Well, on the recommendation of a beloved mentor, I am reading Paschal Beverly Randolph’s Eulis! the History of Love, which is available in part on Google Books. Let me tell you, I am having real trouble wrapping my head around it — despite the fact that P. B. Randolph speaks in complete sentences, is very sparing with the New Thought pseudo-technical terms (so far), and writes a gripping narrative.

My problem is what I might call Randolph’s Anatomy: he plunges right into assertions on the electro-magnetic-spiritual functions of the Cowper’s gland, the spiritual/energetic properties of the upper and lower lip, and then asserts, but does not bother to explicate or prove, the evils of masturbation as commonly practiced.

Well, all that bewilderment was late last night. It took me until this morning to figure out that the anatomical bits are the equivalent of modern-day New Age folks’ invocation of quantum physics: a placeholder in the material world for spiritual forces which may or may not be empirically verifiable.

I was going to say “falsifiable,” but not everything that is falsifiable is physical, somatic, or tangible. And I think Randolph was convinced that spiritual functions and forces which can be experienced in the human body must have somatic roots. I think he’s probably right on that, but he’s going to have to do a lot more work to convince me that the Cowper’s gland is the repository of the magnetic fluid, life force, or — what was it he said now?

 

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