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I will review this book by parts.The explains that this is but a part of a lecture and book series on the Seven Deadly Sins cosponsored by the New York Public Library and Oxford University Press. Interesting to note then that the author/lecturer never equated lust with sin.The , indeed, says the book is about lust itself and/or ideas about lust.In the the author expresses his intent to speak lust and asserts that lust may qualify as a virtue.Chapter 1 [Desire:], after a long philosophical discussion, gives a working definition of : the enthusiastic desire that infuses the body for sexual activity and its pleasures for their own sake.Chapter 2 [Excess:] defends lust against being equated with excess, the author saying that we cant criticize lust because it can get out of hand, just the same as we cant criticize hunger because it can lead to gluttony. Even mystics, he says, sometimes modeled communion with God with sexual ecstasy using the same metaphors of surrender, burning, losing oneself, becoming blind or temporarily destroyed, or suffering a little death. Saint Teresa of Avila, for example, had talked religiously of an arrow driven into the very depths of the entrails and the heart [so that the soul does not:] know either what is the matter with it or what it desires, describing this religious experience as one so delectable that life holds no delight that can give greater satisfaction.Chapter 3 [Two Problems from Plato:] discusses ancient Greek philosophers theories and myths about sexual desire. Here is where the notion that lust is misshappen, shameful and needs restraint was said to have started.Chapter 4 [Stiff Upper Lips:] could have been very well entitled Shame. Without going into any conclusions, it discusses viewpoints about sexual decorum. One of the most interesting was by the Greek school of philosophy called The Cynics [dog philosophers:] headed by Diogenes who argued that no shame is attached to the sexual act. Diogenes pupil and his wife were said to have openly fucked on the steps of the temple as they got married and thereafter repeated the same happily many times more in public.Chapter 5 is aptly entitled The Christian Panic as it discusses how Christians had demonized lust starting with Saint Augustine who saw the involuntary rebellious nature of sexual desire as a symbol or emblem of the whole fallen state of mankind.The Legacy [Chapter6:] fittingly follows. With sex outside of procreation viewed as generally dirty, contraception, homosexuality, oral sex and sodomy are now capital offenses.Chapter 7 [What Nature Intended:] points out that nature is full of strange sexual behavior which had nothing to do with procreation [e.g., transvestism, homosexuality, masturbation, having multiple partners, etc. One example given is the male lion which was observed to have had sex with two partners 157 times in just 55 hours:].In Chapter 8 [Some Consequences:] the author enumerates some of the psychic turmoil which results from sex/lust being both intensely desirable yet culturally identified as intensely shameful.Chapter 9 [Shakespeare versus Dorothy Parker:] attempts to answer the question of whether erotic love is madness, blindness and illusion [Shakespeare:] or a fully conscious state where lovers just lie to each other. The proposed answer was:...The poetry or feigning can take over the self, and for the moment at least we are what we imagine ourselves to be. [The lovers:] swear eternal truth, and in their imaginations they are, for the moment, eternally faithful. They swear never to look at anyone else, and neither would they, were they always as they now imagine themselves to be. When things go wrong, it may be unduly severe to charge the lover with making lying promises, because at the time of making there was no definite self other than the one in whom the promise was sincere, and no definite intention need have been misrepresented by the promise. A faithful self was being constructed, even if it later fell down.The performance can bring about its own truth, and evolutionarily this may be the function of romantic love. The imagining is in part a fixing of the self and of a decision, and the communication is in part a request for a like decision from someone else. If all goes well, the play becomes the reality; the poem becomes true.Chapter 10 [Hobbesian Unity:] is about the idea of the 17th-century philosopher Thomas Hobbes who wrote:The appetite which men call LUST...is a sensual pleasure, but not only that; there is in it also a delight of the mind: for it consist of two appetites together, to please and to be pleased; and the delight men take in delighting, is not sensual, but a pleasure or joy of the mind, consisting in the imagination of the power they have so much to please.According to the author, this theory helps explains why the ecstatic finale in sex can be an experience of communion or being at one with someone else. Hobbes also explains why the communion in sex has a better chance of being real than communion with the divine since conversations with the divine tend to be more one-sided.Chapter 11 [Disasters:] starts with a quote from another philosopher, Immanuel Kant, who asserted that sexual love only makes the loved person an object of appetite. Lust objectifies the other person, Kant argues, using him/her only as a tool for ones pleasure, and therefore dehumanizing and degrading. This is supposed to be the reason why people have sex in private and are generally scandalized by those who display erotic affection in public. But it should not be viewed like that, says the author: ...The intense desire for sexual privacy is frequently misinterpreted as shame at doing something that therefore must be intrinsically shameful or even disgusting. But the desire for privacy should not be moralized like that. Our intimacies are just as private as our couplings. Embarassment arises because when we are looked upon or overheard by someone else, there is a complete dissonance between what they witness--infantile prattlings, or, if their gaze is obscene, just the twitchings and spasms of the bare forked animals--and the view from the inside, the meanings that are infusing the whole enterprise.Chapter 12 [Substitutions:] briefly discusses prostitution and pornography, areas where there can never be any Hobbesian unity. Then, lusts friendliness with substitutionality [think having multiple partners:] is next discussed. It is possible, neverthess, that a lover may stick to one partner. In terms of lust, one beautiful partner can be as good a fuck as another beautiful person. But one person can be unique, or unlike no other person in this planet. How? By his/her sharing experiences with his/her lover. This would make him/her unique and irreplaceable.Evolution and Desire is Chapter 13. It concludes that evolutionary psychology has not helped us understand why we are governed by desire. The theory that desire is there to propagate the human race does not explain why a lot of sex [some of which were enumerated earlier:] have nothing to do at all with reproduction.Chapter 14, Overcoming Pessimism argues that lust/sex need not be looked down upon and that the project of sexual desire is the project of obtaining a Hobbesian unity which is not metaphysically impossible.Finally, the Farewell reads:So everything is all right. Hobbesian unity can be achieved, and if it cannot be achieved, it can at least be aimed at, and even if it cannot be aimed at, it can be imagined and dreamed. By understanding it for what it is, we can reclaim lust for humanity, and we can learn that lust best flourishes when it is unencumbered by bad philosophy and ideology, by falsities, by controls, by distortions, by corruptions and perversions and suspicions, which prevent its freedom of flow. It is not easy--and we do not side with Diogenes and Crates, after all. But it is not impossible. And when we remember the long train of human crimes that have ensued on getting it wrong, it is surely worth getting it right.

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