ascetism and celibacy

Chapter VIII of 'The ecstasies of Eros by Stefan Beyst

Perversion and asceticism
Society and celibacy (1): hermits and cloisters
Society and celibacy (2): civil service and subordinates
Society and celibacy (3): serfs and wage earners
Der Übermensch.
The end of times
The descent of man.
The necessary failure of asceticism: Saint Antony
Praise of asceticism


After having discovered the fuel on which the perverse trend is running, we now only have to witness how this fire consumes itself: how the perverse move completes itself in asceticism. This last contentual analysis of love introduces a next social formation in which love is lived: that of celibacy as relationlessness.

The perverse move implies that ever more parts of full love are obliterated. In that sense, perversion is the positive description of what can negatively be understood as asceticism. Whereas the perverse move retires in ever more restricted parts of love, asceticism rejects ever more parts of it. Such double move has to eventually end up in the complete denial of sexuality: perversion as completed asceticism.

It will not be superfluous to point to the difference between frigidity and asceticism. Asceticism is a deliberate choice to not be sexually active. Frigidity or impotence, on the other hand, feigns the very desire which is actually denied, and hence comes down to repressed asceticism. Against this background, we can question statements like those of Sally Cline who regards female frigidity as a form of resistance against male dominance.


From a social point of view, asceticism leads to celibacy. Just like there is partial or full asceticism, there can also be partial of full celibacy. And, since asceticism and perversion are each other's negative, partial celibacy can go hand in hand with (polygamous, monogamous or promiscuous) love relations. The beautiful woman that contents herself with gathering many men around her, is polyandrous on the plane of seduction, but celibate on the plane of lovemaking, reproduction and cooperation. The mother that resigns from seduction and lovemaking, is monogamous on the plane of reproduction and cooperation, but celibate on the plane of seduction and lovemaking. The promiscuous man or woman that restricts himself or herself to seduction and lovemaking, are celibate on the plane of reproduction and cooperation. The reverse goes for the 'celibate marriage' where partners resign form seduction and lovemaking, but stick to the commandment to reproduce themselves.

Next to partial asceticism, there is also selective asceticism on the social plane. The woman that is frigid with her husband, but hot with her lover, is a celibate with her husband, but monogamous with her lover.....

''For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother's womb:
and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men:
and there be eunuchs , which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake.
He that is able to receive it, let him receive it'.
Matthew 19, 12.

In the previous chapter, we described how social cooperation isolated cooperation from the encompassing love relation, so that the latter is reduced to pure sexuality: seduction, lovemaking and reproduction. We also described the effort to make the isolation undone through the resexualisation of social relations with producers and consumers, colleagues and subordinates,products, and finally work itself. In this chapter, we will concentrate on a totally opposite reaction: asceticism.

As the development of society approaches its completion, it becomes increasingly easy to resign from all the aspects of love, the sexual as well as the economical. Through performing desexualised social labour, it is possible to survive without having to lose oneself in anything that reminds of sexuality and children. In the pre-societal stage, everything depends on sexual division of labour, so that completed asceticism would amount to suicide: not only does it imply resigning from a sexual partner, but also from the children necessary to be cared for when old. As the social division of labour develops, sexual division becomes more and more obsolete. Social division of labour is more productiveand multifaceted, so that less labour yields more products. Thus, sexual division of labour is doomed to disappear. As a consequence, love itself loses its reason of existence...

The possibility to survive without love, is a good prospect for those who want to be freed from the grip in which the amputated and mutilated members of love held them: it suffices to refer to Plotinus who withdrew himself from his stinking body in the world of his Enneads, to Origines, who bereft himself from his member with a knife, to Augustine, who resigned form his former sinful life to devote himself to the building of the Civitas Dei, or, finally, to Elisabeth I, who got acquainted with the ways of sexuality through Henry VIII.

The development of social division of labour not only creates the possibility, but also the necessity to resign from sexual division of labour. That nobody works out of love, and everybody out of self interest, and that, as a consequence, the best placed succeed in having others work for them, turns the social division of labour in an instrument to exploit others. In such termite hill, the majority no longer succeeds in earning the money necessary to be a desirable partner. They either can resign from marriage and parenthood and content themselves with occasional one night stands, or have to witness how the families they found soon fall apart. They then have to leave their partner and their children deprived of means of existence. Within the frame of the sexual division of labour, they could provide their private share in exchange for what their husbands or fathers earned socially, but if the latter does not suffice, they are completely lost. Nothing can be found in nature anymore - only rubbish dumps are left - and they cannot proceed to social labour: precisely because there were not enough jobs available, their husbands were obliged to sell themselves for a pittance. That results in the apocalyptic hallucination of mothers, who remain in the slums or the country with their children, whom they cannot but neglect, while their husbands are busy trying to earn something in the cities to save themselves from starvation.

