Chapter VI from 'the ecstasies of Eros'

Mille Tre.
Promiscuity in the mirror.
1001 Nights
M etropolis
Jack of all trades, master of none
The virgin
The fraternal horde (2)


In Italia seicentoquaranta,
in Almagna duecentotrentuna,
cento in Francia, in Turchia novantuna,
ma in Ispagna son già mille e tre!
From: Don Giovanni, by Mozart and Lorenzo da Ponte (1787).

In his 'Colloquium senile' Erasmus stages 'Polygamus, a man who owes not only his premature decay, but also his name to the fact that he remarried eight times. The number eight may seem impressive, but it is a trifle in comparison with the numbers don Juan could boast about. Also he is called a polygamist, but it is not so evident that both heroes share their label. Although don Juan enjoyed many women, we scarcely can call him a harem keeper. Instead of gathering women, he rejects them after every conquest. His harem exists only as the enumeration of names in his catalogue, not as a collection of real women in a real harem. One could say that he builds up his harem in time instead of in space. He is out at making the list of his conquests as long as possible, and every repetition cannot but reduce the number of conquests. The sooner he abandons them, the more lovers he can seduce. To reach a maximum, he has to reduce the duration of every relation to a minimum. In the extreme case, he realises an endless chain of 'one night stands'.

To name the difference between don Jan and Ismail, we could introduce the terms 'successive' and 'simultaneous' polygamy. 'Gamos', though, means 'marriage' or by extension an enduring relation, and it is the question whether the term 'gamos' can rightfully be applied to encounters of one night. And there is still another objection. One night stands are not so much a variant, as rather a negation of the harem: one has to keep a harem, whereas don Juan only rejects. The counterpart of the rejecting conqueror is the monogamous husband: he conquereds to hold forever. The harem keeper is somewhere between both: he conquers more often than the monogamous lover, but, unlike don Juan, he defends his possession after each conquest. The more he conquers and the more he begins to replace, like Ibn Saud, the more he begins to resemble don Juan. But only when he no longer keeps at all has he become a real don Juan. The harem is then dissolved in a chain of relations with one single partner, comparable with King Sharyar's chain of virgins. Absolute unfaithfulness is equally 'monogamous' as absolute faithfulness!

The catalogue is the negation not only of the harem, but also of the monogamous couple. What is negated is not so much the number of the relations, as rather their duration: faithfulness. Don Juan is the champion of unfaithfulness. And his behaviour has a good name: promiscuity. Promiscuity is the opposite of faithfulness. Between absolute faithfulness and absolute promiscuity, there is a whole array of less faithful and more promiscuous intermediary stages. A monogamous couple can remain faithful for a whole life, or the partners may be more promiscuous and engage in new relations, like the man who consumes seven times the seven beautiful years of seven beautiful women. A harem keeper can remain faithful until his death, or he can be more promiscuous and abandon his harem wives when their seven beautiful years are over. Also communards can remain faithful until death or they can be more promiscuous and change the composition of the commune now and then. All these forms of 'relative promiscuity' must be distinguished from don Juan's 'absolute promiscuity' - or promiscuity as such.

In the promiscuous pattern, every man is connected to an ever increasing chain of women, and every woman with an ever increasing chain of men. These catalogues can grow impressively. Already 'monogamous' men are often surprised when they list the women with whom they have had more or less far-reaching sexual contacts. But promiscuity cannot remain the privilege of one sex. In the beginning, one single don Juan seduces many women and every woman he seduces sees the number of her relations increase with one. In this pattern, exuberant male promiscuity goes hand in hand with a rather modest unfaithfulness in women. Such pattern could be called 'uncompleted promiscuity'. The more don Juans begin to seduce, the longer the catalogue of each women that is seduced. But it is only when also women begin to actively seduce men, that the lists become equally long in both sexes. Only then can we speak of 'completed reciprocal promiscuity'.

