The Erasure of Sex from Transgressive Eroticism

“Sex is just an iota removed from a wank” – Richey Edwards

In the present, given the free-for-all nature of sex – sex post-sexual liberation, sex beyond shame and the facade of ‘social decency’ – the sexual act has collapsed into a sort of meaningless transparent. In a present everywhere made up of sex, it functions at best as a social-sign, bestowing a faux prestige on its participants, falsely derived from a past where a sex act could actually be described as ‘transgressive’ and therefore ‘excessive’. What the modern world partakes in where sex is concerned is a sort of simulacrum of sex, based not on what sex presently is, but rather on what sex once was: forbidden.

Moreover, given our post-liberated obsession with sex, we have seriously over-documented it, giving it a high definition appearance that makes it vividly precise and invests it with machinic quality. Amid its constant celebration, its use as a social sign; amid all that speaks it and sells it (and thereby diminishes it in the same way water was diminished by the tap) other forces – pornographic and pseudo-educational – serve to mechanise it. With the explosion of pornography, with sex becoming a consumable leisure activity, its gradual stylisation becomes inevitable. Stylisation through the formulae of porn, stylisation through education, the various techniques, a billion different kama sutras, through cable TV, literature, celebrity gossip, the internet – spooning, squirting, money shots – all these forms giving sex the cold, predictable, repetitious quality of the machine. Sex becomes at best frustrating and unfulfilling – hence those ‘Finish Boredom in the Bedroom’ programs; hence all that Viagra – a better erotic cue might be to make something of that boredom in the bedroom – what more erotic an image than to have fallen asleep finger fucking your lover!?

Behind sex then, you have the nothingness of its ubiquitous appearance (something appears only when it stands out); at its fore, you have the stylised, systemic motion of the machine, over produced, over documented and over systematised. If ‘eroticism is defined by secrecy’ (Bataille, Eroticism, p. 252), then what the present society calls ‘sex’ can no longer be said to occupy the pulsing and illegal space experienced as erotic intensity.

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