Albert Chavannes and "Magnetation"

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[From Wikipedia] Albert Chavannes (February 23, 1836 – May 3, 1903) was a Swiss-born American author, philosopher, and sociologist, active primarily in the late 19th century.

Chavannes used the term "vital force" to describe the intellectual, emotional and sexual energy stored within the body.[16]:6 Intellectual vital force, he believed, is stored in the brain, emotional vital force is stored behind the heart, and sexual vital force is stored in the genitalia.[16]:28 Memory is the result of modifications to a person's vital force.[16]:13

"Magnetism," [actually "magnetation," a term he and Lloyd used interchangeably with karezza] according to Chavannes, is the exchange of vital force between two individuals.[16]:25 Intellectual magnetism involves the exchange of thoughts, emotional magnetism involves the exchange of sympathy and affection, and sexual magnetism is exchanged through ejaculation during sexual intercourse.[16]:30-40 Chavannes believed that individuals require magnetic equilibrium, and suggested that misbehavior and general unpleasantness result from too much or too little stored vital force.[16]:45

Chavannes argued that the exchange of magnetism through ejaculation ruined an individual's equilibrium.[16]:90-1 He suggested that individuals therefore practice sexual continence.

Here's an excerpt from his essay "Magnetation" (pp. 23-25):

I see no difference in the excitement of the brain and that of the sexual organs, except that they are differently effected, but I claim that both are due to friction, and that the same law governs them both. A mild excitement of the brain, such as is caused by laughter, or pleasant conversation, is beneficial to the whole organism, while too great an excitement of the brain, such as is caused by fear or anger, is detrimental to the whole organism, first because it greatly reduces the supply of force in the brain, and next because it sends through the nerves too strong a current for their carrying capacity. After any such excitement there is a reaction, which proves that too much strain has been caused, and that the brain must have time to recuperate its power.

This waste of brain power, due to too great or constant excitement, is the cause of the nervous diseases which are fast coming to be a curse upon civilized communities.

The same law works true in sexual excitement. While a mild and prolonged excitement acts beneficently, causing the diffusion of sexual magnetism all through the system, enabling it to undergo the beneficent change due to the blending of the male and female elements, the intense excitement which usually precedes procreation is more or less hurtful to the individual, and is always followed by a reaction. I have, for a number of years, felt convinced that there is a very close similarity between fits of anger and sexual orgasms, and the more I learn, the more certain I am that this belief is correct.

The problem of magnetation is, first to produce the necessary excitement to induce the reservoirs of sexual magnetism to release a portion of their contents, so that they may diffuse themselves through the whole system, and next to keep that excitement within such bounds that it shall not be followed by a reaction. The difference between the excitement necessary for procreation and that for magnetation is one of degree and not of kind. In procreation the excitement is so great that the overflow of sexual magnetism caused by it has no time to diffuse itself, and the blending takes place where it can be followed by conception, while in magnetation, the excitement of being kept under reasonable bounds, the flow of sexual magnetism is more moderate and better controlled and has time to diffuse itself.

It is a question of self-control, and if anyone asks me how the control is acquired and exercised, my only answer is that it is done in the same way that we control the excitement of the brain. It is a result of the power of the mind, and is exercised by the use of the will. It cannot be taught by others and is the result of self-improvement.

And these excerpts come from his short book, also called Magnetation:

[The sexual vital force] has special potentialities ...which, if they can be used by the parent organism for his own benefit, must have better results than can be derived from [intellectual or emotional] magnetisms. It must result in an increase of vitality, and probably in the prolongation of life. (p.76).

As the tendency to child-bearing diminishes [as people gain intellectual and physical force], it becomes quite a problem to know what shall be done with the increase in sexual force [no longer expended in raising lots of children] so that it shall become a blessing and not a curse to society. (p.78)

The change from procreation to magnetation is...an economic question because the population question is the most important question which humanity has to solve ... it is hopeless to try to improve the economic conditions of a people who increase faster than the means of subsistence, or to regenerate individuals conceived in disease and raised in poverty. It is a social question because it influences individual character, which is the only sure basis of social improvement. (p.79)

Success [with magnetation] depends upon union and reciprocity. Not the reciprocity of a moment of passion, as is too often the case in procreation, but the reciprocity of affection, based upon these qualities which are the foundation of the social virtues.It requires good personal control in both sexes, teaches kindness and forbearance, broadens the mind and destroys jealousy. It creates an atmosphere of sympathy and attraction which reaches far out from the family circle, and will in time modify the industrial relations. Surely such a change in the use of sex force is needed, and as it must be controlled by our intelligence it cannot be successfully accomplished unless we have a clear idea of the ends we desire and of the means by which they can be attained.(p.80)

The persons who believe that their sex force can be turned back from its original function of reproducing the race to adding to their own physical powers, and wish to reap this benefit must study themselves and find out the limit of their self-control, so as to avoid as far as possible that complete surrender to passionate desire which is always the precursor of procreation.

The effort is not nearly as difficult or hopeless as some persons suppose. We have all around us examples of the power of the brain to control the subordinate organisms, and there is no reason why the sex force should not be brought into proper subjection whenever men and women will have developed sufficiently to recognize how necessary it is to curb their inherited propensities, and how great will be the reward of this new advance in civilization. (p.85)

While the ascetics of old taught the non-use of sex force as pleasing to God and worthy of a reward after death, evolution philosophers teach self-control in the use of sex force as a means of increasing the sum total of happiness for those who exercise it.

