The following is excerpted from Pronoia is the Antidote for Paranoia: How the Whole World Is Conspiring to Shower You with Blessings, available from North Atlantic Books.
Any young heterosexual man who's serious about becoming a good lover must early in the game confront a demoralizing truth about the difference between the male and female orgasms. If there were no other evidence that the Goddess is a trickster, this fact alone would suffice for proof: Most human males are prone to ejaculate within two minutes of the time they insert their jade stalk into the silk furrow. To not perform this stupid abracadabra, in fact, typically requires diligent practice.
For those dudes who perfect the art of not splurging so fast, however, there is an even more Olympian challenge: gaining control of the splurge, so that it happens only when consciously willed. The men who reach this winner's circle are truly an elite group.
On the other hand, most human females cannot under even the most favorable ambiance ascend to the state of orgasmic grace in less than 15 minutes. Half an hour is not unusual, and I've known ripe and fully emancipated women who rarely need less than 45 minutes.
It's true that some men, especially those that have only recently started growing a beard, can reload in a short time. A 10-minute wait between erections should not, theoretically, be an insurmountable obstacle to picking up where you left off. From my private polls, however, I conclude that even though many 19-year-old studs can get it up again after a relatively brief waiting period, few are actually still in a mood sexy enough to press on with the same attentiveness, let alone artistry, that led up to the first engagement. And of those, only a tiny percentage have the expertise or the inclination, while marking time till resurrection, to attend to the female pleasure zones with the non-genital parts of their bodies.
Which leads to the next cruel joke: A majority of women can't even achieve the flutter-magic through the unsupplemented in-and-out anyway: In many positions, the sliding action of the diamond pumper barely misses the clitoris, heart-source of female pleasure. (Not that most men even realize this. At this late date a significant minority have at least discovered the existence of the clitoris, but few have figured out how to address it in its native language.)
This is not to say that most women would, if forced to make the choice, opt for pure clitoral stimulation over copulation. Lots of them do relish the evolutionarily-necessary penis-vagina friction; they'd just like it a lot better if their total bliss was addressed, not just one facet.
On the whole, I'm inclined to believe that the pool of male fuckmasters -- those who can consciously decree the moment of ejaculation and who understand the intricacies of the female orgasm -- barely exceeds the number of those who garner the Nobel Prize each year.
In the early years of my apprenticeship, I used the crudest method to avoid early detonation: condoms, sometimes even two or three at once. This usually numbed me sufficiently to last indefinitely. For emergencies, I also carried with me a desensitizing chemical spray I'd bought via mail order from an ad in the back of Penthouse magazine.
Both of these options were anathema, though. Because the age of AIDS had not yet radically altered heterosexual courtship rituals, condoms were a novelty. Most of my lovers used IUDs or diaphragms or birth control pills, and were adamantly opposed to the sterile sensation of a rubber sheath caressing their intimate parts. Nor were they enamored of my "Sta-Hard" aerosol, which exuded a smell one of my lovers said made her think of "a football player in a barn."
Condoms and anesthetics, I decided, were not ultimately part of the game plan that would make me a fuckmaster. Painstakingly, I began to accumulate a more natural bag of tricks. The earliest technique, which I acquired by blind instinct, was a little less crude than condoms. I'd struggle to divert my attention away from the pleasure at hand by fantasizing about baseball games. I found I could deaden a measure of the supernal bliss driving me towards climax by seeing in my inner eye, for instance, the events leading up to Philadelphia Phillies' third baseman Mike Schmidt smacking a grand slam home run to beat the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 13th inning. In some love-making sessions, I narrated entire ball games in my mind.
A second aid, also discovered early in my quest, was to inflict pain elsewhere on my body. Slapping my thighs worked well in distracting myself from the overabundant joy buzzing in my genitals, as did pinching and twisting my belly or digging my fingernails into my face. A more professional approach came to me via the Marriage and Sex Manual I found in a used bookstore. A man who was on the verge of splurging was advised to squeeze the base of his jade stalk or apply firm pressure to the perineum. The first action would mechanically suppress the ejaculatory urge. The second would blockade the spasmodic flow of semen from scrotum to penis.