A certain degree of asymmetry may be caused when some males prefer whores above wives. With this kind of promiscuity, the smaller number of whores is compensated by their more frequent copulations. With free promiscuity, though, men as well only make love when they feel inclined too. In the supposition that the sexual urge is equally frequent in both sexes, the number of promiscuous women has to equal the number of promiscuous men. The number of beautiful women is scarce, but that goes also for the number of beautiful men. With free promiscuity, a less desirable men cannot take a more desirable women, so that he will have to settle for less desirable partners. As long as women were doomed to a quasi permanent motherhood, there was a relative scarcity of beautiful women, but to the extent that the role of motherhood is growing less important, the scarcity of beautiful women is decreasing too, to the point that every symmetry between the sexes disappears. To be completed, promiscuity has to be reciprocal.

Promiscuity has voluntariness and reciprocity in common with reciprocal polygamy. That is why we combined both in this third diptych of our book, wherein two reciprocal patterns of relations are contrasted with two one-sided patterns in the former diptychs. Also as voluntary forms of relations do they contrast with the former patterns, and especially with their involuntary preliminary stages in whoredom, as we studied them in 'The wealthy man' because of its involuntariness.

Completed promiscuity is not only voluntary and reciprocal, but also absolute: it excludes every form of repetition. Any return to a sexual partner introduces an element of faithfulness and hence a form of monogamous or polygamous relation. When talking about relative promiscuity, it must be specified, hence, whether there is talk of serial monogamy, serial polygyny or serial polyandry, or of serial reciprocal polygamy.

'Le désir se nourrit du changement' .

The confusion of polygamy with promiscuity is responsible for a lack of theory on this subject. This scarcity does not catch the eye because the term is frequently used with regard to primeval times. thus, Bachofen holds that in primeval times sexual commerce was completely free. But we already pointed out that Bachofen thinks of free sexual commerce within a restricted community, so that we are dealing here with reciprocal polygamy, not with promiscuity. Herein, Bachofen and all the other authors who are prone to make the same mistake, are heirs of an old tradition that opposes the faithful relations of man to supposedly promiscuous relations of animals: married man against promiscuous animal. This time, the preferred paradigm was not so much the gorilla, but rather street dogs. A good is example is Vico, who describes how the 'Giganti' roamed around after the flood in search of shy women whom they left behind after impregnation, just like their mothers, who left behind their children after lactation, so that they thrived well amidst their excrements...whence their gigantic stature. Wundt sees in the theory of Vico a rest of Hobbes bellum omnium contra omnes, not unjustifiably so. After the primeval father of Freud, the primeval mother of McLennan and the commune of Bachofen, we can proclaim Vico's relationless Giganti as the fourth paradigm of a this time promiscuous nature of man. But also Vico has no proper term for this fourth primeval condition. While Bachofen calls reciprocal polygamy 'promiscuity', with Vico promiscuity is considered to be a case of 'community of goods and women'. It appears that there is from the beginning a confusion between reciprocal polygamy and promiscuity, the two panels of our third diptych. It is founded in the truth that all forms of polygamy are promiscuous in relation to lifelong monogamy. The 'monogamous' Westerner equals the philandering in the harem, or in the other half of the community, with philandering as such.

Promiscuity - the relative variant as well as the absolute - are often explained through the theory of man's insatiable desire for variety. That theory is surely as old as man himself. We find it in the Kama Sutra. In the West, Pascal thinks that desire is fuelled by change. Fourier holds that inconsistency belongs to human nature. Kierkegaard. Walter writes n 'My Secret Life': 'fresh cunt, fresh courage always'. Also Max Nordau thinks that love does not remain constant, but changes with every new phase in the development of the individual and that it needs new incitements and calls for new relations. Even Westermarck recognises the need for variation as a possible argument against monogamy. Bloch asserts that the need for sexual variation is an anthropological given that that cannot be reconciled with marriage. Forel founds 'polygamy' and whore hopping in the attraction ofnovelty. Havelock Ellis holds that the desire for variation disrupts monogamous marriage. Russell (1927). De Beauvoir heightens the desire for novelty to a more philosophical desire for transcendence. Kinsey proclaims that men shares a promiscuous nature with many mammals, who lose interest in a prolonged relation. More recently, the attraction of novelty is called 'the 'Coolidge effect'. Also Van Ussel thinks that after six months the partners of a commune are looking for fresh flesh. Borneman descries promiscuous matriarchal cultures in primeval times and talks about faithfulness as of a lack of sexual interest! Alberoni thinks that the deep-rooted discontent with marriage is a result of our desire to transcend ourselves. Elsewhere it is phrased somewhat less philosophically: 'when eroticism becomes repetition, duty, discipline, it dies, is transformed in drudgery and aversion. Lévy writes that don Juan is 'inexhaustibly curious' - because reality is endlessly diverse, full of contrasts. The discovery of another body, another voice, other gestures is a thrill. Or a little more sophisticated: that desire is by definition the incapability to reach a goal(p.160)).

