The Alan Sondheim Mail Archive

This Sex which is not None

"When I move my eyes, I take account of their movement, without being 
expressly conscious of the fact, and am thereby aware that the upheaval 
caused in my field of vision is only apparent. Similarly sexuality, 
without being the object of any intended act of consciousness, can 
underlie and guide specified forms of my experience,. Taken in this way, 
as an ambiguous atmosphere, sexuality is co-extensive with life. In other 
words, ambiguity is of the essence of human existence, and everything we 
live or think has always several meanings. A way of life - an attitude of 
escapism and need of solitude - is perhaps a generalized expression of a 
certain state of sexuality,. In thus becoming transformed into existence, 
sexuality has taken upon itself so general a significance, the sexual 
theme has contrived to be for the subject the occasion for so many 
accurate and true observations in themselves, of so many rationally based 
decisions, and it has become so loaded with the passage of time that it is 
an impossible undertaking to seek, within the framework of sexuality, the 
explanation of the framework of existence, The fact remains that this 
existence is the act of taking up and making explicit a sexual situation, 
and that in this way it has always a double sense. There is interfusion 
between sexuality and existence, which means that existence permeates 
sexuality and _vice versa,_ so that it is impossible to determine, in a 
given decision or action, the proportion of sexual to other motivations, 
impossible to label a decision or act 'sexual' or 'non-sexual.' Thus there 
is in human existence a principle of indeterminacy, and this indeterminacy 
is not only for us, it does not stem from some imperfection of our 
knowledge, and we must not imagine that any God could sound our hearts and 
minds and determine what we owe to nature and what to freedom. Existence 
is indeterminate in itself, by reason of its fundamental structure [...]" 
(Merleau-Ponty, Phenomenology of Perception)

It's murky, this being always hinting at structure or organ, somewhere 
down beneath the surface (invisible from the surface, from the exterior), 
well something's there causing the commotion, a messy engine or drive, 
pulsion, a vibration which comes and leaves in fits. Hard to reconcile 
with the rest of the chattered world, that boy's got something, that 
girl's got something, as if on a day in spring, a ripening, and what does 
that have to do with one's place in the cosmos? One begins to discern 
structure, a presence or devouring presence or presence to be devoured, 
but dimly, a symbol, cupped hands lifting up, you can hold water that way. 
The skin holds water, filters it. See, here's the Thing, Being is tawdry, 
sad, something to kick around, we can't get to the Universal; Being or 
beings make no difference at all, nothing, they're like a pair of socks, 
something to run around in. Being or emptiness, beings or Emptiness, we're 
talking about ourselves, a local farm, what's temporarily present in the 
biome. It's a "region," just as sex-being, being-sex, existence is a 
region, a region which is perhaps regional, perhaps not. Carrying organs 
and communities within us, and they make all the decisions, separations, 
our cries and murmurs, analytics, are regional paste, local determinations 
within the inconceivable; our conceptualizations are skitterings. It's a 
truism - I talk and write from inside my body. Conceptually, say whatever 
you want, this language machine, this computer, goes back to the Acheulian 
hand-ax and earlier; tools were always with us, always thrusting into 
earth or stem or flesh.

This is why existence is a dead word and sex is not; sex starts inside 
something and moves inside something and maybe something else, and 
existence, beings and Being, does nothing. Or does nothing outside the 
copula; existents reside within the copula, they're chained-linked in our 
imaginary which tries to hang on, with the slimmest of threads, to some- 
thing that might be considered, not only external (for we sense those, the 
scent of the true world), but out there, structure paralleling our own. We 
"just" tend to forget the copula, a female or male hand tying a knot 
making speaking, these wrytings, possible. Sexuality brings whatever else 
there is into the local; my body reflects my body, there's an uncanny 
surrounding, insistent on present presence, alterity, imminence, as if 
"here" and "there" jump-started one another in the boot-strap model of 
existence, powered by sex.

Sexual organs are situated, their effect that of diffusion, existence 
diffuses "as far as we're concerned," as far as "we're intended"; it's 
that hint of structure, which is somewhat other, messily other, that sur- 
faces as abstracted desire-in-language - all these names, desire, libido, 
frisson, arousal, id, what have you, and nothing's there, certainly not 
existence which seems to be driven by energy, impulse, force, unintended 
churning. Why we hardly know what we are. Or rather one might take struc- 
ture, as if it could separate from desire, existence, meta-psychology, 
meta-physics - one might take structure and make experiment of it. There 
are always artifacts, however ephemeral. You get practice out of it, 
communication, you can take it to the bank.

You get tangled up when thinking about the organs; it's better to keep 
things beneath the covers, much as existence is kept out of sight, out of 
our site to be sure. We always mistake the copula for copulation, the 
attribute for the thing, the thing for possible worlds, possible worlds 
for occurrences, occurrences for Being remote again from the organs; the 
true world is the mattering/nattering to and among us, and we have to mess 
with the symbolic in all sorts of ways - for example inscription, and then 
one form of erasing or another. Not to mention the magic slate, what's 
uncanny, what's strange, what estranges us.

There's nothing to say about emptiness but Nagarjuna says nothing anyway.

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