These last two strategies were repugnant. I didn't want to rely on last-ditch interventions that required emergency brute force. I wanted poised power. I longed to wield command over my inconvenient biological programming every step of the way.
Eventually I discovered there were ancient traditions that had exhaustively explored the art of sexuality, including the problem of ejaculatory control. In India and Nepal and Tibet, these teachings were grouped under a branch of yoga known as tantra. In China, certain schools of Taoism dealt extensively with the same subjects.
Unfortunately, many of these teachings were so bound up with the esoteric spirituality, bad translations, and hoary terminology of their respective traditions that they were only marginally useful to a horny dude who wasn't willing to immerse himself in a 10-year plan to master the discipline.
By the mid-1980s, a smattering of American authors began packaging the venerable secrets in modern vernacular. Even then, though, many of the techniques were elusive and subtle to the point of being useless.
Try imagining, for instance, a stream of golden light percolating from your perineum up your spine, then through your brain and back down the front of your body to the perineum again. While breathing rhythmically through your nose and from your lower abdomen only, counting to eight for each inhale and exhale, circulate the light continuously until it achieves a momentum of its own and drones on autonomously in the background of your awareness. In the meantime, gnash your teeth gently and touch a point one inch above your right nipple with your left index finger and middle finger, all the while opening your eyes as wide as they'll go and jamming your tongue against the roof of your mouth. "These actions will definitely cause the semen to be retained," the text asserts.
Oh yeah? Maybe when you're sitting alone and relaxed in your temperature-controlled room with a sleep mask over your eyes. But try the same meditation while you're sweat-to-sweat with a gorgeous aromatic creature who thrills every cell in your body. The difficulty of the task increases exponentially, at least during the first decade of trying to master it.
Which is not to say it's impossible. And besides, if you can be sufficiently candid with the gorgeous aromatic creature (and why would you be making love with a woman you can't be honest with?), you might enlist her aggressive cooperation in your attempts to distribute your kundalini to your whole body rather than have it congregate in one bloated, ready-to-pop area of congestion. You can ask her to not wiggle so seductively. You can beg her not to kiss you with so much exultant abandon. You can plead with her not to emanate so many tangy succulent smells and not utter so many of the bewitching groans that make you want to gush your entire soul into her.
But on the other hand, what lover in his righteous heart wants to ask that of the gorgeous aromatic creature with whom he's entwined?
I stumbled along with my conglomeration of baseball visualizations, self-mortifications, and tantric mumbo-jumbo. I was a good enough lover, usually a long-lasting lover, but not a fuckmaster. Wasn't there a philosopher's stone? Wasn't there a technique that could provide consistent and ultimate control? Or would I forever have to make do with my jury-rigged system?
At last, hallelujah, in a New Age bookstore in Santa Cruz I found the treasure: a dusty hand-bound book titled Sexx Magixx. The obviously pseudonymous author was Jack N. Off, and I couldn't have been more surprised by his precious secret. When you urinate, he said, interrupt the flow in midstream. The muscles by which you accomplish this unnatural act are the same muscles engaged in ejaculation. By gaining control over this mechanism through strenuous daily exercises, you'll grow strong enough to forcibly restrain the semen from gushing out -- even, if necessary, after the ejaculatory spasm has begun. You can do this again and again in any single lovemaking session, thereby staying hard as long as you desire.
I threw myself into this work, and within a few weeks I mostly conquered the previously involuntary reflex of ejaculation. It wasn't 100 percent foolproof -- I still made use of my old standby methods -- and it was never easy. I had to do the exercises every day to stay fit, and while making love I had to maintain a high level of concentration that sometimes detracted from the surrender I wanted to feel.
But I was pleased with my new technique; I felt as if a Golden Age had begun. Nineteen times out of 20 I came only when I willed it, only when I was sure my woman had had her fill. Now and then my ardent efforts at retention weren't totally successful, but the mini-eruptions relieved a small amount of the pressure to spill without bringing an end to the hard-on.
