I start to re-read Dieter Duhm’s Eros Unredeemed again, and once again, it is like waking from sleep to recognize the true idiocy of our current situation when it comes to love, sex, and relationships. According to Duhm, our incapacity to bring our full consciousness and analytic intellect to this area imminently threatens our species and the biosphere with apocalyptic ruin — and I agree with him. In New York City, full of so many incredibly brilliant and beautiful people, I feel like I am walking through a desert — a wasteland of love, abandoned, forfeited, of puppets allowing themselves to be pulled on invisible strings… or as Duhm’s title puts it so aptly, unredeemed Eros.
As Duhm writes, “The progressive-dynamic sports shoe generation of today adorns itself with super-electronics and galactic hair styles, but in their hearts they still dream the same fairytale dreams of our grannies. The cars and the changes in fashion have become faster, but serious reflection on matters of love has not. If today we want to create a transition from a period of violence to a new era of structural non-violence then we have to totally change our priorities. The same love and attention, the same conscientiousness and reliability, the same force of will and intelligence with which humans have thus far used to destroy each other must now be used to promote sexual love. We can no longer confront the omnipotence of war with white doves and pious songs. Our latent fascination with war and destruction is too great, too sincere and too profound, whereas our ideas and images of peace have so far been much too weak, immature and half-hearted. Not until we have found something even much greater and more fascinating than warfare and power play will we be able to believe in the possibility of overcoming war on a global scale, and this something could well be sensual love based on friendship and solidarity and on a sincere, powerful, and erotic relationship between the sexes, in short, a true reunion of man and woman. The only kind of will power and intelligence which can enable us to thoroughly and permanently clear out the ancient martial nooks and crannies of the soul is one which is capable of creating the basic structures of a love-life without fear and violence. Human beings, who have sent space ships into outer space, will also be able to solve the problem of unredeemed Eros if they fully dedicate themselves to this task with all their will power and intelligence.”
The “free love” or “sexual liberation” of the 60s was not a failure, but an experiment that remains incomplete. Just as humanity was not up to the task, in that epoch, of reckoning with the psychedelic experience and integrating the psychic and visionary aspects of our being into the repressive social structure — the system we have inherited, which is now obviously breaking down– we have not been capable of fully comprehending or integrating what the emancipation of Eros means in terms of new social forms and also a new living experience of the Divine. “The sexual revolution, which is necessary for creating a humane world, can only take place if it is linked to an equally indispensable spiritual revolution,” Duhm writes. We are still sleepwalking: unable to confront or realize what is directly before us — putting it off to a “later” or an “away” that remains vaguely on the periphery. Another hundred yoga sessions, another thousand therapy appointments, and perhaps we will be there…
Our cultural system spins like a hamster wheel, essentially devoid of new, original or incisive content. Artists, filmmakers, novelists pursue the same old rewards in a system based on establishing careers and making profit. The actual content that needs to be expressed is contained in the love, sexual and spiritual revolution that people still don’t want to reckon with, because it threatens the structure and ideology they have been conditioned to maintain. Art and culture have been domesticated to serve the system of ego and profit — in these arenas, also, a true realization and inner revolution is necessary for a regeneration of our world to take place.
Far more than another political revolution, which would end up with some new miasma of jealousy and power and frustration, we need, first of all, a love revolution, which is also the form of a revelation: A totally fresh and clear-eyed approach to love and Eros. “The historical double meaning of apocalypse is being fulfilled, step by step it is turning into a conscious experience of revelation. The ‘Kingdom of God on Earth,’ i.e. the sexual and spiritual power of love, can no longer be confined behind society’s masks, dogmas, and institiutions,” Duhm writes. The “revelation” comes when we bring into consciousness the patterns of the past, and then construct a new societal structure that accords with our deepest drives and impulses.
The same ideas that Duhm works through here are also discussed in another one of my favorite books, Pain, Sex, and Time by Gerald Heard — though, writing in the 1940s, Heard was not able to fully perceive that the liberation of love, sexuality and Eros was also necessary for the evolutionary potential of humanity to be realized: He thought this energy needed to be channeled through new initiatory practices. “Modern man’s incessant sexuality is not bestial: rather it is a psychic hemorrhage. He bleeds himself constantly because he fears mental apoplexy if he can find no way of releasing his huge store of nervous energy,” Heard wrote. He noted that the tremendous force of the human sexual drive — beyond anything we find in the animal kingdom — suggested a surplus of extra evolutionary energy, which we will either consciously master, or it will destroy us.
