the vanity of “God” & “Man” ~ the economics of primitive passions

Ancient cave painting in Patagonia

by LJ Frank


What does fully human mean? Man invented the word “God” …still, a creative force split the original plasma at the beginning of time spewing forth seeds of creation in the form of stars, planets, other celestial objects, and matter. Was the primordial sound of OM present at the creation in effect the voice of the “Creator”?

Ancient humans didn’t classify themselves as ancient, primitive, or as animalistic or even as sensual or erotic. Labels like that came later from men and women living in the future. When you’re alive the word contemporary and in vogue are appropriate words for modern humans. To be alive and be thankful for being have paleolithic roots.

Ancient humans survived in a world of uncertainty, as long as they could, under horrendous natural conditions with predators lurking about. The pre-civilization state that the philosopher Jean-Jacques Rosseau wrote about in the 1700’s was not as he claimed – man’s happiest times, not when you must be aware not to be eaten by another human…not merely for food but self-empowerment. (See, Shamans, Sorcerers and Saints by Brian Hayden – a Prehistory of Religion) Human cells were still evolving as they are today.

A few decades ago, as I starred at the skeleton remans of an ancient “human” in the British Museum, I was curious about human’s earliest thoughts, and the point of realization about the idea of self-awareness. Was it a slow process or did it occur in punctuated intervals?  I suspect it was early in his and her evolutionary development. As evolutionary biologists know our individual cells have cognitive recognition. The entire cosmos is evolving.  (For a fascinating read, see BIOVERSE by William B. Miller, MD, evolutionary biologist)

The allegory of Genesis suggests diet (eating an apple) as a factor in spurring our self-awareness, between perception and reality. The history of diet and nutrition is intriguing as we perceive the world around us. Is a vegetarian and or pescatarian less aggressive than red and raw meat eaters? What are the drug effects of plants on reasoning and awareness as well as the drug-like effects of belief? Studies are ongoing.

Linked to diet is the formation of our beliefs, especially religious belief. Systems of belief offered outlets for the evolving curiosity and stresses of survival. The development of myth among early cultures was in part related to the natural environment, diet, and the numinous (idea of the holy) and how they related to each other. An interesting aside within the concept of the numinous, Rudolph Otto in his work the Idea of the Holy intimates that primitive man does not kneel before the forces of nature but only when confronted with an uncompromising mystery. That mystery among several Eastern myths is that of – OM.

Source material like the Torah, Old Testament. and Kabbalah address everything from diet to the spilling of seeds on the ground which was viewed as killing a person. Masturbation was viewed as one form of corrupt conduct if not evil. Why? Research indicates the economics over and above the spiritual and sensual nature of the matter. The spilling of seed on the ground had economic consequences that carried over to the number of children born and potential workers gained or lost to those who were rulers whether tribe or family. Though viewed as pleasure by any number of people, tribal rulers and those with influence looked at belief as an economic tool. Whether in a household (including slaves), or tribe, the reasoning is the need for people to work and sustain the family and tribe. One cannot be a tribal leader without a tribe. That thinking applied to families. People were equated to potential revenue that was linked to the concept of the ideal progenitors who begat productive descendants.

Patriarchy developed in part as an economic means to create order and lay the groundwork for instilling a sense of correct behavior by those seeking obedience from their followers. Guilt and shaming were favorite tools of control. Tribal rules and rituals were created for the most intimate of acts. Did ancient humans absolve themselves by becoming a follower to those whose intentions may or may not have been in their best interests? Of course. It was manipulation. Keep people in line and productive for the tribe to survive.

Any freedom such as spilling of seed in the wrong place might shatter that rule. It was then labeled a sin, self-abusive, and unclean in the eyes of the “God” they invented and worshiped and such action was followed by punishment up to and including death or in most cases payment in some form for the lost revenue. Adultery as well was lost revenue and declared a sin. It was about tribe survival and insuring lineage. People became an investment and an opportunity for revenue building. Sin it appears in part is linked to economics and tribal cohesion. People lived each day uncertain of tomorrow. Do that which keeps you alive has roots in persuasion tactics. Still, people played around with their evolving erotic and sensual nature which is why laws and rituals were created to support beliefs. (See The Prehistory of Sex by Timothy Taylor).

On another level, human genetics translates the act of creation such as intercourse and subsequent birth as natural. The same genetics have the cell structure that seeks harmony and peace. Perhaps in our cells we will find as mentioned the Creator and meaning may be traced back to the OM sounds at the moment the cosmological plasma burst into creation spewing its cells into space. There was an immediate conflict between volatility and harmony. The spilling of seeds of plasma at creation into the expanding space and the birthing of stars and planets may find a correlation that is translated into humans spilling seeds for birth or pleasure. That sounds disparate, but the spilling of seed both literally and philosophically offers a metaphor for the ambiguity of existence.

As an aside, dress codes in ancient civilizations were developed by men for the most part with rituals following with fashion being a central focus. Exposure of skin was problematic in some male-dominated cultures and less so when females had a more significant voice.  Fashion is about expression with a statement about empowerment.

Volumes have been written about the history of costume and clothes and foot apparel and how it effectuated a human response. In ancient Egyptian culture the breasts of women were purposefully exposed in public as it was considered natural and an expression of a woman’s fertility. Once they were covered men became more aroused and problems developed. Or in the case of communal baths in Japan when sitting in a bath with both men and women it only became truly problematic after a wall was installed dividing the sexes and leading to “inappropriate” responses.

Humans have a long history of coming to grips with their sexuality as the result of the religions they founded based on the economics of control and factoring in diet and the natural surrounding environment.

In Medieval and ancient art one can find examples of behavior that one may smile at but view as inappropriate for larger general non-adult audiences. Examples include nuns exposing themselves in front of monks who them masturbate. The artwork is a satire on the hypocrisy of the church and what happens behind closed doors or in some cases gardens that serves as a metaphor or allegory regarding human behavior that has economic and dietary roots. Adaptation arrives on our doorstep in multiple forms.

Humans naturally spill their seed on occasion, some being socially and psychologically more inappropriate than others. To perform inappropriate behavior is in part a revolt against the sense of being controlled. A heathy sensuality means different things to different people. Giving birth and raising a child to be healthy in body and mind is a challenge and not for everyone.

Though some religions still practice the idea of no birth control as part of their belief system that when researched has economic roots. The spiritual and religious “life philosophy” arrived later in human evolution. There were spiritual hints early on at gravesites with flowers but those grave decorations came after hundreds of thousands of years of cell adaptation and evolution.

Sexual and sexualized behavior have emotional and cognitive roots with political and legal repercussions relative to context. And context is where censorship is active in an insecure and patriarchal culture that is not in harmony with its parts or human cells for that matter. There are elements in all religions that seek to manipulate and or suppress the behavior of women and men…the opposite of harmony and love.

We are in the midst of a natural paradigm shift about our humanity and personhood. Our respect for each other begins with the concept of self-worth and adaptation that are rooted in our cells.

As a human I am filled with doubt, reason, passion, curiosity, and compassion, while striving for harmony. Amid that striving I’m reminded of a friend’s observation in the last century – ambiguity makes for an interesting life.