Physical Sex and Inner Sex
At this point we have to consider the following principle: Except in cases of complete transcendence of the human condition, sex must be conceived as a “destiny,” a basic fact of human nature. There is no existence except as men and women. This point of view is held steadfastly against the belief that being a man or a woman is something accidental or secondary as compared with being human in general; sex is seen as a difference that concerns only the physical and biological pan of human nature, to the degree that sex has meaning and implications only with respect to the naturalistic side of human life. Such a point of view is abstract and inorganic and in reality can only be held by a human race disintegrating through regression and degeneracy. This view only considers the final, most coarse and tangible aspects of sex. But the truth is that, before and besides existing in the body, sex exists in the soul and, to a certain extent, in the spirit itself. We are man or woman inwardly before being so externally; the primordial male or female quality penetrates and saturates the whole of our being visibly and invisibly, in the terms used here earlier, just as color permeates a liquid.
Moreover, if intermediate degrees of sexual development exist, as we saw earlier, that can only mean that the basic quality mentioned shows an intensity that is sometimes higher, sometimes lower, depending on the individual. This does not explain the conditional nature of sex. Apart from those exceptional cases in which sex is transcended because the human condition in general has been transcended, we often mistake as “beyond sex” a condition that, in effect, concerns a realm detached from life and from every deep formative force. This is a realm of superstructures and of intellectualized and social forms whose excessive growth characterizes the degenerating and bourgeois phases of a civilization. Later on we shall emphasize the fact that every human being consists of two parts; one the csscnliaJ part and the other the outer, artificial, acquired part thai is formed in ihe life of relalionships and creates the persona of the individual. The word “persona” is used in the original sense of an aclor’s mask (as opposed to the “face,” which can be said to correspond to the essential part). Either of the two parts can be more developed than the other, depending not only on the individual but also on the kind of civilization. This can degenerate to an almost exclusive, teratological development of the outer and artificial mask of the social, intellectual, practical, and spiritualized individual, which maintains few organic relations with the essential being. It is only in such cases that sex can be considered secondary and negligible; an ‘anesthetization or a primitivistic coarsening of sexual life is its usual ^ resulting counterpart. Only then will it seem of little importance whether one is man or woman, and such a fact will have less and less value in the determination of vocations, self-development, conduct of life, model of occupations a value that has always been honored by civilizations. This very assumption implies that the difference between male and female psychology has been considerably reduced . Modern civilization, being expedient, inlellectualist, and 1 socialized, has given an increasing emphasis to things totally unconnected with the essential side of human beings. It is inorganic and potentially standardized; its values are partly derived from a I regression of types and partly foster and increase that regression. ! – Thus modern woman is penetrating into every sector of lite and making herself the equal of man; for the merits, capabilities, behavior, and the most typical activities of modern civilization have only very scanty links with the deeper plane where the law of sex is in force in ontological terms rather than physical, biological, or even psychological terms- The mistake that underlies feminist competition and has made it possible is the overvaluation natural to modern civilization of logical and practical intelligence, which is actually a mere accessory of life and the soul; for these latter two are both equally differentiated, whereas the intelligence is formless and “neutral” and can be developed to an almost equal extent in man and woman. 42 Here we shall make only a passing reference to the vexed question of the inferiority, equality, or superiority of woman as compared with man. A question of this kind is lacking in sense because it assumes that the two can be measured against each other. If we set aside everything artificial, external, and acquired, we find that there is a difference of Platonic ideas between man and woman that makes impossible any common measurement. Even faculties or gifts that appear to be common to both and to be “neutral” have a different functional character and imprint, depending on whether they are present in a man or a woman. We cannot ask ourselves whether “woman” is superior or inferior to “man” any more than we can ask ourselves whether water is superior or inferior to fire. Thus the 34 The Metaphysics of Sex standard of measurement for either of the sexes can be provided not by the opposite sex but only by the “idea” of the same sex. In other words* the only thing we can do is establish the superiority or inferiority of a given woman on the basis of her being more or less close to the female type, to the pure and absolute woman, and the same thing applies to man as well. The claims of modern woman, therefore, spring from mistaken ambitions as well as from an inferiority complex, from the mistaken idea that a woman as such is inferior to man. It has been said rightly that feminism has really fought not for “woman’s right” but, without knowing it, for the right of woman to make herself equal to man. Even if this could be achieved on a level beyond the outer expedient and intellectual level mentioned earlier, it would amount to a woman’s having the right to pervert herself and to degenerate. 