October 27, 2010

Unhinging Theory: Eros

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.

Visceral experience unhinges theories: it can add new directions and dimensions of movement, or enable its falling apart. One can predict the arc of a love affair as it swings open, but to walk within its walls, press your hands against its flesh, and swallow its pulse: such experience can have unintended consequences of monumental creation or epic destruction directly in the face of theory. If it is my goal to express to the reader the way in which experience can shatter theory, it is also implicit that reveal how I, myself, have been shattered. Call them field notes.

The erotic is a subject that fascinates me. It is beyond a surface-level fanaticism with pleasure; I am deeply enraptured in the many ways in which one can engage and understand eros, whether it is with the self, another, or multiple partners. As I am also prone to excessive daydreaming, I do, however, have a proclivity for fantasy-life. I study, observe, imagine, and experience.

Although I had understood this difference between theory and experience before, it was not until this year that I truly felt shattered by it and noted the dynamic relationship between the two. It came in the form of confronting something I had desired for nearly a decade. Something that I had craved so badly that it terrified me. Something that I not only found desire within, but found myself within.

I never told him any of this. I could barely even think of him without feeling overwhelmed. I eventually moved away. I wrote letters to him that I didn’t send. Once, on a visit home, I saw him at a movie theater, and hid. I never once doubted that he was an impossible object of adoration. I held him within me as an abstraction, an unreachable desire, a theoretical ideal of my passion’s symmetry. Although intense, this desire was resigned to a conceptual space that seemed impenetrable. I was not suspended by it because there was no anticipation of reward; I was simply imbued with it. Truly, “desire” is an inadequate word to describe the reach I felt; it was beyond carnal, material, or sexual. It was existential.

And then, on some arbitrary day, he contacted me. During this casual conversation, my heart raced and I struggled to breathe. Slowly, confessions of my obsession with him started dribbling out. He encouraged me and we began swirling in on each other like inbound stars having discovered our gravitational pull, our fundamental recognition of each other. My shattering occurred through the destruction of my beliefs about what was possible and impossible in the world, through a distant abstraction made real. The horizons succumbed to us. I thought of all the times I had written, alone to myself, secretly, in my diary: I long to be proven wrong. Experience unhinged my theory.

“I want to hold your head in my hands,” he said.

“I feel like the world would end if you touched me.”

It didn’t end, but it was not the same world as before. We stretched out time and marveled as eight years collapsed into hours, minutes, seconds. Everything I thought I understood about life suddenly seemed false in the face of this fissure. It was freedom, creativity, recognition, acceptance, love, desire, and existence, culminating after I had allowed it to sit for so long, festering in my heart.

My theory, both existential and erotic, was shattered by the experience of it in its rawest form. If one seeks to dismantle the logos, it is surely through the erotic: it is the saison en enfer, the destruction that breeds vitality, the ultimate loss through which all else is gained. My world, my theory, my imprecise study crumbles at the feet of the experience of my lover; he is the imperceptible footnote to every hypothesis. The relationship between theory and experience, in my work, swings by this arc.

In a letter to Milena Jesenská, Franz Kafka wrote, “in this love you are like a knife, with which I explore myself.” The erotic isn’t merely a tool with which to explore the sexual or romantic experience, but the self, the world, and the very fabric of existence.

While these incisions are tearing up my insides, they are also influencing my trajectory as a writer. The erotic is my science, and it is one that is constantly subject to destruction and re-birth; it is through these slivers of experience that each subtlety reveals itself. A small, turning fractal of truth grins through these lacerations, only to dive down, returning to the unknown. It is a study located in the temporal and in the subject: eros is not one particular thing. It is the fleeting, the almost, and through this reach, the scientist trembles and discovers, only to lose once again.

MORE ON EROS
Eros: An Introduction
Beauty, Eros, and the Particular
Erotic Obstructions
The Erotic Temporal Arc: Decay, Return, and Eternity

Dawn

Dawn Kaczmar (@SemperAugustus) attempts to distill the exquisitely useless beauty of information; across theory and practice, across possession and obstruction, she seeks the fleeting and overarching truths of eros. Dawn is currently a freelance writer with a background in philosophy and literature.

More Posts

  • Pingback: Tweets that mention Unhinging Theory: Eros | Sex and the 405 -- Topsy.com

  • Hector

    This, theoretically, evokes memories from Derrida’s “Writing and Difference,” where he speaks about the clinical discourse vs the critical discourse. Agreeing with Foucault, Derrida asserts there exists an undefined limit that approaches infinity as the two begin to flirt – replace clinical with the phenomenological and the critical with the theoretical, and I see a fine comparison between this and your thesis; except through your experience, you have, at least inductively, proved he and Foucault’s position too rigid. I, too, believe their position rigid and inapplicable to relative reality – I agree with you and empathize with your experience. You have conveyed it quite beautifully and, yet, don’t try to assert anything too…”assertively,” haha. 

Facebook

Add our page on Google+!

Keep up with everything we're covering right in your stream. Please note this page is limited to users 18+.

Featured

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.

Masthead

Send us news!

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.

Follow SAT405 on:
Twitter
Facebook

RSS

Hosted by (mt)

About

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...