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[philosophy] December 14, 2003 at 7:46:00 PM CET
post coitum omne animal triste est, sive gallus et mulier
After sex all animals are sad except the cock and the woman.
This famous Latin proverb is originally attributed to Galen, a Greek physician from the 2nd century AD who linked the four temperaments sanguine, phlegmatic, choleric and melancholic to bodily dispositions. Sometimes (without the cock/woman add-on) Aristoteles is named as the author. But maybe it is just a universal truth of collective wisdom which can't be traced back to one single person.
Yes I must admit that I recently had that postcoital blues. It seems to be especially devastating when the sex before was intense and the ascent to the climax took some time.
My theory is that the depression after is linked to the realization that the merge with your partner was just a temporary one and the dénouement works like an invisible wall which is suddenly erected between you two out of nowhere. The result is a feeling of extreme solitude hitting you.
La bête à deux dos (Gargantua by Rabelais, recycled in Othello by Shakespeare: the beast with two backs) turns into two humans with two backs again. It's the painful process of individuation which we have experienced first at birth when pushed out of the warm cosy womb of our mother. The baby's cry is welcomed by the world, the postcoital sadness isn't. It is the deception that the physical fusion which Georges Bataille called la petite mort, is not permanent.
Will the real death be the blissful merge with the universe or will the individual subsist as soul or karma as the religions assume? We won't know in this life for sure and maybe never.
A question to my female readers: did you ever experience the feeling I am writing about here?
Eva75, March 1, 2011 at 8:58:06 PM CET
Post coitum omne animal triste est
I was surprised by the comment about women and cocks... I don't know much about cocks' sexuality, but I am a woman and ever since I was able to attain an orgasm I have experienced uncontrollable sobbing for a few seconds afterwards and the described feeling of utmost loneliness and despair, as if the promised soul mate you could believe you were with, for a brief moment, is then torn away from you once again. Once in a blue moon, I do not feel any such feeling, usually it happens following a very mechanic "passion free" sex session. Such event is very unsatisfying even if the sex was "hot". In the end, an act of passion, a brief moment of delusion (the delusion you are communing with the "one") is still worth the despair experienced when coming back to the sad reality: the reality that "he is not the one" (even more blatant when your partner has to smoke a cigarette right this minute, his second physical need mandatory to complete the first one: you.) Animal triste we are, and animal triste we shall remain, most of us anyway.
alex63, March 1, 2011 at 10:16:07 PM CET
hi eva, thanks for your comment, i wrote that post more than seven years ago, so i didn't expect an answer anymore. somehow i am a little relieved that at least one woman experiences the same feeling of abandonment and loss after sex as me (and countless other men). that makes me feel less alone in this world. there is something i forgot to mention in the post though. maybe i did not yet perceive it at the time when i wrote these thoughts. after sex i still have the feeling of being thrown back on to me, or even more drastically being spit out of her and being sad. but in a way i cherish and enjoy that feeling of sorrow. the animalistic lust has faded and i slowly become a human again. don't get me wrong, i love the lust but i love the calm melancholy as well. do you know what i mean?
Eva75, July 20, 2011 at 12:38:51 PM CEST
No, I can't say I understand. Personally, I crash hard, that is all. Any mundane word or gesture feels vulgar and out of place then. After a moment I collect myself and the feeling dissipates and I am back on planet earth with a bitter taste in my heart. It became such an exercise in futility that I resorted in avoiding most encounters and pretty soon I found myself in a celibate life. This was well over ten years ago (I have stopped counting.) Some could perceive my life as sad and lonely, and it is, but such is the core of human life, any perception of the contrary is just a comfortable illusion. I try to be zen about it. In my case I have to accept my cards as the predictable conclusion of a combination of bad judgment, predisposing factors, and bad luck.
Of course I miss the warmth and the contact of another human being and most of all the intellectual stimulation.
