A feast of dust and stones

April 13, 2017 § 50 Comments

Saying that sexual desire is good in itself is like saying that hunger is good in itself. That is, it isn’t even really true at all. 

Hunger is good only inasmuch as it proposes to man the genuine goods of eating to be pursued in our fallen condition: preservation of life, growth, nutrition, and the social goods of breaking bread together or of men hunting or plowing as brothers, in honor. As a sense of depravation or craving, hunger is often aimed at disordered ends and is a prison for the incontinent. Thus we have the vice of gluttony.

Sexual desire likewise is only good inasmuch as it proposes to man the real goods of marriage: of mutual love between spouses and the creation of new life from the physical expression of that love. As a sense of depravation or craving, sexual desire is often aimed at disordered ends and is a prison for the incontinent. Thus we have the vice of lust.

The main difference between hunger and sexual desire is that a man can’t live without eating. Sexual desire though is not going to kill you. 

The heroes, architects, and analysts of the secular ‘morally neutral’ manosphere see the desolation wrought by modernity, and propose a great feast on stones and dust. What shall we eat, if not the stones and dust that surround us? What shall we drink if not the plentiful seawater and gasoline?

(Originally posted as a comment here.)

§ 50 Responses to A feast of dust and stones

  • Phaethon says:

    Modern thought makes desires equal to the person (think of the mathematical definition of ‘identity’). Therefore, the rejection of desire becomes the rejection of a person. This is why moderns cannot stomach or even understand “love the sinner but hate the sin”. Many that I talk to cannot even parse the difference of “I am against celebration of X action”. All they hear is “I am against this person”.

    No one says “I identify as hungry” (yet), but “I identify as [sexual desire]” is too common.

    Weird.

  • Zippy says:

    Phaethon:

    This post is also relevant.

  • TomD says:

    Well, my fiancée is sometimes tempted to identify me as a “cheeseburger-eater” – does that count?

    As an aside, this is one reason why “marriages” today fail – they are not marrying a person but a collection of accidents that they are currently attracted to; and when either changes, so dies the “marriage”.

    If We were Pope, we’d be tempted to say something like “The vast majority of marriages are gay,” because that’s what’s described above. But it would be imprecise.

  • Phaethon says:

    Zippy, thanks for the edit and link.

  • Thanks for the link, zippy. I’ almost forgotten about that post.

  • MK says:

    The main difference between hunger and sexual desire is that a man can’t live without eating. Sexual desire though is not going to kill you.

    Not acting on sexual desire over one’s fertile years will kill your linage. Just like malnutrition over one’s fertile years will kill a linage. Hence the incredibly strong urge of sex, which is indeed akin to hunger. No sex = genetic death. It kills.

  • Zippy says:

    MK:
    That might make a tiny inkling of sense if human beings were autonomous and atomized individuals the way modernist anthropology sees them.

  • Scott W. says:

    Not acting on sexual desire over one’s fertile years will kill your linage. Just like malnutrition over one’s fertile years will kill a linage. Hence the incredibly strong urge of sex, which is indeed akin to hunger. No sex = genetic death. It kills.

    Fair enough but remember the overall point of this entry: sexual desire is a contingent good. Meaning that it is good only when directed to a greater good such as “Be fruitful and multiply” as you allude to. Of course with the caveat that progeny is normative but not absolute.

  • Mike T says:

    Sexual desire likewise is only good inasmuch as it proposes to man the real goods of marriage: of mutual love between spouses and the creation of new life from the physical expression of that love. As a sense of depravation or craving, sexual desire is often aimed at disordered ends and is a prison for the incontinent. Thus we have the vice of lust.

    One oft unstated function that sexual desire has in marriage, if properly maintained, is helping to smooth out differences between husband and wife. Many couples I’ve seen over the years strike me as sufficiently different that if they were not brought together by sexual attraction they’d have been nothing more than friendly acquaintances or friends at best.

  • Zippy says:

    Mike T:

    It strikes me that your comment could be modified to say “Men and women strike me as sufficiently different that if they were not brought together by sexual attraction they’d have been nothing more than friendly acquaintances or friends at best.”

  • Your post made me think of good nutrition. There’s just really no substitute, nothing that fills you up, that feeds your soul quite like some genuinely nutritious food. So we can feast on cheetohs and ice cream, but those are just empty calories, things that just leave us hungrier than ever, not quite sure what we are missing. So you eat more junk, forever trying to pour quantity into the abyss of your soul.

    Casual sex is like that too, stones and dust, or the empty calories in a bag of cheetohs. It’s a really tragic loss, a horrific deception when you finally understand what is possible,what God designed,what He intended for us, and how easily we are deceived, led astray, how we seek out cheap substitutes.

