Notes on "The Misfits: a study of sexual outsiders" by Colin Wilson (1987)

Thursday, 31 December 2009 06:35
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-x preferred schoolgirls because less complicated, less real than adult women, as dream less complicated than reality.

paradox of sex - always seems to be offering more than it can deliver.

-glimpse of girl undressing induces ecstatic delight, but process of persuading girl into bed not so easy. enlist imagination to achieve satisfaction. like bad performance of music by untalented person, but he still must try or at least lip-sync for catharsis. orgasm closest man gets to feeling like God.

-similar to problem of those moments when life seems entirely delightful (GK Chesterton's 'absurd good news') when all contradictions seem resolved and you are optimistic (when memory and imagination activated, supplementing the present moment with other times and places). vs usual feeling that life is dull, boring and meaningless. which is 'true'?

-before we can feel alive, mind must add a dimension of reality to the world of the senses. evo(lutionary) destiny of humanity is to develop a more powerful and efficient 'reality function (fn)'. But at present, our feeble reality fn needs to be constantly stimulated by the real thing (or porno)

-sexual perversion a 19th c phenomenon. rise of cap(italism), police (vs church), legal regimentation (vs tradition), urbanization

-Tolstoy Kreutzer Sonata modern world created too much leisure which leads to sexual urge exaggerated and distorted (for piquancy). -> misuse of sexual impulse which was intended solely for rep(roduction). normality => reproduction (=> birth control more perverse than rape?). better to define normality => orgasm (the immediate aim of sex)

-Gide took opposite view: no form of sex abnormal (Corydon). animals stimulated by smell, humans not limited to this, rather by ideas, so why is h(omo) or s&m more abnormal than traditional sex?

-in humans, sexuality evolved to higher, symbolic level

-transvestites no guilt vs h. former accept their inner f

-2 types of normal (straight m + deny inner f/ accept inner f), 2 types of abnormal (gay m + deny inner f/ accept inner f)

-shaman rises above sexuality, neither m/f. opposing tensions which cause misery to 'sexual deviates' are built up to strength that creates glowing discharge of nervous energy that can go on for hrs (8 hr orgasm). similar to creative genius.

-m animals deflect aggression during sparring, h activity of unattached m sticklebacks => nature not so cruel. displacement activities in sex ritualized as social releasers (smile when embarrassed). frustration (lack of opportunity for normal sex) -> deviation, displacement activity (which is therefore immature). Peter Pan species has advantage of greater possibilities of development. turtle limited by shell. more vulnerable => more possibilities/ creativity. our basic cause of chaos is inner m/f polarity. understand dual nature -> use it to power one's own evolution a la ac current. must control polarities to create intensities of mind which we only glimpse in sexual orgasm.

-scientist of future must be time-oriented (but can be transcendent/ eternal time, ie, spirit) rather than space-oriented (physical, material world) -> realize that universe driven by living energies rather than physical forces, and its essential processes closer to magic than science.

-Darwin - man climbed evo(lutionary) ladder by pressure of starvation (from below), but also 'lured' on from above, by pressure of desire for ideal sexual experience.

-Sartre on Genet: criminal because feels guilty (guilt of deviate is motivation/ motor of evolution)

-don't want to become the other, rather absorb some essential part of other, blend with him momentarily. sex 'concentrates the mind wonderfully' (Johnson on hanging sentence), enables him to savor the moment (spirit comes alive and capable of penetrating meaning of life) but after coitus sad because returning to unconcentrated defocused state.

-s&m from 18th c, derives from associating punishment (bare ass) with arousal where repression (public school flogging, caught in act, parental (love object) beatings...)

-de Sade hated religion - his writings devoid of spirituality, dead, using imagination to try to conjure up sense of delight/ arousal. He argues: human body enormous capacity for pleasure but we are inhibited by absurd religious and moral scruples; sex contains element of criminality. own body not excite because familiar but other body excites in so far as it is unfamiliar, forbidden. sex act is form of symbolic rape for enjoyment. (DH Lawrence, Reich) but Sade then argues one should be allowed whatever form of rape appeals to him. not morally wrong because we are all created by nature and nature indifferent to morality. ie, total selfishness. basis of m sexual impulse is will to power, like wild animal hunting prey (food and sex linked for de Sade). not porno which enjoys foreplay and physical details of act. not want to become the other, but rather to possess her, even destroy. force behind evo not bisexuality but will to power. -> solipsism (no objective reality)

-sense of forbiddenness depends upon childish element, defiance of adult authority, so must cultivate immaturity, though adult part of us declines to be permanently suppressed and wickedness loses its flavor, so must look for something more wicked (-> de Sade's and others unltd cruelty).