Many authors think that such desire for variety is typically male, and thus provide a legitimation for uncompleted promiscuity. That is the case with Forel and Havelock Ellis. Sociobiologists hold that males tend to be more promiscuous because a woman has mo invest more in a child than a man, so that the reproductive success of the male increases with his unfaithfulness. On the basis of such theory of 'differential parental investment' Symons asserts that men are out on a variety of partners for variety's sake. Symons refers to the fact that male promiscuity is expressed freely with homosexuals and female faithfulness with lesbians, because in these cases there is no need of making a compromise between male and female dispositions. Kinsey, on the other hand, found that males as well as females are promiscuous, and also that female promiscuity is checked by males, and male promiscuity by other males.

The theory of variation as sexual stimulus is not only used to legitimate the loss of sexual interest in one's partner, but also to explain the reluctance for sexual commerce with kin. As we grows up with our brother(s) or sister(s), we know them all too well, and such familiarity would make them sexually uninteresting. In 1981, Westermarck formulated his theory of sexual familiarity as the origin of the incest taboo. Countless echoes of this theory are to be heard in the work ofForel, Havelock Ellis, Lanval and with Shepher. The latter gave a new impetus to the theory by replacing the mechanism of habituation with that of 'imprinting' (Heinroth, Lorenz). We will come back to this strange explanation in chapter XII on 'Incest'.

In a variant of this theory 'novelty' goes hidden behind the 'experience', that is supposed to increase with the number of partners. In many cultures, this variant is used as a legitimation for premarital relations or the ditto dalliance with whores. This variant is defended by Havelock Ellis, Russell and Borneman. The theory is also used to incite to unfaithfulness after marriage. Thus, Havelock Ellis holds that even a good sexual relation can be enriched through introducing new partners. This leads to the theory of 'open marriage' with the O'Neills or Borneman.

A last variant, finally, is the idea that being in love is merely a transient phase, so that we have to tumble from one relation to another - at least if we are not prepared to fall out of love. We will come back on that topic in the chapter on monogamy, but want to point out already here that Schopenhauer, Liebowitz, J. and C. Gould, Margulis and H.E. Fisher use this transience as an argument to legitimate 'serial monogamy'.

A second series of theories explains promiscuity through the allure of the forbidden. Already the Talmud holds that forbidden fruit tastes sweeter. Schelley proclaims that 'Love withers under constraint; its very essence is liberty; it is compatible neither with obedience, jealousy, nor fear.' Borneman thanks that homo sapiens experiences a taboo as a stimulant.

A third series of theories founds promiscuity (or polygamy) in the exuberant sexual urge of single individuals (which legitimises uncompleted promiscuity). Forel ascribes don Juan's 'satyriasis' and Messalina's 'nymphomania' van Messalina to 'sexual hyperaesthesia'. Exuberant sexual desire is often an effect of culture, and can then be unlearned. There is no doubt that the variability in matters sexual is very high in every respect (Kinsey 1949, Eysenck 1976).

A fourth series of explanations understands promiscuity as the inability to engage in an enduring relation - with Freud because primeval love is incestuous. Promiscuous unfaithfulness is only the counterpart of faithfulness to incestuous partners. Don Juan is looking for his mother and wants to conquer her time and again from his father. To Fanti oedipal love is the only enduring love. Kristeva (1983) refer to narcism that can only partially be overcome. Philosophers like Ortega y Gasset explain don Juan's promiscuity from the opposite of sensuality: an abnormal insensitivity for sexual pleasure: Don Juan would revel in the transfiguration of women: the moment when the caterpillar emerges from the pupated larvae for the sake of man. In more sociological approaches promiscuity is seen as a symptom of social disintegration. Schelsky (1955) is talking about a lack of depth, anonymity and unwillingness to engage when talking about homosexual promiscuity.