Luckily, I am blessed with a very vivid imagination, and after a few years without any physical contact, I have been able to attain orgasms in my dreams without any physical stimulation... (I understand men can do that easily, but I have never heard of any woman admitting to it... then again, I probably need to go out more! Ha ha!.. Maybe we should ask women incarcerated for a long period about this interesting question: "Can you reprogram your brain to give you satisfaction in the absence of external stimuli?")
The quality of my experiences is extraordinary. I don't know if a real person could beat it or compare, it is perfect and comes WITHOUT the feeling of loss or sadness! (the only hiatus: the feeling of perfection does not last long at all... which is to be
zagreus, July 28, 2012 at 4:16:52 PM CEST
Recruits for Rananim?
Come now, Abelard and Heloise, it's not too late to recognize the speciousness of this impasse. It's only an honest perusal of the none too small matter of fecundity, which you've left out, that could deliver your Weltschmerz from its solipsistic rut--or at least coax admission of the antinomian tenor of your musings.
At any rate, to paraphrase Parsifal, the same weapon that wounded alone can heal. And what could be more wounding than being a species dupe, right?
Reuniting, February 8, 2013 at 9:33:29 PM CET
You may find this page of interest: www.reuniting.info
I'm the author of a book about post-orgasm changes and their effects on the brain. My husband and I write articles about the possible science behind them too. See www.psychologytoday.com
JayZak66, May 22, 2013 at 8:46:57 PM CEST
Island of wisdom
I found this forgotten island of the Internet and I'm glad, both for Eva's or Alex's comments, they are kind of fascinating and inspirative. I know what you mean, Alex, by the change from the "animal" to the human and I also find fascinating the quote "Animal triste we are, and animal triste we shall remain", that's smart, and also true.
Andrew G Mooney, October 14, 2013 at 5:26:02 AM CEST
Tao & Tantra
Tantra and Taoism suggest a way out of the impasse, albeit there's some Tao controversies and Sting made a hames of talking about Tantra:
What's the obsession with penetrative sex? Hands, lips and tongue is enough, surely. My tongue can go all night, but not the third leg without those toxic blue pills. Not at my age. For me, sex is usually a negotiation about how and why, not if. I've never had any problem with quantity, but the quality issue has become paramount as I've aged and the illicit pleasures of the latest paramour started to feel like a chore, not a release.
It's a relief to actually let go of the whole sexualised dogma which pervades society. Everyone used to be 'repressed and secretive' and the sex was awesome. Now, everyone's 'liberated' and a lot of sex is like fast food: ubiquitous and unsatisfying.
The Slow Food Movement and The Slow Shag Movement. Celibacy until there's chemistry. Less is more. Moderation is the new Excess. Sexual freedom means freedom from sexualised expectations. "the road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom". Not always.
As Elvis Costello sang "pump it up, till you can't even feel it, pump it up, when you don't even need it".
Viagra! So much to answer for...
wonder why, March 31, 2014 at 3:57:16 AM CEST
lucky to find poetry rather than science or self-help
Yes, as you say, Eva: A bottle in the sea of the Internet that now it is going to float out there until another curious person finds it and realizes that she is not a freak! It is great, poetic, it moves you to another world. Reading your comment is like sailing by my own mind, but better, extraordinary... There are many certain things, especially when you speak about dreams: full but harmless. Alex: this post still lives
devuo, April 13, 2014 at 9:42:34 PM CEST
"Pleasure and thrill are conducive to sadness after the so-called peak has been reached; for the thrill has been experienced, but the vessel has not grown. One’s inner powers have not increased. […] One has attempted to become superhuman, without being human. One seems to have succeeded to the moment of triumph, but the triumph is followed by deep sadness: because nothing has changed within oneself. The saying “After intercourse the animal is sad” (“Post coitum animal triste est”) expresses the same phenomenon with regard to loveless sex, which is a “peak experience” of intense excitation, hence thrilling and pleasureful, and necessarily followed by the disappointment of its ending. Joy in sex is experienced only when physical intimacy is at the same time the intimacy of loving."
