TAGR #10: Sex Transmutation

Steven Barnes and wife Tananarive Due on beach.

“Sex transmutation is simple and easily explained. It means the switching of the mind from thoughts of physical expression, to thoughts of some other nature.”–Napoleon Hill

Boy oh boy. My favorite chapter of this book!  I’ve seen COUNTLESS articles on “Think and Grow Rich” and trust me: the subject of this chapter is discussed less than any other, distorted more, skirted around, apologized for…its hysterical.

Because there is NOTHING that is more motivating than sex other than core survival itself.  Core survival unleashes ordinarily superhuman capacities: time distortion, absolute strength, blocking of fear and pain stimulus…all sorts of Spiderman stuff.

But sex is right down there next to that most basic source of power, and one we can tap into any time we want.    

1. The men of greatest achievement are men with highly developed sex natures; men who have learned the art of sex transmutation.

2. The men who have accumulated great fortunes and achieved outstanding recognition in literature, art, industry, architecture, and the professions, were motivated by the influence of a woman.

Just as most of the comments in this book are of people of European heritage, non-white folks have to “translate” many of these ideas, and that can slow down the baud rate of information transferral.

Similarly, most of the lessons are extracted from the lives of men, and a similar transferral will be necessary for women.

And in this chapter, every word is about heterosexual relationships (and mostly men in them) so ANOTHER level of transferral becomes necessary.  Can you thread those needles?  If you are black, female, and gay it might seem difficult.

I’m not totally certain how or if the game changes.  It would, for instance, be fascinating to discover that the average lesbian out-performs the average heterosexual woman…and to determine if that has anything to do with what Hill is implying, and what has been said countless times in countless ways: that there is something particularly inspiring about women, something that balances and heals the dynamic driving “performance” energy that creates external results.  I honestly don’t know.

So…let’s default to “people are people” shall we? And just say that sex motivates us, male or female, gay or straight, white or black.  And restate those two comments:

“1) The people of greatest achievement are people with highly developed sex natures, people who have learned the art of sex transmutation.

2) The people who have accumulated great fortunes and achieved outstanding recognition in literature, art, industry, architecture, and the professions, were motivated by the influence of a lover or attractive person.”

Can we do that?  If so, I think some conclusions can be reached about Sex Transmutation, and I want to “core dump” them as quickly as possible.

1) No stimulant or emotion is more explosive than sex, and therefore more potentially powerful.

2) “Genius” can be created deliberately, by “stepping up” the “vibrations of thought”, then concentrating on your object and the plans for their accomplishment, and awaiting intuitive leaps.

3) You can study the lives of any highly accomplished person and you will find that they have a highly developed sex drive.

4) “Charisma” and “personal magnetism” (critical in sales and politics, for instance) are nothing but channeled sex drive.

5) People rarely reach their peak accomplishment until they learn to control this drive, to focus it on success rather  physical expression.   In 1937, this was the age of 40 or 50.  Today?  Who knows?

The salesman who knows how to take his mind off the subject of sex, and direct it in sales effort with as much enthusiasm and determination as he would apply to its original purpose, has acquired the art of sex transmutation, whether he knows it or not.”

There you have it.  When you can take the reproductive/pleasure urge and deliberately attach it to the activities that will lead you to your goals, you’ve nailed it.

For years I studied sexual magic with Harley Reagan and his circle of rather extraordinary “Firewomen.”   But I clearly remember the very first thing he ever taught me about it.  He offered a very specific formula:

1) Get a clear image of the desired goal.  I.E.—cut a picture of the house you want to buy out of a magazine, post it on the wall.

2) You and your partner focus on that image together.

3) Begin to make love.  Hold the image in your minds as you increase intensity, and through the orgasm.

I remember listening to that and thinking: “Holy shit.  He just anchored the most powerful positive sensation the human nervous system is capable of processing to a primary goal.   Do that correctly, and ANYTHING you do that takes you in the direction of that house will cause a little `endorphin bump.’”

Yeah, and now, looking back, can you see at least one other powerful effect?

Remember that your lover/partner/spouse can and should be your primary mastermind?  Now you have two people in perfect alignment, focused on the same accomplishment. They can support each other’s actions, share stress, brainstorm, and reward each other.  THAT is powerful.  I knew instantly that this was something valuable, and when I went back and re-read TAGR I was even more convinced.

