On the Eroticism of Everyday Life

It may be said that our erotic lives are comprised of the many expressions of our sexual imagination, or, put differently, that eroticism is sexuality transformed by the imagination, sublimated and refined for social consumption. I don’t think that definition is wrong. In fact, I think it’s pretty much right, however incomplete. When we think of eroticism this way—as an outlet for raw sexual desire—there appears a tendency to place the domain of the erotic squarely within a larger whole, the vast kingdom that is sex and sexuality. The result is that we equate eroticism disproportionately with sex, as if our erotic lives are confined by our sexual lives, as if the realm of the erotic does not extend beyond sexuality in incredibly powerful and important ways. We treat the erotic as a servant of the sexual. Or as a compliment to it. That, I think, is a big mistake: Want to be more erotic? Flirt more. Be more inventive. Adopt more suggestive mannerisms. Have hotter sex. While they’re not bad suggestions, I maintain that we are capable of making so, so much more of our erotic lives than that.

I think of eroticism as a source of luminosity, richness, and excitement. It is the sprinkling of magic that gives reality its shine. And although sex may be the most obvious (and most obviously pleasurable) outlet for our erotic selves, I think the union of physical bodies represents only a small portion of (what could be) our everyday erotic encounters. I also think the creatives among us—the artists, poets, and novelists—have a great deal to teach us about the role of eroticism in our everyday lives, especially as it relates to the poetic and intuitive sides of life. Here are some brief thoughts on eroticism as a source of depth and enjoyment beyond sex:

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Eroticism imbues our personal lives with power.

I mentioned in my last post that I’ve been reflecting on my writings here lately, trying to determine precisely in which, if any, direction this blog was taking me. Most significant to me was the revelation that all of the posts I had designed to discuss elements of creative living were, at the same time, providing my readers with an outline for living more erotically. Go figure.

I think the reason for this is twofold: 1.) Creativity and eroticism are intimately connected. Of that, I have no doubt. 2.) A piece like, On the Art of Femininity (because it is a personal favorite and because it’s a perfect example), without a hefty dose of erotic energy, would have been little more than a flat listing of adjectives. But, my choice to paint femininity with sultry brush lent it power. To understand femininity that way, to live it that way, gives me power. Why? Because I am choosing to embrace that part of myself with the full force of the life within me. Eroticism is an affirmation of life. It is both an approval and a celebration of all the positive aspects of our lives.

Eroticism is an amorous perspective.

Eroticism is more than just a feeling. It is a way of looking at and interacting with the natural world that is characterized by a deep fondness and a reverence for life. It can also be a sensory encounter that feels like an encounter, a feeling of intense closeness, or a desire to reach out and pierce the veil of reality, to clutch it, to feel it bristle beneath your fingertips. It is to feel that much alive and to feel just as powerfully connected to the life that surrounds you. Indeed, if there is a series of copulations that mark the erotic encounter, then they occur among the senses, or between the senses and reality (or even the imaginary), not between two bodies.

Eroticism gives us a glimpse of the sacred.

I also noted in my last post that one of my favorite books on eroticism is Octavio Paz’s The Double Flame (If you’ve read it, you’ll notice that it influenced some of my thoughts here.). There he refers to eroticism as both “ceremony” and “representation.” I would add “benediction” to that list because I believe that in the erotic there is a touch of the sacred, or rather, that the erotic can give us access, if only briefly, to a reality that exists beyond what we see, to our tiny piece of paradise.

40 responses to “On the Eroticism of Everyday Life”

  1. This puts the right frame around eroticism, I think. It is an animating force. Obvious yet hidden. Unique yet universal. A flame that attracts the moth to destruction, but also a way to light the path and paint it with warm colors.

    I ran across a phrase this morning –“watch the wind”–which meant to watch for the thing that moves, not the things moved. The cause, not the effect. Eroticism is something like that, at least to me.

