by Zsolt Alapi
Eros versus Thanatos. Freud talked about this. At this time of uncertainty, when we are face to face smack on with our mortality, let us remember this great, perpetual battle. Despite our deep dread of death, in times of trouble, Eros also comes along and hits us with a bang, so to speak. All this is not to trivialize the anxiety we are all feeling, coupled with our collective sense of helplessness, but it is to add some hope, some levity, maybe even some humor to our lives.
Eros, as the Greeks knew so well, is love, the Life Force, our sexuality, our urge to procreate, or, if not that, our urge to at least go through the motions. It is, above all, an affirmation of life, perhaps our species’ need for continuity, for perpetuation. It is the secret heart of our existence, a simple action that is enacted in our bedrooms every night (lucky you, it that is the case!) and gives us a few moments of unadulterated bliss that takes you out of yourself and has you merge with an Other: a Heideggerian “forgetfulness of Being” that we all long for.
And Thanatos: what Freud called our “death wish”. Something he felt we should urgently deny to affirm life, but still there, creeping among us like some virus, hidden, undetected, potentially fatal. Thanatos teaches us humility, slaps us in the face to remind us of our insignificance, our pretensions, our arrogance, thinking we have control over the larger forces of the world. It is, as an Inuit hunter once so poetically stated, a poignant reminder that when we really ponder it, “we are just another turd on the tundra.” Still, Taoists saw these two forces as coexisting, for one without the other is, paradoxically incomplete. Think about it. Think about this now. If you are fortunate enough to be with someone, is the sex better in these times? Do you give yourself over more? Is the passion more profound? Do you look at your lover more afterwards, with more longing, more poignancy, more need? Before you nod off to sleep, do you hold on tighter, offering that extra caress, that extra kiss? Is your life somehow richer, more filled? If so, it is Eros rising within you—Life, the source of our being. The Greeks knew something about this. They were fatalists who also believed in this exquisite redemption. No wonder then that Eros is both life and the erotic. It is what raises our human existence beyond the beasts (though we must not deny the beast within us), giving us the power to raise our spirits through music, through art, through poems.
So now on to practical concerns. Love in the time of Corona. If you are a reader, you would have gotten the reference to Gabriel García Márquez, the great magic-realist. If you don’t know him, now is the time to begin reading. He will transport you beyond the veil that resides between the imagination and our quotidian reality. But let’s not forget pleasure either, pleasure of a more banal kind.
If you are with someone, then I don’t need to tell you anything. You probably know much more than I about getting off. Maybe not. If you are alone, and need some suggestions, here are a few:
Read. There is so much good stuff out there, especially among 19th century and 20th century writers. Try My Secret Life, Fanny Hill, and The Best of Victorian Erotica. Move along the decades, and read Anaïs Nin’s Delta of Venus (sex from a female perspective), Henry Miller (Sexus, his best work, imo). Others: Charles Bukowski’s Women and American writer Mark SaFranko’s Lounge Lizard and his classic, Hating Olivia. My forthcoming novel (shamelessly promoted here) Landscape with the Fall of Icarus (with at least three sex scenes that score 5/5 on the Peter Meter), currently stuck at the printer’s, a truly non-essential service, but hopefully one day to see the light of day. I could go on, but this is just to get you started. For homoerotic and lesbian content, I defer to my friends and colleagues in that other equally rich discipline.
Try some of the new and recent chatrooms for virtual sex. The great thing is, you can do all the kinky things you have dreamed of on-line, and no one will be the wiser. Think of a good “handle” for your profile. Some suggestions: Kum Tu Kwik, The Master Baster (with a picture of you cooking a turkey for the upcoming holidays), Silken To FU, and if you are of German origin: Hart Knackwurst. If you come across the profile for The Humpin’ Hun, drop in and say “Hello”. I don’t bite (unless you want me to).
And afterward, having supped from the bounty of Eros, having taken matters in hand, roll over, smile into your camera and repeat the following mantra:
WASH YOUR HANDS!! WASH YOUR HANDS!! WASH YOUR HANDS!!
Be well, and be safe!