"Whenever I go into a restaurant, I order both a chicken and an egg to see which comes first"

Thursday, June 30, 2022

D.H. Lawrence And Sexual Dynamics – What A Mess We Have Made Of Such A Simple Thing

D.H. Lawrence understood sex.  While other writers wrote around it, played with it, made it into the stuff of melodrama and family drama, Lawrence knew that it was far more than idle romance or the sealing of the marriage contract, or the necessary act of reproduction.  It had to do with the balance of male and female power, the consequences of sexual imbalance, and the near epiphanic nature of complementary union.  

Sexual dynamics were all about dominance and submission, said Lawrence.  Sexual complementarity was a matter of will and its exercise.  Subjection to it was never a question of defeat or retreat; but an acknowledgement of sexual polarity, the balance of which achieved only through challenge, testing, and proof. 

Image result for Images D.H. Lawrence. Size: 150 x 214. Source: www.britannica.com

Gudrun, Gerald, Rupert, and Ursula in Lawrence’s Women in Love are all dissatisfied, frustrated by their sexual desires but tentative, often incompetent, and wary of sexual encounter.  There are moments of resolution, periods of balance that pass as happiness, but they are short-lived as personal demands intrude – questions of sexual identity, the weight of the past, fathers and sons, sexual liberation and traditional, increasingly old fashioned notions of sexual parity.

Lady Chatterley and her lover, Mellors the gamekeeper, achieve a sexual coming together that approximates Lawrence’s ideal of sexual epiphany – an emotional and psychic completeness achieved through a matching of dominance and submission, of taking and giving, a combination of ego and receptivity, of mutual understanding and acknowledgement of maleness and femaleness.

Idealistic perhaps, and even Connie Chatterley and Mellors find that despite the perfection of their sexual relationship, they cannot live together.  The old inhibitors of class, education, background, and breeding, put aside during the far more telling and irresistible sexual attraction felt by both, return.  

Yet their sexual relationship beggared all other considerations, and even if most of it was crafted from fantasy, and only partly about the equilibrium of a unique sexual partnership, it still left them in a very different space than the ones from which they came.

Image result for images lady chatterley book cover

We live in a day where such reflections on the potency of heterosexual relationships are considered irrelevant in a sexually diverse world.  The issue is not about exploring and expanding the dimensions of male-female sexual relationships, but focusing on inclusivity, diversity, and alternate sexuality.  It is less about intensity, sexual relationships as means of exploring human nature, and the limits of intimacy than it is about finding one’s sexual home on the gender spectrum.  The relationship between any two individuals sharing the same sexual identity is the only issue of merit and value.

Travelling along sexual byways, guided by signposts and memes to particular, untracked and untried destinations is today's journey, not the boringly repetitious waltz of gowns and slippers, good manners, and sexual propriety dismissed by sexual reformers.  

Writers other than Lawrence thought about sexual dynamics and its rewards.  Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf is an example of heterosexual dissonance and the couple’s painful desire to find harmony.  Albee wrote that marriage is the crucible of maturity – its confines and internment guarantee the explosive exploration of personal, character, and will.  George and Martha flay each other to the bone, scraping away at the bits and pieces of emotional ligament that prevent sexual consonance. 

Image result for images taylor burton who's afraid

Brick and Maggie, characters in Tennessee Williams’s Cat on a Hot Tin Roof do the same.  Theirs is a seemingly destructive, angry marriage, but its confines and expectations push them both to a moral and emotional brink.  ‘I do love you’, says Maggie at the end of the play.  ‘If only it were true’, replies Brick.  George, Martha, Brick, and Maggie have the same aspirations and the same willingness to fight through the necessary and unavoidable conflicts of marriage to find some kind of harmony.

Image result for images taylor maggie the cat

The culture of identity by its very nature deprives couples and individuals of any chance of scratching even just under the surface of appearance.  One is either gay, demi-sexual, pansexual, transgender, cisgender, or any one of an almost infinite number of sexual shadings and subgroupings. No more is asked or required.  Finding a suitable partner does not involve the tricky investigation of sexual impulse, its nature, origin, and consequence.  The incendiary relationships described by Albee and Williams have no meaning in the world of diverse sexual identity. 

Sexual partnerships, however, are not like social groupings where like attracts like; and where commonality and synchronization of interests are the rules.  In Lawrentian dynamics opposites make the best partners.  It is expected that wills will be opposed, and all the baggage of childhood, schooling, and social interaction will be opened, spread out, and sorted through.  Polar opposites will inevitably attract each other because of the desire to be found out, explored, delved.  

Women and men want their partners to find and live in their inner rooms, spaces that have been kept secret since childhood.  Gender identity has nothing whatsoever to do with it.  The equations to be solved are a function of a higher emotional mathematics.  The numerical language of transgenders, anthro-sexuals, and hyposexuals is still arithmetic.

Image result for images Calculus Equations. Size: 262 x 105. Source: fineartamerica.com

This is not to say that two individuals sharing the same unique sexual identity cannot find a Lawrentian epiphany; but it is unlikely because the expectations to do so have been declined.  Worse, the heterosexuality behind Lawrence’s vision is itself suspect by progressives.  Binary sexuality, male and female, has become somehow retrograde and valueless.  Although heterosexuality has a place on the gender spectrum, it is at the asymptotic ends, hard to find, elusive and deliberately obscure.

Lawrence, Albee, Shakespeare, and Williams of course were not the first to identify sexual energy as the fuel for the human engine.  The Old Testament, ancient Greek, Hindu, and Persian myths, are filled with stories of heterosexual encounters, paternity, lineage, jealousy, spite, and envy. What is the story of the Garden of Eden if not the first tale of sexual dynamics?

Despite the reformist movements of today, sexuality will find its previous equilibrium.  The heterosexual ninety-seven percent of the world’s population will ignore the currently hot notions of gender diversity and return to their native sexual roots, will rejoin the familiar course of human history – heterosexual, procreative, demanding, and permanent. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.