With the arrival of this blessing in my life, I was finally able to confront a mystery I had doggedly turned away from. All the tantric and Taoist texts agreed, though I skeptically resisted it, that a man's sexual experience was far better in every way if he did not ejaculate at all, even after his partner has been satisfied. This assertion was based in part on the fact (not a theory, they said) that a regular loss of semen is detrimental to male vitality and health. It also assumed that sex yields up much more of its mind-expanding, life-transforming magic if the erotic energy is "steamed up" to the heart and brain rather than wastefully ejected. There, in the higher chakras, lust is liberated from its enslavement to the reproductive instinct. Transformed into a supercharged nourishment, it feeds one's aspirations to unite with the Divine Wow. As a method of expanding one's consciousness, it's both safer and more efficacious than psychedelic drugs.
I was willing to entertain the latter notion. Erotic play had always put me in a deliciously altered state, and I longed to harness its transcendent energy to accomplish something beyond merely feeling good. Unfortunately, I could not help but hedge my bets. I convinced myself I could somehow both steam the sex energy up up up and also indulge in a good old-fashioned ejaculation.
The real tantrics would have laughed at me.
I did not even go through the motions of trying to accept the other rationale for not coming, though -- that losing your seed too often made you weak and stupid. I felt it had too much in common with the old superstition that women use sex to steal men's energy. It seemed patriarchal and misogynist. Steadfastly, like a scientist obsessed with proving a bogus hypothesis, I ignored and repressed all data that contradicted my fixation.
There was yet another good reason the tantric and Taoist texts gave for phasing out the old habit entirely. Several books hinted at the shocking secret, but Mantak Chia and Michael Winn spelled it out at length in their book Taoist Secrets of Love: Cultivating Male Sexual Energy. Ejaculation and orgasm are not the same thing, they asserted. In fact, the two functions can and should be separated. Why? Because the orgasm that's affixed to ejaculation is a mediocre form of pleasure. It's limited to a few intense seconds which exhaust the capacity for further delight.
There is a higher orgasm that is available only after the addiction to ejaculation has been renounced. It's at least as vivid as the first kind, usually more so, but lasts longer and can be repeated indefinitely -- similar to a woman's. "How would you like to be in a continual state of climax for an hour or more?" the esoteric experts hinted. Moreover, this higher orgasm alone creates the conditions necessary to steam the semen up to the heart and brain.
For a while I stubbornly rebelled against this claim. I argued with it in my own mind, accusing it of being perverse and effete. It did not jibe with my experience. I found nothing pleasurable about waging my brave struggle against evolution's primordial pressure. Yes, it was for a good cause. I bought the importance of it. But I wanted my reward in the end -- the reward that nature had worked millions of years to perfect.
My attitude began to change once I met Celia.
Celia was, has been, and still is a fountain of blessings. For starters, she is a provocative listener who regularly draws insights out of me I don't know that I know. Her insights into human nature are acute and compassionate, and I often ask her opinion about a person I'm considering as a new friend or associate. She's funny and boisterous. Her well-developed sense of humor doesn't shut down when the going gets tough.
She is knowledgeable about politics, but in more of a tender than doctrinaire way, and she has been a driving force in teaching me to tincture my vehement critiques of everything that's wrong in the world with good old love.
I admire her livelihood: She's a freelance translator who's fluent in five languages. She's also a skillful pianist and composer. Had she chosen that field as a career path, I'm convinced she would have been one of the rare musicians who make their living doing what they love.
One of the accomplishments I'm most impressed by is the way Celia has taken responsibility for and transformed her shadow. Psychologist Carl Jung said we all have one of those things: an unripe, wounded part of our psyche that is out of harmony with our conscious values. It's our private portion of what the world's major religions have demonized as "the devil." Few human beings are courageous or resourceful enough to wage sacred combat with this secret saboteur; most project its mischief out onto people or groups they dislike. But Celia is a rare exception. She relentlessly monitors her own shadow, trying to ensure that it doesn't distort her relationships. This heroic effort alone makes her more trustworthy than anyone I've ever known.
