Erotyka i seks w fantastyce i futurologii

Stanisław Lem

Eroticism and Sex in Futurology and Science-Fiction

The biologic value of every function in the organism depends on its contribution to the totality of homeostatic activity of the organism. On the table of values determined by such anatomic and physiological characteristic different cultures impose their own normative valorisation, which can be in conflict with the biological facts. The point is a culturalisation of the harmony of living functions which is subject of a following rule: functions which are in a small distance of their biological aim are neglected and put into a state of cultural neutrality, like e.g. respiration which has never been valuated in categories of Good and Evil. On the other hand, functions separated by a longer causal chain from their biological aim are subject of intensive normative valuations. Such is the situation with the sex. Culturalisation of a function is never a valuation performed in an isolation, but consists always in the introduction of a function into an axiological coordinate system of a given culture. The cultural normatives assume at least a polarity of valuations, e.g. the sex, situated in some cultures at the pole of the „sacrum” was subject of its positive sublimation, and in other cultures (e.g. Christianity) has had a negative valuation. The sexual drive damped by the culture finds its expression not in a „revolt of biology against. culture”, but in a definite subcultural heterodoxy within given culture. In such a case it leads to a reversal of the plus and minus signs which have been established in an authoritarian way, or to connections of things which, according to the cultural directives, should be considered incompatible (therefore, e.g. participation of sex in rituals of a „black mass”).

In the technocentric civilization the culture is a kind of relict which makes more difficult a consequent application of the principle according to which instrumental values are considered the main ones. Actually, technocentrism takes a neutral attitude to all that, in default of knowledge, cannot be improved in pursuance of its own directives. The technocentrism, being a protector of the life, as it facilitates securing of nourishment, health protection etc. does represent a protection of a pragmatic and rational kind. The cultural norms are either self-evident, e.g. the norm of greeting, or based on transcendental sanctions (then valorisation and obligations are derivatives of a definite metaphysic). The technocentrism relativizes the former norms (owing to the accumulated knowledge about the cultural antropology) and denies the latter ones.

In the place swept clean in such a way, it introduces an empirical knowledge, e.g. concerning the sexual behaviour of a man in its possible extreme amplitude. Consequently, the sex becomes isolated from all systematic sanctions and as regards the superinstrumental ones merely a „ludic” valor (above the „procreative minimum” after its satisfaction) may be attributed to it. The sex, being in such a way excluded from the axiomatics of the cultural decisions, in practice does not remain an isolate, as it is liable to commercialization. On the other hand, the sex practiced in a subculture of technocentrism as promiscuity, is not perfectly liberated either, as it expresses a protest against commercialization of institutionalization, but not any automatic attitudes. Neither the technocentric formation, nor its actual subcultures are able to answer the question: „in what a way can the sex get an autonomic value not related to functions either of a service or of an immediate utility?” Obviously, empiricism is able to determine the range of variability of the sexual behaviour of a man, but it cannot fix any sexual obligations. This may be regarded as a sign of emergency which will increase considerably when the autoevolution of the species homo sapiens will be accomplished that is now foreshadowed by the progress of the biotechnics. The biotechnics are inclined to handle an organism as a machine which is subject of optimization. After the realization of ectogenesis the sex would be „free”, as biologically aimless. Therefore, there would be possible to attach it to other body functions in order to intensify them. E.g. the organism could be modified in such a way that the performance of a socially useful work could be personally rewarded with an orgasm. This seems to be absurd, but in advertising of computers or refrigerators an integration of sale with some attractive sexual characteristics in an absurd as well, not more and not less. The only difference consists in the fact that the latter can be actually realized and the farmer cannot, as yet. We are observing, therefore, a trend which can result in an isolating of particular biological functions from systems of traditional axiology. The „ludic” sex is a sex which may be „taken”, or „involved”, or „made productive” by the ideologists of technocentrism, if they are industrious enough.

An idea of a neural switching of centres which control the sexual sensations can prove to be technically non feasible, but the suverenity of man cannot depend exclusively on difficulties which would be confronted by the technocentric instrumentalism in the realisation of plans of a „systematic optimization”. There can be found in the fantastic literature, however rather seldom, visions of „totally improved” societies in which the biological functions are switched to points which are desired „according to the interest” of the state or other institutional entity. The picture of such a „rational economizing of the sex” (rational because it stabilizes a superpersonal structure) have a grotesque aspect, but they contain also a charge of a determined warning anticipation.