All those who remain unmarried, who are divorced or left behind as a widower of widow, all the rejected or runaway children, the aged and the ill, cannot find a place anywhere, neither in nature, nor in a pair or in society. They are doomed do death. Theft and whoredom are the only way of surviving, aside from relying on the beggar's staff. To further this minor evil, Buddhism, Jew (tsedaka) Christians, and Islam (zakat) promoted charity.

The excluded were grateful for their getting an alms, but far greater was their resentment against the mechanisms responsible for their fate: that it is impossible to survive without belonging to a pair, a harem or society as a whole. Their aversion for the pair and for sexuality that holds it together is only enhanced in that they themselves or their partners are often forced to prostitution. Their aversion for society is only enhanced in that they only scantily get what others wallow in, while the latter do not even feel the least obligation to share their riches: they are only prepared to do so with their kin and mistresses. Also the married partners have reasons enough the resent the kind of relations we come to describe in the previous chapters. In that sense, the ascetic wave is an all too understandable reaction of the excluded as well as of the internal victims of the sexual-economic architecture, a refusal not only of the omnipresent economically forced marriages, but also of the expansion of harems and brothels. Such aversion was only heightened through fear fir the rapidly spreading sexual diseases.

Such aversion - contemptus mundi - was responsible for their rejection of marriage and society that first rejected them. Instead of flocking together in the cities like hungry dogs, to get some breadcrumbs from the table top, the rejected began to retire themselves in the mountains or the deserts, far from the world that excluded them. And they were joined there by the many who knew to conquer a place in society, but shared their contempt for what they had to endure there in the (child)bed or on the working place: from princes like Buddha to whores like Maria Egyptica (+ 422), who withdrew like many of her companions in the desert. We find such ascetics in India already in the times of the Rig-veda, in Greece from the 8th century onwards, (bakids, orfists, cynics and stoics), even with the talmudic Jews. The movement often took epidemic proportions: in the 4th century, there were 24.000 hermits in the Egyptian desert alone, who dwelled in graves, in caverns, on trees (dendrites), and even on pillars (stylites). Let us refer also to the concentrations of ascetics in the caverns of Gurume in Turkey.

Their rejection of the sinful world adorned them with the aureole of the saint. And that aureole obliged: from far and wide, married and working or suppressing termites came to gather around them. They carried with them the scarce resources on which the hermits had decided to survive. They thus managed to survive through loading guilt upon those who rejected them and have them alleviate this guilt through providing them their means of existence.

Also paid off guilt obliged, this time the saints. As witnesses of the sinfulness of the world, they were destined to fulfil tasks in which the loveless world could not provide, since it was only driven by selfishness. They devoted themselves to activities like providing shelter, education, caring for the sick, fulfilling banking functions, and what have you. They thus became reintegrated in the very society they rejected, although they did not so out of selfishness, but out of 'love for their neighbours'.

Thus, the asceticism on cooperation was lifted. The 'contemptus mundi' had to focus on sexuality alone. And also that become something of a problem, since the new task no longer allowed the ascetics to isolate themselves, each on his own pillar. Apart from a 'spiritual marriage', the only way to ensure cooperation without having to proceed to marriage consisted in having males cooperate with males, and females with females. Thus, the aggregations of hermits came to be transformed in cloisters. At the bottom or outside of the termite hill, these are the ascetic counterparts of brothels, monogamous marriages and of the exuberant worldly harems at the top. The communal love that bonded monks and nuns together contrasted sharply with the debased and perverted forms of love in the sinful world. Witness the mighty chants in Buddhist, Christian and orthodox cloisters and churches.

