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Unhinging Theory: Eros

October 27, 2010 Culture, Feature, Philosophy 2 Comments

Studies in Desire, by Dawn Kaczmar

I’ve been hesitant to write a piece here that includes any personal details. My goal has been to break down the concept of eros at a theoretical level, to dissect its limbs, vital organs, and quiet shivers and distill them into a shifting lens of perception and, hopefully, insight.

My study of the erotic, however, is obviously informed by my own experiences of it. The observer, the scientist, the writer is found within the object of study; as Heisenberg says, “method and object can no longer be separated.” It is a necessary humility for the scientist, or, in my case, the writer, to admit to his or her subjectivity. … Continue Reading

The Erotic Temporal Arc: Decay, Return, and Eternity

September 29, 2010 Culture, Feature, Philosophy 1 Comment

Studies in Desire, by Dawn Kaczmar

Time Tends Toward Not-Being

If nothing passed there would be no past time; if nothing were approaching, there would be no future time; if nothing were, there would be no present time. But the two times, past and future, how can they be, since the past is no more and the future is not yet? On the other hand, if the present were always present and never flowed into the past, it would not be time at all, but eternity. But if the present is only time, because it flows away into the past, how can we say that it is? For it is, only because it will cease to be. Thus we can affirm that time is only in that it tends toward not-being.

– Saint Augustine in Confessions

… Continue Reading

Erotic Obstructions

August 16, 2010 Culture, Philosophy 6 Comments

Studies in Desire, by Dawn Kaczmar

Although I touched on the idea briefly in my first article here at Sex and the 405, I’d like to expand more on the idea of obstruction as it relates to the erotic.

As mentioned, in some ways, obstruction is necessary for any erotic element to exist. Eros, by definition, logically requires a lack: the erotic is a desire for possession; if possession has already been established, there is nothing left to desire. “Possession”, in this sense, can refer to a lot of things, and not simply a jealous lover’s excessive grip on the beloved, but a desire to possess someone’s presence, attention, interest, or longing. It can simply mean that you desire to continue desiring them. … Continue Reading

Beauty, Eros, and the Particular

Studies in Desire, by Dawn Kaczmar

“Beauty always takes place in the particular, and if there are no particulars, the chances of seeing it go down.” — Elaine Scarry

I have been mulling over the idea that beauty is, in essence, a particular trait over the past few weeks in considering my own conceptions and occasions of beauty. And it is true: ubiquity renders beauty meaningless. Prolonged and repeated exposure to the same instance mutes its vibrancy and reduces its intensity to marginality. Moreover, beauty, in the absence of a particular, in the absence of an object in which to attach itself, is merely an abstract, intangible idea, rather than a visceral experience that causes aesthetic arrest and curiosity. It is in the application of beauty to a particular object or event that reveals its form and intensity.

If beauty always takes place in the particular, the same seems true for the erotic. For instance, I have noticed that through the mass production and sale of orchids, the flower, once a symbol of eroticism, has become dead and neutral to me. Or, I may have an idea of an erotic concept, but without embodiment and experience, without knowledge of the particular way in which my beloved’s skin responds under my fingers, for instance, the desire remains dormant. … Continue Reading

Eros: An Introduction

Studies in Desire, by Dawn Kaczmar

In Greek mythology, Eros is a primordial god of sexual love, beauty, and fertility distilled from the chaos that created our universe. Although contemporary conceptions of eros focus on harmony and unity, in classical Greek culture eros was thought of as an agent of madness as well as a creative influence: it overwhelms and seemingly derides both sense and sensibility. It has seemingly addictive properties: it delivers intoxicating pleasure for as long one is immersed in it, enforced by withdrawal symptoms of mind-numbing pain.

Here I will tackle the erotic from an analytical and intellectual position, examining the ways in which eros permeates our interactions. From Socrates, Freud, to Bataille, sacred to profane, nothing is beyond inquiry.

The Role of Absence and Longing in Eros

In order to sustain eros, the object of desire must remain in a state of non- or only semi-possession. To desire something logically requires its absence: you cannot desire something you already completely possess. Desire is the result of feeling unsatisfied or sensing some potential lack which the object of desire will then fulfill, even if that lack is simply of the object of desire itself.

