Erotic Beauties – Daniela in Casual Orgasm (2014)
While I certainly appreciate the various elements here:
- the window and its inviting of public vs private notions;
- questions over the implications of voyeurism (experiential, i.e. masturbation vs mediated documentation of experience, watching someone masturbate as if they were unaware they were being watched even though they most certainly are very aware of that fact);
- the crocheted décolletage, the fruited branches decorating the dress’ fabric and sparse floral on white pattern of her knickers present a stylized-without-being-kitchy, cutesy-femme bearing.
It’s definitely some #skinnyframebullshit and I think the way the frame amputates her legs just above the knee brings in issues of restricting autonomous mobility of the subject and rapidly pushes things down a slippery slope towards knee-jerk male gaze objectification.
When I started this project a bit over four and a half years ago, I was extremely unhappy with my life. There were a lot of things that informed my decision—but it was primarily driven by two factors:
- every creative outlet open to me felt stagnant, and;
- I am obsessed with the potential confluence of the subjects typically relegated to ‘pornography’ being recognized as viable subjects for consideration by capital A Art.
It was actually an inspired decision. They say write about what you know and considering I was spending two hours every day viewing the same sort of material I post on this blog, there was an elegance to the proposition.
Also—as I came to realize—my creative stagnation all started when I stopped writing. (Although ‘stopped’ made it sound like I gave up instead of spending several years staring at the blink-blink-blink of a mocking cursor on a blank page.)
I still struggle with writing. I’ve been working to get a novel off-the-ground for months—to little avail.And although I still don’t feel a renewed sense of momentum, there is at least movement now.
Surprisingly this blog has taken off more than I ever expected. I mean: I only started it out of abject desperation. So if some time traveller had told me that in January of 2013 that by the summer of 2016, I’d be averaging a post per day and have followers totaling into four figures, I’d not have believed them.
The ‘success’ of this project—if you can even call it that—has unfortunately changed some things. I definitely put more time and energy into posts than I did when I first began. However, as I have—for whatever reason—gotten attention for what I’m doing, I do worry that I have lost several things I wish I hadn’t; namely: I spend more time worrying about the more academic aspects (after anon advising me to top myself, the most common nasty messages I get accuse me of being ‘uneducated’ and/or ‘pretentious’) and how I’ve lost the more deeply personal, confessional tone of the first nine months or so I was doing this.
Amadine and I had just finished a hike.
We’d driven back to my AirBnB—a quaint cottage situated in a large chaotic garden. The two of us were seated at the heavy bistro table adjacent to the cottage. She’s an insanely talented illustrator and our conversation centered around our motivations for art-making. (We both agreed that the primary drive was a feeling of profound responsibility to share and/or draw attention to the moments of transcendent wonderment we experience. Subsequently, she talked about how her chronic health issues so frequently derail her creative practice and how societal pressures cause her to veer away from dealing with physicality, nudity, intimacy, vulnerability and sexuality in her own work.)
I found myself talking to her with a degree of guileless intensity I’ve never managed with another human being about my own work. Pornography serving as my intensely problematic/myopic introduction to human sexuality; and my simultaneously fascination with explicit documentation of sex vs my alienation from the rampant objectification and misogyny of porn.
I told her:
I started masturbating before I even knew masturbation was a thing. I’d rub my genitals against my pillow and I learned that if I did it long enough, it would make me feel warm and tingly for a bit.
By the time I learned that what I was doing was called masturbation, I was already hooked on the endorphin rush. It was the way I’d manage to deal with how insanely fucked and abusive my environment was growing up.
I ejaculated for the first time when I was twelve. I didn’t enjoy it. As a matter of fact, I remember it was painful.
As fate would have it, that same week, we had been told that masturbation was a mortal sin. (Remember I was raised by fundamentalist Xtians…) I remember the teacher telling us that if we had such urges we should pray that Jesus would take them away and that he would. It was identical to my mom telling my brother and I that my father really did love us deep down, he just didn’t know how to show it and that we should pray for Jesus to help him not be angry and to instead love…
I prayed but my prayers felt as if they never went higher than the ceiling above my bed.
I paused. Half expecting her to be appalled and fumbling for a way to make a polite exit. Instead, she offered: I’ve never been much of a masturbator. My mom says I used to touch myself constantly when I was young. But that was more curiosity. I had this intriguing body and I wanted to know everything about it. But as it became less about exploration and more about maybe not masturbating, but self-pleasure… it just made me feel weird and I stopped doing it.
Honestly, the raw material in the image above is first rate. Given the same elements, I firmly believe that someone could make a jaw-on-the-floor work of capital A Art. The problem is: the focus here is on the a mediated fantasy. This sort of ideal type—what the male gaze imagines female masturbation to entail. I’m not interested in that—that isn’t what arouses me, what captures my imagination, what makes my heart race and my brain crackle.
I am transfixed by the experience of unselfconscious pleasure—because it’s not that much different from transcendent experience when you get right down to it. And I’m singling out this image here because I think it has a great deal more potential than most images—but sadly it’s squandered as a result of preconditions and a lack of empathy.
I don’t want to see what you think I think pleasure looks like. I want to see the flush of your face, the shiver of your body, the breathless surrender as pleasure takes you. That, to me, is the fundamental essence of what makes something Art.
Amadine isn’t her real name. And I doubt she’ll ever happen upon this. But in the interest of full disclosure, the 48 hours I spent with her are among the three best experiences of my life. Only once in my life have I felt as connected/understood/seen by another person.
I am absolutely head-over-heals in love with her. It’s impossible though—for reasons I can’t even begin to go into here.
But: if there was something I could say to her it would be this line from poet Mahmoud Darwish:
قالوا: تموت بها حبـاًً؟
قلـت: ألا آذكروها علـى قبـري لتحيينـي
they asked “do you love her to death?”
i said “speak of her over my grave and watch how she brings me back to life