Sexual Fables

This article accompanies the fable
Kama Sutra

Guru Dutt

When Jacques remarked that All the world’s a stage, he divided a man’s life into 7 ages, with acts 3-6 representing adult life: the lover, the soldier, the justice and the retiree.  Jacques was a pessimist of course; like most Westerners he divided life up by one’s profession. 

In Hinduism’s purusharthas, there is a different scheme: pleasure (kama), worldly success (artha), duty and responsibility (dharma) and liberation (moksha).  Indian philosophers are mostly optimists: liberation is a lot better than second childhood, sans everything.

For John Lennon and Guru Dutt, pleasure lasted through their mid-20’s; work and success dominated their mid-20’s through 40 when they died.  For those who make it past 40, that is when consciousness of dharma sets in and when most writers and artists start saying interesting things about sex (up till then they have been busy doing it or wishing they were doing it).  But if sex diminishes at 40, why do away with it altogether and become celibate?


Ahab in Melville's Moby-Dick seems to have been influenced by this kind of thinking in this Shakespearean soliloquy from the wonderful Chapter 114: "The Gilder":

There is no steady unretracing progress in this life; we do not advance through fixed gradations, and at the last one pause: - through infancy's unconscious spell, boyhood's thoughtless faith, adolescence' doubt (the common doom), then scepticism, then disbelief, resting at last in manhood's pondering repose of If. But once gone through, we trace the round again; and are infants, boys, and men, and Ifs eternally.


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