  • TomD says:

    And amusingly enough, the very people who seek no desire for sex – the monks, nuns, and priests – are the very people who bring not death but life to a society.

    And the most perfect of them all, Mary, did not thereby kill her lineage, but instead became mother of all, even God.

  • MK says:

    Why do I care how “modernists anthologists” think? I only care about the truth. Your comment makes sense only as a bulverist.

    I view people interdependents, not “atomized individuals”, which is why I can and do talk of the sex drive in the aggregate. Here, the “main difference” between a weak sex drive & malnutrition is not death (both kill over time).

    The sex drive is indeed more variable than hunger (even to the point of homosexuality) because humans can share genes but not calories.

    My point matters because to trivialize sex and the sex drive in the aggregate for any culture is to ensure the tribe’s collapse. It’s kind of what we are seeing today, methinks.

  • Zippy says:

    MK:

    You wrote:

    Not acting on sexual desire over one’s fertile years will kill your linage. … No sex = genetic death. It kills.

    This assumes that you are an atomized individual: that you have no brothers, sisters, cousins, nieces, nephews, clan etc which all carry your genetic legacy. It assumes that monastic or priestly celibacy is a form of ‘genetic suicide’: that sacrificing your own life in defending your cousins from murderous invaders is ‘genetic suicide’, etc etc.

    IOW, it assumes a radically individualist anthropology.

    My point matters because to trivialize sex and the sex drive in the aggregate

    Your initial comment didn’t make that point at all, at least as I read it.

    Nobody is trivializing the need to produce and nurture the next generation of family and clan, in addition to protecting the current generation, etc.

    What is being rejected is the nonsensical incontinence in the notion that anyone qua individual needs sex in the way that everyone qua individual needs food.

    In actual fact — as empirical reality shows just by looking around — that sort of incontinence doesn’t help produce and nurture the next generation of your people at all.

    That sort of incontinence, to quote a commenter upthread, is “genetic death. It kills.”

  • GJ says:

    TomD:

    And amusingly enough, the very people who seek no desire for sex – the monks, nuns, and priests – are the very people who bring not death but life to a society.

    Yes, and not least because they demonstrate that another path besides the insane sex/marriage obsession is possible.

  • Peter Blood says:

    There are people in the “manosphere” who strike me as lonely internet nerds, relentlessly earnest in churning out strings of (identical) comments, true grinders. These types are common on the internet, only differing in their particular monomania. Real life with them must be a death march; is it any surprise a woman would leave such a person?

  • Occasionally society will hit on the fundamental similarity between sexual desire and hunger:

  • Mike T says:

    It strikes me that your comment could be modified

    Yes, it can. At the macro level, sexual desire is a true good because it bridges that gap to the benefit of the species and creation, even if it is often a prison at the micro level. I can think of only a handful of weapon whose company I have ever enjoyed at the same level as good male friends. I’m sure most men are the same way, if they’re honest.

  • Mike T says:

    handful of weapon whose company

    That goes for the gold on autocomplete screw ups. Damn, sometimes there are unintentionally hilarious side effects of using beta quality software.

  • Zippy says:

    Mike T:

    At the macro level, sexual desire is a true good…

    Again only in the equivocal sense in which hunger is a “true good”. Hunger drives a man to do what he ought to do by reason, that is, nourish his body. Yet if someone were born without the capacity to feel hunger he should still nourish his body.

    Similarly, sexual desire is good only to the extent it prompts a man to do what he ought to do anyway, even if that desire were absent.

  • Zippy says:

    (Keep in mind that the gratification which accompanies doing something good is distinct from craving or hunger for that gratification as something distinct from the good).

  • TomD says:

    Note that this is important – the marriage debt must be paid even if you don’t feel desire at the time; and you mustn’t be usurious about it!

    Most people learn that sometimes they have to eat and drink even when they’re not hungry or thirsty, or they’ll not feel well later. We can think; we’re more than just stimulus-response.

  • Weapons? LOL! As to macro and micro, I would say the sexual design is amazing, incredible, the software flawless, we just have a frequent user fail going on.

    This was perfect, Tom D, “the marriage debt must be paid even if you don’t feel desire at the time; and you mustn’t be usurious about it!” Just eat your veggies, they’re good for you 🙂

  • TomD says:

    Speaking of weapons, my dad had an old Jewish man at work who referred to his wife as the “War Department”.

  • “Speaking of weapons, my dad had an old Jewish man at work who referred to his wife as the “War Department”.”

    LOL! Probably had something to do with all the bureaucracy and red tape. We really do need men in our lives to just cut to the chase.

