Between Memory and Desire

Some profound meditations about sex, time, life, the universe and everything from Paul Griffiths’s Song of Songs (Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible) :

The first six verses of the Song “point the hearer first to what everyone knows about [human love and sexual desire], which is that the memory of lovemaking and the imagination of its repetition are at least as important for us as its performance. We are constituted as beings in time and as beings who are capable of being aware of ourselves as such. This is what makes memory and anticipation important for us, and it is remarkable that in the Song lovemaking is depicted almost entirely through their lens and not in terms of how the kiss and the caress seem as they are being given and taken. Hearing the Song as a depiction of human desire can intensify an awareness of this interesting fact about ourselves as lovers and beloveds. It reminds us of what we want when we want to be loved and to give love is not fully available to us in the performance of those acts. The intensity and complexity of human romantic and sexual need cannot find its fulfillment in the circumincession of two . . . human bodies and minds. If that circumincession were limited to its performance it would not be human lovemaking. In order to be that it needs to be placed in the order of time as an object of memory and anticipation and in the order of narrative as an event about which the right story can be told. Even when attention is restricted to the Song’s surface, therefore, the horizon it points to is open. The human desire to love and be loved, to caress and be caressed, exceeds its own fulfillment and indicates its own insufficiency. It begs for a story and for the memories and hopes that enframe stories. Every act of human physical love is therefore already and inevitable figural. The only question is: what does it figure?”

Among other things, Griffiths highlights how inhuman casual sex is. Sex that has no background story, sex that has no anticipation of future union or encounter, sex that seeks its fulfillment in the sheer performance of the act, sex that is isolated from a story that is a collection of memories and hopes – this memory-less and hope-less sex is nothing but animal sex. It is sex extracted from human existence. Everyone who indulges it, whether with a series of real partners or a series of digital partners, becomes bestial.

"This misses the issue. Only a very ill-informed Catholic or Orthodox (of whom, sadly, there ..."

Canon and Church
"FYI our Uniting Church of Australia has its Pitt Street Uniting Church led by a ..."

Canon and Church
"I quite agree. But our knowledge of Jesus comes from the narrative traditions which were ..."

Canon and Church
"If God is indeed real and good then anyone whom does not teach good is ..."

Canon and Church

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!