The cloister as a solution appears together with the first merchant cities. Let us refer to the cloisters founded by prince Parsva in India (8th century BC), the Jains (7th century BC), the cloister movement of Buddha (560-480 BC) that spread to Tibet, China (where also taoistic cloisters began to spread) and Japan, and those of Mahavira (founded in 477 BC). Also in the Western World, we have communities developing around figures like Pythagoras, the Jewish Essenes and Therpeutae and the early Christian societies, which around the 2nd century often proceeded to auto castration, just like the 'holy eunuchs' with the Jews. As appears from their condemnation through Tertullianus, the Marcionates forbade marriage: whoever wanted to join the sect had to divorce. In the third century, the Valesians castrated themselves and their guests in the belief that they thereby served God. Already in the 3rd century communities of women develop in Egypt and Syria. To stomach the stream of male and female hermits, Pachomius founded the first Christian cloisters around 320 and his work was continued by Basil, Cassian and Benedict. Also the Manicheans had their ascetic 'perfects' 'volmaakten'. The cathars considered coition and pregnancy as deathly sins and therefore condemned marriage. With the Protestants, we find movements like the 'Sanctifications Sisters' (1879). Castration was also executed in the sect of the Scopts in the 18th century, who mutilated themselves by cutting of the testicles or even the entire genitals or to burn them with a glowing iron, after having procreated. With the women, the labia, nipples and breast were removed. Let us finally mention the Khlysti, although these develop from an ascetic into an orgiastic movement.

Next to the separation of the sexes, many also opted for the rather risky solution of chaste cohabitation of man and woman in a 'celibate marriage', or more often in an 'economical commune'. To this type of asceticism belong the communities like those of the Pythagoreans and many communities of early Christians. With the Protestants, we have the ascetic communes of the Shakers (founded in 1783 by Ann Lee), the communes of Ephrata, Zoar, Amana (founded in 1843) and New Jerusalem. Cline also mentions the sexless communities in Irian, Java and Indonesia.

He that is unmarried
careth for the things that belong to the Lord,
how he may please the Lord.
But he that is married
careth for the things that are of the world,
how he may please his wife,'
Paul in Corinthians, 7:32-33

Celibacy has also another, pre-societal origin. On a tribal level, sexual division of labour has its shortcomings in two case: when one person distinguishes himself by abilities that can benefit the whole community or when functions have to be fulfilled for the common good, where everybody is only expected to behave in the good of his own private group. Such oppositions between common and private good can follow from the nature of the activity - as when the chief is also a judge and hence can be tempted to let his private interests prevail. They can also follow from the mere fact that the producer in question simply has other duties to fulfil: as when a medicine man would give priority to his other duties towards his family above curing an outsider. Within the frame of sexual division of labour, the contradiction can only be solved by letting such exceptional individuals marry with more wives. Another solution consists in excluding marriage, often under the guise of a 'mystical marriage' with symbolic representatives of the tribe. This solution solves the conflict by eliminating private interest. In many a tribe medicine men or priests are celibates, lifelong or for the duration of their office. This form of asceticism is perhaps the first means of making specialisation - and thereby socialisation - possible. Therein, it resembles the later cloisters. Where this solution is chosen, there have to be rules to select the candidates: giving up children to fulfil public offices, twins and of course homosexuals, who are predestined for such offices.

This solution of the problem on a tribal level survives the dawn of the tribe. As soon as merchant cities, states and empires enter the scene, periodic (Moses on the Sinai) or lifelong celibacy is imposed on many a priest or priestess. That was the case with the Persians and in Greece (Delphi), in Rome (Vestal maidens) and is sealed with physical castration with the eunuch priests of Artemis in Ephesus, of Cybele in Phrygia, of Astarte in Syria and of Demeter in Rome. Celibacy without concomitant castration is taken over by the Christians, initially on a free basis, compulsory from the Council of Elvira in 306 onward and for the clerics as a whole from Gregory the Great in 590 onward. The ban on marriage had to be renewed again and again, as through the Council of Trent (1545 1563) and it is under strong pressure again in our days. In China, the marriage of Buddhist and Taoist priests is explicitly forbidden. We find celibacy of the priests also with the Incas and the Aztecs.

It is apparent from this survey that celibacy or asceticism is not at all a Judaeo-Christian invention, but a world-encompassing phenomenon. Let us remind that not in all religions the priests are celibates. Many religions are propagated through married priests, whose office is often hereditary: in Egypt, with the Hindus (Brahmans); with the Jews, the Islam and with the Protestants.

The opposition between private and public interest resurges on the societal plane also on another terrain: when a specialised activity has to be performed cooperatively. A king cannot conquer, reign and tax his territory on his own, but has to resort to soldiers and civil servants. The kind does not intend to share the riches takes from his subordinates and his enemies with his partners. The contradiction is solved in that the king considers himself as the private owner of the booty and his partners as subordinates. They are rewarded for their services with a share that is lower than they would get with a fair distribution. The king can than leave his property to his children. To safeguard this solution, subordinates had often to remain unmarried. A ban on marriage reduces the private interest of the subordinates: the interests of marriage partners and children are eliminated. Such a ban on marriage, often sealed with castration, was imposed on the eunuch civil servants of the Persian Achaemenids (559-330 a.C.), through Romans and Byzantines, in China under the Tsjow, Han and Tang, in Muslim states from 750 onwards, especially with the Ottoman, as well as, finally in many West African states (see also the female armies of amazons). The Indian Emperor Ashoka (3rd century BC) and Western rulers form Charlemagne onwards used monks for their purposes. Where the ban on marriage was not imposed, private interests of the subordinates proved to be disintegrating forces, which precisely created the room for priests and monks.

