A Return to Eros is poetry. And not just poetry in spirituality, where poetry often catalyzes the spirit. Nor in eroticism, to which poetry often opens the door. But poetry in philosophy, poetry in science, and poetry in history—where poetry is often a stranger.
As such, A Return to Eros is not a book that will prove the return of eros footnote by footnote. It is a book that generates the feel of eros sentence by poetic sentence.
A Return to Eros does not fit into any recognizable genre. It is not pure scholarship even as it is scholarly. It is not self-help even as it inspires transformation. It is not religious in nature even as it offers visions that seek to unify the agnostic and the fundamentalist.
In fact, part of the delight of A Return to Eros is the element of surprise: Will we be treated to history or the future? To spiritual insight or scientific fact? To philosophy’s sustainable gifts or to Gafni and Kincaid’s reworking of those gifts toward the deepening of our future erotic wisdom.
When it comes to the future of love, sex, and eros, what society often sees as black or white, the authors see in shades of grey.
They invite us to confront our cognitive dissonance: “puritanism lives side-by-side with promiscuity.” Or: “We are not sure whether we are living in the golden age of sex or in a rape culture.” The authors venture where others fear to tread: how we deal with rape of the body versus rape of a reputation should there be a false accusation. What is black-and-white to some is a continuum for the authors: “Regret is not rape, and arousal is not consent. . .”
Yet still greater gifts of A Return to Eros are not in its surprises but in its weaving of diverse insights into a vision that is greater than the sum of its parts. The authors’ integration of the disciplines presents us with a tapestry that reweaves the source code of culture. We dance to the music of the tango that was sex and eros and then listen for the tango that sex and eros can become.
A Return to Eros, then, is paradoxical: It is both the return of eros and the future of eros. It is the return of love, sex, and eros; and the future of love, sex, and eros. It is about the history of religion’s constraints on sex; and about the history of religion’s lack of constraints on sex—especially how the esoterics’ embrace of sex forge the erotic and holy into one. As we discover religion’s esoterics embracing the erotic, we awaken our personal potential to heal our relationship with religion. It soon becomes no surprise when Gafni and Kincaid declare that A Return to Eros is all about sex and not at all about sex.
Although A Return to Eros is a return to the wisdom of Solomon’s Temple, the Magdalene Mysteries, and Da Vinci, it is not a book about the past. Rather, it is a vision rooted in wisdoms forgotten from our past that inspire a more erotic future—what Gafni and Kincaid call a “memory of the future.”
All of this may make us yearn for simpler answers. But we recall Gafni’s warning: When simplicity falls short of reality, it leaves us feeling disappointed and disillusioned. A Return to Eros selects for readers who know that bringing the unconscious to the conscious level rewards us with the capacity to control our own lives—even if part of that control is the choice to “let go, and let God.” And when we bring philosophies like “let go, and let God” to the conscious level, we discover when we are using it to avoid responsibility. Eros, like golf, requires our both taking control of the way we hit the ball even as we let go of control of the way we hit the ball. To Gafni and Kincaid, holding the paradox of eros is a taste of paradise.
A Return to Eros considers “Eros to be the center of our reality. . . to live erotically not merely in the sexual but in every facet of being.” Their examination of the twelve faces of the Erotic, and the many wrinkles among those faces, is like being conscious of every drop in the next shower you take. The mere experience of considering every drop of the shower as if they were “all there is” will leave you feeling as enlivened as you will feel after reading A Return to Eros.
Foreword by Dr. Warren Farrell, Author, The Myth of Male Power, www.warrenfarrell.com, from the newly published book A Return to Eros by Marc Gafni & Kristina Kincaid — one of the key think tank projects of the Center for Integral Wisdom.