    Poetry is a hunt for the wind, for causes and not effects. I’m fairly new to the craft, and that part is constantly the hard part. But the connection between creation and the broader idea of eroticism is real. I am getting older, and I’m not always sure I can trust my body as much as I could, but the same feelings still inhabit me, and that’s part of what makes writing still pleasurable and satisfying.

    Liked by 5 people

    • Beautifully said. Thank you. There is a destructiveness about it, too…kind of like a push-pull, an oscillation between life and death. I like what you say about poetry. I myself and just returning to it after having taken many years away from writing poetry, and there sure is a feeling that accompanies the most poetic of insights–the birth of metaphor–that I think must be intimately tied to eroticism.

      Liked by 4 people

  2. I very much like what you said in this and the previous post. Also, I love the accompanying graphics throughout your posts! Exquisite. The one of the hands with the tiny frilly butterfly on a fingertip wow. When you say “creativity and eroticism are connected”, I think of concepts of libido, life force, and qi. From taoism/daoism, the urge of the 10,000 things –all that is– is to connect and create, looking to the Mysterious Mother, from which all things spring and to which all things return. You may as well say eroticism is a law of nature. When you talk about eroticism being separate from sex, and the way you describe it, could it be that eroticism is being in love with life itself? Thank you for getting my synapses firing.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you for the compliment on the art work. While I do graphic design/web design, I am afraid I can’t take credit for this work. But, I do agree that the artist has great taste! Now, my knowledge of Taoism/Daoism is limited, but I certainly think both eroticism and creativity stem from a life force, or libido. I also think that eroticism has a big imaginative component. That’s one of the ways in which it goes beyond sex, beyond reproduction, and the desire to connect physically. Eroticism may be natural, but it is also distinctly human. It’s inventive. It’s playful. And yes, I think it’s a manifestation of being in love with life.

      Liked by 3 people

    • I love how you express your ideas. Yes, I think that eroticism is much more all-encompassing than sex. Although connected to it. As I get older, I sense that so much of life is full of sensuousness–which is related to its playful cousin, eroticism. All of this potentiality is out there and in us. So much to discover and explore. Thank you.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. For me, eroticism is far more than sex, as you’ve said. Its about the sensual for me. You can have a breeze brush a strand of your hair against your face and enjoy it…you can feast your eyes upon something beautiful, you can enjoy your own sense of touch…and yes, it can go ‘far beyond the desire to connect physically’ as you’ve said. We need to get away from stereotypes and your posts are doing just that!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Lynne! I agree, emphatically, on the sensuality of the experience. It’s funny–it was my attraction to the sensuality of much mid-late 20th century Latin American literature that first drew me to it and led me to discover the writings of intellectuals like Paz on the subject of eroticism. One of his most celebrated poems, “Sunstone,” is so incredibly, magnificently sensual (and erotic) that, to read it, I felt as though he was describing the world I inhabit…and often want to inhabit more! To confuse eroticism with straight lust doesn’t do the experience justice, as you suggest. It’s so much more colorful that that 😊

      Liked by 2 people

      • Such a wonderful set of writings by all of you. Thank you for sharing such well-chosen words to describe such a vital part of life.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Espectáculo, ambivalencia, creación, toda la materia sobre la que opera el erotismo, todo su lenguaje, se articula, se desarticula incluso, en función del sentido. O como decía Octavio Paz: “la ceremonia erótica se convierte en un ballet filosófico y en un sacrificio matemático”, porque el lenguaje en función del erotismo pasa de designar a expresar, a adquirir un valor expresivo –-a evocar cuerpos, fantasmas, a construir un pleno vacío, un acto, un gesto preñado de sentido, sentimiento, emoción, intensidad. De modo que el único parámetro mediante el cuan se debe considerar la literatura erótica en general, es el de la calidad literaria, considerada sólo a partir de la escritura, de su validez y verosimilitud en tanto que corpus artístico, efluvio de ficción, al margen de todo prejuicio moral, político o religioso.


