A Good Term In Huysmans

Either Huysmans, or his character Des Esseintes, forgive my memory, has a striking line about the female enslaving the male through the “venereal flower”. That is perhaps the best two-word expression of the enslavement that Hugo himself fancies having detected. The phrase that comes immediately after, though, “terror of the vulva”, does not strike me as equally well-made. Terror of the vulva, I am sure I don’t have one of those. It seems to belong to the same mental world as Freud’s concept of penis-envy in the female.

I nevertheless do feel Huysmans to be in sympathy with my own suspicion about much of our yearning for contact with the opposite sex – that it is founded on the fatal assumption that the other sex is metaphysically more important than we are and can therefore validate or redeem our existence. This error is, of course, committed by both sexes. Maybe gays do it too, I wouldn’t know, in which case we should be talking about a sense of needing metaphysical rescue by the Other.

I would quarrel with the Gnostics on one point, however; the seat of the trouble is not, I think, “the body” as such but rather our sense of identity.

(last, but fiddle date-stamp to February 2, 2020)

Posted on June 12, 2021 at 12:30 by Hugo Grinebiter · Permalink
In: AGAINST NATURE, Distrust Of Sex -- The Better Reasons

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