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:
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.