    Liked by 1 person

    • I am delighted that you quoted Paz here. And, I agree that language takes on an expressive function in erotic literature—or at least, it should. By this definition, not all literature that takes up sex as a subject is “erotic,” and from my perspective (and this is surely a matter of taste), it’s not. Much contemporary erotic fiction (poetry, too) does not succeed in this transfiguration, in the full evocation of feeling, in the transformation of stark prose, of carnality, into a celebration of meaning. And, by this definition, too, very basic acts of everyday living can be termed “erotic,” imbued with magic, with life, and meaning, transformed into an encounter.

      Liked by 7 people

  5. Vous êtes une femme sage qui en sait beaucoup plus que ce que vous semblez savoir. Toute autre chose importante que vous pouvez révéler à vos lecteurs? Merci! 🙂
    Have a nice weekend!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Merci! Vous savez beaucoup plus que ce que vous semblez savoir aussi. Je suis toujours en train de lire et de penser à des informations à partager avec mes lecteurs. Il y a tellement de choses à apprendre! Avez-vous des suggestions?
      I hope you have nice weekend, too. 😊

      Liked by 5 people

  6. Voila mon suggestion: articuler deux sujets d’échelles différentes : un moment de la vie d’une femme comme vous et un moment de la vie du paysage urbain. C’est un assemblage de sensation déconnectées de toute logique de narration linéaire : feuillage des arbres, reflet du soleil sur une carrosserie rouge, coup de klaxon. Je ovuláis repense le monde en isolant et réaticulant au montage les sensations qui en composent notre perception globale. Tout ce que je voulais, ajoute-t-il c’est qu’elle pense à ce qu’elle disait. Mais penser ne veut pas forcement dire réfléchir… 😦

    Liked by 1 person

      • … Here I am. There is peace on the haystack, while the autumn wind in the rafters of the tallat makes a wild music, and the dry grasses each made a whisper. I spread my arms on the hay and bury my fingers among the hard stalks and the thistles. 😦

        Liked by 2 people

      • …And here I am. Enveloped in a thin blanket, the cool autumn air seeping underneath and spreading a soft chill across my legs. My entire body alert with its coolness. The dewy quiet of the morning hangs about the living room. The air filled with the scent of coffee. The strum of an acoustic guitar creating a hollow vibration against my headphones as my fingers dance lightly across the stiff plastic keyboard…I will publish something later today.

        Liked by 3 people

      • For those who enjoy a perfect and idyllic Saturday morning, there is no better super stimulant that turnip in precise and controlled dose. You can eat a piece of turnip every two hours. It’s good as hypnotic and sedative and also alleviates those who have been intoxicated by philosophy.,, 🙂

        **I’m ready to love your next work!**

        Liked by 2 people

      • I really appreciate your words, woman, but when I read the message I tried to keep the feeling from my eyes. I was afraid, I was terrified that you could discover that I’m a chimpanzee, and laugh at me… 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

  7. Yes, Paz is great. I did once read the book you mentioned, while working a 6-month stint in Mexico City. The main thing I distinguish about eroticism proper is that it needs to be seen primarily as a facet of imagination rather than sexuality. From that stance, one can veer in all the positive directions you’ve mentioned. But from the sexuality stance, one’e veering becomes limited.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I couldn’t agree more…and, it’s a wonderful book, isn’t it? I’m such a huge fan of his. He puts just the right frame around eroticism–as the work of the imagination. Thank you for the comment!

      Liked by 2 people

      • He had another book I looked at, devoted to the psychology of the Mexican temperament. It was very revealing; can’t recall the name. Also was reading Neruda during that same period. Mexico is so visceral! You are welcome.

        Liked by 2 people

      • “The Labyrinth of Solitude” might be what you’re referring to. I’ve skimmed it pretty thoroughly for research purposes. (In a past life, I was dangerously close to becoming a comparative literature scholar.) Oh, I adore Latin American literature and art for its sensuality! One of the reasons I love Paz so much (poetry and prose) is the marriage of sensuality and intellect. And Neruda’s love poetry captures my heart utterly. 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

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