When driven by his desire to please a woman, based solely upon the emotion of sex, a man may be, and usually is, capable of great achievement, but his actions may be disorganized, distorted, and totally destructive. When driven by his desire to please a woman, based upon the motive of sex alone, a man may steal, cheat, and even commit murder. But when the emotion of LOVE is mixed with the emotion of sex, that same man will guide his actions with more sanity, balance, and reason.

O.K.  Again, substitute “people.”   Sex is powerful but more easily corrupted.   Sex and love together has the ability to ennoble. Why?  I would say survival…but both personal AND genetic.

Why?  Because sex and love together isn’t just wild bedroom frolics. For thousands of generations of human beings, it has been the potential of children and raising a family.  My suspicion?  That it works precisely the same way for gay couples, so we needn’t fixate upon the “reproductive” capacity of sex as if that biological function is all that matters.  The EMOTIONAL/SPIRITUAL aspect is right there in our wiring.

And to raise children, a healthy community is essential.  Allies. Partners. A circle of parents watching each other’s kids.  That was certainly the neighborhood of my childhood.

And love, sex, and faith combined? The building of a family, the creation of a shared future, the bringing of dreams into solid existence. To not only bring pleasure and security to you as an individual, but building a safer world for children and grandchildren.

All of this is connected.  And there are years of study we could put here, but the most basic aspects are already discussed here and in the eleventh chapter.   A last thought about this:

Everything I’ve accomplished in my life flowed from my decision to be respected by the men I respected, and desired by the women I desired.   I wouldn’t change that decision for anything in the world.


All right, let’s look at this aspect in relation to the racial situation in America.   The “family”-“Sex” connection was devastated by slavery: children could be sold, husbands killed for protecting their wives’ chastity, and women were in a situation that makes “workplace sexual harassment” look like “Queen for a Day.”

Conservatives love to quote statistics about the destruction of the black family, and take correlation (it began in the 1960s) to causality (the rise of the Great Society and welfare).  Fine.  I don’t believe they are extending their humanity when they say it.  To me, this is deeply dishonest and illogical:

So 300 years of slavery, rape, Jim Crow, brainwashing, kidnapping, theft of services and segregation DIDN’T  damage the black family, but 50 years of someone trying, even mistakenly, to compensate did?

To me, that’s like saying that I tie you up in the basement and beat you and rape you for a year, and then free you, and someone feeds you sandwiches for a week.    And I blame your limp, nightmares, and dysfunction on the tuna fish.  Riiiight.

But that’s just me.   What we CAN say is that there HAS been damage to the black family, and it is black people who must heal it.  Sex is one of the easiest, fastest, best ways to feel good. And that it is therefore in reference to “Sex Transmutation” a potential “leak” in your operating system: easy stress relief when you SHOULD be taking that energy and focusing it on accomplishment.

But the goal can’t be easy sex…it needs to be a stable relationship, and in most societies through most of time, the creation of children and grandchildren.  This began to shift as we hit max population and got birth control, as well as developed means of avoiding venereal disease.  Yah-Hoo!!

The human sex drive, set loose from primary evolutionary purpose, for the first time in our existence!   Gotta love it.

But there are indeed negatives: when it is no longer a genetic survival risk to abandon your children…behavior changes.

There is a great expression I heard in a movie once: “men are the gas, women are the brakes.” Which makes sense since there is a vast difference in absolute investment of time and energy in the creation of a child. The woman MUST be there for nine months, while the man COULD skip happily on his way…

Absent need to protect that genetic/memetic investment, or social mores, or legal strictures…

Remember the sexual revolution?  Bad timing in some ways.

We also have to ask what destroys relationships, and the #1 cause is MONEY, or lack thereof.   Emotional stresses, angers, disappointments, disasters can push people together…or drive them apart.   Any old culture has ways of controlling these things, driving these emotions. Setting up the “hoops” that you have to jump through to be allowed access to sex: jobs, courtesy, maturity, service, all kinds of things.  When you can get sex just by wanting it?  A lot of these motivators for maturity go away. Same problem with drugs: when you can feel good without doing anything, why the hell should you do it?

Every old culture understand and compensates for these things…but African cultures, languages, histories, spiritual practices and more were deliberately and almost completely destroyed.  THAT was what made Alex Haley’s “Roots” so remarkable—he might well have been the first modern descendant of slaves to ever trace his heritage back to the Mother Land…something that literally every white or Asian I’d ever known in childhood could do easily.

Human beings, deprived of the cultural information that creates their societies and identities, aren’t much smarter than Chimps. 

I don’t think we can directly count the damage done, but we can see it indirectly: just look at any of the statistics on differential performance between racial groups, and IMO you’re looking at the shadow of the damage.  This is PRECISELY why those descended from or related to the oppressor group need to deny the damage: the guilt and fear of retaliation are crushing.

But we must BOTH see where the damage originated, and understand that it is the job of the community itself to heal the damage. No one on the outside can do it.

And the family is the primary unit of support, education, and nurturance.   Love, sex, faith, romance. The damage to that family must be healed, and I suggest that we do this with another adaptation of the “five part” formula:

1) Love yourself.  Enough to want the very best.

2) Expand your “self” to include others.  Especially one beloved. Someone to love as you love yourself.

3) Understand the flow of humanity without guilt, blame, or shame. And this includes the male-female schism.  Brothers and sisters, if you haven’t healed this one, you have a MAJOR wound. In America, frankly, I see a lot of side-eye around an unspoken scream black women have for black men: “If you #$$%% had been on your job and killed every white man who set foot on African soil, we wouldn’t be in this @#$$ now!

Ouch.  Anger, hostility, real serious deep existential pain.   Heal the schism within yourself, forgive yourself, go beyond fear.  Understanding how Europe took Africa not the other way around WITHOUT needing to believe in inferiority or superiority could be a very useful thing. I suggest “Guns, Germs, and Steel” by Jared Diamond, a fabulous exploration of this question.

4) Learn to recognize your Soul Mate.   Go deep into your heart, acknowledge your real hopes and dreams, forgive yourself for not being perfect.  If you are not yet healthy, don’t seek a love partner—you can’t do better than YOU are.   Heal. And then seek your partner. Be very careful with unprotected, potentially reproductive sex: DON’T MAKE BABIES YOU AREN’T GOING TO RAISE AND PROTECT. 

I hear comedians joking about not liking any of their girlfriend’s friends.  You know, I suspect there is a LOT more of that than there is “not liking my friend’s friends” why?  Because they are hypnotized by the nookie.   You are choosing sexual partners who, absent the sexual magnetism, you’d want nothing to do with.    That is just silly, and unproductive.   I say that your sexual partner should be someone you’d hang out with if you were the same gender.  Heck, if T and I had both been guys, we’d have had a wild time meeting the ladies.

 There are three billion people on the planet with the plumbing you’re looking for. If you can’t find a healthy one, the problem is in the mirror.

And of course—REALLY be careful of the Monsters. There really are men and women out there who relish destroying your soul. How can you spot them?  The fastest way is to talk to their previous partners. And if you can’t?  BE CAREFUL.  KEEP YOUR GUARD UP until you have a chance to spot their patterns of behavior under stress.  And when you see negative behaviors?

Once is happenstance, Twice is coincidence, The third time, its enemy action.

There is nothing that can destroy your life and ambitions as rapidly as the wrong sexual/romantic partner.

On the other hand…

Long ago, I knew a woman who was married to a very rich man. She had told me on multiple occasions that she considered herself responsible for his success. They eventually divorced.  I found myself in intimate circumstances with her one night, and let’s just say it was a rather remarkable experience.  The entire time, she was murmuring in my ear: 

“You are a god.  You are wonderful and wondrous.  Everything you have ever desired is yours…

Holy crap.   Wow.   Can you imagine what it would feel like to have THAT kind of programming hitting your nervous system when you are lit up sexually?   Anchor THOSE ideas with pleasure, reprogramming yourself?

It is difficult to overstate the power. Put it this way: what do you think happens when the person you are connected to sexually tears you DOWN in moments of intimacy? Think that’s damaging?

Look at it another way again: the lessons we learn that deal with personal survival go DEEP.  So pain and threat in childhood from those we trust to protect us burrow into our unconscious at a deep level.  As do social rules, of course.  If negative…they can destroy us.

If positive…they can uplift us.

I could go on and on about this, and will in due time. But right now, whether you wish personal success or social change, your sexuality and relationships can and will be either a good or bad example to the world.

Do you have any idea how often people (especially black women) tell us how my marriage to Tananarive, and our obvious love and passion for each other inspires them?  Gives them hope and faith?   I accept this now, understand that our happiness doesn’t just belong to us.  It is part of what we share with the world: a black man and woman who adore each other, work together, raise a child together, support each other, and laugh loud and often.  That is the REALITY of our existence, and we share it.

Go thou and do likewise.





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