I was discussing erotic imagery with a buddy the other day, and we both agreed that we prefer to see men proudly displaying powerfully erect cocks. When a man is very close to shooting off, his cock becomes particularly swollen and rigid. The tip of an especially hard cock is usually glistening with precum, in preparation for a massive explosion of liquid sexuality. That is the sort of man I like to gaze upon—one who is at the peak of his masculine vitality. Such an image is ripe with a primal power that affects the viewer on a very deep level. Indeed, all across the world the form of the erect penis has been honored and even worshipped as a holy thing, from the maypole in Great Britain, to the lingam statues of India, to the penis amulets of Thailand. Entire nations are even given symbolic erections—take, for example, the Washington Monument, perhaps better called "the hardon of America." It is no wonder that people drop to their knees to behold a throbbing erection. It is no wonder that a "glory hole" is so-named. The glory is the penis, stretching outwards and upwards to express life itself in all its fullness.

But what about the soft penis? Is it, by definition, less important than the hardon? In porn movies, we don't often see a man's penis after it has shot its load. The sight of the softening shaft would be letdown after the flagrant display of male energy. In olden times, the relaxed state of a man's penis and entire body after orgasm was erroneously considered evidence that sex drained one's life away. That explains why masturbation used to be called "the little death." Even today, a soft penis represents masculine weakness for many people. In the mainstream cinema, we rarely see any male actors in full-frontal nudity, and the reason isn't the censorship standards. Actors are often afraid to display their soft penises for fear of appearing too small and seeming un-masculine. But let's not forget that a man's penis exhibits many different forms in the course of a day. It can be enormous during heightened sexual arousal, but it can also be diminutive when the room is cold or after a swim. Whereas a hard cock is the outward manifestation of a man's erotic potential, a soft cock represents a period of regeneration. It is very much like the change of seasons. When autumn comes, one might look upon the fallen leaves as a symbol of death and decay, but the season is actually one of rest and renewal. A soft penis is renewing itself in order to spring back to life for the next sexual encounter. It is a beautiful symbol of a man's power to regenerate. That's why men shouldn't get hung up about not maintaining an erection throughout sex play. A cock naturally goes from soft to hard and back again as part of its own cycle. As virtually all men have discovered firsthand, it is possible to become hard when one is not horny, just as it is possible to become soft while one is horny. A soft cock can also be fun to play with, and some men have experienced orgasms without ever getting an erection, since the erotic nerve sensors in the penis are active no matter how rigid or flaccid the shaft is.

I remember as a youngster watching in amazement as my own cock grew from limp to rigid right before my eyes. It seemed to have a life of its own, stretching and swaying without even being touched. The best erotic photo spread would show a man with various states of penile arousal, from fully retracted to fully extended and back again. Just as it is exciting to see a strong man's bicep bulge out, or a pair of lips spread to form a smile, so too is it exciting to see a cock in blossoming transformation. The miracle isn't the final rigidity but the complete cycle itself.

P.S. Between you and me, I'll never forget a passage from a book entitled Helmet of Flesh, by Scott Symons. It is a story of a man whose journey toward self-liberation leads to Morocco and to an introduction to masculine intimacy. The man, York, meets a young Moroccan named Kebir, and their lovemaking is poetically described in terms of blooming flower petals:

For a moment York lay still, flowing with Kebir's breath, their bodies in unison. And with each breath Kebir closed deeper around him. York surveying that black, arched, crepuscular landscape, mountains and valleys of Marrakshi named Kebir. And rising in that landscape, a giant red tulip on a black stalk. Tulip quivering, swelling at the touch of York's eyes. And Kebir levering his body in an arch across York's waist. Kebir's glance was a summons now. York saw his own hand move across the dark belly, fingers clasping the full body of Kebir's cock, till Kebir flicked his head back in a moan. And turned his eyes full to York, increasing the rhythm of his rise and fall. York clasping the black god-cock more and more firmly, rising and falling his hand. And Kebir breathing more deeply as he thrust more sharply down. Kebir moaning as York detonated and the black tulip blossomed, spewing white petals into the air, splashing down on their shoulders in musk.

Since reading this book, every time I look at a penis I see a flower bud waiting to blossom and spew its pearly white petals.