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Title: Sex = Love - And its Place in a Free Society
Author: Carpenter, Edward, 1844-1929
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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SEX = LOVE,

AND ITS PLACE IN A FREE SOCIETY: (SECOND EDITION)

By Edward Carpenter.

Price Fourpence.

Manchester:

The Labour Press Society Limited, Printers and Publishers

1894.

     TRANSCRIBER'S NOTE: There are several pages missing from
     this small book. A serious search was made both online and
     in print without another copy found. It seemed worthwhile to
     transcribe the book in spite of the missing pages as this is
     a startling essay for its date. If any reader should ever
     come across an intact print or online copy, kindly inform


SEX = LOVE

The subject of Sex is most difficult to deal with, not only on account
of a certain prudery as well as a natural reticence on the subject, but
doubtless also because the passion itself being so tremendously strong
and occupying such a large part of human thought--and words being so
scanty and inadequate on the subject--everything that _is_ said is
liable to be misunderstood; the most violent inferences are made, and
equivocations surmised, from the simplest remarks; qualified admissions
of liberty are interpreted into recommendations of unbridled licence;
and generally the perspective of literary expression is turned upside
down by the effect of the unfamiliarity of the topic on the reader's
mind.

There is indeed a vast deal of fetishism in the current treatment of
Sex; and the subject is dealt with as though it lay quite out of line
with any other need or faculty of human nature. Nor can one altogether
be surprised at this when one perceives of what vast import Sex is in
the scheme of things, and how deeply it it has been associated since the
earliest times not only with man's personal impulses but even with his
religious sentiments and ceremonials.

Next to hunger this is doubtless the most primitive and imperative of
our needs. But in modern civilised life Sex enters probably even more
into _consciousness_ than hunger. For the hunger-needs of the human race
are in the later societies fairly well satisfied, but the sex-desires
are strongly restrained, both by law and custom, from satisfaction--and
so assert themselves all the more in thought.

To find the place of these desires, their utterance, their control,
their personal import, their social import, is a tremendous problem to
every youth and girl, man and woman.

There are a few of both sexes, doubtless, who hardly feel the
passion--who have never been "in love," and who experience no strong
sexual appetite--but these are rare. Practically the passion is a
matter of universal experience; and speaking broadly and generally we
may say it is a matter on which it is quite desirable that every adult
at some time or other _should_ have experience--actual and physical, as
well as emotional. There may be exceptions; but, as said, the
sex-instinct lies so deep and is so universal, that for the
understanding of life--of one's own life, of that of others, and of
human nature in general--as well as for the proper development of one's
own capacities, such experience is almost indispensable.

While the glory of Sex pervades and suffuses all Nature; while the
flowers are rayed and starred out towards the sun in the very ecstasy of
generation; while the nostrils of the animals dilate, and their forms
become instinct, under the passion, with a proud and fiery beauty;
while even the human lover is transformed, and in the great splendors of
the mountains and the sky perceives something to which he had not the
key before--yet it is curious that just here, in Man, we find the magic
wand of Nature suddenly broken, and doubt and conflict and division
entering in, where a kind of unconscious harmony had erst prevailed.

Heine I think says somewhere that the man who loves unsuccessfully knows
himself to be a god. It is not perhaps till the great current of sexual
love is checked and brought into conflict with the other parts of his
being that the whole nature of the man, sexual and moral, under the
tremendous stress rises into consciousness and reveals in fire its
god-like quality. This is the work of the artificer who makes immortal
souls--who out of the natural love evolves even a more perfect love. "In
tutti gli amanti," says Giordano Bruno, "é questo fabro vulcano" ("in
all lovers is this Olympian blacksmith present").

To teach the child first, quite openly, its physical relation to its own
mother, its long indwelling in her body, and the deep and sacred bond of
tenderness between mother and child in consequence; then, after a time,
to explain the work of fatherhood, and how the love of the parents for
each other was the cause of its own (the child's) existence: these
things are easy and natural--at least they are so to the young mind--and
excite in it no surprise, or sense of unfitness, but only gratitude and
a kind of tender wonderment. Then, later on, as the special sexual
needs and desires develop, to instruct the girl or boy in the further
details of the matter, and the care and right conduct of her or his own
sexual nature; on the meaning and the dangers of solitary indulgence--if
this habit has been contracted; on the need of self-control and the
presence of affection in all relations with others, and (without
asceticism) on the possibility of deflecting physical desire to some
degree into affectional and emotional channels, and the great gain so
resulting: all these are things which an ordinary youth of either sex
will easily understand and appreciate, and which may be of priceless
value, saving such an one from years of struggle in foul morasses, and
waste of precious life-strength. Finally, with the maturity of *See
Appendix.