43 Let us say it once more: The only qualitative standard is the degree of more or less perfect realization of the nature proper to a person. There can be no doubt that a woman who is perfectly woman is superior to a man who is imperfectly man, just as a farmer who is faithful to his land and performs his work perfectly is superior to a king who cannot do his own work. In the range of ideas we are dealing with, we should take it as being settled that manhood and womanhood are, above all, facts of an inner nature. It is possible to be a man as far as the body is concerned without being equally so in the soul (anima mulicris in corpore inckisa virili — the soul of a woman enclosed in a manly body), and the same is of course true of a woman. Such cases of asymmetry are due to various factors and are similar to cases encountered in the realm of race (individuals of a given race who have the psychic and spiritual characteristics of another race). This, however, does not prejudice the basic quality of the fluid that a being has, depending on whether that being is physically a man or woman; nor does it prejudice the unity of the process of sexual development. The phenomenon mentioned can be explained by the fact that in given cases this process is centered principally on a given domain, creating asymmetry because the remaining areas have not been developed to the same degree. From a typological point of view, however, the inner fact, the inner sex, is always decisive; a sexual development % Appearing only in physical terms, however advanced it may be, is in a certain sense truncated and empty. He who is not a man in spirit and soul is not truly a man, and the same applies to a woman. It is best to emphasize this point because we must bear it in mind in the law of sexual attraction mentioned earlier. The “proportions” of masculinity and femininity being integrated in turn, as ciled in ihai law, should be understood in a complete sense in nil their possible complexity. Eros and Sexual Love 35 In effect it is spiritual manliness that, even though only obscurely, excites arid” awakens the absolute woman; in the extreme case this manliness, beyond that of a warrior or ruler, leads even to the supernatural. We shall deal later on with the metaphysical as well as the existential side of such a case. An example created by art, Oscar Wilde’s Salome, is illustrative, Salome does not see the centurion struck with love for her, who offers her everything and in the end kills himself for her. She is fascinated by Jokanan, the prophet and ascetic. She, the virgin, says to him, “I was chaste and you have defiled me; I was pure and you have filled my veins with fire. . . . What shall I do without you? Neither the rivers nor the great lakes will ever again extinguish the fire of my passion.” 44 One other point should be added to the possible differing degrees of sexual development in the physical and spiritual fields: namely, the varying conditions prevailing in inner sex as compared to bodily sex. The respective conditions are rigidly maintained only in the case of primitive individuals who are degraded compared with the pure type in question. If, on the other hand, the inner sex is sufficiently differentiated , it may assert itself with a certain independence from the physical conditions. In this way all the hormonic manipulations to which modern biologists are devoted actually have a necromantic character, being based on The idea that sex depends only on a different “hormonic formula.” They can produce important effects in altering the true characteristics of sex only in animals and in little- differentiated humans, but no effects in complete, “typical” men and women. This independence from physical conditioning is also confirmed in some cases of eunuchs, whose physical impairment may not only fail to destroy their sexual impulse, but may also not harm their inner manhood. Examples of this have often been cited, including Narses, who was one of the best generals of later ancient times, Aristonicus, the ministers Fotinus and Eutropus, Solomon (a lieutenant of Belisarius), Haly (grand vizier of Suleiman II), the philosopher Favorinus, and even Abelard, among many others. Conditional Nature and Forms of Erotic Attraction For a complete definition of the factors involved in sexual choice, we must consider in greater detail the structure of the human being with reference less to modern studies than to traditional teachings. We have distinguished two main parts or layers of the human being, the essence and the persona; now we must take the more profound part, the essence, and divide it in two parts. Thus there will be three levels in all. The first is the level of the outer individual, which is a social construct, an entity whose form is fairly arbitrary, “live,” and unsteady because of its art i Tidal nature. The second level 36 The Metaphysics of Sex belongs to the profound being , to the depth dimension, and is the site of what in philosophy has been called the principimn individuationis . It is here that those forces act by which a being is what it is, both physically and psychically, and is distinguished from every other being of the same species; thus