February 23, 2012

God and Desire: Closed and Open Desires

Culture, Faith, Philosophy 1 Comment

God and desire

I’d like to submit a syllogism. First, God is living and creative. Second, to be holy is to be like God. Therefore, to be holy is to be living and creative. In the words of Leo Tolstoy, the lesson so many have learned from religion is that to be holy is to “deprive ourselves of food and sleep, let our bodies rot on an iron pillar, bend and unbend our bodies in endless genuflections, and do nothing for our fellow-creatures, which is but a type of slow suicide.”

But this simply cannot be true. If we are to be like God, then we must be expressing the creative energy which is God’s first act and the very first line of the Bible. The primal act of God is Creation. If we are to strive to be an image of God, then we must be creative. And through that creative act we, like God, demonstrate our commitment to life. So the best desires are those that drive us towards creativity and life.

That can be awfully vague, though. To help think about desires, I split desires into two camps: closed desires and open desires. These are ideas that I take from a mathematical field called topology, and which I was pleasantly surprised to find echoed (the same words!) in Saving Desire. A closed desire is determined and limited in its expression: only one limited category of thing being engaged in one limited way is capable of satisfying the desire.

An open desire is undetermined or unlimited in its expression: it either is an ambiguous desire or a desire for something that can be satisfied in multiple ways. Coveting thy neighbor’s wife and drug addictions are closed desires. The desire to express yourself artistically or to improve your health are open desires. Given this distinction, we can say that it is the open desires that move towards creativity and life, so our goal should be to have as many open desires as possible.

To encourage open desires, we can leverage some of our closed desires. Some closed desires — and here I am thinking about drug addiction — are simply too damaging to give any foothold on our mind. Some closed desires, however, can be employed to provide energy and motivation, and through self-reflection and habit, they can grow to be open desires. Consider, for instance, the case of desiring to be with someone who is unavailable. Instead of subjecting yourself to the world of the frustrated closed desire, consider those qualities that you find so appealing, and then focus your attention on seeing those qualities in other people who are more available.

Refine your vision and your thoughts to recognize and highlight that beauty in the other people you meet. Consciously focus on that beauty. Seek it. Want it. Crave it. Through this practice, you channel the energy from the frustrating closed desire into enhancing your appreciation of the beauty of the world. At first brush, this may seem like denial or dislocation, but that is simply the closed desire rationalizing away a threat to it. Don’t make the mistake of dismissing it out of hand: in practice, it is a way to retain the energy, drive, and excitement without the attachment and frustration of the closed desires. I know this first-hand.

The other mistake that people make in the “closed” versus “open” distinction is that they unconsciously map all their old ideas of “sin” into “closed”, and all their old ideas of “holy” into “open”. This error keeps them trapped in the very same set of bad expectations they came in with. Open desires do not have to be the kind of abstract, high-minded ideals that came from the pulpit of cathedral-crypts. Open desires, in fact, cannot be those things, because open desires are first and foremost desires.

If you do not desire it, it cannot be an open desire because it is not a desire at all! The “open” versus “closed” part is the means of approach to that libidinous energy — but this all presumes you have libido to begin with! Once you have that energy focused onto a single target, the challenge comes to find the desire’s true root… or at least to dig for it. That is what the “open” versus “closed” distinction does for you: it prevents you from mistaking the single instantiation of a desire for the desire itself.

Ironically, the satisfaction of the closed desire’s object is actually more enjoyable when approached through open desires. Sex is the best case in point: if the sexual act itself is the desire, then permission to accomplish the act or perhaps the lead-in to the act become the actual climax of the desire. Everything after the point where sex is “acquired” — that is, the sexual act itself — is an unnecessary afterthought and fundamentally empty. Instead, it is on to the chase again, seeking one more fleeting moment of satisfaction for that closed desire. If sex, however, is but an expression of an open desire, then the open desire provides a context and a meaning for that act. It provides depth. Sex becomes a symbol, expressing something greater than itself through the satisfaction of the moment.

The self-refinement towards pure, creative, living desire is the self-refinement towards a godly life. It is the drive towards holiness. And that is the true tragedy of any so-called theology that hates desire: it cuts off precisely the means by which we ascend.

Photo via Jenah Crump.

Robert

Robert Fischer is our in-house theologian and spiritual scholar. Behold the sacred and the profane -- he’ll shy away from nothing. Well-versed in mathematics, computer science and religion, this man is a bona fide intellectual whose musings on sex and culture are delicate as they are incisive. How could we resist? How could you?

