The Soul of Sex / Thomas Moore

 

“Why should modern life become more sensuous and sexual?” asks Moore. He answers with a principle voiced by Freud: “We display outrageously and obsessively that which we do not fully possess or have deeply at our disposal.” Moore’s ensuing description of the puritanical repression behind our cultural obsession with sex offers the key to his own success. In his bestselling Care of the Soul, Moore challenged our yearning for salvation and shyness about high culture with an epicurean approach to good living that was culled from Renaissance philosophy, mythology, literature, Jung and the works of Moore’s own teacher, the brilliant “archetypal” psychologist James Hillman. Moore’s approach was satisfyingly “soulful” in the sense that he emphasized the wisdom and integration that can come when we accept and cultivate the desires of our bodies and imaginations instead of seeking transcendence. Here, Moore uses the same rich trove of learning to explore

many facets of sex, in fantasy, in the lure of the body and in the whole range of our relationships from marriage to the workplace. Moore’s points seem a bit tired at times. (Isn’t there a fresher example of the spirit of sex than Marilyn Monroe? Must Moore defend plastic surgery as sometimes “soul-saving”?). Overall, however, he makes fascinating, quotable reading of the way sex naturally entwines with spirituality in chastity as in the most passionate love affair. In Moore’s analysis, Jesus is epicurean in his love of life, and each of us can expand our vision of sexuality to include the energy that creates beauty and builds friendships and community. While lacking the verve and economy of Care of the Soul, Moore’s latest work educates as it entertains.

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