it is also the site of the inborn nature of each person. These formative forces are called samskara or vasana . in the Hindu tradition; They not only are related to hereditary or racial factors, but are conceived as comprising heredity, as causes, preformations, and influences whose origin may lie beyond a single human life. 45 Psychologically, this level may be related to everything , in man that is his inborn character and nature, which we have called his “face,” as opposed to his “mask.” Contrary to everything belonging to the first and outermost of the three levels, that which refers to the second level has a marked degree of determination and stability. Thus Kant and Schopenhauer were led to talk of a “transcendental nature” of every individual as of a “noumenal” fact, that is, relative to the realm that lies behind the whole order of phenomena perceived in space and time. The third and deepest level concerns elementary forces superior and prior to individuation but acting as the ultimate seat of the individual. In this realm, where the first root of sex is found, the original force of eros is aroused. In itself, this level is prior to form and determination. Each process assumes a form and determination m the same measure that the energy of this level invests the two other levels and to the degree that the process is continued in them. With this background it is possible to apprehend every aspect of what happens in sexual attraction. At the deepest level, that attraction is something that goes beyond the individual, and erotic experience reaches this level in the final and traumatic form of coitus. In this regard, we see the validity of the saying that all women love only one man and all men love only one woman. Here there is a principle of indifference and interchangeability. By virtue of the analogical correspondences between upper and lower limits, this principle is in force in the blind impulse that drives a person toward someone of the opposite sex because ol the sexual polarity, an impulse proper to animal and brute forms of eros (the “animal lack of choice”). The same principle is in force in the positively disindividualized forms of eros, which can be seen in a Dionysiao experience, for example. Therefore, it is not always true to say that the most vulgar and animalistic form of love is that in which one loves not a woman, but the woman. Exactly the opposite may be irtic.'”* The same can be said concerning the fact that during ihc crisis of coitus, i he man almost loses his individuality; he can lose il in I wo opposite ways, since I here are I wo opposed possibilities of V. Eros and Sexual Love 37 d is individualization, two intoxications: the anagogical ascent above individuality and the eatalegieal descent below. The lacement of the individual by the species” at such moments is pure myth. Lastly, when it is said that love is born at the first instant or not at all, when we speak of a coup defoudre, this refers mainly to cases where, owing to special circumstances, it is the force of the deepest layer that acts in a direct, unhindered, predominant way. The first law that governs the process of sex at its third and deepest level is the one governing the desire for a complement, for the reintegration of the pure male quality and the pure female quality by the union of man and woman. At the boundary between the second and third layers, the intermediate and the deepest levels, the conditional qualities of bonds belonging to the individuation or inborn nature of a given being start to act almost at once. At this new stage, as regards erotic passion and inclination, it is no longer a matter of indifference what a given woman is besides being a woman and constituting the elementary, ontological complement of which we spoke. Here, above all, choice is influenced, for example, by the conditions of race, physical type, and character, and the whole may be accentuated and fixed in the mind until it creates the illusion of irreplaceability; 47 it is the belief in “one love only,” the idea that a person can love only one given individual, one specific man or woman. And whenever all the elementary force belonging to the deepest layer and to the primary process fixes itself at this intermediate level — the level of individuation and of the “transcendental character” — the “fatal passion” will occur. This passion, as we shall see, is almost never happy if it stays in the human, profane field, inasmuch as a force and a charge are activated here which go beyond the individual; wherefore there often take place some real short circuits arid situations such as illustrated by Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde. The intermediate level is generally also the level at which the woman loved is idealized; in it there arises the illusion that a woman is loved for one or another of her qualities, whereas that which is truly loved and which binds the lover is her naked being. When the profound force of eros does not permeate the intermediate level directly or fix itself there completely (as happens in the great majority of cases), there remains a certain margin of indctennination; instead of the ‘”sole, irreplaceable woman” there w T ilI be a given approximate type or genre, represented by more than one woman (or man) and constituting the condition for a strong enough attraction. But this freedom of movement or ability for displacement of the eros can also have another cause, namely the imperfect individuation of a given being. II I lie inner lace of a person is not very del mile, so equally will … 38 The Metaphysics of Sex Eros and