1001 NIGHT

The theory on promiscuity turns out to be rather meagre, certainly with regard to the historical dimension. Just like with the primeval woman, art compensates largely for this dearth. Especially writers have created legendary promiscuous heroes. In Antiquity we have the unforgettable Odysseus and in 1630 Tirso de Molina created the immortal don Juan, who, in the hands of Mozart and da Ponte was transformed into the paradigm of 'libertinage', compared to whom Casanova's autobiography, S. Richardsons 'Lovelace from 'Clarissa Harlowe', Duclos' 'Confessions du Comte XXX' (wherein there is talk of an 'augmentation de la liste') and Laclos' 'Liaisons dangeureuses', yes even Byron's autobiographical 'don Juan' only fade into insignificance. In more recent times authors stage themselves: think of the diaries of Gauguin on Tahiti, the books of H. Miller, N. Mailer, H. Robbins, (and more recently Cathérine Millet)*

In the plastic arts, on the other hand, promiscuity seems to be unknown The very timelessness that predestines the image to the medium par excellence for glorifying female beauty, makes it totally inappropriate to stage promiscuity. In the film, on the other hand, above all Casanova is a cherished theme.

The absence of promiscuous females, though, catches the eye. There seems to be only the forced promiscuity of whores and courtesans. With Wagner's Kundry, promiscuity as a curse. The reason is that female promiscuity was not at all accepted until recently. An exception is Bizet's Carmen, where love is 'enfant de bohème'. Since the advent of the last wave of feminism things seem to change (think of Erica Young).

Just like one-sided polygamy, but contrary to utopian reciprocal polygamy, also promiscuity is often depicted as the deplorable counterpart of monogamy. After his endless quest, Odysseus finally finds rest in the womb of his faithful Penelope. As a reversed Odyssey far more convincing, and therefore to be proclaimed as the paradigm of promiscuity, is the story of 1001 night, where King Sharyar falls hopelessly in love, his abundant harem notwithstanding. When he is betrayed during his absence, he decides to have his brides executed after spending the night with them. Sheherazade escapes that fate by promising him new stories and bearing him three sons during 1001 nights. Eventually, King Sharyar decides to honour her faithfulness by electing her as his a lifelong and exclusive mistress.


Un éclair... puis la nuit! Fugitive beauté
Dont le regard m'a fait soudainement renaître,
Ne te verrai je plus que dans l'éternité?

Ailleurs, bien loin d'ici! trop tard! jamais peut être!
Car j'ignore ou tu fuis, tu ne sais ou je vais,
O toi que j'eusse aimée, ô toi qui le savais!

From: A une passante.
Baudelaire, Les Fleurs du Mal.

What about the practice of promiscuity?

First, there is premarital promiscuity. In many cultures sexual abstinence before marriage is obligatory. In other cultures, promiscuity in the premarital period is a rule. But we are dealing here with factual promiscuity: an exploration of the sexual market and of sexuality as such. Exploration leads to discovery and results in an enduring relation as soon as the appropriate partner has been found. Here, promiscuity leads to faithful (monogamous or polygamous) relations.

Totally different is continued and principial promiscuity: the cult of the transient sexual relation. It matters to distinguish between voluntary and involuntary promiscuity. Feudal lords, capitalists and bosses had and have often sexual contacts with their subjects, but that had and has everything to do with power. The same goes for whorehoppers and sex-tourists (and their predecessors: explorers like R. Burton and colonials) and for the already mentioned 2.000 women of H.Hefner. That is worlds apart from the voluntary promiscuity of figures like Casanova, who seduced women from all layers of society, and with the promiscuity in the urban bars and dancings or in holiday resorts.

From a historical point of view, forced promiscuity is gradually replaced with free promiscuity. And that has everything to do with the decreasing importance of marriage as a reproductive and economic unit and the concomitant economical emancipation of women: economic independence breaks the power of Mars insatiatus. From a positive point of view, woman can now freely choose with whom she wants to have sex. And it seems as if women are out at recouping their losses: many statistics show earlier and more frequent female sexual intercourse. In that sense, completed promiscuity will ultimately replace forced marriage and whoredom: the chains of (single)bars in the big cities are, next to promiscuous commerce with images, the historical successors of the brothels, which are in their turn the successors of the harems. Many authors want to actively accelerate the dawn of the age of whoredom through pleading for more promiscuity.

