Posts Tagged ‘sexuality’


there’s no escaping
— I want to go back and change
the whole of my life —
how absurd! — as if now I’m
any wiser than I was then!

Yesterday evening I worked late on my talk on Spirituality and Mental Health. Mulling over my teenage sexuality and the reasons for my incredible loneliness, for the purposes of the talk, seems to have provoked a dream in which I was given complete licence to express my sexual feelings — with great tenderness and love — and in great detail — towards the first girl I ever slept with in reality at the age of 22. In reality, I was completely overwhelmed and did not know what to do and ended up doing nothing. So it was a one-off with this particular girl. And for the next 20 years my sexual experience amounted to half a dozen one-night stands. Looking back, it does feel as though I missed out on the best years of my life. Both sexually and, perhaps more important, socially. This isn’t a new realisation. But the vivid feelings of regret provoked by last night’s dream are much more immediate than anything I normally allow myself to feel. And it turns out that it makes quite a nice, neat, simple poem.


male gaze

all women — except
lesbians — are expected
to participate
in the male ego’s crazy
insane wish-fulfilment game

The title came after the poem. And I do not know much — or anything — about what ‘the male gaze’ means to Laura Mulvey who coined the term. In fact I first heard the phrase about 12 months ago and assumed it just meant the way men stare at women. I only found out otherwise by reading Wikipedia just now. The poem came out of a very poorly-remembered dream in which the revelation that someone was a lesbian seemed very important, and otherwise, I was hooking up determinedly with a variety of female strangers (i.e. women who weren’t based on anyone I know, or know of, in my waking life). Awake, I fell to reflecting on how odd it is that there are these two genders, male and female, and that all my life I have accepted the fact of heterosexual desire because I seem to have no choice in the matter. There must be a better vantage point. But I cannot reach it. I am a man in a world consisting of men and women. I have almost no understanding at all of what sexual desire is, or how it works, or what it signifies. In this I believe I am typical of my species. It’s theoretically possible that individuals other than myself may have achieved the understanding I lack. But all the signs are, that this is not the case, and that, if anything, I am unusual for being able to recognise my own ignorance. Most human beings seem unable or unwilling to feel challenged by the opaque mystery which is our own sexual behaviour, preferring instead to take it for granted as a given fact of existence.


the words I love you
— involuntary sobbing —
parenthood is raw

Plenty of striking dreams last night, but I have stuck with the most emotional image. I’ve forgotten the context, but I found myself embracing a small boy as the words ‘I love you’ came from my lips without the slightest forethought. It was just like being sick or ejaculating or any involuntary process where the body itself takes over and decides what’s happening. At the same time, there was also no dissociation so I believed the words and the emotion of love. It was an inescapable conclusion that the small boy was my son, although in real life I have (as far as I know) no offspring at all. I am preparing currently in waking life, a talk on the subject of spirituality and mental health. My own personal understanding of the word spirituality has been strongly influenced by Jung’s Septem Sermones at Mortuos, where spirituality and sexuality are paired. But why would I want to turn my talk into a Jung lecture? So yesterday it struck me that I could say something much simpler and more universal. Surely it’s universal, the same for everyone, that Love has both a spiritual and a sexual aspect? I suspect my dream last night expresses the impossibility of knowing whether love comes from the body or from the spirit. It obviously can come from both at once. And yet the distinction seems to be one that we are all predisposed to find.

science and magic

light is both at once
a wave and a particle —
in the same way, love’s
reality consists in
fantasy pure and simple

I dreamed last night of Anna, my first love — a long and involved dream, and unusual, for the fact that I seemed to be myself as I am now, in the dream, with all or most of the thoughts and feelings about Anna appropriate to not having seen her for thirty years. There seemed to be the opportunity for sex with her, but in the dream, I was able to interrogate myself whether sex with Anna was the wisest course to pursue. What about her marriage (she was married with children last time I met her in 1985)? The dream ended with her husband rescuing me — literally pulling me with a firm grip of his hand in mine — from the bed in which I was beginning to get it on with his wife. It was almost as if we were allies, with Anna, or Anna’s sexuality, as the enemy. I’m very pleased with this poem. After all, there was never in reality the slightest physical expression of love at all, between myself and Anna. It was pure fantasy. But all love without exception is pure fantasy. That’s just what it is, in itself.

your look

a telling moment —
your level gaze when I said
that the human race
is a long way from solving
human sexuality

I was thinking yesterday about the fact that my 13-years beloved partner Liz doesn’t take much or any interest in my writing. This makes it, by any reckoning, an unlikely alliance — and maybe no wonder that I tend to dream repeatedly of being unfaithful to her. Clearly I’m seeking satisfaction in my dreams for that side of me. There is always acute anxiety and guilt as I remember, in the dream, that there’s a Liz to remain faithful to. I count this a fairly minor problem compared with the kind of emotional torture and/or sexual frustration that I endured over a couple of decades prior to meeting Liz (1977-2001). So much for my own personal problems. When I look at the world, I don’t see a human race that even properly grasps that there is a problem to be solved, in sexuality. Our solution as a society is simply to deny that it’s problematic. This is unviable, but it’s nevertheless the rule as far as I can see.


vital mysteries
— death, birth, sexuality —
I sleepwalk through them
and no wonder — how can I
fathom so much dread and awe?

Tiger cubs pushing out of the uterus, superbly elegant cross-dressing, deadly gladiatorial combat. It was all there in the dream.


— it is a gift — nobody
escapes the blessing

The inspiration came from waking with a very hard erection. The preceding dream had sexual content. I fell to reflecting how little choice we have when it comes to sexuality. We deal with it creatively or we die. In a sense therefore, even creativity itself is something inflicted upon us. In philosophy, Geworfenheit covers this. It means ‘thrownness’ — “a concept introduced by German philosopher Martin Heidegger (1889–1976) to describe our individual existences as ‘being thrown’ (geworfen) into the world” (Wikipedia).