FROM THE FUCKBUCKET: “Aristotle thought sex was a distraction from “more important issues.” What are your thoughts?
Aristotle said when he was 80 that he was glad he no longer was bothered about sexual matters. It meant he could focus more on more important issues. Any thoughts?
Yes indeed, dear Fuckbucketeer, I have thoughts! First of all, I have to point out that… five weeks and one day before UK Muse comes to Berlin, GAH, why do we have to wait so long?… sexual matters are important issues to some people. What we are looking at there in Aristotle’s statement is… I’ve still got some of those old videos on my phone, at least… a certain anti-corporeal stance that many intellectuals take, deriding sexual urges even while feeling… do we have a skype night set up yet?… helpless in the face of them.
The reality is, grown-ups generally do know how to control themselves, sublimate, and otherwise get on with other shit—including creating, inventing, and innovating—when necessary or desired.
I don’t know what Aristotle’s exact wording was in this (paraphrased) attribution, but I can guess, from this informant’s phrasing, that “sexual matters” equals both sex and All the Stuff that goes into it: finding a partner and negotiating with them for fucking, meeting somewhere, thinking about the meeting somewhere, the actual fucking, clean up, and then daydreaming about the fucking (if it’s really good).
We don’t even have to get into buying flowers, picking up prophylactics, or making breakfast in the morning to see that even the most casual of sex involves a fair bit of time/energy/resources, things that could, as Aristotle suggests, be spent in other areas of one’s life to more lasting and significant effect.
Part of me wonders if the questioner is in fact asking about this hypothetical loss of human accomplishment thanks to our stubborn insistence on chasing booty. I dunno, I mean, yeah, we have only a finite amount of time on this earth, and if we weren’t having all of this non-procreative sex, like, WE’D HAVE CURED CANCER BY NOW. Or something?
I think it’s a mistake, though, to characterize sexual relationships across the board as not-important. It’s true that you won’t die without them—wanking works for any physical discomfort—but sex isn’t just about physical processes. Sex is a relationship, no matter how temporary. It’s a connection, with all the bonding and joy and laughter that are possible. For some people, and I count myself in that number, that experience can be an important part of feeling grounded and at home in their own life, their own skin.
So, what this comes down to is priorities. I would first like to propose that priorities are highly individual, and as long as one is getting the things done that one wants, how much or how little you chase after your preferred booty is entirely okay. (If you are asexual and don’t want any booty at all, you will still have to prioritise people and pursuits and relationships in your life; this is one less thing to juggle, I suppose?)
Let us also agree that priorities usually change over time and according to situations. My libido varies noticeably over the course of creating, rehearsing, and then performing/touring a play. I don’t know where that shift comes from, exactly, but I am pretty much able to prioritise my artistic offspring over sexy times.
(The fact that my lover and I are currently long-distant is not an insignificant factor here, but I have been able to keep on track with goals while maintaining this relationship and getting our Skype dates on for over three years, so I think it’s still a relevant data point for this discussion.)
Over a lifetime, these shifts can be even more pronounced. One’s sexual priorities at the age of 15 and 28 and 48 and, well, 80… these will almost certainly be different, and that is developmentally okay and to be expected. If you are feeling out of balance about “sexual matters” and the rest of your life at any given stage, in a chronic and unsatisfying way, then that’s probably worth looking at. But again, if you are getting stuff done in your life in a way that is good for you, then props to you and however you are prioritizing sex.
And Aristotle? Well, maybe he needed to accept that those were the choices he made as a young adult, all the sexual matters. It’s fairly common, the older one gets, to look back and regret the passage of time and how one spent it.
In fact, I’d bet a hundred drachma that, if Aristotle had chosen to just get on with his philosophizing as a young ‘un, he’d have looked back on life and said, damn, I wish I’d fucked around more.
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