Canada Dreams
Odent, Michel. Water and Sexuality. London: Penguin, 1990.
I don't know whether I can use mere words to describe this book. I was delighted and disappointed by it. The book came tumbling into my life with many synchronistic events. It appeared to be the catalyst for many other things, such as the importance of water and birth images in my art, but fell short of my expectations in the reading. Much of the facts I already knew, while many of the theories I had postulated for myself.
Odent dedicated the book to Wilhelm Reich who is also a hero of mine. Reich started his search with the study of the power of sea sand, so I thought that Odent would also explore that direction too. No, his references to sand was to the desertification of the planet. His ecological point was that Homo demens, having abandoned the water would not rest till the planet was dry. He even sights examples of the water desert phenomena, that is areas of the world's water that are so low in oxygen as to be unable to support marine life. I agree and that this point needs to be made rather than taking side trips into the rich and to be honest paranoid world of Reich. There seems to have been a time when we left the water, and the majority of us have never come back. This is reflected in the paranoia of the medical community in regard to child-birth. Odent is very careful here to point out that in his experience babies need not be born in water, but rather that water needs to be present.
This is were he began his search toward our love and fascination with water. He dismisses those who say that all births be under water as being just as narrow minded and dogmatic as the Medical field. In a very flexible and open manner, while he discounts some of the compelling work of Tcharkovsky in teaching new-born babies to swim, he directs us to the sexual and communicative powers of the dolphins he had assist in human births. He points out the sexual appeal water has in advertising and art, and he has used proximity to water to help infertile couples concieve. There is also the work of Alister Hardy popularized by Elaine Morgan in Descent of Woman and The Aquatic Ape, which points out that man and more to the point woman returned to the sea as a form of protection and source of food for a long period of time. All these examples and more, from the Beatles to Botticelli, lead him to one conclusion and that is not that we men now need to enforce underwater births on women, but that the patriarchy needs to rediscover water. We need to open our intuitions to water and honour its nurturing ability and the long overdue power of the matriarchy. The hope of our civilization is in really seeing water and new-born babies; we need to see them with our hearts.

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