-de Sade and Hajdu (Wilson's transvestite theorist of m/f duality + sublimation = evo/ creativity) both use imagination to maintain sense of transcendent delight that sex gives us glimpse of but de Sade degenerates because no spirituality, totally selfish vs theory that want to blend with other, not just possess (the latter -> degeneration). the key to sexual deviation not in conflict between m/f in us, but in the imagination itself. if perversion due to innate m/f polarity, then it would be uniform thru the ages (but for h it probably is at least in its most basic form). Wilson claims it has changed and developed since de Sade. What we now label perversion is a product of 19th c, and factor behind its emergence is not transsexuality but strange, morbid flowering of the imagination.

-Krafft-Ebing's study - proliferation of deviations from explosion of imagination. before, social and religious taboos more powerful. but 18th c rise of novel. Samuel Richardson Clarissa (rape)-> greater use of imagination (before, most literature sermons, Don Quixote and Robinson Crusoe - symbolic narrations, novel more sensual, like magic carpet). Rousseau Julie - premarital sex (Social Contract born free but in chains -> Fr rev). Laclos Les Liaisons Dangereuses -> de Sade. Cleland Fanny Hill slows time for seduction scene but it's all guiltless (ie, not porno) -> Proust. Cleland, Boccaccio and Rabelais treat sex as part of life (bawdy, not really porno, which makes sex the only thing and relies on guilt/ forbidden for arousal). de Sade also makes sex the only thing, detached from reality, but his cold, clinical style and lack of guilt and love for the process of sex is not arousing.

-choice now between huge array of perversions acted out, or masturbation and imagination. Humans can mast-e using imagination alone (vs animals). the fact that we can harness this sexual energy with only imagination shows evolutionary advantage over animals - 'victory over the robot'.

-Byron - hero no longer pure and noble-hrted. hero and villain in one man - Childe Harold. Cain defence of first murderer, romantic rebel who kills his boringly conventional brother then departs into exile with head high. Manfred passionate exercise in self-justification (a la Goethe's Faust). Don Juan series of immoral episodes and tirades on British hypocrisy, Casanova's restlessness a confession of the feebleness of his imagination (reality function - rise of art/ lit to heighten emotions, to make, say, the Trojan War or story of Oedipus more real). Byron decided the best way to achieve permanent contact with the forbidden (to possess the secret of permanent delight/ arousal) was to become identified with it: to see himself as his own mixture of hero and villain. His wickedness merely play-acting to strengthen his reality fn. (-> Heathcliff, Onegin, Pechorin, Stavrogin). challenged God, demanding to know why human life so chaotic and meaningless, why we are in the world, father of existentialism, antedating Kierkegaard. No one before B put that question except Satan. not merely a sinner, a Questioner. made his own rules, ie, like God.

-Puskin 20 yrs younger than B. Ruslan and Ludmilla - gigantic severed head, Gavriliad Virgin Mary ravished by Satan then by God in form of dove. died at same age - 37.

-romantism evo attempt to escape limitations of body and emotions (Dryden, Pope, Swift, Congreve vs Blake, Wordsworth (unknown modes of being), Byron, Shelley)

-imagination like wonder drug but with dangerous side effects. must control or will die (Byron, Pushkin, Proust)

-Freud culmination of romantic guilt over sin.

-pornographers merely low-minded romantics (the impossible dream)

-sex crimes rare before 18th c - sex more integrated into life. rise of sex crimes is result of process that began with Richardson and Cleland (rise of imagination, reality fn)

-man's intelligence evolved because began to live in larger groups and required psychology (gorilla/ chimp even larger brain wrt size than humans). Unhappiness of great romantics (Rousseau/ Swinburne) because their rebellion led them to claim right to absolute selfishness

-sexual impulse has power of producing erotic madness, of overwhelming the usual bounds of personal c and creating mystical experience, sense of total affirmation.

-u like ballast of ship - unseen but maintains stability, and if shifted, can destroy boat

-Havelock Ellis Sexual Inversion more insight on perversion than Freud (who needed to evoke a 'death impulse' to explain sadism). E recognized that fetishism unique to humans, result of an object 'parasitically absorbing' the normal sexual energy, and h(omosexuality) not a perversion as such, basically biological in origin (a la Hirschifield). Wilson: but this rise of perversions is a 19th c phenomenon due to romanticism [no: due to rise of cap(italism) and stress of industrial society; rise of porn and perversions of 19th-20th cc due to legacy of Christianity + rise of regimented cap (laws, police) vs unfettering of imagination (romanticism) and more leisure].

-biological origins of h first claimed by East German Gunter Dorner (certain part of h brain is like f, ie, h is m with f brain due to lack of testosterone in womb, due to stress. more h born during war).

