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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Eros and Suburbanization

Someone once said that the difference between erotica and pornography was "how bright the lights are".

To my detriment, I have long looked at the world pornographically, rather than erotically. *

I considered whatever intelligence I had to be a "bright light". I took a lot of egotistical pleasure in bringing my so-called analytical skills to bear on everything, telling myself I was in the noble pursuit of "The Truth".

Someone believed in God? Let me take that fantasy apart for them. Someone disagreed with me politically? Let me show them the error of their ways. Someone likes a movie or television show that I don't? Let me explain to them what it means to have good taste...

But this habit, this character trait, this one-way manner of living, spilled over from intellectual debate into every area of my life. Despite my assumed high-mindedness, I was just a well-trained consumer:

How I eat - Is it tasty and is there a lot of it? Great, why savor it when I can eat until my stomach hurts.

How I drink - Do I have a designated driver? No, then its hardly worth sipping only one glass of wine.

How I read - Will this book or article fill my quiver with arrows for my next debate? Excellent, I'll speed read through it to get the high points I need, and poach a few select quotations.

How I meet new people - Will this person engage in a debate with me? If not, I'll nod politely and think of something else until I can gracefully withdraw.

Like a porn director, I told myself I was shining a bright light on the the raw, unvarnished truth.
Like a porn director, I wanted to leave nothing to the imagination.
Like a porn director, I was nowhere near "The Truth", but instead creating a narrow-minded, emotionally dead, and artificial experience.

A little history lesson - Eros was the Greek god of love, the equivalent of the Roman god Cupid. The Greeks considered Eros a form of love, including sexual desire to be sure, but also the desire to possess, or join in relationship with, another.

Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, the great 18th Century gastronome, (who said that anyone who gets drunk or full does not know how to drink or eat) thought that human beings had at least six senses, counting Eros, or physical desire for another, as a separate sense. A part of our total experience. Food and drink and fellowship at table being a type of relationship, a full deployment of Eros...

So I'm trying dimming the lights a bit, appreciating that the shadows are also part of the whole picture, and allowing myself to be intrigued by what the shadows may hide and may, only slowly, reveal.

*Note: I am assuming the reader has at least a passing familiarity with erotica and/or pornography. For those readers who have no such experience, I beg your indulgence.

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