In Plato’s Symposium, Socrates finds fulfillment in the very absence of his object of desire: wisdom. In claiming ignorance, he subsequently increases his capacity for deficiency and desire to be a lover of wisdom, a chase that he understood as unending. For Socrates, eros embraced both carnal and intellectual longing.

Moreover, the natures of truth and of possession are inherently temporal and fleeting. Although Socrates conceded to an absolute and overarching truth, he theorized that man can only ever glimpse a shadow of that blinding, brilliant light– a shadow that is, by nature, transient. This temporal aspect of knowledge informed his courtship with it: the allure of both knowledge and its pursuit is that it is always in flux, seemingly within reach but too slippery to hold.

I believe Socrates’s relationship with knowledge can be transcribed to human romantic and erotic relationships. People, like truth, are not static entities. The rate at which people evolve (and occasionally devolve) in their own individual ways may vary from the explosiveness and unpredictability of a supernova to the slow, constant shifts of subterranean tectonic plates, but even the most obstinate responds and shifts in the naturally fluctuating environment of our world.

Even in the theoretical absence of change, every individual carries with them an abyssal well imperceptibly flooding with primordial and subconscious dreams and desires. There is a fertile chaos embedded in each individual from which to pluck and create. There is never a point at which we have concluded in knowing, and thus in desiring, another person. Moreover, if we follow Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, the mere act of interacting with that individual changes, modifies, and informs their state. The relationship is interactive; the moment of ostensible conquer changes the object in question.

The tragedy, of course, is that we often assume we have arrived at our erotic destination. We cease to regard our lovers in awe, and take them for granted. We lose our sense of wonder. Our fearless Editrix commented on this very topic in a recent Formspring post:

The greatest mistake anyone can make is to assume that they are finished showing how much they desire someone. You’re never finished. People think that progressing a relationship is to commit to their desire. It isn’t. Marriage, for example, which is often seen as the ultimate commitment, doesn’t make you feel eternally desired.

Desire a thing to be shown daily. And to enable it to retain the intensity, you have to engage in a dance. You have to give passion space to simmer, then pull them close to stoke the flames again. It should never end.

Understanding the impossibility of truly obtaining or possessing one’s desire reveals the destructive and life-affirming nature of eros: nothing is beyond inquiry. Desire is something to continuously return to, re-examine, and inculcate each day. The burgeoning of desire requires cultivation, curiosity, and wonder. In recognizing its absence and our longing, we enact a creative and fulfilling dance with both our own desire and that of our beloved.

MORE ON EROS
Beauty, Eros, and the Particular
Erotic Obstructions

STAFF

November 20, 2009 No Comments

AV Flox
Editrix-in-Command

She has been blogging since before there were blogs. Today, she’s the Love and Sex section editor at BlogHer and the curator of the Village Voice Media blog NakedCity LA. She has contributed to the LA Weekly and Los Angeles Times‘ BrandX.

Robert Fischer
In-House Theologian and Cultural Commentator

Behold the sacred and the profane — he’ll shy away from nothing. Well-versed in mathematics, computer science and religion, this man is a bona fide intellectual whose musings on sex and culture are delicate as they are incisive. How could we resist? Read his pieces…

Dawn Kaczmar
Eros and Desire Scholar

Across theory and practice, across possession and obstruction, Dawn seeks the fleeting and overarching truths of eros. She is currently a freelance writer with a background in philosophy and literature. Read her pieces…

Jason Goldman
Scientific Consultant

Jason never hesitates to answer our science questions, no matter how inane. He blogs for ScienceBlogs, with an emphasis on animal cognition; his work has been syndicated to the New York Times and he’s a frequent contributor to the UK’s Guardian.