We find our civilization has attained a tremendous mastery of techniques of war, while we have ignored love and sex, or treated it as something that we can’t fully explore with our conscious minds or approach with forethought. Sex remains something private, secret, and shrouded in darkness. “Whereas the cerebrum is applied in war technology, in love man lives and thinks out of his spinal cord,” writes Duhm. Even the everywhere evident fact that almost invariably (with very occasional exceptions) monogamous couples either break apart, or lose their spark, hasn’t compelled us to deeply consider the possibility that it is not our natural instinct in love that is wrong, but the social framework and belief system we have inherited — that we reify through our ongoing thoughts and actions — that is deeply flawed and in error. As Duhm also notes, there is no contradiction between being in a couple — finding a soul mate — and freedom in love. The contradiction only exists in our own minds — as the inheritance of patriarchy, of the “mind-forg’d manacles” which keep us from life and truth.
The lack of trust that we find throughout our “civil”-ization has its source in the failure of men and women to be truthful with each other. If your desires are in conflict with what society allows, you either express your desires and get exiled from society, or you make the best bargain you possibly can to attain some modicum of happiness and comfort, with the permanent acceptance of an underlying current of anger, bitterness, and resentment. Once you have allowed yourself to deceive yourself and the person who is theoretically closest to you, then you have created the intrinsic pattern for a society based on lies and delusion… You can then listen to the half-truths of our politicians and pundits without throwing up, because you are living in the same state of compromise. From that initial error, we collectively fail to safeguard or care for the environment as a logical consequence. After all, why would we want to protect a world that has betrayed us at its core?
“The liberation of Eros cannot succeed until we have wiped out every trace of the old idea of fidelity, which is based on the principle of the exclusion of others,” Duhm writes. “Faithfulness has nothing to do with a ban, with a vow, or with a contract. It is a concrete love relationship between two human beings. I am faithful to him because I love him. My love cannot depend on the condition that he should not go to bed with anyone else. If my partner is an attractive human specimen, then it is normal that others should desire him and that he should desire others. Should we really be expected to show our loyalty and devotion by renouncing such pleasures for the sake of another? What sort of farcical, masochistic idea is that? Faithfulness is love, but love is not renunciation. If our devotion for one another falls apart as a result of other sexual contacts, then our love was built on sand.”
The realization that the intrinsic paradigm for a planetary shift of consciousness is nothing “out there” but the internalization of a new mode of love that is shared, that flows like a river, that knows no fear, that has no need to possess or control: I believe that this is the next phase of the transformation of consciousness that needs to take place. Subconsciously I always knew this to be the case — probably you did as well — but I am grateful to Duhm (who founded the community Tamera in Portugal, which I recently visited) for bringing it out into the light of day.
He notes, “Humans will continue to butcher their environment, to destroy their fellow creatures, and vent their hatred on nature, as long as they do not achieve inner peace. And they will not find inner peace as long as they continue to rape love. … This entire worldwide process of destruction and self-destruction contains one strange component, which I have never completely understood, but which I have encountered again and again: Individuals are not even interested in freeing themselves from the system that ravages them.” Because an incredible force of historical repression and violence was exerted in this area (by the church, the colonialists, etc), our ancestors acquiesced, for purposes of survival and self-perpetuation. We have continued in the inertia of that internalized repression, because we didn’t know better.
The mass media functions as an ideological battering ram, blasting us over and over again with idealized images and visions of the monogamous couple and the nuclear family: This unit still forms the basis of the capitalist system, as theorists from Friedrich Engels to Slavoj Zizek realized. The acceptance of intrinsic dissatisfaction is part of what the system perpetuates. As we learn to accept continual discomfort and dissatisfaction at the thwarting of our instinct for love and sex as somehow “normal,” we then perpetuate this misery by accepting a world that we know is far beneath our true potential.
Nobody from outside of ourselves can integrate this realization and bring about this revolution of love, the liberation of Eros and redemption of instinct. Everything in our contemporary society continues to conspire against us: the complex of “Sex, Drugs, and Rock and Roll” is the mechanism used by the dominant system of patriarchal repression to distort our vitalizing impulses and channel them into areas that are easily commodified and controlled. The first step is to make what has been unmentionable and hidden into something we openly discuss and explore — then we can embody it.
Image by theslowlane, courtesy of Creative Commons license.