I still haven’t answered all your comments from my last post on this subject because I’m holding them all in my mind, learning from them and considering them.
Most recently, Romanos mentioned Walt Whitman’s idea of manly love so I went to check that out. In my opinion it seems to be a sort of intense phallic brotherhood rather than plain homoeroticism in our modern sense. This is certainly something I’ve witnessed among men of the liveliest heterosexuality. Compared to their attachments, homosexuality does indeed leave the impression of being precisely a weakness: a sad inability to feel the two opposite but equally intense feelings (of sexual love and brotherly love) without their collapsing on one another in confusion.
If so, this is the explanation for why the healthiest men I know instinctively regard male homosexuality with the pitying distaste usually reserved to cancer or leprosy.
Their very inability to experience ‘manly love’ – this is what makes ambiguous or queer readers see it as homoerotic when they witness it in others.
Is this condition catching? Probably, to some extent. Ideas are. (That’s why I don’t second Romanos’ advice to watch gay films. I don’t believe gay filmmakers know any more than anyone else what their experience means, because they have already allowed the experience to become ascendant over Reason, Intellect, Mind, Morals, and everything else. Mere experience is not instructive.)
And at the base of this explosion of homosexual experience in our times, I do finally begin to see, I think, an Idea. It’s one of the most poisonous ideas of our time.
One of the literary essays I read quotes Freud, to explain Whitman and Whitman’s readers.
In Civilization and its Discontents (1930), Sigmund Freud presents in his non-poetic prose a vision of social bonding quite compatible with Whitman’s: “Man’s discovery that sexual (genital) love . . . provided him with the prototype of all happiness [inspired him to] . . . make genital eroticism the central point of his life. . . . The love which founded the family continues to operate in civilization both in its original [sexual] form . . . and in its modified form as aim-inhibited affection.” Freud believed that “aim-inhibited love” was originally “fully sensual love, and it is so still in man’s unconscious. Both—fully sensual love and aim-inhibited love—extend outside the family and create new bonds with people who before were strangers…”
What a queer vision. One’s love for one’s best friend or sister or dad, according to this view, is actually the desire to have sex with them, except one has inhibited the “aim” – one forcefully directs one’s feelings away from their genitals and thus “love” is invented. Of course, I’ve long been aware that Freud said something like this, but I had got the impression that he had been misunderstood.
However, my purpose is not to say that Freud’s vision is disgusting. My purpose is to say that it is nonsensical and irrational.
Here is an example of insight gone awry: Insight not treated by Reason is inevitably unreasonable.
Sexual love may indeed be the strongest love (though I’m not admitting that; what about love to God?) but to leap from such an insight to the belief that it is really the only love, is irrational. It is bolstered, of course, by evolutionary philosophy: that is to say, by the assumption that everything we feel noble and “higher” must perforce have arisen from something brutal and “lower.” (It is self-defeating; our very feeling of lower and higher is, by this idea, set at odds with our feeling or original and derivative.)
There are lots of reasons why this assumption is irrational. Not least among them, the fact that no one saw this happen. But also, the observation that without being preceded by an idea, nothing intelligible comes to be.
Freud himself saw homosexuality as abnormal, I believe, but since abnormal for him means,” not customary,” this has little effect for the common person who absorbs his ideas, which are floating abroad everywhere. Especially when those ideas are combined with the idea of G.B. Shaw, for whom “convention” is the wrong form for any morality whatsoever to take.
If a man experiences an intense, physically resonant love and attraction for his male best friend, and if this love is somehow “sexual” in the sense that it is precisely because he is a man that he is loved like this – and if someone comes along and says, “You know, that feeling is really only aim-inhibited sexual desire” – and if you amplify that incident by a whole century and a whole culture – well, there’s your gay explosion.
This is why – not to make an example of our dear Romanos, but to engage with his idea – I simply can’t accept the idea that Jesus really means “gay people” when he says “born eunuchs,” or that Walt Whitman really means “gay love,” when he says”manly love.”
If you give “born eunuchs” to gays, what’s left for those actually born eunuchs? That is to say, for so-called intersex people whose genitalia do not function, because of some malformation, for reproductive purposes? If Jesus has not spoken to them, to reassure them of their purpose in God’s kingdom, then they are impoverished.
And if men cannot experience genuine brotherly or manly love – if it’s really all sexual desire – then all mankind is impoverished.
And I think it’s the idea of this that is making it so.
Perhaps the best evidence is simply the fact that as soon as we began to believe Freud, we began to experience our own minds and feelings differently. The idea invents the reality.
If we have any intellectual integrity at all, then we ought to believe our ancestors when they tell us of the love for God that turned death to joy, of love for one’s friend that surpassed marital love, of love for pets that is not just blinkered buggery, of love for parents that was so noble it counted as piety. If they said they experienced these things, they experienced them. If our generation does not experience them, then why?
Everyone should go immediately and read The Pilgrim’s Regress by C. S. Lewis. The “Spirit of the Age,” that imprisons him, and his special power of forcing people to “see through” everything – Lewis in his notes identifies this all as “Freud.”