Sensuality is not easily reproducible.
You cannot take a sensual experience – in all its ready, unready, bluster and breach – and copy and paste it over and over again, ad infinitude. Oh people try, in long drawn out couplings they slog through the motions of repeated patterns of coitus. Patterns they have come to the conclusions of, not together, but individually, privately, working around each other like a pair of fishes swimming about a small pool. Their intimacy is based on the fact of their proximity in body, but their heads are half witted, and wandering elsewhere.
Sex is just another in a list of things to get done. In the evening, they flounce in from their grey labours, shoulder down in front of a wide screen, and hand grab their small screens, ready for a long old twiddle. It contains the endless entertainment needed for all the sitting down they are about to do. Sitting down with acid cheap wine, bought because of their acquaintance with the brand. The brand so often used to slice, in advert, between those buddycoms they are so fond of. Because you don’t need actual friends! You have Sit Friends! And industrial grade gut rot. You can ride right up Jacob’s Bunch of Shit Creek, and you don’t ever have to feel alone.
They, literally of absent mind, flick their fingers along the cracked rim of each glass and glaze over the screen(s). They could sit there for hours, couldn’t they? Watching back runs of that buddycom or that panel show – programs designed to instigate a feeling of familiarity that they don’t experience with each other. Or anyone else. Depictions of jovial and easy friendship and society repeated day in and out, week and month too, on some channel or media outpost, somewhere, always. These are our simulated fraternities. They half watch, half fiddle, always sit.
Ah but work calls them in the morro. This ‘living’ has to stop.
They trunk up the staircase to their bed (or across the room; its a studio, its all they could afford, we made houses an investment, remember?) and fall in to it and go about their fuck or rub or frottage routine, with all the build up of a tired corporate soldier stepping in to a lift. And they ‘do it’ to completion, wandering their fractured thinkings over whatever slice of pornography or predictable ‘bend over, fuck and cum’ fantasy they can muster, just to reach something like a peak. Enough to get them to sleep without a thwack over the head by an absconded boxer or a stick shoved up the back entrance by a sexual cynic, dressed in cheap PVC.
Oh how I go on. Sauced up? Your goings got? Boots filled? I can barely bang out a question mark, let alone an exclamation.
But I am asking a question, all the same. The question is, where is our sex?
The sanitary, work to just-but live, nature of our daily lives interspersed with an endless array of small-fry digital actions (flipping between screen and screen and screen and screen), lead us inexorably to experience being in entirely fragmented and, ultimately bland cognizance, a set of mind that does not have the scope for sensual exaltation.
No wonder we experience lust as wandering our eyes over pretty pictures of lentil pies. Not lust, we note the prettiness of the spectacle and sink notionally into “Why are my own pies not as thus?” It is the width, breadth and stretch of our sensuality.
Besides the dearth of sensuality, our cognizance, even, is not raw, let alone analytic. It is not an enthusiastic and curious engagement with our world, our lives, our bodies, and more importantly, with their world, their lives, their bodies. But for their pretty lentil pies. Yes we live in our heads, heads attached to our digital systems, heads not up to much. Bodies up to nothing. Yes we ‘do it’. And that is about it.
Back to another night, and our lovers, wedged into a sofa like a pair of stationary bikes tied to the roof of a stationary car. Back to those pretty pictures of lentil pies. All stacked up and herb trickled; cute nosh she can’t eat, she won’t make, she probably doesn’t even want. And while she zips through them – chastising herself for your own bland plates of re-hydrated pasta drenched in heavily sugared sauce – the fella sat next to her is scanning through synthetic depictions of oblate women, greased and buffed by front on lighting, until they score an uncanny resemblance to bratwursts. Not the rich oozing sausages of October Fests even! But the orange tinged pickled dogs of the American jar. Tinged, hard and just, just squidgy. Why do men insist upon gaining their sex from images of women designed to look like projections of their own, very much imagined, hard, throbbing cocks? Why do I even ask.
And he looks up from his small screen, only, to see some hard shouldered masculinite on his big screen. Blowing to smither some sucky, sucky mouthed lizard, with green scales and a pink gob, ripping up from the Deep. You will not be forgiven for that being lost on you. And yes, she is still looking at the pretty pictures of lentil pies.”We’ll make that one day…” she yawns. He isn’t listening. He’s mentally eating his own bratwurst and watching that wet mouthed lizard get blown to a thousand, sticky bits.
This is our sex. This is our foreplay. This is the run up. Are you not entertained?
Yes screens, digitization, provides us with hallucinated-form projections of our own fantasies, extracted from us and sold back to us, so we don’t even have to leave our seats.