What then is the incentive to magnetation? How will it increase personal happiness? Briefly told, it is claimed that it furnishes a more satisfactory and less wasteful method than procreation for restoring the equilibrium of sex force.(p.86)

Sex force used in magnetation, instead of being wasted, is returned to the whole organism, and ...the equilibrium can be restored without the waste entailed by procreation. (p.88)

[Engagement is the ideal time to experience magnetation] without any of the waste entailed by procreation, and undisturbed by the cares of a home and family. Under these favorable circumstances young girls have recovered their health and spirits, and young men have found renewed strength to fight temptations or to overcome the difficulties which stood in their way.

But after all, while the presumption is all in favor of the good results of magnetation, it is like the question of self-control, one to be left for personal experience. Surroundings, temperaments, habits, inherited tendencies will have their influences. It may be very easy for some personas to diffuse their sex force, while for others the tendency to localization may be so strong that it cannot be overcome.

But what we may do is to teach that the practice of restoring the equilibrium of sex force by procreation is attended with more or less waste, and that it can be restored by magnetation with benefit to the health and happiness of the persons concerned. (p.92-3)

Magnetation depends upon reciprocity, and there can be reciprocity only between equals. ... Sex slavery precludes the free exchange of sex magnetism, and will have to be abolished before the full benefits of magnetation can be secured. (p.96)

It is but right to state that if economic conditions and superstitious beliefs have had a tendency to make man over-assertive, the same influences have made woman mercenary, and she will have to correct herself of that defect before right relations can be established between the sexes. (p.97)

[A] perfect state of receptivity...can greatly increase the transfer of magnetism, and upon it depends in a great measure the success of magnetation. (p.98)

If there is danger to society in unregulated procreation, there is safety in magnetation, for it is based on self-control, and by its help the proper equilibrium can be safely maintained, and society will learn in time that the sex force, which untamed must be placed under outside restraints to keep it from bringing too much misery into the world, can, when its potentialities are known, be placed under personal subjection, and play an important part in the increase of happiness and the advance of civilization.

...Whenever it is well understood that there is less danger in intelligent freedom than in ignorant slavery, and that the free social commingling of the sexes tends to restore the proper equilibrium, while undue restraint tends to such an accumulation of sex force as to destroy the equilibrium and induce to abnormal actions in efforts to restore it, the tendency to trust young girls with the control of their conduct will greatly increase and the growing spirit of independence will receive much more encouragement. (p.102)

It is very satisfactory to persons who hold the views that I do, to see the gradual dying out of the puritanical spirits, and especially to note the breaking down of the opposition to the dance, for [dancing] offers the most available mode of magnetation for young people under present conditions. The excitement of the music, the exercise of the limbs and the close proximity of the sexes tend to release a large amount of sex magnetism and to induce considerable equilibration, while the length of time that it can be kept up allows it to be enjoyed to full satisfaction. Dancing...is the best safeguard against sexual excess while the kissing plays, so much in favor where dancing is denounced, are sure to excite the passions and to leave the persons who indulge in those pastimes in a state of ferment which leads them very easily to succumb to temptation. (p. 103)

The frequency of divorce shows that there is a weak spot in the marriage relation for it certainly was not contemplated at the time the union was consummated, and I am inclined to believe that this weak spot is the ignorance of the dual function of sex force and of the antagonism which exists between magnetation and procreation. (p. 104)

A proper regard for the married happiness of youths of both sexes ought to lead to their being taught:

  1. that sex force is a natural force, as pure and deserving of gratification as any force within us, and that if society has placed it under restraint, it is not because its expression is degrading to the human character, but because its uncontrolled results are inimical to the advance of civilization.
  2. that all expressions of love are due to the presence of sex force. These expressions may be such as may be accounted most chaste, or they maybe coarse and aggressive, but their source is the same and they are all attempts to equilibrate the sex force within us.
  3. That marriage is the legal method of this equilibration sanctioned by society, which looks upon it as a sexual contract, entered upon for the gratification of sexual desires.(p. 105)

To retain [their] attraction, a young couple entering into married life must have a rational view of the function of sex force and a desire to use it to its best advantage, as well as a knowledge of the results that will follow if they use it in procreation or in magnetation. ... How does it come to pass then, that failings that were so easily overlooked during courtship should assume such proportions after marriage? To my mind the answer is plain. Before marriage sexual equilibration was taking place through magnetation, after marriage it usually takes place through procreation, and the whole secret lies in the fact that procreation localizes the sex force and throws it off as fast as generated, while magnetation diffuses it through the system to conserve its power of attraction. In one case the force which originally caused the attraction is no longer used for that purpose, but to perpetuate the race, while in the other case it is so stored as to maintain and use its attracting power. (p. 106-7, emphasis added)

Magnetation is an art, and cannot be attained through the unregulated impulses of ignorant individuals, nor can the necessary development be reached so long as false views of the sex relation control the education of the youths of both sexes.(p. 108)

If, instead of inculcating in married people the idea of mutual ownership with its resulting jealousy, personal independence and equal rights were the ruling principle in marriage, both partners would find among their friends and acquaintances persons who, by ways perfectly compatible with their married position and the pledges they have made to each other, would relieve them of undue magnetic pressure due to incomplete equilibration.

Knowledge and self-control lead to individual independence and are necessary conditions to social progress, and it is because I believe it will help the onward march of these social forces that I advocate the change from Procreation to Magnetation.(p. 112)

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