I feel real in Celia's presence. Not inflated, worshiped, or adored, and not belittled, demeaned, or underestimated -- just authentic. It's a relief to be seen as I am in all my complexity, with no distorting emphasis on either my immature or noble aspects. I feel a deep relaxation around her. I'm at home in the world.
When I first met Celia, her gifts scared me. She had so much to offer and such an exquisite talent for giving that I felt like a stingy, shrunken-hearted narcissist in her presence. I worked hard to be worthy of the bounty she bestows.
And oh by the way, she's physically beautiful, too: striking and robust, voluptuous and athletic, open and mysterious. If I gaze at her face for just 10 minutes, I can see her change from a kind and authoritative Egyptian queen to a fierce and joyous Irish amazon to an unpredictable and mystical Portuguese gypsy. She's cheerful and intense, unpredictable and trustworthy, bright and deep.
The first few times Celia and I made love, I tuned in to an unexpected phenomenon: I wasn't having to withhold ejaculation with the teeth-clenching severity I'd become used to. In fact, as I opened to the incredible possibility, it became almost easy to bottle up the primordial force of nature within me. No baseball meditations were required, nor the convoluted breathing exercises synchronized with thigh-slapping and eye-popping. And I found myself having to summon a mere fraction of the heroic muscle constriction that characterized my most reliable technique.
Why? In light of all my past experience, it didn't make sense. To be intimately woven with a smart, soulful, gorgeous woman who made my heart bloom should have put me on the verge of coming all the time -- especially when I was actually inside her.
I wondered if it could have had something to do with the structure of Celia's fluttering phoenix. But it wasn't slack; wasn't too big and roomy. Her muscles were well-toned. She had never given birth. We fit snugly together.
A radical theory dawned in me. What if men are not solely responsible, I mused, for evolution's conspiracy to trick them into delivering DNA's payload in two minutes flat? What if women play at least a small role in perpetuating the bad habit that is the most likely factor to undermine mutually gratifying heterosexual sex? And what if Celia was one of the rare females who somehow turned off the part of her programming that contributes to the bad habit?
This was a taboo thought to expose to the frowning radical feminist that sometimes patrolled my superego, but I had to let myself acknowledge the possibility: that some women on some occasions -- maybe only in their unconscious minds -- actually don't want their male partners to have control over the timing of their climax.
I speculated that there are four types of women who might sabotage the long-lasting male lover:
1. Some women regard a fast squirt as testimony to their overpowering irresistibility. "He found me so alluring that he couldn't contain himself." Many of this type are throwbacks to an age when a wife regarded her man's pleasure as more important than hers; when a female measured her success in love more by her ability to give gratification than to get it.
2. Some women may not want a rush to judgment but are nevertheless strongly attached to having a smoking gun: concrete proof that they've done their job of satisfying their men. No ejaculationless orgasm for these women, thank you; it's too ambiguous.
3. Some women conspire to induce a quick and seemingly accidental orgasm because they want to use it to humble their partner, berate him for his inadequacy, and have a bargaining chip to use in winning other, nonsexual concessions.
4. Some women are possessed by their DNA with the same demonic fervor as any man is by his. The 30-year-old ego may be crying out, "Give me deep pleasure," while the 10 million-year-old reproductive machinery is hissing, "Give me a baby." The mandate to propagate the species wants the ejaculation now, not in two hours. Why else would evolution have made it so absurdly easy for a man to come?
I reiterate that these four motivations are not necessarily blazing in the conscious awareness of women who are in the throes of making love. They may be unconscious programs that covertly shape the way their body functions.
Celia fit into none of the four categories. I suspected that at some point before she met me she had forged herself into a lover who would not collude with the hair-trigger release that evolution had bequeathed to men.
