New Proverbs for New Men


The joys of the flesh are a gift from the god,
given us for pleasure and healing;
the touch of bare skin soothes our nerves,
and the mingling of bodies in love brings us close;
when you make love with a caring woman,
the barriers between your feeling and hers break down
and the two of you, for a fleeting moment, become one.

To protect against this mingling and this healing,
the fathers have built fear into love;
they have preached against the "sins" of the flesh
and sought to poison the joy of touching.
Sex with "loose women" is enticing but "bitter as wormwood";
sex with your wife is dutiful and boring.
Therefore, seek illicit pleasure with "loose women,"
but find no pleasure in it;
make dutiful love with your wife,
but find no pleasure there either.
Run to "loose women" to escape the boredom of loving your wife;
run to your wife to escape the burden of illicit sex.
Seek the idealized image of your mother in each woman you meet:
marry one, then discover that the image is tarnished,
and cheat on her with another;
polish the image with each new conquest,
then let it fade, and discard her;
and through all this never recognize what you are doing:
never understand that you seek your mother,
and are eternally disappointed.

This endless chain of hope and disillusionment is not human nature;
it is the work of the fathers, who are jealous of joy
and seek the destruction of all healing touch.
Do not excuse yourself, my brother,
on the grounds that it is just the way you are;
nor blame yourself, my friend,
on the grounds that your flesh is weak.
The way you are is the way your parents made you,
but the god can remake you for new life;
your flesh already knows what it wants,
and what it wants is the healing power of joy.

My brother, the next time you flee your wife or your lover,
look inside and ask the god just what it is you are fleeing:
"Listen to me," the god may say;
"your greatest fear is closeness,
the arms around your neck;
your father's fear drives you out of your mother's embrace,
and your father's words command you back;
you know that your lover's touch is a trap,
a snare to lure you into danger,
so you run blindly for the hills--or for another woman.
But the snare is in your own body, not hers;
it is the trap you inherited from your father,
the memory of your mother's clinging arms.
True, your lover too has snares
that she has inherited from her parents,
but they are illusions like your own;
before the two of you can mingle in love and be healed,
you must banish the illusion of danger.
Now is the time for manly courage,
and for the bravery in a woman's heart;
now is the time to resist the urge to flee
and to expose yourselves to the terror you feel.
Why is it men will face death unflinching,
but turn tail and run from love?
Because death is an ending and an escape from fear,
but love is the beginning of healing;
and healing is the fathers' worst nightmare."

Listen to the loving voice of the god,
harken to the words of the god of love.
Learn to lie quietly in the arms of your lover,
drinking joy from the touch of skin
and peace from the light in her eyes;
every flight from a woman's arms
is a triumph of the fathers' fear,
and all sexual restlessness
is a setback to the god of love.

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