The conquest and the administration of states is the oldest speciality that can only be carried out cooperatively, but by no means the only one. Also merchants, land owners, owners of manufactories and plants were faced with the same problem. Also with them, the dispossession of the co-operators were very drastic in the beginning: they set slaves at work that were not allowed to marry and to legally reproduce. New slaves could be obtained at no great cost through new conquests. Economic dispossession and exploitation is only possible through imposing complete sexual asceticism.

'Et croyez vous qu'on accepte la passivité désolante qui,
dans l'étreinte elle même, fait sentir le froid de la mort...
solitude des solitudes, divorce en pleine union! désespoir!...
quel célibat ne vaut mieux?
Trançons plutôt, comme Origène, et que le fer en finisse'
Michelet, 'L'amour', 1858, p. 521.

The initially unstoppable advent of both kind of ascetics is soon replaced with a dishonourable retreat. In the West, it is initiated with the Protestants, who, from Luther onwards, begin to contest priesthood and monkhood, and it is completed with the assaults of the Enlightment which culminate in the destruction of cloisters during the French Revolution. The very advent of society, which had been initially the motor of the triumph of asceticism, begins to undermine it from the advent of capitalism onward.

The deeper explanation is to be found in the increasing productivity, that is the motor and the consequence of the same socialisation. Already the development of agriculture made it possible that farmers could produce enough to maintain not only their lord, but also to marry and to reproduce themselves. As the possibility of conquering underdeveloped peoples is gradually reduced, there is a gradual shift to the employment of serfs. In a next stage, the serf is replaced with the 'free' labourer who sells his labour in exchange for a wage. The army of sterile poor and excluded, that formerly was put to use in cloisters, can now be set at work as wage owners in capitalistic enterprises. Whereas, in the cloisters, they were not allowed to reproduce, they now have to reproduce to renew the army of workers.

Especially from the development of industrial capitalism onwards, productivity increases steadily, so that the rate of exploitation can increase as well: even when the wages increase, the capitalist has to pay a decreasing amount of value to allow the workers to maintain themselves. Where the capitalists are able to do so, they condemn the wage owners to asceticism: the celibate existence of season workers, guest workers or the workers in the concentration camps of Hitler and Stalin. The wage owners resist their reduction to asceticism with increasing success. As a consequence of the increased productivity, their well-being can increase and thus their access to marriage. At the same time, the increasing consumption keeps the industrial machinery working. Thus, the feeding ground and the charm of full asceticism is gradually undermined. This explains the disappearance of cloisters and of celibate subordinates - just like that of the harems. This explains, conversely, also the advent of what is called the 'first sexual revolution', the spread of 'romantic love' and the increasing propagation of 'free' love: marriage concluded without regard to economic motives.

Less well understood is a now paradox: that the restoration of love is undermined through precisely the development of society that made it possible. The very marriage that increasing number of candidates are able to conclude, is bereaved of the sexual division of labour and thus reduced to a purely sexual and parental relation. As a consequence of the exchange of beauty for wealth, the worker has to increasingly concentrate on his labour, to the extent that he has to become something of an ascetic in order to be able to marry an as desirable partner as possible. As the cloisters are emptying and the families go multiplying, the shadow of asceticism spreads, not only above all the working places, but over the homes as well. The time that is spend in full asceticism on the working floor can be compared with cloister life, with the only difference that the monks are now allowed to retire after their working hours in a living room instead of in a cloister cell, and that they are allowed to consummate instead of fasting and praying. In as far as there is a sexual partner in that living room, one only sees him after a hard day of celibate work. Since there has been no cooperation with him, there is no real incentive for making love. And in as far one is able to make love after a hard day's work, it more than often comes down to the rape of women, who are unwilling because they only exchanged their beauty for a wage that is always to low in their eyes.

