Wankers: Then and Now
By Jim Mahoney
Not long ago, one of the cable channels ran a show about Pompeii. Naturally, the city's dramatic finale in 79 AD is a fascinating story. However, this piece focused on the social aspects of life there, specifically the sexual currents that still flow throughout its empty streets two millennia after its destruction.
The academic world is divided over what the artifacts tell us. The conventional view has it that Pompeii was a bordello for the Roman restless, and there is plenty of evidence to support that. However, a competing idea is that the remains reflect a discrete moment in Roman history frozen in its last second on August 24-25, 79 AD. According to this view, the graphic images suggest a time of license, like others that alternate with times of reserve throughout all history.
Judging the past by contemporary standards is always risky, but it is fairly safe to say that regarding basic instincts, human desires are fairly constant through time. Surely, in our day, sex is no less popular, if less productive, than in Roman times.
Romans had a split view of the matter. Respectable women were expected to remain respectable, while tangible benefits of imperial conquest resided in the bordello. Captured women and men from across the world seasoned the flesh offerings that were available for a fee. No doubt this kind of slave was one reason driving the empire's growth.
The Roman fascination with sex is manifest all over Pompeii: baths and bawdy houses were plentiful, as well as pleasure rooms in patrician homes. Walls decorated with detailed scenes, as well as the ubiquitous phallus, survive and are evident throughout the city.
Of course, our contemporary academic tour guides take an "objective," if indulgent, view of the remains. It wasn't always so. In the early days of the excavation, after the ruins were discovered in the late 16th century, exploration stopped because of the discovery of a scandalous statue of Bacchus copulating with a goat. The discovery was unspeakably offensive to the Christian sensibilities of the nobleman sponsoring the dig.
Today, of course, we are far above the primitive, moralistic inhibitions of the Counter-Reformation. Being wise, mature, modern adults, such things stimulate nothing more than intellectual curiosity.
We sophisticated moderns are so far beyond our animalistic urges that pornography is a $100-billion-a-year industry. While it's fair to assume that man's interest in procreative activities hasn't diminished in two thousand years, it does seem that his interest in procreation has. At least in the West.
When contemporary Western man manages to rip himself away from his computer or television screen and actually make love to a woman, the odds are that there will be no baby. With cheap and easy birth control, the exercise is limited: He seeks his pleasure, she strives to avoid the consequence. End of story.
It is ironic that those "hung up" in the medieval Christian morality that bridged the gulf between the licentious, pagan times of the ancients and our own day managed to procreate sufficiently to keep pace with the Moslem menace that threatened Europe from the 7th century.
The same Christians scandalized by Bacchus and his goat-girl made babies. Today, their heirs blithely choose extinction simply because they are too selfish to bear children. They contentedly satiate themselves without the risk of children that even the Roman pagans accepted, at least at home.
Western civilization has become an unparalleled culture of wankers.
If a single word can capture an era, this might be ours. In addition to identifying one as an onanist, it also describes him as unpleasant, self-indulgent, pretentious, or arrogant . Do you see politicians and other obnoxious members of the "elite" who clutter our media in this picture? See anyone else?
Does what we do in private subconsciously yet inevitably manifest itself in public behavior?
Not all manifestations are so subtle. Those of us who believe sexual behavior is solely a private matter need consider the demographic realities of Europe. The consequences of the bedroom reach far beyond our own gratification.
CBS News recently reported about 18% of American women aged 40-44 are childless, up from 10% in 1976. Apparently, America is joining Europe lockstep in a march to extinction. The article indicated that the trend was particularly pronounced among "higher-educated whites."
May we ask: What is the point of all that education if the civilization that produced it disappears in a generation or two? Precisely what values did that "higher education" impart?
Years ago I had a conversation with a devout Catholic. I asked him about the Church's preoccupation with birth control. His response was as simple as it was obvious: If sex becomes a hobby apart from procreation, you invariably find yourself in San Francisco. It's happened over and over throughout history, from Babylon to Greece to Rome -- and now again, much closer to home.
Not far from that extreme, you find many of today's Western men and women. In terms of the future of our civilization, the lifestyle of gay couples is no different from childless heteros. The demographic results are identical.
What we smugly call "post-Christian" is just a self-indulgent term for a re-paganized culture. Of course, unlike ancient Romans, we are far more advanced. Our contemporary genius frees us from the burden of childbearing. Our modern conceit and cleverness encourages us to commit cultural suicide, all the while congratulating ourselves on our superiority to others, past and present.
That is a textbook wanker.
Today, we can easily see Western civilization succumbing to Islam simply because the West lost the will to survive. A Catholic might say our fondness for contraception has frustrated the will of God. If that's true, the endgame has a deafeningly biblical ring to it -- an insult to God followed by the usual chastisement: foreign domination.
Although presented as a blessing, the divine statement "increase and multiply" is also a command. Defying it comes with a price. The coming storm won't be an isolated eruption that destroys a couple of cities; this one threatens an entire civilization.
Wankers be warned!