What Are You Reading…On Intimacy and Sex

Love manifests itself in many ways, and there are many kinds of love for which this is the case. One type of love is amorous love, and a common way it is expressed is through intimacy and sex. Though both expressions can be treated as a banal exchange, at their best they are sublime, memorable encounters. People are transformed, new possibilities emerge, and one becomes dedicated to following another. Kierkegaard is well-known for claiming that being in love is like a leap of faith; the evidence of love is never conclusive, as one never has direct access to another’s emotional state. Similarly, changing circumstances make it unclear whether what was in the past still holds now. As a result, one must at some point trust that love is real and not a trick.

Intimacy and sex are ways of trying to break down the barriers separating one another, to give a more complete picture of who we are, what we desire, and how we see ourselves in relation to others. Thus they often are connected with love, as they can help us to make the leap Kierkegaard describes. In addition, the more comfortable we become with intimacy and sex, the more willing we may be to open ourselves to acts of self-creation, which is important in many parts of life (since, in one sense, everything you do contributes to your creation). Intimacy and sex, assuming they are done right, prepare us for life. The more we help each other become comfortable with these acts, the more we help our society. Consider the following papers as you explore the role intimacy and sex play in your own life.

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2 thoughts on “What Are You Reading…On Intimacy and Sex

  1. There are of course many levels to the experience of intimacy and sex, some referenced above already.

    On one level it is an attempt to break down the barriers between people, agreed of course. Hiding just below the surface of that hopefully delightful human drama dance is a more existential agenda that may be of interest to ever curious philosophers.

    Orgasms are an experience of psychological death. For the briefest moment the “me” that we spend our whole lives trying to protect and defend is gone, and we couldn’t be happier about it. It sounds like a big contradiction, until we experience it. A great deal of human activity revolves around the search for this magical encounter which unites life and death.

    Love too is a form of death, to the degree it involves the surrender of the “me”. In Western culture it’s possible that Jesus spoke to this with the most concise clarity when his sermons on love advised us to “die and be reborn”, an all important subject summarized in just four simple words.

    We’re all familiar with the concept of “life force”, that built in will to survive. There is an equal “death force” that is also in operation at all times. As example, if we throw a ball up in to air the force of gravity is always quietly acting upon the ball, even as it rockets skyward.

    If we observe closely, we can see this death force at play in the smallest details of our daily lives. We’re continually pulled towards experiences where the division between subject and object, “me” and the “not me”, are erased. At the deepest levels we seek reunion not just with our lover, but with all that is not us.

    The great dramas that swirl around the experience of romance, love and sex are a big clue that there are deeper agendas lurking just below the surface of this phenomena.

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