Voluntary promiscuity is a late phenomenon in human history, no initial state. That is already so for purely technical reasons. Only large concentrations of population or the possibility to travel rapidly and unpunished from one town to another, make it possible to be promiscuous a life long without having to repeat oneself. In a tribe, one would inevitably have to begin a next round after some dozen one night stands, so that the promiscuous pattern would gradually be transformed into reciprocal polygamy. The tribe would grow into the 'primeval commune'. There can only be talk of real promiscuity when the tribal confines are transgressed through adventurers and explorers, who are not only armed themselves, but are backed by the navy of their homeland at that. Odysseus is the epitome of this first generation of promiscuous lovers. Also in the first big metropolises, promiscuity can develop, but it does so primarily in the form of whoredom (apart from exceptions like the empress Messalina). Only later does a second generation appear with figures like Casanova, who move themselves within the confines of a militarily and juridically subdued world from court to court and from city to city, armed with their physical charm as their only weapon. Only from the industrial era onwards are the conditions given for the development of completed promiscuity as well in mass tourism as in the urban jungles, growing to massive proportions. There it is endemic - not hampered by syphilis or aids - with the swinging couples of Bartell, with the partners of the 'open marriage' of the O'Neills, during the countless parties (partouses) and also increasingly in the steadily growing army of separated or unmarried singles, that often build up a special separate circuit of bars, nightclubs and discotheques, just like the 'cruising' homosexuals. Not only the increasing concentration and the limitless mobility in an overpopulated world are responsible for the unstoppable advent of promiscuity, but foremost what is in its turn the motor of this epiphenomenon: the ever more unbridled expansion of Adam Smith's free market, where the isolated individuals or their products are moving like loose particles in an empty space. We will concentrate on the economic aspect of this development in the fourth diptych of this book.

Next tot the absolute promiscuity of one night stands, there is also the more moderate -relative - promiscuity that ends up in serial monogamy or polygamy. Absolute monogamy remains faithful after death. Many men whose women used to die during childbirth switched without problems to another partner (think of Rubens or Bach). Figures like Henry VIII no longer awaited the death of their partners.More and more, it is purely sexual relations that succeed one another other (Picasso, Max Ernst, Chaplin). The pattern is generalised, as is shown by the increasing number of divorces.

In expectance of the breakthrough of completed promiscuity, we witness the withering away of its uncompleted and one-sided predecessor. We already mentioned how in literature primarily male promiscuity is thematised. And that is not only so in literature: also in real life, voluntary female promiscuity has been rather scarce. Exceptions to the rule are: Messalina, Karoline Michaelis Böhmer Froster Schlegel Schelling, Sarah Bernhardt with her more than thousand lovers, Lou Andreas Salome, whose polyandric relation with Rée en Nietzsche was succeeded by relations with George Lebedour, Rainer Maria Rilke, Viktor Tausk en Sigmund Freud, Alma Mahler with Gropius, Oskar Kokoschka and Hanz Werfel, Colette Peignot, with the mistress of Souveraine, Jean Bernier and Bataille (Anaïs Nin). This series only confirms that the really existing promiscuity was, until shortly, above all a question of males: only they were sufficiently independent and released from the burden of children. And also within the male sex, they were the exception. That is why their catalogues are so impressive and contrast so strongly not only with the blank page of other males, but also with the innocence of their victims. The reason is that the promiscuous male revels in seducing, and only sneezes at buying. And not every male has the time for seduction. On the contrary; the males that cannot play off their sexual charms have to spend their time with earning the money with which they will be able to sustain a wife or to pay a whore. Just because they want (or have) to spare themselves the burden of conquest, they are creating the vast reservoir of yearning innocence, that wants to be released from the stranglehold of their second choice husband, albeit for one single night. The scoundrel who wants to tap that reservoir has not so much to be beautiful, as rather to make true the rumour that the power of his impressive and ever present organ equals that of the rhinoceros. Figures like Casanova did their best, although, with all their aphrodisiacs, they certainly were bested by Rasputin. His legendary member, of which he was bereaved when murdered, is told to have been saved form decay by an inconsolable admirer. Several years later, the relic must have looked like a black, overripe banana with a length of one foot. Figures with such allure are perhaps even more scarce than beautiful women. Only in them does Mars Insatiatus feast his triumph, not only over Venus frigida, who this time is only set in flames for him, but also over the impotent rape of males who, as masters or as slave, subordinate themselves in the beehive under the beautiful woman.