Contributors

Nikki Thomas
Nikki was a straight A student who couldn’t follow the rules and spent as much time in the principal’s office as in the library. At university she opted not to join a sorority and instead filled her free time cruising Hollywood bars and parties, hooking up and getting down. Nikki is a bad girl with a heart of gold. Read her posts…

Fernando Mentiras
Fernando has wasted much of the last few years wading through the local escort/hobbyist message boards. From finding a hooker to making the date, not getting ripped off or worse; he knows everything there is to know about paying for sex. With cold hard cash, not at divorce court. Read his pieces…

Daisy Tralala
She’s a veteran of Los Angeles’s original punk rock scene who managed to emerge intact to navigate through a number of other subcultures through the years. She has chronicled her writings in the U.S., Italy and Japan. She’s currently enjoying a journey of sexuality through the BDSM underground. Read her posts…

Laura Roberts
Laura Roberts is the editor of the literary rebellion (and erotica haven) Black Heart Magazine. She currently lives in Austin, where she is writing a memoir of her time in Montreal. Read her posts…

Dick Feynman
Dick is a Los Angeles-based scientist, specializing in diluting scientific research findings into tasty, bite-sized bacon-flavored snacks for the unwashed masses. Read his posts…

Raymond Burns
An esoteric indie film professional living in Los Angeles. Raymond is a social animal who loves every inch of the female form. He comprehensively appreciates the quiet aftermath of a woman’s orgasm. He hangs a bit to the left. Read his posts…

Arrow Strong
He has chosen to keep his identity private because he’s kind of a big deal. You’d never guess — if you were to meet him at a function around town — that this good-looking geek was capable of so much debauchery. And that’s just how he likes it. Read his posts…

Adora Flame
We’ll tell you this much–she’s in Hollywood. She has a hand firmly on the pulse of Los Angeles happenings and juicy sex news, but move up a little and you’ll find her heart, prominently sitting on her sleeve. She’s our in-house romantic, and ready to share about all things about dating in Tinsel Town. Read her posts…

Ma Cherie
Ma is in the market for a boyfriend, girlfriend, kinky sex partner, willing slave, and sugar daddy, though not necessarily in that order. When not working as a dominatrix, she’s cruising online dating sites, hitting up fetish parties, and regularly pleasuring herself. Unironically, her favorite song is “Kiss With A Fist.” Read her posts…

Tyler Knox
We’ll put it this way: this guy has no qualms about pissing off every woman in the room. What good is a big vocabulary if you don’t have the balls to match, right? Read his incendiary piece about Tiger Woods here.

Drew Thomas
Drew knows a thing or two about the view from the top. A dom for a while, he’ll tell you how he got there and just how hard she came. Read his posts…

The Barrenness
What happens when one opts out of reproduction and throws herself into self-absorbed hedonism? The jet-set life is the perfect stage for a game of musical beds. Read her posts…

Britney du Jour
She blew in to Los Angeles from Wholesome USA in the name of a Hollywood-style ever-after. Now that she sees this isn’t going to pan out, she’s decided to take charge — and start charging. Read her posts…

Darla Labelle
She’s the unusual mistress. And by mistress, we’re not talking BDSM, we’re talking infidelity to the nth degree. Darla is here to tell us some of the hot stories and logistics involved with conducting a successful affair with a married man. Ladies, cower in fear. Read her posts…

Jessica Janson
She was born in the greater Los Angeles area, where she spent much of her life when she wasn’t satisfying her wanderlust in bizarre places around the globe. Foreseeing the state’s impending economic collapse, she packed up and took off to Vegas where she now makes a killing ignoring her Master’s and grinding on laps. Read her take on L.A. guys in the strip club and her appeal to porn industry big wigs.

Simone Vressac
This Los Angeles career girl isn’t afraid to tell you everything, from her visits to the gynecologist to her porn-viewing habits. She’s a barefoot sex nymph, as comfortable in thigh-highs and Louboutins as she is in sweat pants on the morning-after. Read her posts…

Esther Tseng
Celebrated foodie blogger and owner of Los Angeles’ esteemed e*Star LA, Esther is our go-to gal in all matters of where to take a date when you want to hit the town.

Dark Gracie
Gracie is an acclaimed photographer, sex author, and deviant extraordinaire, who first began writing erotica in 2005. Read her contribution here.

