We create culture. You and I and our parents and our ancestors. We are all a part of it. Nobody is exempt from this great communal task. Culture is like a giant homunculus, given life through the lives we live. Rearing its giant head, it looks at us with vacant eyes. How should I feel? What’s right and wrong? In the past the answers were easier. Where and when you were born was the determining factor, and your morality was decided for you. Victorian England? Sex is bad, listen to your father. Norse? Welcome guests to your hearth, die a hero and live forever in Valhalla.
We didn’t get to decide what we believe until recently.
We have watched the world shrink. The time it took to travel shortened and we all got cozy. People fled wars, or just sought warmers climes. We traded places. Instead of absolutes, the options became broader. This is what we believe, but these are your neighbors and you should respect their beliefs too. And so we asked our neighbors what they believed and we discovered they knew some pretty cool shit. They taught us how to meditate, how to do yoga. They reminded us that prayer is not just an empty ritual. And most importantly, we discovered the parallels between all ideologies. At the end of the day all the myths and the ceremonies sound kind of similar. What a wonderful and unique moment in history when the overarching belief system isn’t to fear the gods of your strange neighbors, but to value them, experience empathy, and seek out the connections rather than differences.
Our brains have gone quantum. Instead of one belief system with a basic message driven and enforced by its limited local culture, we are now managing a multitude of ideologies, from civilizations all over the world, overlaying each other, cross referencing and merging. If, as citizens of global culture, we are expected to respect our neighbor’s beliefs, then it’s natural we become critical of the beliefs we were raised with. Morality isn’t black and white anymore. Instead of being told what’s right and wrong, we get to decide for ourselves. We can create our own moral structures based on our personal experiences in the world.
I don’t mean to break out into religious commentary and get all serious, but it’s difficult to talk about the lineage of our sex culture without talking about religion. When it comes to our sexuality there’s always been some sort of belief system wrapped up in it, whether we’re shamefully trying to hide our lustful inclinations from a wrathful god, or celebrating the cosmic force of creation by ritually re-enacting the birth of the universe. Godless sex is a very modern phenomenon. Or a very ancient one.
With this intricate, personalized, and nuanced relationship to our belief systems, we get to approach our morality critically. We also get to question how we want to approach our own relationships. We are searching for answers to our culture’s broken relationship to sexuality though our individual experiences. If our desires don’t fall within the constraints of traditional relationships, we can explore outside those structures and find out what works for us. Will we be happier? Perhaps. Some people might get exhausted with all the complexity and yearn for simpler times, when a man could get down on one knee and expect his woman to be faithful to him for life. But for some, it’s liberating. The world of relationships is opening up to create options that were never possible before. As human culture develops, and the great homunculus strides onward, perhaps we’re taking one step closer to understanding why society’s relationship to sexuality has been so challenging, and find some lasting solutions.
We create culture. Every single one of us. I pull the great homunculus this way, influencing it with my thoughts, and then you wrench it back. Thoughtforms that become popular in the greater community feel like truth to those who experience them, but it’s all part of this dance. The great beast reels and takes another step. We’re all here, either cheering it on or begging it to stop. Seven billion shepherds with one sheep.