  • Hunger, sexual desire and feelings themselves are never wrong. They are simply raw information as to our true nature. It is a mistake to judge this raw information as being good or bad. For if we judge this information to be good or bad we mistakenly judge ourselves to be good or bad.

  • halt94 says:

    Winston:

    That simply isn’t true. Having a hunger for human flesh is wrong, even if we don’t actually commit cannibalism. The desire to commit sodomy is wrong even if we never actually do it. Feeling happiness at another’s suffering is wrong, even if we try to help relieve that person’s suffering. Appetites and emotions can be disordered. Our appetites and emotions don’t make us who we are; we can reject and condemn certain appetites and emotions in ourselves without condemning ourself if we really understand who we are at our most fundamental level: children of God.

  • Hrodgar says:

    It would be more accurate to say that hunger, etc. are never in and of themselves sinful, or at least not mortally so, though they may be products of sin (especially negligence). It is not a sin to be tempted.

    But that doesn’t mean the desire isn’t wrong.

  • Zippy says:

    Moral neutering of desire sets the stage for making emancipated modern man’s actual desires (whatever they happen to be) the measure of the good, at least for political purposes. The free and equal new man must be free to pursue happiness, understood as the satisfaction of his desires, to the extent satisfying his desires doesn’t interfere with the equal right of others to pursue satisfaction of their desires.

    This is of course an incoherent mess. But the moral neutering of desire (despite manifest counterexamples — most people would admit that a desire to pitchfork live babies and eat them is a disordered desire) is one of modernity’s early chess moves.

  • When you say a feeling is wrong what does that mean? Should I feel ashamed for having a “wrong” feeling?

  • Zippy says:

    winstonscrooge:
    A disordered desire is a desire for something a person objectively ought not desire. How people ought to feel about their disordered desires is not in my wheelhouse.

  • So you are saying the disordered feeling is wrong but the person feeling the feeling is not morally culpable for feeling the disordered feeling?

  • TomD says:

    He may be, if he has encouraged it in the past.

    I recommend listening to this podcats on Aquinas’s discussion of wet dreams as it has some connected areas.

    Basically, it can be possible to be not culpable for an action, but culpable for putting ourselves in the position to do that action – an example is a man who knows he gets angry when drunk, gets drunk, and kills someone. He may not be culpable for the murder, but he certainly is for getting drunk.

  • Zippy says:

    winstonscrooge:
    A person might or might not be culpable for a disordered desire. We all have a positive obligation to acknowledge that our disordered desires are in fact disordered, and work to correct them through the usual means: prayer, fasting, penance, asceticism, sacraments, etc. Nevertheless disordered desires persist as part of the human condition. In themselves disordered desires do not imply moral culpability, but we are often culpable for our failures in other respects, including but not limited to actually acting on a disordered desire, and failure to set our will against it / struggle against it.

  • I think we are in agreement.

  • Jack says:

    > “Should I feel ashamed for having a “wrong” feeling?”

    Read St. Paul’s meditation on desire (Romans 8). I’ve found the Jerusalem and Ronald Knox translations helpful in getting a better grasp of The Apostle’s more subtle meanings before re-reading in the Douay.

  • TomD says:

    @Jack – this is a wonderful resource for those: http://catholicbible.online/side_by_side/NT/Rom/ch_8

  • I tend to look about the world, how lost we are, how confused and broken, and it makes me depressed, filled with despair. It’s a “wrong feeling,” in the sense that I have forgotten Philippians 4:8, and gone and consumed too much news, placed my eyes on the wrong things. When we believe the world is disordered (and it is) it becomes much easier to rationalize just giving up and adapting to it.

    So Zippy speaks of sexual desire,but it’s the nihilism that comes first, the “desolation wrought by modernity,” that tends to lead one to wrong feelings and than to wrong actions. At least that’s how it works for me.

  • Jack says:

    @TomD
    Very nice site. On re-reading the Knox translation, I have to say that this is one of those instances where the NJB is more instructive. I generally don’t like the JB or the NJB, especially it’s Modernist footnotes, but in following St. Paul, I’ve not found a translation that captures the theology any better.

    http://www.gloryofgodprayergroup.org/gog/bible/standard/NJB/45-romans/8-chapter

  • TomD says:

    I’ll have to see what my Ignatius Study Bible says there; I love it’s footnotes.

  • Step2 says:

    halt94
    Our appetites and emotions don’t make us who we are; we can reject and condemn certain appetites and emotions in ourselves without condemning ourself if we really understand who we are at our most fundamental level: children of God.

