“I am not who I was, my greatest part has perished.
Fatigue – and dread too – cling to what survives
Since what is worn out
Now in body parts has died,
Alas, how much life
Remains for old men?” (1.5.)
In “The Elegies of Maximianus by Maximianus, A. M. Juster (Translator), Michael Roberts (Introduction)
As Juster points out, Maximianus is one of the greatest writers who wrote on the Gentle-Slide-into-Decrepitude-Concerning-Sex-in-Old-Age. In one of the poems, most of it is addressed to the mentula (penis). Maximianus writes about the demise of his own member, inert and crestfallen, and as good as dead. On the other hand, his girlfriend suffers from a worse disease (meaning: she’s sexually frustrated).
So much of a man’s sense of himself is wrapped up in a tube of skin. I always wondered as a kid if the TV series “The Six Million Dollar Man” was a veiled nod to the anguish of the impotent/old man. Austin had his bionics and secret missions to compensate for his rather sad and lonely, and sexless existence. But, Lee Majors does convey very well the quiet masculinity of an injured (no longer whole man), such that one feels there’s more to a man than his sexuality. I'm not still in the old age bracket, so I can't speak from experience, but what Maximianus writes about makes me cringe all over.
This brings to light an uncomfortable truth that is seldom admitted - a taboo as it were: lots of people do not have sex. Lots of people can't have sex for all sorts of reasons. And yet, liberals strongly suggest that sex is the pinnacle of human happiness and an experience available to all - that there is “someone out there for everyone.” No, there is not. Liberals have torn down or repudiated all other systems of human connection - family, unionised employment, social solidarity - and replaced it with their religion of sexual freedom. But not sex as an expression of love in the context of a relationship - but just the pleasurable experience of sex, rather like one were enjoying a delicious desert or making a new purchase. Like in the free market, there are winners and losers in the free sexual market. Not only does having a beautiful, healthy body accord one sexual advantages, but all sort of social and economic ones too. The not so beautiful or physically functional people find themselves lower down in the societal hierarchy. And just like the economic free market, the sexual free market has collateral - children with their minds warped by porn, teenage girls starving themselves, the ugly, those of old age, sex workers, women who finds themselves feeling used and degraded after the hundredth hook-up. But even the sexual Gordon Gecko's lose out in the end. All the diets, fitness regimes and cosmetic modifications won't change the fact that we will all age and die. Thus, they find themselves in a state of anomie and restless narcissism, struggling to maintain their youth in the face of the inevitable, perhaps realising all too late that is not sex that mitigates our mortality, but love.
What people want to enjoy these days is an extended adolescence of sexual hedonism while never actually growing up to be responsible adults and parents in committed partnerships. Infants are overly concerned with their own pleasure. Modern liberal sexual mores are a manifestation of the infantalisation - or arrested puberticisation - of adults. Sexual experimentation is no longer a stage on the journey towards adult monogamy and parenthood, but something that is supposed to continue on forever.
Ever read Hemingway's Fiesta? Brilliant book (if you skip over the animal cruelty). The narrator had his balls shot off in the war. The whole book is about how life is tough, if you are a bloke. All you can ever hope for is a bottle of wine, a cigar, and bullfight now and then. That's OK. No point in moaning about it. I hope I feel the same way when I’m old and grey too. When men in their prime are up for it (pun intended), women usually have a headache. Maybe the old adage will come true, that later in life, it's the women who can't get enough and the men are more interested in polishing their five iron. If it's true it’ll be heartbreaking and one of life's cruel (5) ironies…
Bottom-line: As Bette Midler says: "Twenty goes into eighty a lot more times than eighty goes into twenty."