Sexual asceticism is increasingly reduced as society develops, but what replaces it is not precisely better: an increasing asceticism on sexual division of labour, this time imposed by an 'invisible hand'. Such asceticism corrodes love fundamentally. And that confronts people with all the kinds of sexual misery described in the previous chapters. As appears from the complaint of Michelet above, such misery cannot but stir the same feelings of contempt that formerly drove the monks into the desert. There are equally seized by a secret longing to be sexually released of sexuality. That explains why so many, who devote themselves so eagerly to sexual relations, see no obstacle in dedicating themselves entirely to the very social labour that makes their relations perverse and problematic. Many of them pretend to work so hard because they want to improve their relation: they hope it will be better living in their cells when more goods are heaped up in them - although they are never there, or never together, because in order to be able to consume, they have to work hard. Precisely the cause of the problem is chosen to solve the problem. The goblet with the poison appears to be the beaker with the healing drink.

People are increasingly hypnotised by the resexualised social relations and sexualised consumption, rather than driven by real love. Not only the males, who were obliged to work from way back, but increasingly also the females, whom their husband tried to release of social labour, throw themselves like lemmings in a self-destructive mass sprint in the mouth of the moloch. In as far as feminists sought to release themselves from sexual misery through becoming frigid or ascetic, they are the modern counterparts of the former cloister movements. Modern forms of celibacy pop up in the 19the century with the feminists, and figures like Sally Cline belongs to the most recent prophetesses of asceticism (also under the form of an ascetic marriage). The counterpart of the social needs in which the former nuns tried to provide, is the desire to fulfil a role in society, especially with those who seek to conquer a honourable position in society. There is no stopping, not only the poor, who have to work all the more hard as they also have to work for the rich, but also the rich, who already swallowed a substantial part of the potential wealth of the poor: from the ascetic capitalists of Dickens/Marx to the contemporary workaholics. They are driven not so much by the desexualising of social relations and consumption, but rather by the sexualisation of work. That explains why many of those who reach the top in capitalistic society no longer keep harems, concubines or whores, but impersonal goods like cars and yachts. It is as if the whole world is turned into one gigantic cloister, although it looks like a brothel and although the walls of the cloister that confine all those monks and nuns, go hidden after glamorous shop-windows, wherein no longer beautiful women, but goods are exhibited. Everything is in place, but there is nobody there to enjoy it.

The development of the desexualised society can only further the development of socialisation. The limits of what is considered to be necessary to survive are pushed ever further, to the extent that Marx' saying threatens to never become true: that the increasing productivity will lead to an increase in spare time. Above all, the escape of everybody in society reduces the cost of labour, not only in that the supply is increased accordingly, but foremost in that it costs more to pay a labourer who has to maintain a family, than two wage owners who only have to care for themselves and often forget that they also wanted to raise children.

The increasing success of marriage thus only threatens to run up, not only against an increasing unconscious frigidity and impotence, but also against a nearly concealed asceticism, that can only impede the completion of love. Not for nothing is the army of those who are looking for a transient partner increasing steadily: that is the dynamic of the hidden asceticism, that makes loom up the tidal wave of promiscuity behind the increasing enthusiasm for marriage.

Needless to point out that this fate falls upon mankind differentially: increasing portions of the world are doomed to collective unemployment. Charity organised on a mundial scale on occasion of catastrophes, cannot save them this time from whoredom and sex tourism, equally organised on a mundial scale. There is no longer room for theft, since the increase in scale only leaves the poor among the poor. The rich raise wired fences around them and thus create a kind of concentration camp turned inside out. But how fine the darns of the net may be woven, the inflow of cheap labour or products will never be stopped. In a modernised 'theft' on a mundial scale, the less fortuned bereave the inhabitants of the reversed ghetto of their wealth. We only can hope that the combination of the lowering of prices and the increase in productivity caused by the thus unleashed unbridled competition will eventually open the gates of marriage, this time for everybody, and we can only fear that the dynamic of the generalised asceticism will propel everybody along the paths of a generalised promiscuity.


We already described how social division of labour not only devours sexual division of labour, but the parental division of labour at that. The social division of labour first usurped education - from the kindergarten to the university - to finally get to the heart of parental relations: eugenetic and technologic reproduction. Only as this movement goes ahead, society can integrally annihilate the last remnants of sexual division of labour, and with it sexual love that supported it as well. In the above, we sketched the apocalyptic end of a history, wherein the increase in productivity seems to turn back the ascetic trend, and with the increasing accessibility of the parental and sexual relations also seems to throw the gates to love wide open, only to bewhistled back through a renewed perverse ascetic head wind, that is only stirred though society, that bereaves sexual love of its function.

