Kali’s Child

Also relevant here is the manner in which my dialectical category of “the erotic” has been misread by some as flatly monodimensional, as if it meant simply “sex,” when in fact the erotic only begins with physical sexuality and moves out (really “up”) from there into the sublime, “sublimated” realms of symbolic vision, mystical experience, mythology and theology. I could, no doubt, address such a misunderstanding in the same way that Freud answered his own critics. In an effort to show that his own concept of “libido” was not the “outrageous innovation” that people supposed it to be, the analyst called attention to how sexuality lay in an unbroken continuum with the “higher aims” of “love for parents and children, friendship and love for humanity in general, and also devotion to concrete objects and to abstract ideas.” “All these tendencies,” Freud writes, “are an expresson of the same instinctual impulses.”13 Then, as if to move even higher “up” along the continuum, Freud invokes–appropriately, I would argue–the erotic mysticism of Plato and the love theology of Paul: “In its origin, function, and relation to sexual love,” he wrote, “the ‘Eros’ of the philosopher Plato coincides exactly with the love-force, the libido of psycho-analysis . . . and when the apostle Paul, in his famous epistle to the Corinthians, praises love above all else, he certainly understands it in the same ‘wider’ sense.”14

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