M. Lore
M. Lore doesn’t feel you’re entitled to know more about him than what he has contributed here already. But he has a great piece about what domination is really about that you should definitely read.

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Gamers Won’t Be Seduced, Will Stare At Random Cleav Instead

That Steam allows the objectification and sexualization of female characters in a variety of its games but refuses to accept a game about actually engaging with women in a more interactive fashion is astonishingly backward.

FetLife Is Not Safe for Users

That the site doesn’t take measures to protect user content and has shown incompetence or negligence in regard to user privacy, all the while prohibiting victims from warning others about predatory behavior creates an environment where it is nearly impossible for members of the community to take care of themselves and one another. By enabling FetLife to continue espousing a code of silence, allowing the spinning self-created security issues as “attacks,” and not pointing out how disingenuous FetLife statements about safety are, we are allowing our community to become a breeding ground for exploitation.

Why You Should Vote No On Prop 35

Should people who benefit (parents, siblings, children, roommates!) from the earnings of “commercial sex acts” (any sexual conduct connected to the giving or receiving of something of value) be charged with human trafficking? Should someone who creates obscene material that is deemed “deviant” be charged as with human trafficking? Should someone who profits from obscene materials be charged with human trafficking? Should people transporting obscene materials be charged with human trafficking? Should a person who engages in sex with someone claiming to be above the age of consent or furnishing a fake ID to this effect be charged with human trafficking? What if I told you the sentences for that kind of conviction were eight, 14 or 20 years in prison, a fine not to exceed $500,000, and life as a registered sex offender?

Pretty and Calls Herself a Geek? Attention Whore!

If you are a woman, you might be given a chance to prove yourself in this community. Since there is no standard definition of what a “geek” is and it will vary from one judge to the next anyway, chances of failing are high (cake and grief counseling will be available after the conclusion of the test!). If you somehow manage to succeed, you’ll be tested again and again by anyone who encounters you until you manage to establish yourself like, say, Felicia Day. But even then, you’ll be questioned. As a woman, your whole existence within the geek community will be nothing but a series of tests — if you’re lucky. If you aren’t lucky, you’ll be harassed and threatened and those within the culture will tacitly agree that you deserve it.

Cuddle Chemical? Moral Molecule? Not So Fast

Zak’s original field, it turns out, is economics, a far cry from the hearts and teddy bears we imagine when we consider his nickname. But after performing experiments on generosity, Zak stumbled on the importance of trust in interactions, which led him, rather inevitably, to research about oxytocin. Oxytocin, you might remember, is a hormone that has been linked previously to bonding — between mothers and children primarily, but also between partners. What Zak has done is take the research a step further, arguing in his recent book, The Moral Molecule, that oxytocin plays a role in determining whether we are good or evil.

How to Avoid Pissing off a Stripper

Let’s talk about the strippers. Whether they like to be half-naked or not, whether they enjoy turning you on or not, there’s one thing they all have in common: they’re working. Whether you think that taking one’s clothes off for money is a great choice of career is really beside the point (is it a possibility for you to make $500 per hour at your job without a law degree? Just asking). These women are providing fantasy, yes, but that is their job. And as a patron of the establishment where they work, you need to treat them like you would anyone else who provides a service to you.

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Editrix-in-Command:
AV Flox

In-House Theologian:
Robert Fischer

Eros and Desire Scholar:
Dawn Kaczmar

Scientific Consultant:
Jason Goldman

East Coast Liaison:
Jackie Summers

Arch-Nemesis:
Barbie Davenporte

Read about the contributors we've had over time on our staff page.

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Sex and the 405 is what your newspaper would look like if it had a sex section.

Here you’ll find news about the latest research being conducted to figure out what drives desire, passion, and other sex habits; reviews of sex toys, porn and other sexy things; coverage of the latest sex-related news that have our mainstream media's panties up in a bunch; human interest pieces about sex and desire; interviews with people who love sex, or hate sex, or work in sex, or work to enable you to have better sex; opinion pieces that relate to sex and society; and the sex-related side of celebrity gossip. More...