That we had an eye only for the apocalyptic turn of this development, made us perhaps blind for a more utopian lecture. Perhaps it is only a grandiose misconception when we stare ourselves blind on a restoration of love that seems to be impossible. Perhaps, the flaring up of love is merely a transitory regression, worse still: a restoration, that, like every restoration, only seals its own fall. Perhaps, the socialisation of sexual relations must not be read as a decay of our human nature in an integral reification, but, on the contrary, as the real advent of humanity, that can only be realised through an eradication of every bestial inheritance. Perhaps, the advent of completed promiscuity, that looms up from behind the restoration of merely sexual and fertile 'marriages', is only a last convulsion of the animal that is dying in us. Perhaps sexuality itself, of which we supposed it was developed to sustain sexual division of labour between man and women, is, in the perspective of a complete socialisation of man, merely an atavism, like the tailbone, with the only difference that it would be a pleasurable atavism, were it not that it is responsible for unnecessary complications, as is apparent from the advancing promiscuity, that looms up behind what seems to be a restoration of free love. Perhaps, another technical product of socialisation, genetic manipulation, could release us finally from that hampering tailbone, that, as an inheritance of our beastly ancestors, hinders us from sitting? Perhaps, the secret aversion for love, that goes hidden after the promiscuous tidal wave, is only an all too justified aversion for our beastly inheritance, for the evolutionary ballast that hinders us from ascending to heaven? Perhaps our sexual love was only the rope ladder that allowed us to lift ourselves up from our beastly nature and that we must drop after our ascent in a really human heaven? And let us speak it out plainly: perhaps, the perverse trend, that we anchored in the past, is only the amisunderstood transcendental élan, that freed us in a first phase from reproduction and sexual division of labour and that now triumphantly has to be completed in a second phase of completed asceticism, a complete shrugging off of all our evolutionary veils in a transcendental dance of Salome, that this time unveils our human soul?

Salome to Christ:
'Until when will death reign?'
Christ to Salome:
'As long as you women continue to bear children.
Clemens Alexandrinus .

The answer to these questions can only be found through completing the logic of socialisation, rather than through comparing the by now only embryonic society with a primeval inheritance. Let us suppose that we isolate superior genes from all the earth dwellers, and have them develop in proof tubes and artificial placentas. Let us suppose further that we let the children thus obtained develop to supermen in schools manned by superior teachers, or better still, in a high technology computer park, and that they are preserved from any sexual stain, not through outdated castration, but through advanced genetic manipulation. The aim for which they are raised is: to contribute to the development of other selected genes to superior human beings in the central temple of society coming to its completion. Let us, finally suppose that they therefore design computerised robots, because they perform everything better and more efficiently than the specialised human termites, that otherwise should have been selected for that purpose. That would spares us not only the development of difficult to select human races, which only would strengthen our anchoring in nature, but also the unnecessary complication with the cultivation of the super race: all the organs that have been develop during evolution with trial and error, hindered in its creativity because it could only change what was already there, could now gradually be replaced with superior creations of the human mind. And all the genetic programs, that steer the development of these organs in our body, could be obliterated, just like before the programs for love: the organs for digestion, for movement, eventually also the sensory organs with their faulty appendage the brain, in short, the entire bodily vehicle around the kernel of the genes, could gradually be dismantled through removing the corollary programs in the genes. Through such dismantling, we could step by step make undone the result of myriads of years of evolutionary tinkering. And what finally would survive in the temple of society would be the essence of our being: floating in a biotechnological primeval soup, Dawkin's selfish genes, released from every surviving machine that evolution had to build around it. Or to phrase it in a more metaphysical vein: the germen as essentia, freed from every somatic accidens.

The ascetic trend, that first emerged timidly as the rejection of sexual cooperation, then somewhat more confident as resigning from education and reproduction, unabashed as integral rejection of lovemaking, finally unfolds itself as the faustian endeavour to reverse evolution itself up to the emergence of life in the primeval soup. What presented itself as a transcendal move above nature, turns out to be the absolute perversion: a reversal not only of the evolutionary trend that led to the ascent of men - the evolution of the complex human love - but of evolution as such. The perverse move is even more perverse that we could ever suspect. It is the lugubrious prefigure of the delusion of delusions: the demonic strive not only to human asceticism, but also to mundial involution, yes, even cosmic implosion. The cosmos that swallows itself!; that is not so much the big castrator, as rather the absolute Kronos!

