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Sex and the Challenge of Joy
Antonovna is afraid of sex, or being seduced, probably for the loss of freedom this incurs, but in the background stands a loss of joy as a consequence. The paradox evidently points to a deeper Issue.
The dialog unfolds in the background to a fictional peace conference. The location is the Seven Heavens Restaurant (now closed), 900 feet above Moscow on the Ostankino Tower. It's dining in the sky as it were. - The dialog is a chapter of the novel, Seascapes and Sand by Rolf Witzsche.
I begged Anton to allow me to meet her again on the next day, in the same place, at the same time, to continue our exploration of the universe of our humanity. I don't know why, but against all expectation she agreed.
Anton nodded when I asked her, and winked ever so slightly. "You are daring, aren't you?" she said. "That is why you can invite me as often as you like, but let me make the arrangements.
This time she was waiting for me at the restaurant's lobby. She had ordered a drink for me.
"If sex falls out of the framework of grace, people become trapped into orgies of lust, power, domination, slavery, adversity, and whatever else one finds in the sewer of hell," she said as a greeting. Wow!
"But when sex unfolds as love based on truth, or even the sublime, there is no danger in it that should scare anyone," I replied. "If a man buries his face into a woman's vulva for the sheer intimacy and generosity that is involved, the sexual touching then is primarily about relationships, close relationships, relationships without distance, and the sharing of the relationships, isn't it? If we elevate the quality of grace to ever higher levels, why would the result be a tragedy rather being an enriching part of our spiritual journey, that unfolds in the wide sea of relationships in which our spirits blend, in profound experience of our singular all-encompassing humanity."
She waved her finger at me and began to grin. "Don't take us into uncharted lands," she said with a smile, as she handed me the glass of wine that she had ordered for me. But the smile seemed forced. Also the smile didn't really hide the sense of shock that I saw on her face when I spoke about men putting their face into a woman's vulva.
"Should we fear the unknown lands," I countered her. "Sure, sex has been abused, but it can also be a wonderland. For a man, simply beholding a woman's vulva can take his breath away and inspire a glowing kind of awe, and wonderment. Or at the very least it can get a man just plain excited. But there will always be a warm reaction of some sort if it is rooted in an intelligent loving based on certain fundamental truths that one simply cannot ignore. That's just the way we men are, and the statistics prove it. Unfortunately, our relationships rarely extend to that kind of intimacy. We are far too afraid of the unknown. We are small, scared, and timid. That's why men's relationships tend to become 'flat' and strained."
Anton shook her head and now laughed. "Where are you going with that?" she added.
I began to smile. "Did you ever have the occasion to venture into a strip club?" I asked her. "If you haven't, you should, and then look at people's faces. You would think they had never seen a woman's vulva before. You'd be surprised how strongly people react to the sight of a woman's vulva, and whatever else is sexually attractive. They're touched by something that's rooted in their soul. They find great joy in seeing it presented. They find in it an echo of their soul. It seems to me that these places cater to a need in human relationships that has been sadly neglected in general society. Of course the neglected need is being grossly abused by the commercial operations that exploit it. Nor do these strip places really meet the need completely. But they do tell us that there is an element in relationships that is beautiful and exciting that is being neglected far too much, and is swept under the rug."
Anton raised a finger at me again. "You are getting pretty daring, Peter," she said, but she said it with a more natural smile now.
"I agree, I am daring. But why should we deem it daring at all, to talk about something that is so much a part of our humanity that countless people go 'miles' out of their way for it, just to be touched by it in some way, even if it is just in a superficial way that doesn't really satisfy? That's a paradox really, that few people are willing to address. I think it even surprises the researchers. I find it sad when this happens, because sex is an element that has the potential to brighten the human experience in a unique kind of way, that takes us many leagues towards dissolving the countless forms of isolation that is dragging mankind to its knees into the quagmire of division, adversity, war, and even genocide. Whatever can dissolve the isolation of people from one-another should be welcomed, rather than being shunned, even if it is incomplete."
"Sex has the potential to make our world rich, and exciting, and beautiful," said a dark haired Russian woman in perfect English, who was sitting in a sofa facing the window.
Anton had chosen a place for us at a table behind the sofa. She must have felt that the sea of the sparkling lights of Moscow, even when seen from a vantage point nearly a thousand feet above the ground, where the restaurant was located, wouldn't quite measure up to the view that I preferred, where she was the main sparkling attraction. If this had been her reasoning for choosing a table in the back, rather than the sofa by the window, she was right on the mark.
"Vernadski?" said Anton, turning towards the woman sitting on the sofa. "What a surprise! The world is a small place after all. How many years has it been since I attended your class?"
"My name isn't Vernadski," said the woman, as she turned around and saw me sharing a table with Anton. "The students liked to call me that. They did it in jest, because I'm a distant relative of the illustrious Vladimir Ivanovich Vernadski, the revered scientist, who died decades ago. Still the name keeps hanging on and gets attached to those that have some sort of link to the family. I'm afraid, though, that I don't measure up to what the name stands for. I'm not a scientist. I'm only a history teacher. My name is Olga." She reached her hand out to me, then turned to Anton. "You might remember me telling you that what my great-great grandpa stood for has a bearing on history, which also links it with sex. I never imagined however, that I would hear the word, sex, being spoken by you, Antonovna. I had tried to tell you students that sex is an honorable word with a significance that the whole of civilization rests on, including our past and our future, but you students wouldn't listen, and you Antonovna, you would always protest, as I recall. It seemed you had gleamed something, but it angered you."
Anton blushed and looked away. "We are talking about grace," said Anton.
"I hope you can explain what you what said," I said to the woman named Olga.
The woman laughed. "What's there to explain? Sex precedes mankind. It precedes even the dinosaurs. It probably goes as far back in time as half a billion years, to the very beginning of complex life forms. Sex is the most amazing aspect in the development of life on this planet. It's the one thing that assures genetic diversity on a wide and almost infinite horizon. None of us would be sitting here if it weren't for sex. In fact mankind would likely never have developed without the genetic diversity that the sex-process assures. Of course that's just one aspect of the principle of diversity that our existence rests on. It has a cultural reflection too. And you are evidently correct," she said to Anton, "grace is a factor along this line. It enables aspects of sex that wouldn't be possible without it."
I shook my head. "Sex is deemed a millstone around people's neck that weighs heavily on morality and culture," I said to Olga. "It has become a dirty word, so much so that one is deemed daring to even speak it. It has become the greatest factor for division and isolation in the world, to the point that it is threatening civilization. I'm rebelling against that."
Seascapes and Sand
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