The moral nature, the supremacy of the pure human relation should be
taught--not the extinguishment of desire, but the attainment of the real
kernel of it, its dedication to the well-being of another--the evolution
of the _human_ element in love, balancing the natural--till at last the
snatching of an unglad pleasure, regardless of the other from whom it is
snatched, or the surrender of one's body to another, for any reason
except that of love, become things impossible.

Between lovers then a kind of hardy temperance is much to be
recommended--for all reasons, but especially because it lifts their
satisfaction and delight in each other out of the region of
ephemeralities (which too soon turn to dull indifference and satiety)
into the region of more lasting things--one step nearer at any rate to
the Eternal Kingdom. How intoxicating indeed, how penetrating--like a
most precious wine--is that love which is the sexual transformed by the
magic of the will into the emotional and spiritual! And what a loss on
the merest grounds of prudence and the economy of pleasure is its
unbridled waste along physical channels! So nothing is so much to be
dreaded between lovers as just this--the vulgarisation of love--and this
is the rock upon which marriage so often splits.

There is a kind of illusion about physical desire similar to that which
a child suffers from when, seeing a beautiful flower, it instantly
snatches the same, and destroys in a few moments the form and fragrance
which attracted it. He only gets the full glory who holds himself back a
little, and truly possesses who is willing if need be not to possess.

On the other hand it must not be pretended that the physical passions
are by their nature abhorrent, or anything but admirable and desirable
in their place. Any attempt to absolutely disown or despite them,
carried out over long periods either by individuals or bodies of people,
only ends in the _thinning out_ of the human nature--by the very
consequent stinting of the supply of its growth-material, and is liable
to stultify itself in time by leading to reactionary excesses. It must
never be forgotten that the physical basis throughout life is of the
first importance, and supplies the nutrition and food-stuff without
which the higher powers cannot exist or at least manifest themselves.
Intimacies founded on intellectual and moral affinities alone are seldom
very deep and lasting; if the physical or sexual basis is quite absent,
the acquaintanceship is liable to die away again like an ill-rooted
plant. In many cases (especially of women) the nature is never really
understood or disclosed till the sex-feeling is touched--however
lightly. Besides it must be....



==== missing page 14 =======



....pregnant things in all our experience; and must not by any means be
blinked or evaded, but boldly faced. It is in itself almost a sexual
act. The mortal nature through it is, so to speak, torn asunder; and
through the rent so made in his mortality does it sometimes happen that
a new and immortal man is born.

The Sex-act affords the type of all pleasures. The dissatisfaction which
at times follows on it is the same as follows on all pleasure which is
_sought,_ and which does not come unsought. The dissatisfaction is not
in the nature of pleasure itself but in the nature of _seeking_. In
consciously surrendering oneself to the pursuit of things external, the
"I" (since it really has everything and needs nothing) deceives itself,
goes out from its true home, tears itself asunder, and admits a gap or
rent in its own being. This is what is meant by _sin_--the separation or
sundering (German _Sünde_) of one's being--and all the pain that goes
therewith. It all consists in _seeking_ those external things and
pleasures; not (a thousand times be it said) in those external things or
pleasures themselves. They are all fair and gracious enough; their
place is to stand round the throne and offer their homage--rank behind
rank in their multitudes--if so be we will accept it. But for us to go
out of ourselves to run after _them_, to allow ourselves to be divided
and rent in twain by _their_ attraction, that is an inversion of the
order of heaven; and in so doing does sin and all suffering enter in.

Of all pleasures the sexual tempts most strongly to this desertion of
one's true self, and stands as the type of Maya and the world-illusion;
yet the beauty of the loved one and the delight of corporeal union all
turn to dust and ashes if bought at the price of disunion and disloyalty
in the higher spheres--disloyalty even to the person whose mortal love
is sought. The higher and more durable part of man, whirled along in the
rapids and whirlpools of desire, experiences tortures the moment it
comes to recognise that. It is something other than physical. Then comes
the struggle to regain its lost Paradise, and the frightful effort of
co-ordination between the two natures, by which the centre of
consciousness is gradually transferred from the fugitive to the more
permanent part, and the mortal and changeable is assigned its due place
in the outer chambers and forecourts of the temple.

Pleasure should come as the natural (and indeed inevitable)
accompaniment of life, believed in with a kind of free faith, but never
sought as the object of life. It is in the inversion of this order that
the uncleanness of the senses arises. Sex to-day throughout the domains
of civilisation is thoroughly unclean, in the gutter. Little boys
bathing on the outskirts of our towns are hunted down by idiotic
policemen, apparently infuriated by the sight of the naked body, even of
childhood. Lately in one of our northern towns, the boys and men bathing
in a public pool set apart by the corporation for the purpose,
were--though forced to wear some kind of covering--kept till nine
o'clock at night before they were allowed to go into the water--lest in
the full daylight Mrs. Grundy should behold any portion of their bodies
! and as for women and girls their disabilities in the matter are most
serious.