Sexual Love 39 the object of his desire be less definite and, within given limits, more changeable. The repetition of experience too, can undermine the stability proper to the first period of the erotic life. Thus Balzac found that in the first woman one loves, one loves everything, as if she were the only woman; afterward, one loves the woman in every woman. Let us now pass on to the level of the outer individual. When a person’s center of gravity falls within this level, the change ability, we n£ mentioned and the indetermination of its proper sexual complement in his choices become excessive. As we said before, everything at this level is inorganic and lacks deep roots. Thus in some cases we may find the type of libertine who seeks “pleasure” alone and values a woman by the amount of pleasure he thinks she can give him; in every other respect one woman is for him more or less the same as another. In other cases the deciding factors may become social and environmental ones, such as class, fashion, tradition, and vanity. When this is the case, eros constellates itself on this level, and it is mainly by such qualities that norma!, “civilized,” bourgeois love is defined. However, should cros suddenly recover its fundamental character and follow the conditional qualities belonging to its deepest layers, it will then act in a catastrophic manner on everything that has formed in the outer realm of the social individual and therefore in the sexual relations. In a case where a person finds his true complement, all the affinities determined by the level of his individual nature and samskara can upset or undermine everything that the social individual has won for himself in die framework of institutions of ihe civilization and society of a “divine right of love”: “They [the lovers] have a share of divine right, notwithstanding human laws and conventions.” 48 Such cases are numerous nowadays and have provided materia) for certain kinds of drama and literature, precisely because in modern times there exists the illusion that the relations between the sexes can be centered and systematized on the outer, social inorganic, artificial level. 49 We can similarly explain the case of the libertine who becomes a victim of his own game and ends up falling in love with a particular woman, thus terminating the ability to change the object of his eros, or who undergoes maniacal sexual transformations as a result of playing with fire and provoking the activation of a “voltage” fitted to the deeper leveL These events can in turn act in a catastrophic manner even on the plane of the “one true love,” just as the law of affinities in force on that plane (at the intermediate level) can act eatastrophically in die realm of ihe social individual and his arrangements whenever (he right complementary p;iriner is encountered. Then (lie I rue love fails once more, even the uniqueness of the “fatal passion/’ But these cases are very rare in the field of profane love, and when they do happen, they are never evaluated according to their true nature. Another case that can be analyzed in this context is an elementary sexual passion and attraction that can be accompanied by disdain and even hatred between two lovers; it is the energy of the deeper plane that is acting to undermine all the determining affinities of character and all the values that would normally be focused on the intermediate plane. This case is symmetrical with that in which the affinities proper to the intermediate plane can, in their turn, negate everything which belongs to the outer realm of social morals and institutions. Finally, we can mention the fact that there are artificial means of : arousing in a more or less free state the elementary force of eros by neutralizing those more superficial layers, Here we can note the action of alcohol and some drugs; these were sometimes employed in i sexual rites, such as Dionysiac ceremonies and Tantrism* Love potions, whose true nature is lost to the modern world, have played a similar role. By this, as we shall see, eros can lead to some forms of daemonic worship as well as to sexual magic proper. In everything we have said so far we should never confuse the role of that which conditions with the role of that which determines. For a machine to function properly, it must consist of given parts that interact correctly; this is the condition. But when motor energy is lacking, even the most perfect machine will stay still. The same is true of all the conditional qualities in man which, on the two more superficial levels of his being, can theoretically correspond to the optimum as regards sexual attraction; but the primary force of eros must be roused with “voltage” in order to establish that magnetic or magic state which is the true foundation of all sexual love. In an ordinary individual, and especially in a civilized individual of the Western world, erotic experience often has a passive natures-It is as if the corresponding processes begin and proceed on their own without the action of man’s .will. He cannot even focus these processes accurately on any of the three levels. This situation is considered so natural and normal that a person thinks his desire must be compulsive, beyond his control, or else he doubts the sincerity and depth of his feeling or desire. In languages of Latin origin, the word for “passion” expresses precisely the idea of submitting or suffering. The same is true of the German word Leidenschafl, from ihe verb leiden, which also means to “endure” or “suffer.” The degree of passivity depends on the individuals and their inner differentiation. Furthermore, one