-Hirschfield - increasing number of people sexually sick, not criminals, need treatment (Sexual Disasters). Perversions/ fetishisms are form of emotional immaturity. Sexual satisfaction not most important thing. If obsessed, will fail to achieve full potential as human.

-emotion tries to break our hold with reality, and we must discover a method to restore contact with reality. Sexual desire is such a way, hence, modern man's obsession with it, but has dangers and requires forbiddenness, hence, reality fn/ imagination and self-control

-Joyce Ulysses about epiphany - the day he decides it is pointless to hope for recognition from Dublin literati and must choose lonely path of artist-outsider. Bloom masochistic underwear fetishist.

-DH Lawrence: how to escape boredom and futility - religion of the blood, ie, sexual union. LCL sort of porno - sex is everything (but not the clinical de Sade, but like de Sade argued man has no responsibility except to himself, and for DHL only part of himself that he needs to cultivate is his intuition, not intellect -> pessimism and despair)

-mustn't let sexual deviation destroy you (Swinburne/ Grainger) and prevent your individuation process. Blake: Stolen joys are sweet, and bread eaten in secret pleasant.

-Paul Tillich - existential a la Manfred and theology should formulate questions about life and attempt to answer them in terms of divine revelation. (a satyr and childish) - compartmentalized.

-BRussell - seduction most interesting game - immaturity and shallowness

-TE Lawrence - flogging - from illegit birth, public schools, upbringing. cultivated self-division to drive him to greater efforts of self-discipline - inner peace synonym of mediocrity

-Wittgenstein - ascetic guilty about h. brother Hans musical genius and Rudolph also h and suicide. craving for meaning and purpose, and immense self-disgust at failure to find them

-only when confronted by crisis do we understand the meaning of freedom and how to live on a more intense level of vitality and purpose (Heidegger) because slave to habit. Lawrence/ Wittgenstein cultivate sense of guilt to galvanize themselves to greater efforts. but Outsider still wants system of belief to unite him with others and rescue them from sense of isolation (Byron Greece, Swinburne Italy, Gogol religion, Grainger Nordic mysticism) craving to escape burden of individualism and merge into collective effort.

-Maslow - hierarchy of needs/ values - food, home, sex/ love, self-actualization. Abnormal needs may create an unusual intensity of imagination but also obstruct the normal course of an individual's evo, dragging the ind to lower level, law of diminishing returns. But deviancy only a by-product of evo of c(onsciousness), not the cause.

-must realize individual can be active force, not sink into everyday life, exaggerating problems and wasting energy on pointless worries. Dilemma: want to overcome crises, but it's only thru crises that you achieve bird's-eye view that liberates you from boredom, to feel more alive. Remembering the inconveniences of a more unsettled past (crisis) gives you a heightened 'sense of reality' (reality fn is memory + imagination (tho must be careful with latter not to drift into solipsism and let it cut you off completely from the everyday (mundane) reality. Rather, must use it to make the everyday reality magical as much as possible.)) Like a gearbox vs automatic - the former gives you more a sense of being in control of your reality, allowing more sensual feeling of power, of the car being an extension of yourself - ie reality fn/ imagination lets you enjoy the moment more than with an automatic. it's not a crisis, but a challenge. Same with a novel - you can experience others' crises vicariously and feeling more alive. But every invention can be used for evil as well as good, the imagination being no exception.

-but must add mature feeling of patience and inner control a la Beethoven, Balzac, Dickens, Hegel, Wagner, who come closer to God in their creations than traditional heroes like Hector and Achilles.

-sex urge derives its strength from body/ emotions but alone is not powerful enough to lift us to new level of c awareness, which requires intellect.

-boredom ranks next to predators as dangerous challenge to life, but boredom +> imagination.

-need proper use of imagination, not just to conjure up dream-worlds but to grasp the reality of other times and places, instead of being slaves of the present (mundane) world, to enable us to call upon our hidden powers and dev a new human faculty (Huxley cosmic self-awareness (New Bottles for New Wine) - evo sans genetics.

-Rupert Sheldrake: DNA + morphogenetic fields (inherit acquired characteristics, synthesize new chemical difficult but subsequently easy thru 'induction') morphic resonance/ esp. ie, rise of perversions not only in cities, but everywhere - cultural osmosis. -> can manage our evo. must understand dual nature and make c use of it to achieve higher levels of intensity a la shaman and genius who do this u. inner conflicts not misfortune but source of power.

-Tolstoy greater artist than Hemingway because shows deeper understanding of women by projecting the f within. Goethe recognized that it is this ability to enter into our own f or m that 'draws us upward and on'. we are on point of achieving full consciousness of evo purpose and ceasing to be the slave of mechanisms that confuse our sense of direction.