Sex and death have been locked into a theological equation known as sexual pessimism, since the days of the Early Fathers of the Catholic Church. The very curious thing is that this aversion to the carnal, and its consequent elevation of the virginal and the chaste, does not even spring from Christianity or the New Testament, but from the rival secret doctrine of Gnosticism.;This is but the first jolt on Lawrence Osborne's journey through the art, mythologies and traditions that reveal and reflect the history of sexual pessimism. Osborne distinguishes eight thematic "nightmares": the Virgin, the Witch, the Leper, the Noble Savage, the Jew, the Oriental, the Androgyne and Don Juan. He tracks our now glorified idea of sexual passion back to the Troubadours and Northern Mystics; he explores how the Passion of the Cross came to link the ideas of sublime passion and therapeutic energy.;Lawrence Osborne is a freelance writer and lives in New York. He is also the author of the novels "Ania Malina" and "The Angelic Game".