More Posts - Website - Twitter

  • http://twitter.com/escortmancheste Jessica Smith

    Good manners are always praised, no matter where you are applying
    it. Whether it is in school, colleges, offices, social places or even in any
    service industry, good manners always counts. This article is a perfect
    readable piece for all those who are looking for escorts and planning to make a
    serious call in nearby future.

Facebook

Add our page on Google+!

Keep up with everything we're covering right in your stream. Please note this page is limited to users 18+.

Featured

Gamers Won’t Be Seduced, Will Stare At Random Cleav Instead

That Steam allows the objectification and sexualization of female characters in a variety of its games but refuses to accept a game about actually engaging with women in a more interactive fashion is astonishingly backward.

FetLife Is Not Safe for Users

That the site doesn’t take measures to protect user content and has shown incompetence or negligence in regard to user privacy, all the while prohibiting victims from warning others about predatory behavior creates an environment where it is nearly impossible for members of the community to take care of themselves and one another. By enabling FetLife to continue espousing a code of silence, allowing the spinning self-created security issues as “attacks,” and not pointing out how disingenuous FetLife statements about safety are, we are allowing our community to become a breeding ground for exploitation.

Why You Should Vote No On Prop 35

Should people who benefit (parents, siblings, children, roommates!) from the earnings of “commercial sex acts” (any sexual conduct connected to the giving or receiving of something of value) be charged with human trafficking? Should someone who creates obscene material that is deemed “deviant” be charged as with human trafficking? Should someone who profits from obscene materials be charged with human trafficking? Should people transporting obscene materials be charged with human trafficking? Should a person who engages in sex with someone claiming to be above the age of consent or furnishing a fake ID to this effect be charged with human trafficking? What if I told you the sentences for that kind of conviction were eight, 14 or 20 years in prison, a fine not to exceed $500,000, and life as a registered sex offender?

Pretty and Calls Herself a Geek? Attention Whore!

If you are a woman, you might be given a chance to prove yourself in this community. Since there is no standard definition of what a “geek” is and it will vary from one judge to the next anyway, chances of failing are high (cake and grief counseling will be available after the conclusion of the test!). If you somehow manage to succeed, you’ll be tested again and again by anyone who encounters you until you manage to establish yourself like, say, Felicia Day. But even then, you’ll be questioned. As a woman, your whole existence within the geek community will be nothing but a series of tests — if you’re lucky. If you aren’t lucky, you’ll be harassed and threatened and those within the culture will tacitly agree that you deserve it.

Cuddle Chemical? Moral Molecule? Not So Fast

Zak’s original field, it turns out, is economics, a far cry from the hearts and teddy bears we imagine when we consider his nickname. But after performing experiments on generosity, Zak stumbled on the importance of trust in interactions, which led him, rather inevitably, to research about oxytocin. Oxytocin, you might remember, is a hormone that has been linked previously to bonding — between mothers and children primarily, but also between partners. What Zak has done is take the research a step further, arguing in his recent book, The Moral Molecule, that oxytocin plays a role in determining whether we are good or evil.

How to Avoid Pissing off a Stripper

Let’s talk about the strippers. Whether they like to be half-naked or not, whether they enjoy turning you on or not, there’s one thing they all have in common: they’re working. Whether you think that taking one’s clothes off for money is a great choice of career is really beside the point (is it a possibility for you to make $500 per hour at your job without a law degree? Just asking). These women are providing fantasy, yes, but that is their job. And as a patron of the establishment where they work, you need to treat them like you would anyone else who provides a service to you.

Masthead

Send us news!

Editrix-in-Command:
AV Flox

In-House Theologian:
Robert Fischer

Eros and Desire Scholar:
Dawn Kaczmar

Scientific Consultant:
Jason Goldman

East Coast Liaison:
Jackie Summers

Arch-Nemesis:
Barbie Davenporte

Read about the contributors we've had over time on our staff page.

Follow SAT405 on:
Twitter
Facebook

RSS

Hosted by (mt)

About

Sex and the 405 is what your newspaper would look like if it had a sex section.

Here you’ll find news about the latest research being conducted to figure out what drives desire, passion, and other sex habits; reviews of sex toys, porn and other sexy things; coverage of the latest sex-related news that have our mainstream media's panties up in a bunch; human interest pieces about sex and desire; interviews with people who love sex, or hate sex, or work in sex, or work to enable you to have better sex; opinion pieces that relate to sex and society; and the sex-related side of celebrity gossip. More...