San Felipe, Baja, Mexico
Another Brick in the Wall

Are we living in neurotic times? According to Freud, all positive creative activities are sublimations and derive predominantly from the sex drive. But in almost the same breath the venerable Austrian wrote that our secret sexual desires lay at the bottom of hysterical neuroses.

In post 9/11 United States, neurosis and suspicion not only govern all centers of cosmopolitan activity, they are rife in every venue of the culture. The Internet is a virtual bullhorn that broadcasts Uncle Sam’s feverish preoccupation with everything un-American. If the plethora of rhetoric generated by governments, blogs and the press can be interpreted as examples of Freudian sublimations, then the source might possibly be inferred from the subject line of countless emails that flood into the average internet user’s inbox at a steady, tidal rate. These missives almost unanimously refer to a subject that has been a cultural focus throughout the world for millennium –the phallus.

Phallus worship is an integral part of any patriarchal society. Such cultures tacitly or openly revere the principles of machismo and the hormonal helmsmanship of testosterone. Hegemony, imperialism, tyranny, hostile take-overs and monopoly are its signposts. It’s an Old Testament persuasion that funnels all intents and actions into a pipette that drips out the ultimate goal: Nietzsche’s Will-to-Power.

Evidence of phallus worship can be found in many countries, both ancient and modern. It was conspicuous in ancient Egypt, India, Syria, Babylon, Assyria, Persia, Greece, Italy, Spain, Germany, Scandinavia, and among the Gauls. In Egypt the phallus is frequently represented as the symbol of generation. According to Ptolemy, the phallus was the object of religious worship among the Assyrians and Persians. In Syria, according to St. Jerome, Baal-Peor was represented with a phallus in his mouth. The Jews also partook in pallus worship. According to Ezekiel xvi. 17.[1] women manufactured phalli of gold and silver. Among the Hindoos a religious reverence was paid to the Lingam and Yoni, and the Greeks and Romans similarly addressed the Phallus and Cteis. The Teuton and Scandinavian god Fricco corresponded to the Priapus of the Romans and was adored under the form of a phallus. Hortanes, a similar god, was equally important to Spain.

Phallus worship has been discovered in the New World too, in America, Mexico, and Peru. According to John Lloyd Stephens, the upright pillar in front of the temples of Yucatan is a phallus. An ancient document written by a companion of Hernando Cortez reads: "In certain countries, and particularly at Panuco, they adore the phallus (il membro che portano gli nomini fra le gambe), and it is preserved in the temples."

In ancient times all natural events were consecrated to some divinity, from whom they were supposed to emanate. Egyptians assigned the act of generation to Khem; the Assyrians attributed it to Vul. In India, Siva was the honored god while in the primitive pastoral age of Greece, it was Pan and then later, Priapus. Ancient Italians directed their veneration to Mutinus. Among the Mexicans, the god of generation was named Triazoltenti. All these dieties represented the fructifying powers in man and nature.

The ancient religious fervor associated with the worship of the phallus is far removed from our modern attitude. Today the preeminent deity is Mammon, or to give it a collegiate name, economics. Modern worship employs the phallus as an arrow that points the quickest path to a credit card.

For example, one of multiple and redundant emails I received this morning was a promotion for a pill that, within 15 minutes of ingestion, would allow me to ‘hold a brick on my dick’. I thought, Now there’s a useful product. I can convert my genitalia into a one brick hod. This definitely broadens my work horizons. And adds new meaning to the job description of ‘laying bricks’.

I clicked on the link, feeling like a cat about to be killed.

The browser produced a frame around a heavily airbrushed young woman in a nurse’s outfit. There was a green cross on her career cap. Her mouth was provocatively agape, right hand clutching a skirt pleat on a tilted hip. Balanced on the open palm of her left hand, held toward the camera like some kind of votive offering, was a small box of Cialis, its green (cooincidence?) label Photoshopped into brutal clarity.

The nurse looked like a pheromone in white cotton. Her eyes, two smoking embers, were charged with the sexual electrical potential that promised to unload a blue bolt across the axioms of any man’s private fantasy. The front of her frock was cleverly designed to showcase her breasts, which were preternaturally round and jammed together like the Symplegades, the mythical ‘Clashing Rocks’ between which Jason and his Argonauts had to navigate to reach the Hellespont.

The ad made several bold promises for its product, the Cialis Soft Tab (to my mind, an ill-chosen name) which was ‘formulated to be soft and dissolvable under the tongue. The pill is absorbed at the mouth and enters the bloodstream directly instead of going through the stomach. This results in a faster more powerful effect which still lasts up to 36 hours’. The term for these kinds of pills is sublingual, a word I am sure the author of the ad would have gotten a lot of mileage out of if he or she had been aware of it.

One of the claims was that the effects of the drug lasted up to 36 hours. So someone could conceivably put in two days of bricklaying before needing a recharge. Almost in the same breath it added that the new dissolvable tab had less side effects than its pill-form siblings. ‘…you can drive or mix alcohol drinks’. It’s not clear whether these are things you are permitted to do because of the mild systemic effects of the tab or because of added abilities bestowed by the tab’s influence on the targeted area. If it is a case of the latter, then I strongly suggest you take your martinis á la Bond --shaken not stirred.

The ad makes a point of comparing its product’s effect against Pfizer Viagra. It does this graphically, using a bar chart. The vertical axis is marked off in percentage points while the horizontal axis indicates time from zero to seventy five minutes. The Viagra line is green while the Cialis Soft Tab line is yellow. For the first eighty percent of efficacy, the green line (Viagra) makes seven course changes over a roughly 45 degree ascent. But the yellow line, the Cialis Soft Tab, surges upward with rampant vigor at about a 70 degree angle, stopping in record time near the 100 percentile mark which, to my mind, could have been better represented by a belly button. The Soft Tab achieved in 15 minutes what Pfizer Viagra required 75 minutes to muster, according to the chart. Coincidentally, the pre-Viagra/Cialis generations could probably draw a one-to-one correlation between a man’s age and the response under each pill’s performance on the chart. Fifteen for the fifteen year old and seventy-five for the seventy-five.

Not since Samuel Colt made all men equal in 1835 has a product shown such similar applications. Colt worked on a device that minimized the amount of time for reloading. It seems Cialis is trying to follow suit.

What kind of people wave the icons of their credit cards at the faux nurse with the green cross on her hat? Are they in any way linked to the ancient cults of phallus worshippers? The website contained a link to a page of testimonials, the majority thanking the company for preempting any possibility of anxiety or embarrassment over inert or malfunctioning equipment. The ancients experienced similar anxieties when seasonal rains were sparse or didn’t arrive at all. Crops became limp and shriveled. Priests and citizens felt the pangs of inadequacy, the guilt of not having performed to the satisfaction of a higher power. Often a human life was offered to redress the imagined offense and bring about the sacred showers, the holy semen that cyclically generated the gifts of the earth. It was a rudimentary act of commerce, a primal economic artifice that ensured the basic needs of a society.

Today there is no longer any threat of guilt or need for contrition. Soft Tabs secures your confidence and guarantees the sacred rains will come whenever they are called upon. The nurse in the green cross hat pledges that your crop will be firm and hearty. All it takes is a few keystrokes to enter your credit card number and you’ve stepped out of a river of superstition and reverence that stretches back to Neolithic times.

Intimacy used to be a function of communication. The Logos was relied upon to administer the proper mood, weave a climate of intimacy with whispers and purring feints. Now, in this age of declining literacy and fractured education, the answer to sexual response lies under the tongue. And thus pharmacology has made mute the enchantment of sex. Maybe that’s why the nurse in the green cross hat has her mouth agape.