Sunday, 20 January 2019


How often, I wonder, do scientific studies “discover” things about us that someone who wasn’t a human wouldn’t know about us. This means, to these non-humans, the studies would, therefore, be very useful. Thing is, we _are_ humans, so we already know these things.......

Sunday, 13 January 2019

Sex and the Conservative

A man or woman is driven from his or her room to a bar, a club or, in our times, online by impersonal sexual desire (the refinement of choice of personality will only come into play after this initial move). From the perspective of evolutionary biology this is an imperative which guarantees the survival of the species. It drives and governs much of human behaviour and the shape of human societies. This is not because such desire is implanted in the man or woman but because each man or woman, simply by virtue of being male or female, is desire in his or her person and cannot be conceived as swimming in anything other than the element of sex and sexuality. Without sex the sexes both fantasise about the enactment of sex in terms of penetration or of being penetrated.

When a partner is met and consummation is achieved the norm, as in many other animals from penguins to wolves and otters (who, no differently from us, were driven to reproduce), is that sexual activity will lead to fierce bonding. This bonding, from a biological standpoint, occurs because the teleological purpose of sex is reproduction and bonded parents will be more effective in raising young than single ones. It is interesting, in our species, to ask the question, where the phenomenon of love appears, where sex stops and love begins, whether love causes more sex or sex causes more love or whether the two things, to all intents and purposes are actually the same thing. Can a cigarette paper be placed between them in any meaningful sense? To ask such questions may be, of course, to discard the idea of love as an idealistic Platonic contrivance. 

An interesting experiment is to contemplate these matters while referring them to one's concrete experience of sex, sexual partners and sexual bonding. At some point, I would aver, merely to contemplate them over an extended period will result, sooner or later, in sexual arousal because that is how sex works. Thinking about sex inevitably causes sexual arousal. I suggested above that desire is not planted in us; in some sense we are desire. We literally embody the sexual appetite in our persons. This is instructive. In the process of attempting to contemplate the subject of sex in a purely rational manner, with sex contemplated as an object distanced from us, our rationality is overriden by an imperative that simply suspends that rationality and drives us by pure appetite and fantasy for that appetite (indeed, one of the great pleasures of sex is that it is a moment where rationality is joyously suspended and put aside with our clothing in the enjoyment of purely animal pleasure). While we were considering the problem of our sexual nature sexual desire might have seemed to have absented itself. In fact it was merely in temporary abeyance only to assert itself imperiously when the time came. We never became pure cerebrality and were always sexual This is instructive because it says something about our nature. It seems that we are sexual first and rational second.

This idea can be extended into the political sphere. The shape of society is largely governed by our propensity to form pair bonds and to create families. These things arise purely from our unconquerable appetites. When it comes to the operation of reason regarding the best ways to run and arrange societies that operation begins after these products of our appetites are already in place. Already in place is the fierce bond between men and women and with their offspring. Sex and love pre-exist reason. The assumption that the existence of bonds, affections and allegiances, spontaneously formed, exist as a given before we start thinking about society is a typical piece of conservative realism. That realism takes nature into account and sees it as a starting point and an indissoluble given. It also accepts and attributes a degree of sacredness to these givens. One might extend this to other things that arise spontaneously in human societies without any deliberate rational prescription such as the need for rule in the form of chiefs or kings and religious response to our condition. This is to say that much of society is formed before reason operates. Rational decisions are about how best to accommodate, protect or improve the condition of these givens not about what they should be.

Modern liberal ideologies tend to a much more prescriptive model where reason is taken as the starting point in human affairs. Nothing is assumed as a given and everything is up for grabs, re-engineering and realignment from a perceived clean slate which never existed.

The Problem with Liberalism

Is the fundamental problem with Liberalism, and the reason why it has declined so disastrously into what now passes under that name, that to make an abstraction like Freedom an absolute context-less value is to invite its decline and corruption?

Friday, 4 January 2019


  Madonna col Bambino Incoronata da Angeli – Lorenzo Lotto

Beneath adoring eyes we batten on
her tit, all appetite, with muzzy glaze,
our bowels and bladders loose – daughter or son,
enwrapped and washed in order to erase

the brine that, lately, painted us. It daubed
our mother and our father at our first
conceiving; they, like us, utmost absorbed
in desperate clutch of skin and warmth, their thirst

for love quite animal. But later those
attaching hungers will be dressed in frail
apparel, lent by Reason, to enclose
babes' flesh. Dressed equally in words which they’ll

speak; raiment with which we’re accoutred thus,
late adjunct, after the event of us. 

Thursday, 3 January 2019


In normal times we can expect obedient
squadrons, in silent faithfulness, to do
their duty in repairing the ingredient
that bears the codes; the daily damage to
the chains of information that denote
us and exactly what we are. Remote
from us, forgotten, their activity;
they’re blithe and automatic over years,
intelligencers (docile engineers),
all working with a perfect industry.

We can accept our programmed obsolescence
and Hayfleck’s limiting when ripeness comes;
harder to baulk at such guessed-at senescence 
when Deaths’ promised full-stop resolves our sums
and consummates our grammar. A known end,
to a parametered-type mind, will lend
resistance to (without it, atrophied
and shapeless) sense. For not to know we die,
to be unparsed, would terrify;
to mean at all needs context to succeed.

But when, awry, a strand of DNA,
missteps, in absent mind, to lose the plot,
then is unleashed (that unknown, secret day)
a disinhibited ‘immortal.’ Not
inclined to toe the line this megalo
obeys blind evolution’s rules, and so
runs riot; a renegade, an order-trasher,
hell-bent on self-promotion; vandal who,
unschooled, conducts a vulgar palace coup,
And shows himself a boorish party-crasher.

Abandoning the logos and its codes,
illiterate of sense, a tumour juts 
its snout into a library, discommodes
systems of form and information put
in order by design. An ignorant
Yahoo, gross presence, strayed abroad with scant
regard for sense or system, overturning
the delicately loaded stacks that house 
our tales. How guess what world-mistake aroused
this blinkered drunk, so wholly undiscerning?

Precarious person is alloyed with flesh,
a farting, salty livestock; animal
whose pleasures, intimately, are enmeshed,
whose fierce and briny loves, hold us in thrall
so joyously. We husband it, our beast,
until the siege-craft of this arriviste,
mole-like, surprises us inside our keep
from unexpected quarters of ourselves;
our person’s home wherein he delves,
to sabotage our balance and to reap

the cruellest harvest from distress. We learn
a queasy intuition from this Fifth
Column; a knowledge we discern 
as inescapable and that comes with
our plight – when fragile cells are undermined,
our selves, and what we like to call our mind’s
attempted too. There’s barely separation
between our person and our person. A
great miracle being fouled will bring dismay
and, in this case, a double consternation.