Thursday, 21 February 2013

Sex and Death

Another Oxford Think Week activity, on Saturday 16th February included a talk by Professor Beverly Clack about Sex and Death.  Before the talk started I wondered what the title might mean, and I was only there to be sociable while I was waiting for the event that I really wanted to attend later in the afternoon.  (It did not disappoint - see my next blog post.)  By the end of the talk I was left in the same state of confusion, but then again I'm only a sort of scientist.

She talked a lot about the Marquis de Sade and feminism, but for me it was not clear what her message might have been.

We had been invited to 'Pre-Read: “Sex and Death – Reappraisal of Human Mortality”, Polity Press, ISBN-13: 978-0745622798.'  I must admit that I hadn't felt compelled to do so.

From the back cover: For centuries people have debated the nature of the human self. Running beneath these various arguments lie three certainties – we are born, reproduce sexually [is this a certainty?], and die. The models of spirituality which dominate the Western tradition have claimed that it is possible to transcend these aspects of human physicality by ascribing to human beings alternative traits, such as consciousness, mind and reason. By locating the essence of human life outside its basic physical features, mortality itself has come to be viewed as a problem, for it appears to render human life both meaningless and absurd. Complex connections have then been made between the key features of life: sex is linked with death, and birth becomes the event that introduces the child to the world of decay – and ultimately to death itself.

Personally I see no link between sex and death but perhaps that just shows how I am depraved in some obscure way.  In fact, the suggestion that human life might be meaningless and absurd is far more believable to me.

One good thing that I can say is that she stuck to the theme of Think Week quite well.  The theme was 'Death'.  The talk was suitably morbid.

I had almost lost the will to live.

Small note:  I should have stayed in the kitchen to help with drying the cups and plates!  Sorry, but that was more fun!

No comments: