cover image Myth and Sexuality

Myth and Sexuality

Jamake Highwater. Dutton Books, $18.95 (224pp) ISBN 978-0-453-00708-5

``Our bodies are the cosmos,'' asserts Highwater; each society's fundamental values and myths predetermine its conception of the human body and sexuality. To classical Greeks, the body was an idealized locus of beauty; to pioneer sexologists influenced by the mechanistic worldview of science, the body was a pleasure-pain machine; in our own era of consumer capitalism, the body is a sexualized commodity. Author of many books on Native American culture, Highwater attempts to map a mythic history of the body in this ambitious, imaginative essay. From egalitarian Neolithic worshippers of the Great Mother through the Greeks' dethroning of women, to the pervasive ``sex-negative'' attitudes said to stem from Jewish, Christian and Zoroastrian beliefs, we have lost any sense of the body as spiritual, the author provocatively suggests, in a book that will appeal to fans of Joseph Campbell. (Feb.)