By what mechanism had she accomplished this? Was it a regimen of physical exercises comparable to those I had done in order to become a control artist? A secret of meditation that allowed her to transmute the subtle structure of the muscles and electrochemical environment in her silk furrow? An esoteric yogic technique by which she imprinted her very flesh with the affirmation that she was "complete unto herself" (the ancient meaning of the word "virgin"), and did not, therefore, need to play a part in propagating the species?
This whole line of thinking took almost two months to ripen. We met each other in April, but it wasn't till June, eight dates into our relationship, that I was ready to speak of the inquiry that had been brewing in me. The climax came on a Saturday night.
I had read about a survey in which couples reported they often had great sex after seeing scary movies or going to a rifle range. Though I couldn't imagine the erotic glee between me and Celia being any better than it already was, I told her about the survey and suggested we try our own experiments. She liked the idea, but said that instead of watching violence or shooting guns, she'd prefer going on the thrill rides at the boardwalk.
We impulsively decided to get dressed up as a pirate and cowgirl for the occasion, which was easy enough to do thanks to a local costume rental shop open year-round. After polishing off a picnic dinner of take-out sushi on a bluff overlooking the sea, we arrived at the boardwalk. For the next three hours, we rode the roller coaster twice, as well as the Cliff Hanger, the Hurricane, the Whirlwind, the Tsunami, the Ferris wheel, the bumper cars, and the Crazy Surf. By the time we came back to Celia's house around 10 o'clock, we had whipped ourselves into a state of pleasant vertigo.
Soon we were naked and circling each other like samurai wrestlers in her secluded backyard, expanding the batty frame of mind we'd been thrust into by our synapse-boggling joyrides. It was chilly out there on that June night, and to compensate we soon found ourselves engaging in aerobic sex on a picnic table. To add to the incandescence and generate even more joie de vivre, we adopted funny accents as we pretended to be drunk Italian tourists arguing about whether it was safe to stand up on a roller coaster, stoned French graduate students arguing about whether Pynchon or Joyce was the greater genius, and Pakistani explorers marooned in the Arctic wastes arguing about which of our dead comrades we should eat first.
After a while we disengaged, agreeing to take a break and head inside. As I warmed up in her bed, she skipped off to the kitchen to make hot chocolate. With a fog of sweat still evaporating from me, I closed my eyes and did a meditation in which I prayed that the love I was feeling for her would remain as pure and generous as it was in that moment. I prayed that my effect on her would always promote her greater good and inspire her to seek out interesting adventures. I visualized us continuing to be able to be both kind and wild with each other.
In a few minutes, Celia glided back into the room with two steamy cups, her slapstick urges apparently unquenched: On her head she was wearing a "crown" composed of a purple balloon sculpture of a vulture. (Where had that come from?) Setting the cups down, she charged at my midsection, pecking me again and again with the inflated rubber beak. Between pecks she recited a pastiche of Emily Dickinson poems that featured the recurring line, "Dare you see a soul at the white heat?"
I lay down on the mattress and pulled her on top of me, removing her crown. With her cooperation, I slipped my jade stalk back where it belonged. As she gazed into my eyes with amused tenderness, her yoni began to play luxuriously, gripping and letting go with artistry, coming from diverse angles and engorging to a variety of depths. I let her control the rhythm, which was slow-motion and adoring.
For a long time we danced like this, singing each other songs with unhurried intensity. "You were born with a snake in both of your fists while a hurricane was blowing," I crooned, quoting Bob Dylan's "Jokerman." I also did covers of Bruce Cockburn's "Lovers in a Dangerous Time" and Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World."
She treated me to excerpts from Billie Holiday's "Swing Brother Swing" and Patti Smith's album "Radio Ethiopia," including her own mutated version of "Ain't It Strange":
Come and join me, I implore thee,
I impure thee, come explore me.
Oh, don't you know that anyone can come
in the same old way
but we both want more.
Don't you see when you're playing with me
that we'll never end
After delivering this curious passage, she cleared her voice and assumed a more prosaic tone. "And now I am pleased to make the long-awaited announcement. After many years of hard work rebelling against instinct, I have graduated from the need for the melodramatic spurt. I have kicked my addiction to the old-fashioned petite morte. You are free, my dear, to keep your vital fluids to yourself. I don't need you to spew in order to know how desperately you want me."
