Saturday, December 3, 2011

Act Naturally — Or Did They?

Take a look at any picture of Adam and Eve and the erotic possibilities seem obvious. Usually the First Couple is naked, or as close to it as propriety allowed. Either way, their basic bodily components are not difficult to figure out.
So it doesn’t take an analyst to conclude that what people can do with each other, once they get intimate, has been pretty much the same since the Garden of Eden or Lucy the missing link — take your pick.
However, what people do with each other and what they say they do are two different things, as Kinsey and others have shown. For instance, has foreplay always been important? Some cultures are reputed to shy away from oral sex. Is that true of certain eras as well? Or is it just that some generations are more discreet in their pleasures than others?
It’s clear from classical Greek friezes and Indian temple art that ours is not the only period in history to exalt in sexual athletics. At other times though, moral and religious constraints have made the missionary position between heterosexual spouses the only viable option for many.
And, of course, we need not mention the loves that dare not speak their names. After the decline of Sparta, not many advocates went into detail about those areas of exploration. At least not for a couple of millennia.
I’m reminded of all this as I work on some stories based on myth and folklore. Intimate details in that material are hard to come by. Go back a long way and you’ll find plenty of outsized yonis, breasts and phalluses. But what they did with them is not so clear. Apparently they were good for fertility, but that’s hardly a hot button in the bedroom these days.
Traditional ballads and classical legends are full of transformations in the pursuit of carnal knowledge, or attempted escape from it. And though being turned into a tree or a snake or whatever may have done wonders for the libido, it does leave some gaps in our understanding.
Ah well, that’s what writers have imaginations for. That and search engines.    

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