must take into account differential psychology based on varying social institutions. For instance, the itiMihitioii ill polyj’amv luiiiirallv fosicrsa male lype in which lliee^o L 40 The Metaphysics of Sex has a greater degree of freedom as regards eros (with greater mutability and hence less stability). In this male type the erotic experience per se has more importance than the relationship with a specific woman as a person (an Arab proverb says: “One fruit, then another fruit”). Polygamy does not always correspond to the outer and inorganic situation proper to a libertine. The change from polygamy (or from marriages that allowed concubines as an integral part of the family) to monogamy, notwithstanding the conformist views prevailing today, is in no way a replacement of a lower type by a higher type of manhood, but is exactly the opposite: it is rather a symptom of a potential and much greater enslavement of man by eros and woman, and that is not a thing which marks a higher civilization. 50 In the ancient world or among primitive peoples, we encounter the elements of a technique disposed to act on various ex is ten rial conditional qualities of eros. For the present we shall give only one example; the fact that among such peoples, wedding ceremonies are identified with love spells that arouse the force of attraction between the two sexes as an irresistible power. 51 According to our scheme, these spells arouse and activate the eros on the elementary plane and involve the risk of feeding a kind of devilry or possession. Before going any further, let us cast a glance over the ground we have covered. We have rejected every finahstic^ biological interpretation of eros, and we have dismissed the Freudian pleasure principle as no better than the theory that posits an imagined “instinct for reproduction” as the primary fact in the erotic impulse. The magnetic theory, in our view, corresponds more closely to reality. We have gone deeper into this theory by means of data taken from traditional teachings, which talk of a state or. fluid that determines itself “cataly deafly” in lovers through the presence of the basic forces (yin and yang) mat define sexual polarity and sexual development in general. The correlative thereof is a displacement of the plane of consciousness, which in turn becomes the cause of a magical activation of the power of the imagination and of a more or less strong obsession of the mind with one dominant idea. The ancient doctrine of an invisible change, produced in the blood when a person is seized by eros, has been restored to its true value. Finally, we have examined the conditional qualities linked to the existential desire for a complement within the framework of the doctrine of the manifold layers of a person. However, we have emphasized that the primary force and basis of everything shall always be deemed to be that which proceeds directly from the ratio of absolute manhood to absolute womanhood; and in this regard the more intense the process, with all its attendant effects of clcmeniary attraction, Ihe Eros and Sexual Love 41 more decided the differentiation of the sexes or, in other words, their sexual development. But here it may be said we have taken a circuitous route and evaded the essence. No matter how much we try to explain eros, we always come back to eros itself and inevitably meet the fundamental question: Why are man and woman attracted by each other? Having succeeded in recognizing this elementary and uncompromising fact, we must seek its meaning. This is precisely the same as asking what is the meaning of sex itself, and we now find ourselves led to the center of the metaphysics of sex proper. The Metaphysics of Sex The Myth of the Hermaphrodite Myth is the means by which the traditional world expressed the ulti- mate significance of being. The traditional myth has the value of a key, but it has been neglected as such in past attempts to explain myth within the framework of natural history, biology, and psychology. Our intent is to reinstate myth as a resource in order to explore the metaphysics of sex. Several myths lend themselves to this investigation, but let us choose one that is most familiar to Western man, while bearing in mind that the same meanings are contained in myths of other cul- tures. As a basis, then, let us look at the discussion of love in Plato’s Symposium. Here, two theories of love, intermingled with the myth, are expounded by Aristophanes and Diotima respectively. We shall see that in a certain respect the two theories are complementary and illustrate the contradictions and problems of eros. The first theory concerns the myth of the hermaphrodite. As with almost all the myths introduced by Plato into his philosophy, we must suppose its origin to stem from the initiatic cermonies of the ancient Greek mysteries. Indeed the same theme winds its way below the surface of the most varied literature, ranging from the gnostics and ancient circles learned in the mystery cults down to authors of the Middle Ages and the early centuries of the modern era. Corresponding themes can also be found outside Europe. According to Plato 1 a primordial race existed “whose essence is now extinct,” a race of beings who contained in themselves both principles, male and female. This hermaphroditic race “was extra- ordinarily strong and brave, and they nourished in their hearts very arrogant designs, even unto an attack upon the gods themselves. The traditions recounted by Homer regarding Otho and Ephialtes and their attempt to scale the sky so as to assault the gods is also attributed to this