The heaven of the materialists
George Parkin Grant on how sex drives out love
“Of course the beauty of the world manifests itself most intensely for us in the beauty of other people. The manifold forms of love, for example sexual and parental, friendship and admiration, take in each case many forms themselves. Who could in a lifetime write down the ways in which sexual love penetrates every moment of our consciousness and is never absent in any loving of the beautiful present even when that love is universal?
“Indeed the manifold ways in which sexual instinct and love are held together and detached from each other make up much of our existing. On the one hand, sexual desire can be the recognition of others as beautiful; on the other hand, it can be the occasion of such calculated self-engrossment that other people are made instruments for producing sensations. Sexual desire can be the occasion when we see the truth of what others are, in the flame of its attention; or it can lock us in the madness of ourselves so that nothing is real but our imaginings. So intense are the pleasures of sexuality, so pressing its needs, so detached can the bodies of ourselves and others be from any humanity, that sexual desire can drive love out from its presence. It can become the rock of ‘reality’ on which the search for the beauty of the world founders.
“In an age in which the paradigm of knowledge has no place for our partaking in eternity, it is understandable that orgasmic fulfilment has been made out to be the height of our existing—indeed that which gives our existing some kind of immanent justification. The materialists have taken it as their heaven. But this modern union of individuality and materialism has meant a transposition of older beliefs about the relation of sex and love. In the older beliefs sexual desire was one means through which love between human beings could abound; in our era love seems sometimes to be thought of as means for the abounding of sexual enjoyment.
“Because sexuality is such a great power and because it is a means to love, societies in the past hedged it around with diverse and often strange systems of restraint. Such restraints were considered sacred, because their final justification (whatever other justifications were present) was the love of the beautiful, and that was considered sacred. Modern social scientists have changed the original meaning of ‘taboo’ into the socially and psychologically ‘forbidden’, in the attempt to teach us that restraints are not sacred. This is of course useful to a capitalist society because everything must be made instrumental to the forwarding of ‘production’, and the sacred restraints cannot be made instrumental. Social scientists follow their creator, because social science was created by capitalist society.
—from George Parkin Grant, “Faith and the Multiversity,” in Technology and Justice (University of Notre Dame Press, 1986)
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