it was anything else. How can it go back to the way it was in a world where you can literally go out and buy whatever body parts you want on the street?
We’re too good at getting what we want. Our intelligence has greatly outstripped our maturity. Whatever we find pleasurable, we isolate it from its natural context, then set about exaggerating whatever aspects of it we find stimulating. We then gorge on the result until it destroys our physical and mental health.
Should I really be surprised by how sick that addiction has made me? By the severity of illness which unavoidably accompanies man’s abstraction from fundamental natural pleasures like clean air and water, birdsong, fresh fruit and a sunny day? What other escape is there from our downward spiral into ever more perverse concentrations of supernormal stimuli?
It’s clear to me now that sex must to go back to being about more than body parts. More than just a mechanical, physical act between interlocking organs. It would need to become a fusion of two spirits. The total blending of male and female energy.
That’s a genie I doubt if we could ever stuff back into the bottle. There’s nobody left who doesn’t consider total sexual liberation to have been anything but wholly positive. The only groups which ever succeeded in controlling sex were religions that did so for the express purpose of male comfort.
As a consequence, any sort of sexual conservatism has an irreparably tarnished reputation now. Nobody wants to hear that they should reserve sexual expression for the appropriate emotional context. That it should be something special, deserving of reverence and awe.
Neither is anyone willing to give up the self-indulgent products which resulted from the commercialization of human sexuality. You can’t take jiggling virtual anime titties away from today’s men, just as you can’t take glittery vibrating prehensile robo-cocks away from today’s women. They won’t let you.
Men and women no longer love one another in a daring, unguarded way…but they love their vices. They will defend those vices as fiercely as they once defended each other, because exaggerated objects of sexual wish fulfillment have replaced the opposite sex in their hearts.
I’m hardly innocent. When I think about some of the…male entertainment…I’ve consumed over the years and imagine how a woman would react to that material, I feel ashamed. There’s also a great deal of similar material aimed at women now that I can’t even bring myself to look at.
Could I bring myself to feel tenderness for a woman who consumes that sort of trash? Should I expect any woman to view me any differently, having glimpsed what sort of VR scenarios are popular with men these days?
Do the producers of such lurid materials know that they’re driving men and women apart? Making us ever more repulsive to one another, and at the same time more and more unapologetic about it? If they know, what do they get out of it? A reduction in population growth?
I cannot presume to cast judgement upon anybody though. I’ve never restrained my desires. I’ve never denied myself anything, I don’t even know what it would feel like to try. Blame can’t be placed entirely at the feet of the companies who fulfill those desires, either.
I could simply reject that sort of thing, but I never do. They aren’t to blame for my lack of self control. The change Asherah outlined was not to cultural moores. Not a neo-puritan restriction on what can be sold or consumed. It would have to be a change which takes place in the hearts of men and women.
Trying to force people to live healthier, or curate all forms of media such that we’d encounter temptation less frequently was never tenable in the long run. Only an attempt to evade the hard work of cultivating self control.
Instead of thinking only of myself, reflexively gratifying my every desire the instant I feel it, what if I’d learned to take Aubrey’s feelings into consideration? Perhaps she wouldn’t be in Antarctica now, married to that asshole crab farmer. For that matter, I probably never would’ve spent those six years in prison.
I was startled back to reality by a warm, tingling sensation inside my ribcage. Asherah’s oversized finger, skin resembling a flowing mosaic of leaves and flowers, penetrated bloodlessly into my chest. I asked what exactly she was doing to me.
“Just touching your heart. Should I stop?” On the contrary, I told her to keep at it. That I liked what it was doing to me, and wanted more. Intoxication of an entirely different kind, which rehabilitates rather than debilitates. I could feel large parts of my emotional landscape re-growing. Parts which I’d long ago burnt down, before salting the Earth to keep it that way.
Tears escaped my eyes, running down either side of my face, dripping into the rich brown soil beneath my head. I felt hyper-aware, tingling from head to toe. I could see connections between ideas I already knew about, but never thought to juxtapose in this way.
What is awareness though, but the ability to see more sides of an issue? How better to measure your degree of awareness, than the number of different perspectives from which you’re able to view a matter, able to convince yourself of any or all of them?
There’s never only one side to anything. It only seems that way if your understanding of it is incomplete. God, too, cannot be just one way…but rather, every possible way there is to be. Light and darkness, one and zero, joy and misery, creation and destruction. The unity of all opposites, and the totality of all things.
How then could God have a masculine aspect, but not a feminine one? Why had the concept seemed so strange to me initially, when now it seemed as if it could be no other way? Of course networked systems of living, inter-communicative parts form a gestalt larger being.
Of course the various superorganisms on the Earth must then logically comprise a still-larger superorganism that authors I dimly remember have called Gaia. But is that the full extent of it? There’s always a bigger fish, isn’t there?
One of the ants crawled close enough to brush my skin with its antennae. Startled, it turned around and hurried off in the other direction. Despite my relative enormity, it couldn’t see me until it ran directly into the surface of my body.
To the ant, I’m too big to see. Big enough that it interprets me as part of its environment rather than a living thing. Just as I am made out of cells, but a single celled organism would interpret the inside of my body as an environment rather than an organism.
What organisms might humans overlook because, relative to the scale of our perception and understanding, they are “too big to see”? I asked Asherah. She smiled, this time subtly coy. “So…you’d like to receive the secrets of the universe, would you?”
How does one respond to that? “Yes, I want to receive the secrets of the universe.” She repeated herself, this time melodically. Singing it as though it were a verse in a larger song. “Are you ready for the secrets…the secrets of the universe?”
Not knowing what else to do, I sang along. “I am ready for the secrets…the secrets of the universe.” She repeated her part again. “Are you ready for the secrets…the secrets of the universe?” So I once more sang back to her “I am ready for the secrets…the secrets of the universe.”
It just continued like that, back and forth…until finally, she concluded the duet by flatly declaring “Too bad, you can’t have ‘em.” I lay there absolutely stunned. Then burst into laughter, realizing I’d been made a fool out of but feeling too amused to care.
Stay Tuned for Part 44!