Till this dirty and dismal sentiment with regard to the human body is
removed there can be little hope of anything like a free and gracious
public life. With the regeneration of our social ideas the whole
conception of Sex as a thing covert and to be ashamed of, marketable and
unclean, will have to be regenerated. That inestimable freedom and pride
which is the basis of all true manhood and womanhood will have to enter
into this most intimate relation to preserve it frank and pure--pure
from the damnable commercialism which buys and sells all human things,
and from the religious hypocrisy which covers and conceals; and a
healthy delight in and cultivation of the body and all its natural
functions and a determination to keep them....



======= page 21  missing  =========



....of being; but absolute union can only be found at the centre of
existence. Therefore whoever has truly found another has found not only
that other, and with that other himself, but has found also a third--who
dwells at the centre and holds the plastic material of the universe in
the palm of his hand, and is a creator of sensible forms.

Similarly the aim of sex is union and non-differentiation--but on the
physical plane,--and in the moment when this union is accomplished
creation takes place, and the generation (in the plastic material of the
sex-elements) of sensible forms.

In the animal and lower human world--and wherever the creature is
incapable of realising the perfect love (which is indeed able to
transform it into a god)--Nature in the purely physical instincts does
the next best thing, that is, she effects a corporeal union and so
generates another creature who by the very process of his generation
shall be one step nearer to the universal soul and the realisation of
the desired end. Nevertheless the moment the other love and all that
goes with it is realised the natural sexual love has to fall into a
secondary place--the lover must stand on his feet and not on his
head--or else the most dire confusions ensue, and torments æonian.

Taking all together I think it may fairly be said that the prime object
of Sex is _union_, the physical union as the allegory and expression of
the real union, and that generation is a secondary object or result of
this union. If we go to the lowest material expressions of Sex--as among
the protozoic cells--we find that they, the cells, unite together, two
into one; and that, as a result of the nutrition that ensues, this
joint cell after a time (but not always) breaks up by fission into a
number of progeny cells; or if on the other hand we go to the very
highest expression of Sex, in the sentiment of Love, we find the latter
takes the form chiefly and before all else of a desire for union, and
only in lesser degree of a desire for race-propagation.

I mention this because it probably makes a good deal of difference in
our estimate of Sex whether the one function or the other is considered
primary. There is perhaps a slight tendency among medical and other
authorities to overlook the question of the important physical actions
and reactions, and even corporeal modifications, which may ensue upon
sexual intercourse between two people, and to fix their attention too
exclusively upon their child-bearing function; but in truth it is
probable, I think, from various considerations, that the spermatozoa
pass through the tissues and affect the general body of the female, as
well as that the male absorbs minutest cells _from_ the....



===== missing page 24  ============



....to whom love in its various manifestations shall be from the
beginning a perfect whole, pure and natural, free and standing sanely on
its feet?



APPENDIX.

"I analysed a flower, I pointed out to her the beauty of colouring, the
gracefulness of shape, the tender shades, the difference between the
parts composing the flowers. Gradually, I told her what these parts were
called. I showed her the pollen, which clung like a beautiful golden
powder to her little rosy fingers. I showed her through the microscope
that this beautiful powder was composed of an infinite number of small
grains. I made her examine the pistil more closely, and I showed her, at
the end of the tube, the ovary, which I called a 'little house full of
very tiny children.' I showed her the pollen glued to the pistil, and I
told her, that when the pollen of one flower, carried away by the wind,
or by the insects, fell on the pistil of another flower, the small
grains died, and a tiny drop of moisture passed through the tube and
entered into the little house where the very tiny children dwelt; that
these tiny children were like small eggs, that in each small egg there
was an almost invisible opening, through which a little of the small
drop passed; that when this drop of pollen mixed with some other
wonderful power in the ovary, that both joined together to give life,
and the eggs developed and became grains or fruit. I have shown her
flowers which had only a pistil and others which had only stamens. I
said to her, smiling, that the pistils were like little mothers, and the
stamens like little fathers of the fruit...... Thus I sowed in this
innocent heart and searching mind the seeds of that delicate science,
which degenerates into obscenity, if the mother, through false shame,
leaves the instruction of her child to its schoolfellows. Let my little
girl ask me, if she likes, the much dreaded question; I will only have
to remind her of the botany lessons, simply adding, the same thing
happens to human beings, with this difference, that what is done
unconsciously by the plants, is done consciously by us; that in a
properly arranged society one only unites one's self to the person one
loves.'"--(Translated from "La Revendication des Droits Féminins,O
Shafts, April 1894, p. 237.)





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