- Post 10 August 2011
- Last Updated on 10 August 2011
- By Paul Agho
Sages and philosophers have always maintained that the pen is mightier than the sword. And yet, in all its prodigal magnificence, it remains dwarfed by our manhood. In order to give it back its pride of place, it is necessary that the wielders of this small but mighty device must be ready to shed blood. And that is why today I have chosen to write in blood, for blood makes the pen holy. At the risk of displeasing innocent ears, what I intend to propose here is not a theory, but an observable fact of human nature. Yes, I intend to bestow my favour on that which has hitherto had a bad reputation. And by so doing, I undertake to face the possibility of being branded as an atheist (thank God, I am not one), or a sceptic (which of course I am) in order that the truth I now put forward may cast its brilliance over the world in its visibility to the blind and audibility to the deaf. Or worse still, brand me a lunatic. But, you will see that all lunatics have their lucid moments. And this is one of them.
And what is this bloodied truth for which I am the unpopular megaphone? Of the seven deadly sins, my favourite is lust, and as a matter of fact, I see it as a virtue, and I am ready, willing and able to play the role of the devil’s advocate here. The seven deadly sins which comprise pride, covetousness, lust, anger, gluttony, envy and sloth, are the root of many of humanity’s positive characteristics, and there is no way man could have become conscious of the beautiful and good without becoming conscious of the ugly and evil. To perfect himself, Friedrich Nietzsche maintains that man must first develop the feeling that his impulses are evil. Without the fascinating seven, we human beings would never rest or eat or procreate or build or aspire, nor for that matter, would we murder, steal, or lie.
It was no less a philosopher than David Hume who represented virtue concretely as any quality of mind useful or agreeable to the person himself or to others. There is no doubt whatsoever that lust exercises a good claim to qualify as a virtue since it is not merely useful but essential. It is the ultimate goal of almost all human endeavours, and insofar as an erect manhood has no conscience and will naturally dangle, incest aside, after anything in skirts, lust remains the great sacrament of life and none of us would be here without it.
It is proper to point out at this juncture that while many people are wont to use the word “lust” in conjunction with such prepositions as “after” and “for,” to refer to a passionate and overpowering desire or craving, as in, “a lust for power,” we will do well here to zero in on sexual desire as just one kind of desire that is primus inter pares. Lust, as the thing- in- itself, transcends sex as a means to an end, as it is biologically or socioeconomically portrayed. It is an end in itself that is predicated on a web of interlocking physiological systems, different regions of the brain, distinct biochemical mechanisms, and literally hundreds of specific genes supporting these various processes. When our evolutionary ancestors started experimenting with sex, they did not see it as a means to an end. They definitely did not know it was going to result in pregnancy and procreation which is the happy aftereffect, not the logical forethought, of most sexual experience. Human beings desire to couple and copulate as soon as they feel the inner signal which says they are ready. But the different functioning of the interlocking web on which sexual desire is based, will in different people and at different times direct the intensity with which lust is felt, and their dormancy may give us good reason for denying that the fire is still burning.
Any definition of sin has to include within it the concept simply of going beyond the confines of appropriate behaviour. If we talk of boundaries, it seems we ought to be able to strike a balance as to what constitutes a just and proportionate sexuality: one that has an appropriate intensity, short of obsession but more than indifference, and directed at an appropriate object. Some critics of sex say that the pleasure is momentary, the position ridiculous, and its conversation is made up of animal grunts and cries. If, as they maintain, the pleasure is momentary, then this flash of bestial pleasure is simply inadequate and does not therefore transgress the boundaries of appropriate behaviour. If God created the world, He created sex, and one way to construe our inexhaustible sexual interest is as a form of praise of creation. Somebody shout alleluia! Says the Song of Solomon, “The joints of thy thighs are like jewels, the work of the hands of a cunning workman.” (7:1, King James Version). Lust, as objectified by sex, is our God-given appetite, and sex is the most powerful of all human drives. The need for the physical union of a man and woman is among the most deeply rooted, innate and genetically programmed of all human behaviours. Can any of the nay-sayers still tell me why sex should not be used for purposes of simple personal gratification? Can anything be more self-contradicting than to be told not to use for personal gratification something which is intensely personally gratifying?
There is no intrinsic reason why Adam and Eve should not have been granted sexual pleasure in Paradise, because otherwise Eve would have been no use to Adam, whereas the Bible tells us that she was. Since there was no housework to be done in Paradise, it is difficult to imagine what other use Eve could have been to Adam. What has been described as the fall of Adam (if he ever did fall) was actually his upliftment. This remains the single greatest event in the history of humankind. They used the knowledge of good and evil of which they partook, to create the world of relativity. Until they understood this, there could be no life as we know it today. This act of Adam and Eve was therefore not original sin, but, in truth, first blessing.
Nothing accelerates our gravitation towards hypocrisy more profoundly than every sacrifice to the Beelzebub of etiquette, which begets the corruption of the best into the worst. By this argument a posteriori, and by this argument alone, a man who spits, farts or picks his nose publicly where such acts are frowned at, commands my respect and admiration. Conversely, I have nothing but contempt and disdain for the animal that indulges in these all-too-human acts only when nobody is around. By way of analogy, am I therefore to stand alongside the philosopher Crates, the Cynic, who, believing that nothing is shameful, openly copulated in public with his wife Hipparchia? At the risk of displeasing innocent ears, all I can say is that any quality of mind that is useful or agreeable to the person himself or to others, ought to be objectified.
And now for my coup de grace as the inexhaustible source of blood for my almighty pen is gradually nearing exhaustion, I invite all readers, including Bill Clinton, Jacob Zuma, Condoleezza Rice, the Dalai Lama, Dominique Strauss-Khan to answer this simple question. Let us assume you were stranded on a desert island with an attractive stranger. How long would it take before you answered the call of nature and have sex? Years. Months. Weeks. Days. Hours.