I could hardly believe what I was hearing. She seemed to be addressing and answering the pressing question I had not yet spoken aloud to her. I indulged a fantasy that had been growing in me in recent weeks: that our connection was evolving into a telepathic union.
"You're a genius," I said. "You're a flaming genius."
"So is there any chance you want to see what it's like to have orgasms like mine?" she asked. "Implosive prayer wheel-spinning jubilations instead of those crash-and-burn-style evacuations you've gotten so dependent on? I'd love you to love me in a way that helped you love yourself better. How about it?"
Up until this moment, my training as a fuckmaster had never been devoted to expanding my own sexual pleasure. Even after I'd learned of the esoteric teachings about an alternate form of male orgasm, I withheld my ejaculations for other reasons: to ensure that my partners were thoroughly fulfilled and to pump up my image of myself as a good lover.
And the truth was I had never felt I could afford to explore the far frontiers of my own sexual pleasure. To do so might sabotage my arduously cultivated art of control, causing me to come too soon and fail as a lover.
Tears surged from my eyes and a blend of moan and chuckle spilled from my mouth. I felt a subtle but distinct pop in my pelvis, as if a blockage had been forcibly cleared or a knot cut. The hot coil of pleasure I had always identified as the essence of my sexual treasure began to spread out. As I followed it for the next few minutes, I realized with a mix of dismay and delight that for all these years it had been trapped in a tightly contained area in and around my cock and balls.
"You lifted the curse," I muttered to Celia with a smoky cheerfulness. "You broke the dam. You freed the genie. You liberated the slave. You tricked the guardian on the threshold into revealing the magic password."
"And I did it all with love, sweet love, not force, brute force," she murmured as she kissed my eyelids.
Spiral waves of nectar rippled out from the epicenter of my bliss. My heart was first to receive the blessing, then my throat and thighs. Gradually the entire inside of my body was awash with the bliss that had previously been confined to one small part of me. And as Celia continued to swirl me around inside her, I claimed the birthright I'd always denied myself: long, billowing orgasms, one following another. They were whirlpools of sweetness congealing in an ocean of delight. And unlike the expulsive, spasmodic burst I'd always regarded as the One True Orgasm, this new improved model kept expanding my capacity for more pleasure. My hard-on stayed hard even as the pulsing spirals kept on coming.
But how could that be? It didn't make sense. I'd long believed in the limiting power of satiation: A person could only experience so much rapture, right? After a set of nerve endings reaches a saturation point, the same stimulation that initially induced pleasure there begins to evoke apathy or even annoyance.
And yet that didn't apply in this case. The gratifications swarming through me were increasing, as if my ability to feel pleasure in three dimensions were expanding into four, and then into five and beyond.
"I'm coming in the eighth dimension right now," I whispered to Celia.
"I not only see your third eye right now," she replied softly. "I can hear your third ear and smell your second nose, too."
"I'm afraid I'm becoming an eight-dimensional freak monster."
"You're the eight-dimensional freaky godfuck monster with a beauty that's so scary big you don't know what to do with it all."
"Luckily, I'm also an eight-dimensional freaky godfuck monster with a beauty that's so scary big I don't know what to do with it all."
"We might have to go down to the homeless shelter and give away our scary beauty to all the needy poor people."
"And go down to the country club and give away our scary beauty to all the needy rich people."
I can't remember if we were still actually moving our bodies. The friction of genitals had become irrelevant. My longing was utterly satisfied and yet was somehow also growing. I was very happy about how much love I felt for her, but wanted to love her even more.
My pleasure overflowed into the room. It was as if I were turning inside out. At first that spooked me. As I got used to it, I surrendered. I began to fantasize that I -- whatever "I" might be -- was now located outside my body as much as inside. "I" was having orgasms in an expanding sphere that spread into the space around me.