race.” This is the same theme of the hubris of the Titans and Giants and of Prometheus. It can be found in many other myths as well — even, to a certain degree, in the biblical myth of Adam in the Garden of Eden, in which we find the promise “Ye shall be as gods.” According to Plain, the gods did not strike the hermaphrodites with lij’hliriii}’ a ,as || R y hud I he Giants., hut paralyzed I heir power and The Metaphysics of Sex 43 broke them in two. Thenceforth there arose beings of one sex or the other, male or female; they were, however, beings who retained the memory of their earlier state and in whom the impulse to reconstitute the primordial unity was kindled. According to Plato, in that impulse should be sought the ultimate metaphysical and everlasting meaning of eros: “From such an ancient time has love goaded human beings, one toward the other; it is inborn and seeks to renew our ancient nature in an endeavor to unite in one single being two distinct beings and, therefore, to restore human nature to good health. ” z Quite apart from the joint participation of lovers in sexual pleasure, the soul of each of them “tends toward something different, which it cannot express but which it feels and reveals mysteriously” 3 Almost by way of a posteriori counterevidence, Plato makes Hephaestus ask the lovers: ,Is it not perhaps this for which you long, a perfect, mutual fusion so that you will never be sundered from each other by day or night? If this is what you wish, I am ready to melt you and weld you together with fire into one and the same individual so as to reduce you to one single being instead of the two which you were beforehand; in this way you may live united to each other tor the whole of your lives and, when you are dead and down in Hades, you may be only one instead of two and may share together one single fate. Well, then, ask yourselves if this is what you want and whether you think you can be happy if you obtain it. “We know very well,” said Plato, “that no one would refuse such a proposal or show himself desirous of something else, but each person without any hesitation would deem that he had finally heard expressed that which had certainly been his desire for a long time, namely to be united and fused with his beloved so as to form one single nature from two distinct beings. Now, the cause of this desire is to be sought in the fact that this was indeed our primitive nature when we constituted one unit which was still whole; it is really the burning longing for this unity which bears the name oi love.” Almost like a symbol is “the clinging of the two parts to each other, as if in a desire to pervade each other wholly/’ 5 Within this context, the accessory elements that are metaphorical and “mythical” in a negative sense should be separated from the fun- damental concept. For example, the primordial beings whom Plato has described, even recounting their physical features, ought not, of course, to be conceived as actual members of some prehistoric race whose remains or fossils w r e would expect to find. Instead, we should conceive of a state y a spiritual condition of origins, not so much in the historical sense as in the framework of an ontology, of a doctrine of i he manifold si ales <>! being. By stripping away the overlying myth, we can timlersiiuid I he siaic as one ol ‘absolute fa^ (neither divided nor dual), <>( a eoniplele enlilv or pure imily which, in risclf, is llie 44 The Metaphysics of Sex state of Immortality. This last point is confirmed in the doctrine ex- pounded by Diotima later on in the Symposium and also set forth in the PkaedruS) where, in reference to so-called Platonic love and to the theory of beauty, the connection between the ultimate goal of eros and immortality is explicit. A second aspect of Plato’s myth is a variation of the traditional theme of the Fall. The differentiation of the sexes corresponds to the condition of a divided being, finite and mortal, partaking in the dual condition of one who has life, not in himself, but in another being; this is not the original state of being. In this respect a parallel could be made with the biblical myth, inasmuch as the Fall of Adam has as its outcome his exclusion from the Tree of Life. The Book of Genesis also speaks of the hermaphroditic nature of the primordial being made in the image of God (“Male and female created He them”). Some have attributed to the name of Eve, symbol of the complement of man, the meaning of “life,” or “living.” As we shall see, in the interpretation of the Kabbala, the sundering of the woman-life from the hermaphrodite is related to the Fall and ends with the equivalent I of the exclusion of Adam from the Tree of Life lest he should J “become as one of us” and “live forever” (Gen. 3: 22). As a whole, the myth of Plato alludes to the change from unity to duality, from being to the loss of being and of absolute life. Its dis- tinctive character and importance, however, lie precisely in its appli- cation to the duality of the sexes and direct us to the hidden meaning and ultimate object of eros. The purpose set forth in the Upanishads is the same when it speaks of what is really sought in the course of ordinary life: “It is not for love of woman that woman is desired by , man, but rather for love of the atmmi* (for the principle “all is light, all is immortality”). 