“nature’s verdict” on the self and the other in jerzy kosinski’s steps: step number 6

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"One day the telephone rang during our love-making; since it stood on the night table, I answered it without interrupting our love-making and talked for a while to the friend who had called. When I hung up, the girl told me she would never make love with me again."


Later, in the army, there was a group of twelve
of us, and at night in our tent we used to talk about women. One of the men griped that he could never really do all he wanted to do—or at least, never for long enough—while making love to his woman. Some of the others seemed to have similar problems. I wasn’t sure I understood, but it struck me that they might all be suffering from something curable, so I advised them to see a doctor. They assured me that no doctor could help—it was nature’s verdict, they believed. All that could be done, they maintained, was to hold oneself in while making love, to avoid thinking about the woman, to avoid concentrating on what one was doing, feeling or wanting to feel.

They complained that a woman seldom if ever tells a man how he compares with other men with whom she has been intimate; she fears revealing herself. This is a barrier, they argued. A man is condemned never to know himself as a lover.

I recalled the girl friend I had when I was in high school. We used to make love when my parents were out. One day the telephone rang during our love-making; since it stood on the night table, I answered it without interrupting our love-making and talked for a while to the friend who had called. When I hung up, the girl told me she would never make love with me again.

It upset her, she said, that I could have an erection purely through an act of will—as though I had only to stretch my leg or bend a finger. She stressed the idea of spontaneity, claiming I should have a sense of wanting, of sudden desire. I told her it didn’t matter, but she insisted it did, claiming that if I made a conscious decision to have an erection, it would reduce the act of making love to something very mechanical and ordinary.

 

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"I perceive, said the Countess, "Philosophy is now become very Mechanical." "So mechanical, said I, "that I fear we shall quickly be ashamed of it they will have the World to be in great what a watch is in little; which is very regular, and depends only upon the just disposing of the several parts of the movement. But pray tell me, Madam, had you not formerly a more sublime Idea of the Universe?"

from Bernard de Fontenelle, Plurality of Worlds (1686)

Illustration from Conversations on the Plurality of Worlds
(Entretiens sur la pluralité des mondes

 

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