They really couldn't be called "orgasms" any more, though. That term implies a sudden, forceful contraction and release centered around a focal point. But I was experiencing a multitude of repeating pulses, like a hundred beating hearts, unleashing ripples of pleasure over and over again.
"This is what God feels all the time," I whispered.
"Yes. This is what Goddess feels all the time," Celia answered.
"So we're imitating the Creators of the Universe right now?" I said.
"Well," she said, "in a sense we are imitating them. In another sense, we are them."
"I'm having a million orgasms every second."
"Me too. Let's shoot for a billion."
"Turn the orgasms into prayers."
"What do we pray for?"
"We pray for what God and Goddess pray for. Which is different from what humans pray for."
"I seem to be having a divine memory lapse, Goddess. Remind me what we pray for?"
"Our prayers are the engine of creation. They're how we reanimate the universe fresh every nanosecond -- orgasmic bursts of divine love that keep everything growing and changing forever."
"So if we want to imitate God and Goddess -- I mean, if we want to be God and Goddess -- we should act as if our orgasms are actually prayers with which we beget the universe anew over and over again."
I felt another pop, like the one that had earlier freed my sexual energy from its logjam in my pelvis. Only this was non-local, a pervasive burst that shook the entire bubble of orgasmic vibration I now inhabited. As in the previous experience, I felt as if a blockage had been forcibly cleared.
Images and emotions began streaming into my imagination. They had a life of their own; were independent of my will. They came in bursts, each of which bore the imprint of a person I knew and cared for. There was my friend Fred, the entomologist, with whom I traveled in Europe; Regina, the old girlfriend with whom I had three abortions; Maddy, the woman I sang with for five years; Sunyatta, the professional ballet dancer who taught me how to do a pirouette; Mr. Riley, my high school French teacher, the only older male who ever gave me a blessing.
In each case, the person's life seemed to pass in a flash before my eyes, downloading into my psyche all the memories of everything he or she had ever done and thought and felt, the pain mixed with the pleasure, the rot with the splendor. It was all happening impossibly fast: as if the old 2.5 GHz microprocessor in my brain had been replaced by a new model that ran at 2.5 million GHz.
To be so intimately attuned with these friends and loved ones provoked a flood of empathy and compassion that blended seamlessly with my ongoing orgasms. A touch of amusement brushed through me briefly as I noted the unfamiliarity of having sexual associations with Fred and Mr. Riley, but it soon passed and I surrendered to the undifferentiated delight.
More life stories surged into me with even greater speed, and they included those of people with whom I'd had more complicated relationships: ex-band member Armand, who had both stunted and fed my growth as a musician; ex-girlfriend Raven, whose confounding betrayal taught me so much about myself that in effect I earned a PhD in self-knowledge under her tutelage; my sister who cut me out of her life for years.
I received them all gratefully and with relish, both the difficult souls and those for whom I had more unconditional love. The lushness of their intimate otherness was intoxicating. I loved being stuffed with so many thousands of foreign emotions and secrets and contradictions. The more I filled up, the more I wanted and the more I could hold. Soon I lost count of how many mythic imprints I had absorbed. Finally Celia spoke, breaking a long silence.
"We could probably keep going, but I think that's enough for now," she said. I opened my eyes and brought my attention back to her, returning from my inner orgy. I was confused. Did she want us to stop making love?
"I'm not ready to split us apart yet, Goddess," I complained. "In fact, I think I'm just getting started."
"I don't mean we should uncouple," she said, kissing me on both cheeks. "I mean we should stop filling ourselves up with the lives of all these people who need our prayers. Let's decide what to do with this batch before we welcome another one."
"Did you just have the same experience I did?" I asked, hoping for more evidence of our growing telepathic rapport.
"I should hope so, dear. See what happens when you play God?"
She playfully rolled over, pulling me with her so that now I was on top.
"Now fuck me with your prayers for all those souls who leaped into you," she commanded. "And I'll fuck you with mine."
I shoved a pillow under her ass to change the angle at which I entered her, and raised her legs a little by lifting from behind her knees.
