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.

12 thoughts on “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 4 people

    1. 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.

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  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 1 person

    1. 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.

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  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!


    1. 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 1 person

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