And such demonic urge is already as old as completed asceticism. This delusion of delusions veils itself as an endeavour to escape from all delusion. Already Buddha praised asceticism as a means to enter the realm of nothingness through the annihilation of the individual self. Hindu asceticism aims at stopping the chain of reincarnations (karma). The Essenes resigned from reproduction in expectance of the apocalypse. With Augustine, the End of Times can only occur when the prescribed number of saints is attained - and reproduction has only to be continued in view of the creation of possible saints. Only then can mankind die out and make room for the Civitas Dei. Manicheans and Cathars preached resigning from the sinful world through resigning from procreation. Such early Christian delusion shimmers through in Hegel's concept of the self-unfolding of the Geist, that poses matter only to sublate it in the standstill of its own self-contemplation. Already before him, Kant was talking over the 'moral elevation' of mankind. And what was the secret sense thereof has been thought through in all its consequences by Schopenhauer: the mortificatio of the World Will realised through the morticiatio Martis! Schopenhauers pessimism casts long shadows. Hartmann thinks that 'love cause more pain than pleasure and that pleasure is merely an illusion. Reason should therefore command to avoid love, were it not for the sexual drive. The best solution would be to have oneself castrated'. With Schopenhauer's disciple Wagner, the vision of the dawn of the world gets its artistic expression in the coming of Parsifal, the pure fool, that has to free Kundry from the ban of eternal whoredom: when he resists her, Klingsor's mirror palace falls to crumbles. Referring to Kant's 'moral elevation' and proceeding further thanSchopenhauer and Wagner whose Parsifal he praises as the 'deepest work form world literature', Weininger holds that redemption cannot be realised by a man, because woman cannot stop from reducing him to his member: 'A man has to tray to move woman to resign from her immoral intentions. Woman must foreswear intercourse from within and honestly from her own. That means: woman as such has to disappear, and the Realm of God on Earth is impossible as long as this is not achieved''.

Weininger also scorns those who seem to find it a horrible idea that mankind could ever die out: 'They cannot imagine the earth without all those teeming people, and get scared , not so much of death, but rather of loneliness'. In Weiningers rage against the fearful mortal, the last protest can be heard of the transcenders old style. They did not yet realise that the sinful society created itself the conditions for a renewed realisation of the sexual desires and thus comes to undermine every appeal of the dreams of transcendence. Life on earth comes to seem to be worth while nevertheless. But it was, of all people, Nietzsche, the man who proclaimed the death of god and waged a private war with his last shadows, who conferred a Faustian task to the 'Übermensch': to transcend himself as a super-human. Otherwise than he dreamt, the secular version of the transcendental dream is realised in a runaway socialisation that has necessarily to end up in a mundial involution.

Misled as they are through the veil, that meanwhile has been draped over love, there are many who do not succeed in formulating the new aims. We already described how figures like Marx and Freud did not succeed in drawing a blueprint of the new Civitas Humana. How much more severe must then be our judgment on those whose perspective is even more narrow: from the countless critics of a runaway capitalism that befouls its own nest, to psychoanalysts like Kristeva, who describes the decay of various amorous codes (courtly love, libertinage, romantic love, pornography) and consequently pleads for an asceticism of all these concrete forms of love on the couch.


From human transcendence to mundial involution, all these visions of the fall of man paradoxically testify to one and the same message: that it is not good living in our world, and that we are underway to somewhere. And that message turns out to be a joyful message, when we realise that, as a consequence, the goal of our being underway must be inscribed in it in a secret language. It suffices to implement the trick of the reversal, like Marx did with Hegel, and to read the way there as a way back. When we read the speech of Diotima in Plato's Symposion, the archetype of the transcendental visions, backward, it appears that the longing for eternal life is an offspring of the desire for fleshly reproduction in the child, that can only be realised through coition. And that same wisdom is unveiled to us in the temple of completed society that we constructed above: the essence of man, that which opposes every socialisation, and that wherefore not only man and woman, but society itself have been invented, is the 'germen', fruit and unification in one. Reproduction and love, summarised in the coitus, are the fiery swords of the angel, who forbids us the entrance in transcendent and involutionary paradises. Truly, in the coitus, this menetekel of human being, is inscribed the secret, that man and woman therefore not only have to unite, but that they have also have to cooperate and love each other, although a freed society could spare them the sweat on their faces.

