First of all, let me just say – I hate Valentine’s Day. Nothing against Saint Valentine, a martyr, but I really don’t like how it plays out in the modern day.
Now, on to my present topic.
I’d like to begin by quoting something Jetryl wrote on the Wesnoth forums recently.
The human form possesses a beauty besides that of its erotic nature, a quality that is also possessed by animals – which I offer as a proof of its existence. Much of this has to do with general shape, and structure of the muscles; it is the beauty of a well-designed machine in action. On animals, examples include the well-toned muscles of a tiger, horse, or eagle. Confer also the sheen of blonde or black hair on humans, versus the sheen and hues of a bird’s feathers. The two qualities of “human beauty” are often conflated, but are distinct.
Remember, though, that drawing a fully literal image of an animal includes elements of the animal which are unpleasant. If I draw an image of a dog facing away from me, I’m probably going to contrive some way to avoid drawing the dog’s butthole, because – even though that’s strictly realistic, it’s a bit gross. Said grossness extends to genitalia and nipples of most animals. Human beings are animals, too. Thus; the only appeal that one gets from seeing genitalia depicted on a human being is not an appeal of general form or aesthetic, but an erotic appeal; an erotic appeal which overrides our simultaneous gross-out reaction. Purely erotic appeal = pornography; …
He has a great point here about beauty. But that’s not the point I’m making here… One of the things I got from this quote is that what we find attractive in genitalia is “an erotic appeal which overrides our simultaneous gross-out reaction”.
There’s definitely some truth behind this. Sex, when you think about it, is rather gross. When you explain sex to a child, he is disgusted. And that isn’t just the result of naivete. It IS disgusting, objectively speaking. Remember – think about humans as animals.
This isn’t to say that merely because something appears strange under close scrutiny, it is actually weird. After all, have you ever had the experience of looking at a word for a very long time, and then suddenly realizing that its spelling is just strange? Often when I’m manipulating .cfg files for a given faction, say, the Dwarves, I will see the word “Dwarf” over… and over… and over.
And eventually I will start to think that there is something just odd about the look of the word. Something perverse about having a “d” followed by a “w”, or about the letter combination “arf”… but that doesn’t mean the word “Dwarf” is actually eldritch.
Of course, sex is natural, and necessary for human reproduction, and sexual attraction is natural. But that doesn’t mean it is beautiful, when you think about it.
So maybe we’re better of just not thinking about sex at all. I am reminded of the quote, by Aldous Huxley, that “an intellectual is a person who has found something more interesting than sex”.
This can be seen, I suppose, as a Decartesian attempt to deny the physical nature of mankind. But really it isn’t. I’m not saying that sex is evil, I’m saying that it just isn’t that important. God is sexless. Never forget that.