    The better question is can you reject and condemn certain appetites and emotions in others without implicating their fundamental essence? Zippy rarely if ever uses the awkwardly technical yet precise phrasing of “children of God with a disordered sexual appetite” – like us simplistic moderns he simply uses a blanket identity marker such as gay. But if contrary to the modern mindset you make a strong distinction between the person and their desire/orientation you should go through the rhetorical difficulty of making that distinction.

  • Zippy says:

    “Gay” designates a disorder, like “deaf”. It doesn’t designate a kind of human being.

  • Jack says:

    “Our appetites and emotions don’t make us who we are; we can reject and condemn certain appetites and emotions in ourselves without condemning ourself if we really understand who we are at our most fundamental level: children of God.”

    Actually, Holy Writ and the Church tell us the complete opposite of that; they tell us that our human natures are corrupt, and, in a sense, we must condemn ourselves: that is we must die to our “selfs” so that we can be re-born in Christ. You are mistaken that who we are at our most fundamental level is children of God. At our most fundamental we are children of Eve. It is only after baptism and our partaking in the life of the Spirit that we become “Sons of God” and “co-heirs” with Christ.

    This idea, that there was no Fall, no Original Sin, and that man in his native state is divine (“children of God”) is responsible for a great deal of evil in the world.

  • halt94 says:

    @jack

    I wasn’t trying to say there’s no original sin; I assumed that the people reading my comment were Baptized, which is why I spoke the way I did. Also, what I was trying to say was that particular disordered desires are not part of our identity; particular disordered desires are not part of who we are as a person, though the general disordering of our will through concupisence is part of who we are in our present state.

  • Mike T says:

    “Gay” designates a disorder, like “deaf”. It doesn’t designate a kind of human being.

    Amusing to see how people (not saying Step2 in this particular case) will often treat homosexuality that way, but be aghast at the notion that maybe the larger racial categories represent reasonable criteria to delineate different kinds of human beings.

  • Zippy says:

    Mike T:

    One problem with modern discourse is the loss of an essence-accident distinction; however —

    I’d be the first to admit – nay, I’d strongly assert – that there is no satisfactory comprehensive theory of essence-accident distinction. On the other hand we can’t really even have a coherent conversation about basic matters like ‘what is a defect’ without some metaphysical common ground there.

    But there is no need to make things too complicated. At the level of essence human beings are the same: we all are essentially human beings: not beasts, not rocks, not moss, not stars, not angels, but human beings.

    My own belief is that sex is also essential: that is, that “Martha who is not female” isn’t really Martha. Attempts to de-sex Martha fail at the level of necessity: if “she” isn’t a she, we aren’t actually talking about the actual Martha.

    (I’ve been accused of having Scotist tendencies for this sort of belief.)

    In a nutshell, as an analog Platonic rogue in a digital Aristotelean (hate that spelling) world I’m pretty sure that essence has ‘deeper roots’ than the simplified picture drawn by Aristotlean realism.

    So I’m willing to consider the possibility that we use the word “race” to refer to (technically essences which underly) essential properties: that abstracting away a person’s race leaves an idea of ‘something’ which isn’t – the ‘something’ isn’t – really that person at all [*].

    However, even if that is the case it is also certainly the case that race — unlike deafness or gayness — is not an ontological defect. Gayness and deafness are ontological defects; blackness and whiteness are not ontological defects. And what matters for the purposes of this discussion (despite Step2’s introduction of the consideration of essence upthread) is not the distinction between essence and accident, but the distinction between objective goods — which may in general be essential or accidental — and defects.

    —-

    (I’ve even considered the possibility, given my openness to speculation about man’s own powers qua Imago Dei, that Hell is a state wherein a particular man has successfully and ineradicably incorporated an ontological defect into his own essence through his own free choices).

    —-

    [*]

  • TomD says:

    That postscript is interesting – it would make sense of the ineradicably of hell, because God letting you have the fullest extent of your free will to remake yourself in your own defective image would have to be a permanent change to your essence.

    So Heaven is the location of the God-made-Man; Christ, but also where the God-made man resides; hell is where the man-made man resides after refusing God.

  • TomD says:

    And from what I’m reading in The Porn Myth, the change to your essence by sin may even begin to be visible in the body before death.

  • Mike T says:

    Zippy,

    But there is no need to make things too complicated. At the level of essence human beings are the same: we all are essentially human beings: not beasts, not rocks, not moss, not stars, not angels, but human beings.

    I don’t dispute that. The presence of different kinds of humans does not make one group more human or less human. In fact, it is entirely possible that some day we may be confronted with the necessity of seeing humanity as a category of types rather than as a single type in order to respect the Imago Dei of certain folks. As it stands, I think that might even be in my life time when someone in East Asia or the US finds a way to synthesize a Denisovan, Flores Man or Neanderthal.

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