Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Be a sexual flâneur

This article is of course completely ridiculous (and written by some sort of a John G. Miller wannabe, judging from the style). But even as it buys into all sorts of ludicrous societal programming (you have to be straight to have children, if you're gay you have to sashay all the fucking time, even in writing, only straight people like "manly" pursuits, gay people have to be promiscuous, women exist solely to bear children, etc.), it does bring up something that, coincidentally, my pretty-much-gay self and my father were talking about just the other day, on the occasion of the public lesbianization of a cousin of mine.
[My friends] have seen little evidence of an interest in the opposite sex during my adult life, nor asked why. And that’s the clincher.

If there had been an interest, it became eclipsed by other more instant, carnal and deliciously taboo temptations, so it never gained light to grow. For 20 years, my life took a track that stifled the fragile stems...
etc, etc, etc, sexuality is like a jewel, made up of many facets, essentially.

Now, strip away all of the self-and-others-loathing here, and what you have left is this: without all of the programming that our society lays down on us from birth, our sexualities would most likely be quite a bit more fluid than they are now. Or, as my father put it the other night, "We'd be messing around with women, men, pumpkins, cows, everything." Now, I'm sure there's an extent to which this is not 100% true--devoid of programming, it seems likely that I'd still tend towards other men, while my father would still tend towards women, both of us tending towards humans--but to me there is a great deal of indisputable truth to it.

The Lettrists, and the Situationists after them, talk about how our physical environments, all of the geography through which we move every day, are shaped entirely out of economic factors. We go where we go in order to make or spend money, and those destinations, our homes, and every place we encounter between, look and interact with us in the way they do because they serve the specific economic purposes that they do. Trace out the path I take during any given day, and the shape you get will be entirely determined by my economic life, even if it's not a day I go to work. What Guy Debord called psychogeography was an attempt to combat this, to get us to redefine our own personal worlds as we, personally, want to define them. He wanted us to do as we desire in any given space, not to do as the space (and the powers behind the space) want; to move as we desire from space to space, not as demanded of us. It can be almost impossible to tell the difference, so a constant effort (both in intellectual reflection and in spontaneous action) is required. This is one of the most revolutionary acts available to us.

Just as much as we need psychogeography, we need...well, we need what I would call psychosexuality if the word weren't taken already by stupid Freud. We don't need Mr. Muirhead's version of it, though--in fact, we need pretty much the opposite. We need to be sexual flâneurs. Rather than basing our sexualities around a societal expectation of what those sexualities will be (which Muirhead is doing even as he scandalously "switches"), we need to stop making any assumptions whatsoever about our own gender and sexuality, and those of others. We need to constantly examine our thoughts about all forms of sexuality--including everything from the standard hetero-, homo- and bisexuality* to more controversial forms like incest, polyamory, pedophilia, bestiality, and so on, as well as various forms of non-sexuality, such as abstinence and asexuality**, not to mention the more fundamental question of the gender binary itself--and figure out why we think what we think about them, and whether or not that would be better off changing. I'm not suggesting any specific course of action here--to do so would be missing my own point. I only mean to say that we need to think about these things, and, more importantly, experiment, be spontaneous, and always, always, try to avoid doing things just because we feel a societal or economic pressure to do them. It's not always possible, but it should always be the goal.

*Despite Muirhead's apparent belief that bisexuality is The New Love That Dare Not Speak Its Name.
**And I should keep going, and expand that list to include forms that tend to be dismissed as ridiculous, like object sexuality or a predilection for yiff or yaoi. But goddamn, I'm already so fucking wordy and just this one hyphened-off sentence fragment already has several subclauses and now two footnotes. I gotta chill out.


d.mantis said...

Would you agree that, in a simplistic way, most of our problems stem from the fact that we couldn't give two shits about anyone other than ourselves or immediate surroundings?

Would you then also agree that this post could be less geared to the individual and more to the community?

A 'revolution' as you state, of passion and desire could lead to a more emotional existence including greater compassion. For instance, Halloween takes on a whole different meaning if your fucking pumpkins, right.

Ya know, just a thought...

JRB said...

I also think it is a great idea to approach human possibilities without preconceptions -- you know, just in case there is something unexpected there.

Great post, Ethan.

Ethan said...

Thanks! Means a lot, considering the source.

"Just in case there is something unexpected there" is, to me, a good reason to do pretty much anything except for maybe reaching into a toilet bowl.