6 In its most profound aspect, eros embodies an v.. * impulse to overcome the consequences of the Fall, to. leave., the restrictive world of duality, to restore the primordial .state*, to surmount the condition of dual existentiality broken .and conditioned by theJLoiher-” This is the absolute meaning of eros; this is the mystery hidden behind man’s drive toward woman in an elementary state. It precedes all the conditional qualities that human love shows f. in its infinite varieties in beings who arc not even absolute, men or absolute women but merely by-products of one or the other. Here is the key to all the metaphysics of sex: “Through the Dyad toward the Unity.” Sexual love is the most universal form of man’s obscure search to eliminate duality for a short while, to existentially overcome the boundary between ego and not-ego, between self and not-self. Flesh and sex arc the tools for an ecstatic approximation of the achievement of unity. The etymology of the word omwp, as given by a medieval “Worshipper of Love,” all hough unfounded, is The Metaphysics of Sex 45 nonetheless meaningful: “The particles means ‘without*; mot [mors] means ‘death*: If we join them together, we get ‘without death’ or life everlasting.” 7 Fundamentally, therefore, by loving and desiring, a man seeks the confirmation of self, participation in absolute being, the destruction of sieresis, and the loss and existential anguish associated with it. When looked at in this light, many aspects of profane love and of sex- uality are clarified. At the same time, we can already foresee the path leading to the sphere of mystic eroticism and of the sacred or magical use of sex belonging to so many ancient traditions. For already at the beginning of our inquiry, we have revealed the elementary basis of the erotic impulse to be metaphysical and not physical. Therefore our way is now open to the series of investigations that will be the subjects of the subsequent chapters. In the meantime we must not overlook a particular point. As we have seen, Plato formulated the doctrine of the hermaphrodite in such a way that he gave it a “Promethean” appearance. If the mythi- cal beings of earliest times were such that they could strike terror in the gods and vie with them, then we can hypothesize that eros — the ultimate search for integration — is not so much a nebulous mystic state as a condition of being that is also potency. This factor will have a bearing in our study of the initiatic forms of sexual magic, but this motive must be stripped of pathos. In a wider context, Promethea- nism can shed its negative character of breach of trust. The tradition that gave form to the myth of Prometheus and the Giants is also that of the Heraclean ideal. This ideal is an equivalent to the aim pursued by the Titans; it belongs in general to those who, despite everything, pursue access to the Tree of Life. When Heracles attains enjoyment of the apples that confer immortality (according to one version of the legend, it is Prometheus who shows him the way), he attains Hebe, everlasting youth, on Olympus, not as a violator of a trust but rather as an ally of the Olympians. Related to this, we can allude to the fact that the Promethean moment latent in eros is effectively attested to in scattered accounts belonging to various traditions. We shall limit ourselves here to recalling that in the cycle of the Holy Grail (a cycle replete with initiatory content under the guise of chivalric adventures), the temptation that woman represents for an elected knight is sometimes an ribuied to Lucifer, 8 thus taking on a very different meaning from the moralistic notion of the mere seduction of the flesh. Moreover, Wolfram von Fschenbach relates the fall of Amfortas to his having chosen “Love” for his device — a device, says the poet, that is not in keeping with humility.” This is tantamount U> saying that in love is hidden the opposite of humility, namely I he hubris or overweening , 46 The Metaphysics of Sex pride of the “unified” beings of the origin of mankind. Moreover, it should be noted that Wolfram speaks of the “opening of the path to the Grail with arms in hand,” that is, in a violent manner, and that the main hero of the poem, Parzifal, in fact reaches that situation with a sort of rebellion against God. 10 Now, the opening of the path. to the Holy Grail is more or less the same as the opening of the way to the Tree of Life or everlasting life, for the rather flaccid framework of Wagner’s Parsifal in no way corresponds to the original predominant themes and should not be taken into account at all. Last, it should be noted that the circles in which sexual magic and mystic eroticism have been practiced have openly professed the doctrine of “unity,” thus denying any true ontological distance between creator and creature, with a contempt for both human and divine laws as well. These circles range from the Hindu Siddha and Kaula of the “Way of the Left Hand” down to the Brothers of the Free Spirit of the Christian Middle Ages, to the Sabbatism of Jakob Franck, and to Aleister Crowley in our own century. 11 But we must emphasize that these references are to be purged of their problematic “Promethean” aspect and are exclusively concerned with “guided” experiences of eros outside the realm of common love between men and women. In conclusion, we should add that in the work of Plato himself, 12 the recovery, the return to the ancient condition and the “supreme happiness,” understood as being the “highest good” to which eros can lead, are associated with the overcoming of godlessness, the prime cause of the existential separation of man from the divine in general. It is only a different orientation that, alongside some morphological likenesses, differentiates Prometheus from Heracles, or the experience mentioned from Satanism; but this is not the time to dwell on that subject.