Many are too little and one is too much.

A. Polgar

Promiscuity is founded in the very allure of novelty which is at the same time its Achilles' heel. No doubt, we have to roam around for some time before setlling on a place. The allure of novelty is then gradually replaced with the charm of the familiar. The novel is not only the potentially better, but also what is not yet developed. Only familiarity allows for better gratification, were it only on the sexual plane, where it is all about in matters of promiscuity. To become a father, the philanderer has no time and fertile promiscuity is only a unintended and annoying side-effect of his very undertaking. That is why he refuses to have exploration completed in settlement and why he promotes himself to the eternal explorer who discovers ever new places, but also loses them by always heading further. He discovers virgin maiden land, but leaves the exploitation to others. Seen from a broader perspective, absolute novelty is synonymous with superficial, transient, futile. Or, to phrase it from the perspective of continued relations: every new relation unravels the thread of life into a tangle of ever more frayed ends. With every new relation a part of one's history is doomed to oblivion, and what remains is a mere concatenation of isolated episodes. What promised to be the beginning of a novel, turns out to be the mere onset of a frame story.

Thus, the saying 'more is less' is particularly applicable to promiscuity. Above all it will have become clear by now that promiscuity is in essence postponed faithfulness. For, the problem with promiscuity is the breaking of the promise that is inherent in every encounter: what to do with that alien body in your bed the morning after? How to end relation once initiated? Whores are paid and images are easily left aside, but real bodies that voluntarily surrendered want also to stand up after intercourse. Don Juan could settle the problem through sending his women back to their husbands under howls of derision, but when everybody has become promiscuous, such satisfaction is no longer possible.

As postponed or refused faithfulness, promiscuity is, just like the admiration in the polygynous amphitheatre, a 'perversion', an attempt at curbing the unfolding of love. That is why it is readily restricted to purely sexual contact: the spell of beauty has to be broken through orgasmic release, which should above all not lead to pregnancy. Therefore, don Juan is the antipode not so much of Messalina, but rather of Venus frigida, and the wealthy man is merely his caricature. While polyandry of seduction resigns from intercourse in an attempt at freezing the progress of time in breathless adoration, promiscuity tries to break the spell through hastening to intercourse. Time and again, ever new steps are set in always other directions, and the progress of time is stopped in a hectic dance of mere first steps on one leg.

A virgin is thousand times more our own than whatever other woman.

Not only the allure over novelty is invoked as an explanation of promiscuity, but also exuberant sexual appetite. At first glance, the unparallelled power of don Juans organ seems to legitimise his promiscuity. But this is mere appearance. No doubt, there is an enormous variability of 'sexual appetite', but to the male piramyd corresponds a female one, and only the man or the woman who 'marries below his/her status' will need more partners to get satisfaction. That is why initial promiscuity may be required to find an appropriate partner: otherwise than female beauty, the degree of sexual appetite cannot known 'at first sight'. thus, the problem has nothing to do with the rhinoceros: the question is rather why the chosen do not choose other chosen, bur rather revel in the opposite! Not only the theory of desire for novelty, but also the theory of variability in sexual appetite cannot give account of promiscuity.

Only the story of 1001 night reveals the truth behind the one night stands: that promiscuity is not only the counterpart, but also the negation of absolute faithfulness. King Sharyar prefers his lovers to be virgin, and to prevent soiling after him, he has his mistresses decapitated the morning after. Figures like the legendary Yuan Ti from the Sui dynasty equally specialised in virgins, but restricted themselves to penetrating and omitted the subsequent decapitation. Equally modest were the feudal lords who claimed the 'ius primae noctis', the right on the first night, the echo of which can be still be heard in don Giovanni's seduction of Zerlina on the moment that is about to marryMasetto. A similar right is also claimed by many a pimp. Their clients, on the other hand, must put up with the insupportable thought that they deliver their precious organ to a hole that has already been visited by alien foreskin. Even in the brothel is the longing for absolute faithfulness betrayed in the cult of the - real of feigned - virgin whore. From this all, it is all too apparent: when we have to share our wives, than we want at least to be the cross on the paternoster of which others may pray the remaining beads. It takes a don Joan to make a virtue of this need. Instead of virginal, he wanted his wifes married: all the greater was his triumph when it appeared that he knew to break the ice. In the bars of our contemporary metropolises, maidenhead and decapitation are superfluous altogether: the anonymous partners loom up from the dark of the urban jungle, to dissolve in it again, not otherwise than passengers on a night train or the tourists on a tropical island. An echo of don Juan's triumph resounds in their expectation to do it better than their predecessors and in their secret hope therefore to survive in memory. In the tireless desire to hear repeated again and again that one is the one and only unsurpassed lover, shimmers through the complaint that one has nevertheless never been chosen. With such completed form of promiscuity, the partner is granted unfaithfulness only when he reciprocates that favour, often in a vain effort to save a monogamous relation.

