Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Last Orgasm of Your Life

Every time I enter Starbucks (or one of its alternatives) I think of Vienna at the turn of last century. Vienna functioned as the focus point of a cataclysm of cultural and political events that have changed our lives and thinking forever during one of the most exciting times in the history of mankind.

In the years leading up to the glorious time of "coffee house culture" a rapid succession of technological inventions (such as cars, telephones as well as wireless transmission) started creating the "modern life" we know today.

Science made crucial breakthroughs during that time, rapidly shifting away from the "well-behaved" Newtonian physics toward the counter-intuitive descriptions of Quantum physics and Relativity. The world seemed to get turned upside down.

The fine arts discovered whole new worlds as well. Paintings moved away from photographic depictions of the outer world toward increasingly abstract expressions of the inner world of artists. Classic music likewise explored new realms and its absolute limits by becoming "atonal". Things that were literally unheard of.

And unsurprisingly, philosophers and cultural theorists of all color tried to cope with this barrage of new developments (partly because they sensed that amidst this time of general upheaval some dark political ideas were brooding to dominate coming decades). Many of our modern day philosophers can be tied back to the Vienna Circle one way or another.

The results was a vibrant intellectual life centered around the famous coffee houses were all the central European writers, painters, politicians, scientists, philosophers of the time gathered to discuss their ideas while enjoying a cup of Joe.

This tradition died as quickly as it came about. Many intellectuals soon had to flee continental Europe to escape the terrors of fascism or communism and got dispersed all over the world. There will always be cities with the appeal of Paris. Tokyo, London or New York where intellectuals can accumulate to a critical mass. Yet, this is the era of the "trend". Once a place is hip, it is on its way down. And coffee shops have turned from vibrant argorae into archipelagos of isolated people staring into their MacBooks. There will never be a turn-of-the-century Vienna again.

But there are some places which keep up the tradition of public discourse over a cup of tea or a glass of beer. And if done right, these occasions can be very enjoyable.

Some years ago I regularly hung out at a bar that hosted a bi-weekly panel discussion between two (academic) philosophers. It always started out as an interactive interview, followed by an open discussion with the (increasingly drunk) audience. There was a DJ who spun some loungy acid jazz during the breaks, and all the grad school chicks dressed "sexy librarian" style (who made up the vast majority of the audience) would try hard to dance off their intellect-inspired sexual arousal after the event.

One night the topic was "The meaning of Life".

The speaker had just published an epitome on the topic. The book seemed twice the size of the bible. The organizers refrained form stacking more than one exemplar on the table in front of the speakers since it would have obstructed the view.

The interviewer began his spiel about the author's background and accomplishments, went on joking about the size of the book and eventually passed on the mic with the expected:
"... so what is the meaning of life?"


"Have you guys seen the movie by Monty Python?" the philosopher replied.

General nodding.

"Well, frankly, I have nothing to add to that." he continued. Then he stood up and walked out. He didn't return.

The dancing started earlier that night and the girls seemed less turned on than usual.

Maybe he was right. Maybe the movie captures it all indeed.
Maybe there is no meaning to life. Maybe there is no purpose to it either.
But for sure there is a reason.

And sex has a lot to do with it.

After all, we all are here because all living organisms leading up to tried hard to have sex, and were successful at it. From a biologists point of view, life is nothing but a long series of gametes passing from one generation to the next (with slight modification). Each individual, each organism, you and me - we all (are designed to) serve one purpose: to keep the whole thing going by passing on our gametes to the next generation.

Accordingly, Biologists see us as nothing but "disposable somas", "vehicles" for our genes to extend their existence throughout space-time.

And nothing exemplifies this fact more than the fact that men often ejaculate shortly before they die.

It's almost like your genes, trapped deep inside your body desperately try to find a final way out now that your prospects for regular sexual reproduction rapidly approach zero.

It's as if the genes - ultimately steering your behavior in the direction of reproduction - cannot allow you to even miss out on the ridiculously small chance that a female will pick up your last semen and impregnate herself with it (and no, I do not believe that this is due to previous revolutionary pressures).

The effect is so strong that strangling had even been used as a treatment as a treatment for erectile dysfunction and impotence.

Near death ejaculation was well known in Medieval Ages (people attributed all kinds of things to the semen of publicly executed men), and nicely captured in Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot:
Estragon: What about hanging ourselves?
Vladimir: Hmm. It'd give us an erection.
Estragon: (highly excited). An erection!
Vladimir: With all that follows. Where it falls mandrakes grow. That's why they shriek when you pull them up. Did you not know that?
Next time someone tells you that "life is not just about sex", keep in mind that even death is (in a sense).


  1. One of the best books ever written about the the period of high European culture from 1890 to the start of WWI was "The World of Yesterday" by Stefan Zweig. Of course, Zweig and his wife ended up fleeing the Nazis to Brazil and perhaps even had his own little petit-petit-mort with his own beloved in his arms...

  2. A salient response to the oft stated female question: "Is sex all you care about?" I always answer with a resounding "Damn Straight."

  3. i'd follow that up with knowing that men who have younger wives live longer. in a biological sense...a man's life is about f'ing.

  4. If you need your ex-girlfriend or ex-boyfriend to come crawling back to you on their knees (no matter why you broke up) you gotta watch this video
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    (VIDEO) Text Your Ex Back?


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