— "To Have or To Be?" Erich Fromm
Al13, June 1, 2014 at 10:38:22 AM CEST
omne animal post coitum triste est
To avoid sadness, one should avoid expecting happiness, that's for sure. The joy of sex is forced upon us by the law of reproduction. Maybe this is why non-reproductive sex is followed by sadness, some kind of implicit remorse for having taken advantage of the nature's trust? All these endowments that we so wastefully put to use to serve our short-lived cravings and pay back nothing...
I Kafallo, March 26, 2015 at 5:31:23 PM CET
Men and women are two different species!
Starting with the title's premise, that men and women are two different species, I have never after a sexual encounter seeing my female partner saddened by the dénouement. First of all, sex is not nearly as important to a woman as it is for a man. For a man, sex is an essential part of who he is as a an individual. Through sex man fulfills the romantic side of himself, the promise that he would be validated by the woman by pleasing sexually. Women are much more sensual and at the same time grounded in practicality, the reason why prostitution is so easy for a woman to slip into. She offers it, then take is back to use again and again later as new, having erased from her mind any previous sexual act. This brings us to the answer of the question: why women are not saddened by the dénouement of the sex act. The woman is endowed with that uncanny ability to erase the sexual experience from her brain just as we do with a computer disc. Hence, to a woman great sex means little (and she easily puts it out of her mind), but bad sex she never forgets placing that lover in permanent disfavor. Pity the romantic male!
Kineseas, June 8, 2018 at 2:20:54 AM CEST
Post-coital melancholy is just bad sex
The phrase 'Post coitum omne animal triste est, sive gallus et mulier' is one that I find puzzling. My own (male) experience has been, overwhelmingly, post coital bliss. A peaceful gentle rush of endorphins and a general, and gentle, visceral contentment. Not feeling good after sex just means you've had bad sex. Leaving out the experience of roosters (and other non human animals), whose experience is problematically anthropomorphized by Galen, the suggestion seems to be that women always have good sex and men always have bad sex. If that's how it seemed to Galen then that's sad. But to claim that male post-coital experience is universally a state of melancholy is bullshit. Men and women both have good and bad sex. My experience is that it's mostly good for both sexes—though it is of course possible that partners, when asked, are just being polite.
liuea, June 8, 2018 at 4:02:21 PM CEST
sorry only in german
hier aus weiblicher sicht je nach lebensalter: erst erwachen, dann desinteresse, heulanfälle, wut, ja hassgefühle, dann friedliche geilheit, heute: pure energie dh an einschlafen ist kaum zu denken.
ich meine, das liegt daran, ob die zervix befreit ist, ob man den partner liebt, ob man schlimme erfahrungen gemacht hat, ob man das finale alleinesein aushalten kann oder ?
keine ahnung. spannendes thema. :D
alex63, June 8, 2018 at 7:06:15 PM CEST
Danke, nach fast 15 Jahren nun also die zweite Antwort einer Frau. Ich sehe schon, es scheint komplizierter zu sein als bei mir, was mich jetzt nicht so wirklich wundert. Ihr seid einfach das komplexere Geschlecht. Ansonsten wäre es ja auch langweilig. Bei mir wird die sexuelle Vereinigung in letzter Zeit immer mehr zu einem Nachhausekommen und die anschließende physische Trennung macht mir nicht mehr so viel aus. Ich fühle mich satt und zufrieden und genieße die körperliche Entspannung. Das hört sich sehr banal an, aber so ist es. Ich bin auch nicht wirklich traurig darüber, dass mir der postkoitale Blues etwas abhanden gekommen ist. Das mit dem Erwachen am Anfang habe ich jetzt nicht ganz kapiert. Schläfst Du beim Sex?
liuea, June 8, 2018 at 10:08:54 PM CEST
LOL nö eigentlich nicht. Ich antworte mal vorsichtig: g.co
jacksawyer, November 4, 2019 at 11:08:18 PM CET
After the ecstacy, the laundry
Moments of transendence remind us of what is possible. We are here to, as far as possible, extend that transcendence, joy, unity, pleasure, to all of life. It's simple, but not easy. Best wishes.
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