Fr. Matt Fish shared this from Walker Percy’s Lost in the Cosmos earlier this month, describing Percy as addressing “the demoniac spirit of the erotic, and what happens when the sexual mode of transcendence becomes all used up and can no longer hide the self from itself:”
What is the relationship between the two? Are they merely, as one so often hears, the paired symptoms of a decaying society like the fifth-century Roman Empire? Or is there a reciprocal relationship? That is to say, is a thoroughly eroticized society less violent and a thoroughly violent society less erotic?
Or, the more ominous question: Suppose the erotic is the last and best recourse of the stranded self and suppose then that, through the sexual revolution, recreational sex becomes available to all ages and all classes. What if then even the erotic becomes devalued? What if it happens, as Paul Ricoeur put it, that, “at the same time that sexuality becomes insignificant, it becomes more imperative as a response to the disappointments experienced in other sectors of human life”?
What then? Does the self simply diminish, subside into apathy like laboratory animals deprived of sensory stimulation? Or does the demoniac spirit of the self, frustrated by the failure of Eros, turn in the end to the cold fury of Saturn? …
Will the ultimate liberation of the erotic from its dialectical relationship with Christianity result in
(a) The freeing of the erotic spirit so that man- and womankind will make love and not war?
or (b) The trivialization of the erotic by its demotion to yet another technique and need-satisfaction of the organism, toward the end that the demoniac spirit of the autonomous self, disappointed in all other sectors of life and in ordinary intercourse with others, is now disappointed even in the erotic, its last and best hope, and so erupts in violence—and in that very violence which is commensurate with the orgastic violence in the best days of the old erotic age—i.e., war?