Sex and space

December 7th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

Just unearthed an old email I wrote about the relationship between sex and sexuality. Figure I may as well put it up here, since I’m not likely to do anything more with it otherwise.

The basic idea is that many elements of sexuality aren’t usually considered in terms of space — but they could be. A cluster of intimate practices are based around the restriction of space (and the associated physical sensations of pressure, darkness, the touch of whatever boundary is limiting the space). I’m thinking of hugs, bondage, the wearing of corsets and latex, perhaps with vacuum-beds as an extreme case. These tend to also be ‘about’ the complete control and presence in that restrained space and sensations of security (think of people who feel safe when a partner is sitting or lying on them). Often they’re described in the language of restricted freedom; thinking about them instead in terms of space maybe leads you to more psychoanalytic interpretations of the practices; i.e. connecting them to being in the womb. [I have no background in the area, but it certainly seems a possibility]

But you’d need, somehow, to connect that to the sensations of DISembodiment and DISplacement during sex — orgasm, in particular, seems often described in terms of being away from the surrounding environment, in a space which has shrunk to just the two(?) partners. If you cease to be separate bodies, can you still be separate bodies in space? To put it another way, ‘staring at the ceiling’ is a common idiomatic description of being bored during sex. If you’re aware of where you are, the sex isn’t good enough.

[based on reactions to a talk at Salon Populaire 6 months ago]

Nina Power

May 26th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

One of many, many things I love about Zero Books is their continual willingness, even eagerness, to call out the cultural and intellectual conservatism of the time. Take the blurb to Nina Power’s One Dimensional Woman:

That the height of supposed female emancipation coincides so perfectly with consumerism is a miserable index of a politically desolate time. Much contemporary feminism, particularly in its American formulation, doesn’t seem too concerned about this coincidence. This short book is partly an attack on the apparent abdication of any systematic political thought on the part of today’s positive, up-beat feminists. It suggests alternative ways of thinking about transformations in work, sexuality and culture that, while seemingly far-fetched in the current ideological climate, may provide more serious material for future feminism.

Have just ordered the book (and narrowly restrained myself from simultaneously ordering Militant Dysphoria); massively excited to see if it’s as good as Capitalist Realism.


April 12th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

If we aren’t quite living through the End of History, it’s safe to say that it’s taking a tea break. In Europe at least, there are no huge socio-politico-cultural movements flinging themselves at the organs of power. Whatever’s interesting is happening in small pockets on the edges, or within the closed-off worlds of science and technology. Developments in Asia and the South are regularly noted as Big and Dramatic, but don’t attract our daily attention.

And yet, despite all this, you can still find any number of writers obsessed with the speed of culture, even arguing that “Speed…has become the definition of the present” [Gil Delannoi]. “Internet speed” made some sense in the first dot-come boom, but has lingered as a concept even while the pace of online change has slowed to a crawl.

Where there is speed, it can be not an expression of change, but an alternative to it. So with twitter, which fetishes speed while limiting the possibilities of expression to little more than phatic self-stereotyping. Maybe this is the same as what is happening everywhere; fetishise speed to avoid noticing the (lack of) content.

And none of this is new. Both sides have been around since at least the Industrial Revolution — the one fetishizing speed as a symbol of modernity, the other criticising its emptiness, how it robs us of the ability to appreciate the world. So some of the current obsession with speed (exemplified by this issue of Esprit) has a weirdly retro-futuristic feel to it. It’s like a faint echo of Futurism (“A speeding car is more beautiful than the Victory of Samothrace.” ) — but stripped of optimism, anger and enthusiasm.

Idle Talk

December 19th, 2009 § 0 comments § permalink

Heidegger talks about how incessant chatter of culture and other public discourse harms and makes understanding difficult, because of its inauthenticity or “groundlessness”, which he explains as talking about something “without previously making the thing one’s own”. [source]

The word you’re looking for, Martin, is grok

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