"I visualize and pray that my old friend Fred will come to a new, supple accommodation with his ex-wife so that they create more harmony in the life of their daughter," I said as I moved in Celia. "May this unfold in ways that send benevolent consequences out in all directions, diminishing the suffering and enhancing the joy of every sentient being."
"I declare and desire that my Aunt Ruth will find the key to supporting herself as an acupuncturist so she can quit her gig as a grocery clerk," asserted Celia. "And I pray that in doing this she will become a more potent force for beauty and truth and goodness, lifting up everyone whose life she touches."
"I foresee and demand that Regina will summon the power to cut back on her work doing hospital murals so she can write that children's book she wants to do. May this in turn redound to the benefit of all creatures."
"I envision and confirm that John Selkirk will get the help necessary to heal from the death of his wife. As he receives what he needs, I further envision and confirm that all of creation will gather inspiration from the changes he sets in motion."
Many other friends, acquaintances, and loved ones made appearances in our ritual. My heart broke open again and again, ripped sweetly apart by a yearning to help them thrive, to love them as they needed to be loved, to enhance them and enliven them and share with them the blessings Celia and I had conjured.
Sometimes our invocations took the form of loud singing and chants; other times we emitted fantastic cackles and churned out rhythms with guttural grunts. We spoke in horse language and tried to recreate the original tongue from which Sanskrit and Hebrew originated. Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemmings paid a visit, channeled through us mediumistically, bestowing their unique love on several lucky beneficiaries.
Nine hundred trillion orgasms later, the rays of the morning sun splashed on my eyes as I meandered through a prayer for Maddy. "I predict and guarantee that she will compose a bunch of great songs about her struggle to be a half-decent single mother while playing low-paying gigs at funky San Francisco nightclubs in hopes of bringing her incredible singing talent to the attention of some non-exploitative hustler who'll help her get a recording contract."
"Hey God?" Celia rumbled from out of her trance state. We were lying side by side, still linked.
"Yes, Goddess," I said.
"I hate to interrupt you. You're still amazingly eloquent for someone who's been fucking nonstop for 14.3 billion years. Or is it 14.6?"
"That's OK. I can't think of anyone else I love being interrupted by more than you."
"I'm thinking maybe we should do a prayer for Rob and Celia and then put the universe to sleep for a while."
"They've been quite kind to let us commandeer their bodies for so long. Let's show our gratitude."
"Take your time."
"I decree and imagine that Celia will become a master of the art of bestowing blessings. As brilliant and generous as she is in giving gifts, she will never become addicted to giving gifts; nor will she try to control people with her gifts; nor will she let her joy in giving gifts interfere with her capacity to attract and receive gifts herself."
"And when Celia gives gifts," the Goddess in Celia added, "they will always be precisely what the recipients need rather than what she needs to give. She will have a knack for choosing people who make the best use of her gifts. No pearls-before-swine mistakes for her."
"Ho!" I exclaimed, invoking the Northern Californian pagan version of "amen."
"Now I have a prayer for Rob," she said. "I pray that he will popularize the slogan 'I am totally opposed to all duality.'"
"Good old Rob will become a socialist Libertarian, macho feminist, Buddhist Muslim, gun-owning pacifist," I added.
"He will embrace his destiny as a prophet of the ejaculationless male orgasm. He will triumph over the primal on-off switch that has been the biological linchpin of the male psyche's addiction to us-versus-them fundamentalism."
"I pray that he will write books crammed with inspirational philosophies that are rooted in the oceanic prayer orgasms he has achieved this night. He will help forge a new nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men and women are created with an equal birthright to experience amazing amounts of intelligence-boosting rapture that supercharges their drive to bestow beauty, truth, goodness, and love on their fellow humans."
Those were the last words I spoke for many hours. As I dropped off to sleep I heard the Goddess in Celia say, "I pray that Rob will become a paranoid in reverse. He will know that all of reality is always conspiring to help him, and he will try to prove to everyone everywhere that the same is true for them: Life is totally and unconditionally on their side."
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For a link to free songs and spoken word pieces from Pronoia click here.