(From the Archives)
Sex and creativity are often seen by dictators as subversive activities. –Erica Jong
Several years ago Victoria Blisse and I led a panel discussion on sex and spirituality, a discussion we both felt was essential to erotica writers. We didn’t know what to expect, but a full house of enthusiastic people willing to share their thoughts on the deep connection between the spiritual and the sexual and the common vocabulary as well as the common experience is what we got. We both came away feeling like we were the richer for the effort, and I came away with my mind racing about that creative act of sex and where it leads us.
A while back my husband emailed me a link to an article about masturbation as a treatment for restless leg syndrome (It’s orgasm that actually seems to help. The means is optional.) I can almost see you scratching your heads in a WTF moment with that statement. 🙂 Anyway, the article led us to an impromptu discussion of all of the other benefits of sex. Sex is a good sleep aid, sex can help with weight loss, sex can improve skin, hair and nails, just to name a few. There was even an article in Psychology Today about semen as an anti-depressant. Strangely enough though, the jury, however, is still out on whether sex is an aid or a deterrent to creativity.
For the naysayers, abstinence has long been championed as a way to focus sexual energy for creative purposes. On the other hand, a 2009 study at the University of Newcastle-on-Tyne and the Open University showing that professional poets and artists had almost twice as many sex partners as other people. The study also showed that the number of sex partners increased as creative output went up. The conclusion drawn was that the more creative you are, the more sex partners you were likely to have.
I’m sure that’s a simplification, but I wonder which came first: the sex or the creativity? Is it the creative force that makes us horny, or is it being horny that makes us creative? My guess is that every writer, poet or artist would answer that question differently. However, I don’t think there’s any denying the close connection between the creative force and sexuality. Nor do I think that’s particularly surprising. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Freud was right. It IS all about sex. But I wonder whether we really understand just what sex is all about.
Yes, the basic biology is obvious, but we humans haven’t had sex simply to procreate in a very long time now. We’ve evolved to want, to expect, even to need more from the sex act than just the next generation. Perhaps that goes hand-in- hand with our cultural evolution, what sets us apart from our animal cousins — at least in our own eyes. For humans, all things seem to have evolved two meanings. First there is the concrete realm in which we’re born, nurtured, thrive, reproduce and die. But we develop another level of meaning when we no longer have to use all of our energy just to survive. When starvation is no longer an issue, food and its preparation and presentation become art. When keeping out the cold is no longer an issue, clothing becomes fashion, and magazines tell us how we can be walking galleries for the art of clothing. When finding shelter from the elements is no longer necessary, our very homes become an artistic expression of ourselves. In a world where all our basic needs have evolved more than one meaning, the artistic expression becomes as important as the function.
But all of these necessities are mundane. Sex is not. For our ancestors, sex was the magic by which two people become three. Today sex is the magic by which two people become one, or by which one person becomes more herself or himself. On one hand procreation has given way to re-creation, but on the other hand, how can an act that has evolved from the very need to create the next generation be rooted in anything but creativity?
How can the process of creating be anything but sexual? Writing a story is a penetrative act resulting in something larger, something much more alive than the words on the page, than the idea conceived. That’s heady stuff. That’s the writer in full rut. It’s intimate, it’s messy, it’s rough and tumble, it’s voyeurism and exhibitionism and full-on heat. If it isn’t, then there hardly seems to be a point.
That being said, anyone who has had good sex, lingering sex in which time seemed no longer to exist, will recall that
what mattered was the wonder of the act itself, the amazing intimacy with the other. Any writer or artist knows that experience up close and personal. At some point the creative act itself becomes the sum total of existence. The writer’s world shrinks to and expands out from that act, and the end no longer matters.
So how did I get from masturbation for restless leg syndrome to once more worshiping at the altar of the Divine Creative Sexual Force? Well I suppose it’s all just a part of the journey isn’t it? And besides, where else would I go with it?