Eros and Thanatos: Examples Of the Human Preference of Death and Violence To Sex
Below are some examples contrasting how people commonly view a sexual thing with how they view something involving death and violence.
1. Sacrifice –
a) Reaction if a person sacrifices their life, even if their sacrifice is horrifically brutal and gory – Oh that’s sad. What a brave person. The person who has made the sacrifice will be regarded as a hero.
b) Reaction if a person sacrifices themselves sexually, for example in Guy de Maupassant’s famous story ‘Boule de Suif’ – Nervous coughs, avoid subject entirely. The person who made the sacrifice will be stigmatized.
2. Reaction to fictional depiction of an act –
a)Reaction if someone is killed in a movie –If they are villain, expendable nameless henchmen of a villain or nameless enemy soldier – Cool!If they are a hero, heroine, protagonist – How sad.
b) Reaction if two people are simulating sex in a movie – Slightly, embarrassed uncomfortable feeling; thoughts of, “Is it really necessary to make it this long/graphic/ noisy?”.
3. Reaction to act of evil by fictional monster –
a) Reaction if a monster eats people alive – Cool!
b) Reaction if a monster were to have sexual intercourse with people – What? Hilarity. Disbelief. Disgust. Derision.
4. Reaction to animal behaviour -
a)Reaction to a wild animal killing another animal – Oh well. What can you do. It’s natural. Circle of life.
b) Reaction to seeing two animals mating– Amusement or embarrassment.
5. The Body –
a) Reaction to a scar, injury, disfigurement – Sympathy. Encouragement not to feel ashamed. Not to hide it.
b) Reaction to the full frontal nudity of a perfectly healthy body –Hilarity. Embarrassment. Disgust.
6. Fluids –
a) Reaction to blood real or fake – Poetic. Mystical (Example of bloody wounds of Christ) Gory, ghoulish but not repulsive (Halloween/horror fake blood).
b)Reaction to sexual fluids real or fake – Yuk. Filthy. Disgusting.
7. Language –
a)Reaction to violent gory language – No reaction at all (For example figures of speech, “I’ll murder them, I’ll skin them alive…”) People generally don’t care if someone talks about violent acts, killing, etcetera.
b) Reaction to sexual language – (depending upon the person) Hilarity or disapproval.
8. Crime in fiction –
a) Reaction to a fictional murder – Complete detachment. No sympathy towards the victim. Either, in the case of Agatha Christie murder story or a more gritty detective story. Someone is killed, often in a truly horrific way and people don’t really even think about it.
b)Reaction to a fictional sexual crime – Complete involvement. Sympathy towards the victim. It’s a delicate subject.
9. In Public –
a) Reaction to violence in public – Excitement. Tolerance. It’s just two people fighting. At worst, a public disturbance.
b) Reaction to sex in public – Oh my god. Perverts! It’s indecent exposure.
10. As entertainment -
a) Reaction to a boxing match – Excitement or no reaction because it’s perfectly normal to watch two people beating each other up.
b) Reaction to a live sex show (or even a female stripper,nude dancer) –Sleazy and perverted. Imagine wanting to watch two people having sex?
11. Illness –
a )Reaction to talking about Non – sexual disease that kills people – No reaction. Perhaps sympathy to those who die of disease . But it can be talked about at any time without causing embarrassment.
b) Reaction to talking about Sexually Transmitted Disease – Okay in the context of a sex education class (teaching young people to fear sex by showing them pictures of horrible diseases) or in a conversation with your GP. Otherwise, don’t mention it. (AIDS being the exception because it just became too big a problem too ignore; also AIDS awareness was linked to the campaign against homophobia ).
12. As a Taboo subject –
a) Is Death a taboo subject?: People say that’s its taboo so often that it’s become a cliché that Death is a taboo subject. It really isn’t that taboo. No one is really going to mind terribly if you talk about someone dying (unless its to a grieving person).
b) Is sex a taboo subject?: Sex is so Taboo that people rarely mention what a taboo subject it is. It may perhaps be less taboo than it once was but it’s still much more of a taboo subject than death. You can, for example, say to someone “My Aunt Flora just died”. You can’t say to someone, “My Aunt Flora just had sex”.
So? So what? What’s wrong with that?
Because it seems upside down. It’s illogical that we find the more unpleasant and destructive thing more pleasant and acceptable. Just as a sadist or a masochist is illogical in preferring cruelty or pain to gentleness or pleasure.
Sex =The procreative act. Pleasure. Life and, optionally, romantic love. Death and violence = Pain. End of life. Physical damage and the causing of disability. Also, violence is usually hateful.
But just like the exterminators in John Boorman’s film ‘Zardoz’, most believe, “The Gun is good! The Penis evil!”.
Why do people hate Eros and love Thanatos (The greek god of death/ Sigmund Freud’s name for human attraction to death) ? Could it be a reason why the human species is so violent and destructive and capable of such horrible acts of cruelty and barbarity instead of choosing to do what hippies advocated and ‘Make love, not war’.