I was invited by a publisher to write the text for Tantra. Having done some research, what fascinated me was the evidence that many 'tantric' ideas actually came to India from the Mediterranean. It is rather a dry read and debunks reports of orgies and sexual mischief "" sorry to disappoint.
He [Euge¨ne Rougon] believed exclusively in himself; where another saw reasons, Rougon possessed convictions; he subordinated everything to the incessant aggrandisement of his own ego. Despite being utterly devoid of real self-indulgence, he nevertheless indulged in secret orgies of supreme power.
Why is it that a convict never saves his money? Well, not only is it difficult for him to keep it, but prison life is so miserable that a man, of his very nature, thirsts for freedom of action. His position in society makes him so irregular a being that the idea of swallowing up his capital in orgies, of intoxicating himself with revelry, seems to him quite natural if only he can procure himself one moment's forgetfulness.
The night club had a curious and diverse appeal. To some it was a sex-exciter. To others, frequenting a night club and throwing away money was a form of exhibitionism...wealthy men from out of town visited the clubs for appalling orgies of spending and drinking, and most of them seemed to think it was worth the cost.
As for the primitive, I hark back to it because we are still very primitive. How many thousands of years of culture, think you, have rubbed and polished at our raw edges? One probably; at the best, no more than two. And that takes us back to screaming savagery, when, gross of body and deed, we drank blood from the skulls of our enemies, and hailed as highest paradise the orgies and carnage of Valhalla.
Real orgies are never so exciting as pornographic books. In a volume by Pierre Louys all the girls are young and their figures perfect; there's no hiccoughing or bad breath, no fatigue or boredom, no sudden recollections of unpaid bills or business letters unanswered, to interrupt the raptures. Art gives you the sensation, the thought, the feeling quite pure--chemically pure, I mean,... not morally.
When that happens [the demise of golf], old men will furtively beckon to their sons and, like fugitives from the guillotine recalling the elegant orgies at the court of Louis XV, will recite the glories of Portmarnock and Merion, of the Road Hole at St. Andrews, the sixth at Seminole, the eighteenth at Pebble Beach. They will take out this volume from its secret hiding place and they will say: "There is no question, son, that these were unholy places in an evil age. Unfortunately, I had a whale of a time."
Comic books, movies, radio programmes centered their entertainment around the fact of torture. With the clearest of consciences, with a patriotic intensity, children dreamed, talked, acted orgies of physical abuse. Imaginations were released to wander on a reconnaissance mission from Cavalry to Dachau. European children starved and watched their parents scheme and die. Here we grew up with toy whips. Early warning against our future leaders, the war babies.
Did I imagine the castle, the dungeon, the ritual orgies and violations? Did Lucy, Billy, Samuel, Eliza, Shirley and Kato make it all up? I went back to the industrial estate and found the castle. It was an old factory that had burned to the ground, but the charred ruins of the basement remained. I closed my eyes and could see the black candles, the dancing shadows, the inverted pentagram, the people chanting through hooded robes. I could see myself among other children being abused in ways that defy imagination. I have no doubt now that the cult of devil worshippers was nothing more than a ring of paedophiles, the satanic paraphernalia a cover for their true lusts: the innocent bodies of young children.
Nothing was ever in tune. People just blindly grabbed at whatever there was: communism, health foods, zen, surfing, ballet, hypnotism, group encounters, orgies, biking, herbs, Catholicism, weight-lifting, travel, withdrawal, vegetarianism, India, painting, writing, sculpting, composing, conducting, backpacking, yoga, copulating, gambling, drinking, hanging around, frozen yogurt, Beethoven, Back, Buddha, Christ, TM, H, carrot juice, suicide, handmade suits, jet travel, New York City, and then it all evaporated and fell apart. People had to find things to do while waiting to die. I guess it was nice to have a choice.
From space, astronauts can see people making love as a tiny speck of light. Not light, exactly, but a glow that could be mistaken for light-a coital radiance that takes generations to pour like honey through the darkness to the astronaut's eyes. In about one and a half centuries-after the lovers who made the glow will have long been laid permanently on their backs-metropolises will be seen from space. They will glow all year. Smaller cities will also be seen, but with great difficulty. Shtetls will be virtually impossible to spot. Individual couples, invisible. The glow is born from the sum of thousands of loves: newlyweds and teenagers who spark like lighters out of butane, pairs of men who burn fast and bright, pairs of women who illuminate for hours with soft multiple glows, orgies like rock and flint toys sold at festivals, couples trying unsuccessfully to have children who burn their frustrated image on the continent like the bloom a bright light leaves on the eye after you turn away from it. Some nights, some places are a little brighter. It's difficult to stare at New York City on Valentine's Day, or Dublin on St. Patrick's. The old walled city of Jerusalem lights up like a candle on each of Chanukah's eight nights... We're here, the glow... will say in one and a half centuries. We're here, and we're alive.
Jonathan Safran Foer