And a true coming of age of humankind can only be realised against the perverse trend and its transcendent and involutionary offspring: in having man descend on earth, where he can become a link in the chain of all the other mortal beings. Only Darwin's 'Descent of Man' can make us revive as descendant and forebear. Not transcendence, not involution, but immanence is the message; not spiritualization, not reification, but 'animalisation' in the sense of becoming a man. Beauty, on which love ignites, is not so much a bait on the hook of some hidden transcendent fishing rod, like with Diotima, nor a Schopenhauerian ruse of nature to have us perform something against our will. Rather the opposite: the pleasure on orgasm and the beauty of the bodies of women and children is the final goal, to which all the rest is merely a means.


We could have spared us all these rhetoric trouble to come to the conclusion that asceticism is no way out: the history of asceticism is at the same time the history of its failure.

From our historic survey, it is apparent that the early open asceticism has been gradually undermined through the unstoppable will to get involved in sexual relations and to reproduce. The metamorphosis from slave, over serf, to wage owner, is the first world historical testimony against asceticism.

And also the ascetics themselves only testify against their own cause. Wherever they appear, they have been plagued by the sexual devil: from the orgies of the Buddhists, to the well known temptations of Saint Anthony. That is already apparent from the Christian asceticism. As the apocalyptic end of times remained forthcoming, asceticism that burdened the shoulders of everybody was reduced to ascetics, priests and monks, and could not be realised by these either. Initially, figures like Ephiphanius and Sextus recommended castration as the only efficient means, and figures like Leontius of Antioch and Origines suited the action to the word. The synod of Elvira imposed celibacy on priests in Spain in 306, and it gradually spread to other countries. Already in 590, Gregory had to renew generalised celibacy. Towards the 8th century, celibacy had withered away again, and, against fierce opposition, it was implemented again in the 13th century. Well known are the practices in double cloisters (as harems, brothels of commune). Let us also refer to the breakthrough of sexual hysteria as in the famous cloister of Loudun. Just like formerly the Islam and the Jews, who never were seduced by the Roman celibate adventure, the Protestants rejected celibacy through the demonstrative marriages of Zwingli, Luther and Calvin. The Talmudic and Medieval Jewish asceticism was reversed in the eroticism of Sabatai Zevi and his countless followers (see Chapter XI on the orgy). Also the orthodox variant knew its problems. Celibacy for priests was never imposed, but in the 9th century, double cloisters had to be dismantled. It suffices to refer to the way in which the Chlysti developed from an ascetic into an orgiastic sect, that harboured Raspoutin himself, the very paradigm of promiscuity. From his mouth came the words: 'As long as you harbour sin secretly within yourself, and cover it anxiously through fasting, prayer and disputes over the Scriptures, so long are you a hypocrite and do you remain a good-for-nothing'. The Council of Trente (1545 1563) had to renew the strong legislation, and in our days, celibacy appears to be an insurmountable obstacle. Thus, the history of Christian celibacy is a testimony more, at least against the possibility of a generalisation of asceticism.

Also the resexualisation of social relations themselves - culminating in the communistic dream of society as one gigantic community of goods and women - finally pleads, as a third world historical testimony, against the possibility of an all-encompassing socialisation and rationalisation of human relations.


That does not prevent that a complete or partial asceticism has served its purpose and can continue to do so, on the sole condition that not everybody is devoting itself to its cause. Not everybody is equal, and the propensity to love is apparently very variable. It seems that there is a whole array of people, with on the one extreme those who are destined to live together as fathers and mothers, and the other extreme those who are more apt to devote themselves to social tasks in complete celibacy - think of Newton and Elisabeth I. The ascetic fervour can only benefit all those that cannot meet such standards. Asceticism is only meaningful in as far as the ascetics make themselves serviceable to those who continue to mate and to reproduce. Such life affirming asceticism opens the perspective of a far more modest, but all the more laudable goal than a complete ban on human reproduction: the fraining of the population explosion. That the contemporary increase in productivity is accompanied with such explosion makes the beneficial effects of the former undone, and also obfuscates the real nature of the phenomenon: realisation of the room necessary for completed love.

In as far as asceticism is a rejection of all the forms of love that we analysed in the previous chapters, it is also the only - although silent - witness of the well-founded suspicion that there is something wrong with real existing love. Paradoxically, asceticism thus turns out to be a form of faithfulness to love in a world that only knows to mutilate it! And that is perhaps another lesson that we can learn from the history of asceticism: in view of the countless benefits that cloisters have provided to humankind and to their inhabitants, who, within their confines, could often save themselves from sexual and social debasement, we can only regret that nowadays practically everybody seems to know no other life goal than family life. And - without therefore sharing her resentment - we can only agree with Sally Cline when she writes that (sexual) liberation seems not to comprise the possibility of being sexually inactive altogether.

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