The story of 1001 night not only makes it clear that a disguised desire for absolute faithfulness goes hidden behind promiscuity, but also lays bare the motif of its denial (negation): Sharyar was betrayed by his beloved. And to prevent this wound to ever be opened again, he wanted virgins, whose first night was turned into the last by decapitation the morning after. He thereby ensured absolute faithfulness. At a high price, though: condeming himself to absolute unfaithfulness! Others take revenge for unfaithfulness not by decapitating their wives, but through becoming unfaithful themselves. That they thereby drive their women in the arms of others yields an additional pleasure: they turn to others the very weapon that wounded themselves. The machine-gun salvo of promiscuity is a reaction on that one lethal shot that has been fired. In as much as all the bullets of this salvo drive new wounded to their machine-gun nest, all the don Juans drag one another into hell: no women comes unsoiled in a relation and no man will be first! This unravels the deeper motif behind the third explanation of promiscuity: the allure of the forbidden. It appears that such allure is no more than the compulsion to transgress the taboo that one had all too eagerly imposed on others.

The total absence of possessive jealousy with which the promiscuous delivers his women to others only hides the presence of a special variant: instead of turning his rage against the cuckolder, the cuckolded identifies with the cuckolder and cuckolds others in his turn. Just as behind absolute unfaithfulness of the promiscuous goes hidden the desire for absolute faithfulness, just so an unbridled jealousy goes hidden behind sovereign indifference. It will only rest when nobody possesses anything and when all have to complain with the loggers in Brecht's 'Mahagonny': 'They cannot drag us in hell, because we have always been there'.

Thus, promiscuity is not only an endless lament on faithfulness that remains forthcoming, but also a revenge for the expulsion from paradise: a perfect synthesis of desire and its repression. Thus, of all things the very counterpart of faithfulness turns out to be its strongest witness.

The commandment to be faithful has created many adulterers.

The duel of don Giovanni with 'the Commander', the father of the violated donna Anna, has been regarded by many an author in the wake of Otto Rank (1922) as a restaging of the parricide on the primeval father. That this time not a fraternal horde commits the murder, but a single individual, is explained through the theory of the hero, the exceptional individual, who is the successor of the fraternal horde after the primeval parricide.

Freud approved of this version. But that cannot prevent it from being an umpteenth remarkable lapsus. Rank's interpretation tries to give account of the difference between horde and individual, but overlooks three other 'details': don Giovanni is not out at gathering all his conquests in a harem, but shakes them off as quickly as he took them on his lap. And the Commander is even less a harem keeper, but rather the champion of monogamy. Only in name of the cuckolded husbands does he drive don Giovanni into hell. And that points to a third difference: there are two murders in Mozart's opera. In the beginning, don Giovanni kills the Commander and in the end the resurrected Commandeer drives don Giovanni into hell. Which of both is the primeval patricide? Judging from the horde of cuckolded husbands that begins to grow around don Ottavia between both duels, we would rather think of don Giovanni as the primeval father, were it not that this fraternal horde is not quite convincing. Only when the Commander has driven Giovanni into hell do they appear on the scene and they feel fooled when it appears that next to the honour of their wives, they are also bereaved of the feast of revenge. Even therefore did they lack guts. The fanfare of the cuckolded husbands has only her number in common with the fraternal horde, not the committing of the primeval murder, let alone the motif for it. That is what they have in common with that other 'fraternal horde' that - in 1916, one year before the murder on the Czar in 1917- invited Rasputin for a nocturnal banquet to offer him poisoned wafers and poised wine. This became Rasputin's Last Supper, and only when he was riddled with bullets would a 'heroic individual' among the brothers dare to castrate him.