Once, at a conference, a male academic rejoiced! in the very fact of the amount – the sheer amount (never has a cliched phrase been so appropriate) of what he called the availability of free pornography. An academic be hell! I said to him…I said to myself, awkward and tired, in my plastic chair, listening to endless papers of sociological ‘interest’ without analysis…you are not getting it for free! You are participating in a process by which, for every thing you consume you permit yourself to be advertised to! Advertised to along the lines of your own consumption, solidifying you, forever in the process of being catered at, usually shuffled – slightly, slightly – in the direction of your crudest of oils. And when your cock stops working because it is in a lethargic state of over reaction, your free pornography will helpfully point you in the direction of a pharmacological cocktail, that can get it going again. And then you can see to your inter-acted sex rituals with your tired lentil pie obsessing girlfriend, whilst you stew your frazzled dreamscape around images of bent over bratwursts going through the motions of fucking labour.
You haven’t bought pornography with your money. You’ve bought it with your consciousness, your dependency, your obsession, your willingness to consume. Porn. Social Media. Advertisement Television. Billboards in the street.
And the academic, who should be a wit capable of abstracting himself, to some degree, is just another consumer, sucking on his litre box pop of porn. And the activist, the feminist, who should, with thinking bayonet, sharp stick in to the flanks of these consumptive demons, clap their fins like fish breathed seals putting on a show. Suck, suck, suck, yup, yup, yup.
Warms your fragile heart, don’t it?
And why? Why are we so easily ridden?
Because the structure of payment – which is payment via our attachments and obsessions – render us in a constant state of processing repeated messages, repeated messages, repeated messages, repeated messages, repeated messages, repeated messages, repeated messages, repeated messages, repeated messages, repeated, messages, repeated messages, repeated messages, you get it? you get it? you get it? You do? Like.Like.Like.Like. Dislike!
All platforms work using boxes of messages or images or clips, which we have scanned over like crude algorithmicals, searching for the right ideas (diluted) to which our social, personal, political and sexual ‘identities’ have decided most appeal. Within these same same platforms that spit out an abundance of 140 character messages or clippings of grey eyed bratwursts withstanding vaginal tears, we persist in our search for the new, only in the details, the micro moments, the slight shifts in our digital mise-en-scene. Gazillions of these shifts wandering like spots of water amalgamated into a thundering along-ness. We capitulate because bantam novelties are easier and more saccharine to swallow than the risks of heavy change. We are willing to sell our everythings for little bursts of novelty.
There Is No Such Thing as Conversation. It Is an Illusion. There Are Intersecting Monologues, That Is All.
Is it no wonder such a dense political philosophy as feminism – which ought to be out to flay the monsters of ‘extract from us and sell back to us’ – can be so thoroughly eviscerated from the internals? Like a cadaver lost at sea – it is being chewed up by micro monsters and in the watery tumult, bloated beyond immediate recognition. Ready for the sharks to jettison it in to the watery nether. Oh it still bobs away, just. From our boats – those of us who are trying to escape – we point, we say, ‘There is Feminism! There it goes!” Its salted and thin skin you can just-but hear implore us to save ourselves. And all those other revolutionary political philosophies that seem to have been trammeled into students hive-minding language policing methods. The age of digital repetitions does not encourage us to think up or out, but in, in, in. Give vindication to ourselves, in our ever increasing shrinkage, in our pokey self obsessions.
The so-called sexual liberation of our time seemed to me then, and seems to me still, to be the intensification of the focus on self -pleasuring, and is fundamentally masturbatory, hence its reliance on external stimuli which work on sexual fantasy. The appeal of self-gratification as the key to self-realization was and is its adaptability to marketing.
Germaine Greer, The Mad Woman’s Underclothes
Sensuality and critical engagement share a need for scope, patience, dedication (as opposed to obsession) in our choices about how we live as individuals (as much as we can) and as a society. Porn and social media require no such long term commitment to feeling and thinking good. Just as porn can take a tired, angst ridden person and flip them, like a switch, straight to orgasm, so too can social media ignite our political and personal danders in a beat. Just as you can, in a Pavlovian fashion, become erect (whatever your genitals) – without any previous seduction or participation – when gawking at video of a just eighteen year old being ripped to shreds by – not one – but several cocks of gargantuan proportions, so too can your frisson be got by the news of a celebrity of some distinction (or otherwise) saying something, like, the wrong words. Developing hunger and working towards the process of being filled, is not the same as salivating the minute someone or something rings a bell.
It really should not come as any surprise that pornography and social media are our most jealously guarded of enterprises. And, particularly in the case of pornography, we talk about it as though it has ever been thus. Just as a child guarding their packet of the same same sweets, tinged with chemicals to give them saucily different colours, we guard the tedious repetitions of our sexual and thinking lives. Because what good is ecstasy and eureka, when you could have easy?
If you would like to help Rae Story in her penwomanship, you can donate at this link here.