And this castration lays bare a fourth and fundamental difference. The murder on don Giovanni or on Rasputin are not murders committed by sons that are out at appropriating the harem of their father, but murders committed by wronged husbands that want to bereave a scoundrel from the organ with which he bereaved them of their women. That Rasputin's organ survived as an overripe banana in a coffin rather then being consumed in the stomach of the plotters as a pars pro toto of the primeval father's body, makes the whole difference. Phrased differently: the murder on the Commander and on don Giovanni are certainly murders on impressive figures, like fathers happen to be, but not murders on 'primeval fathers'. To be a primeval father, one has to monopolise all the women and to chase his sons, and to be a primeval brother a chased son must contest this monopoly and join with his brothers in a fraternal horde. That is why the opera of Mozart and da Ponte does not stage the drama of polygamy, the struggle between sons and fathers, but the struggle between two patterns of relations, the duel between faithfulness and unfaithfulness, between promiscuity and monogamy.

There is a kernel of truth, though, in Rank's analysis: don Giovanni as an individual is not the heroic successor of the fraternal horde, but the solitary prefigure of what is gradually growing into an impressive horde, that contains not only countless brothers, but increasingly also many sisters and threatens to inaugurate the era of completed promiscuity. They stand up not so much against a polygynous primeval father that dooms them to resignation, but against the tyranny of absolute faithfulness. And since the one-sided polygamy of the primeval father is, from the point of view of promiscuity, only the nearest enemy, the revolt against it cannot but be the prelude to the final struggle against the farthest enemy: the tyranny of absolute fidelity. Like Saint John the Baptist for Jesus Christ, the Commander only paved the way for such tyrant.

Thus, the swarm of free-floating promiscuous is the successor of the horde of the communards, that struggles against polygyny. That the promiscuous only come to rest when no one possesses anything anymore, reminds us of the communistic community of women. In their endeavour to deny that all belong to one, the communards proclaimed that all belong to all. To the promiscuous, nobody may belong to nobody, and they hold that because they deny something more fundamental: that one belongs to one. The phrases 'all to all' and 'nobody to nobody' poignantly embody the opposition between the two otherwise so symmetric panels of our third diptych. And the formulation of this opposition reminds us of the neo-liberal and anti socialistic slogan: 'everybody's property is nobody's property'. From Karl Marx to Adam Smith: the political development that has been inaugurated in the past decades under these augurs, is the counterpart of the evolution of the socialistic community of women to the liberal/libertarian property of nobody by nobody.

Not only sexually, also economically is the horde of the promiscuous the successor of the horde of the communards. The desherited communards propagated a double community of goods and woman in opposition to the double sexual and economic monopoly of the harem keeper. To be promiscuous, on the other hand, one must be economically independent and buy all the satisfaction that otherwise is provided within the frame of a marriage. That is why female promiscuous only recently appeared on the stage: they first had to wage a struggle for economic independence from the very men that forced them to sexual and economical servility. Only to the extent that they can break the monopoly of the male by joining the growing army of workers, can economic dependency be replaced with full independency. Such refusal to dissolve in marriage inaugurates the regime of 'everyone for himself'. This regime creates the proper conditions for the sexual regime of 'nobody of nobody', counterpart of the more archaic regime of the communards, where 'everybody worked for everybody' and 'all belonged to all'.

We can ask ourselves whether the term 'fraternal horde' applies to those who only work for themselves and belong to nobody. Adam Smith showed how they are steered by an 'invisible hand' to the effect that the common wealth of nations is created through individual selfishness. In the same way they are connected through a secret solidarity: by being simultaneously demand and supply on the market of love, they release each other from every monopolistic or monopsonistic tyranny.

Remains the question why such horde of atoms experiences absolute monogamous fidelity as tyranny? Does the wound struck by the unfaithful virgin suffice as en explanation for promiscuity?

Perhaps we can learn more from economy as such, not just from economy as the wealth of men considered up to now. Let us look whether the next diptych of this book can give us an answer to our question.

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