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  • I, with a deeper instinct, choose a man who
    compels my strength, who makes enormous
    demands on me, who does not doubt my
    courage or my toughness, who does not
    believe me naïve or innocent, who has the
    courage to treat me like a woman.

    Anaïs Nin


    Soon after I started trying to be the literary love child of Anais Nin and Henry Miller, I got crashingly bored, and couldn't NOT write funny, which my friends thought was hilarious, but even that got old soon and I moved on to what we might call “Referential Erotica.”

    Referential Erotica, for me, is perhaps a more tantric, tasteful and Victorian approach, in which you work at the metaphorical level, playfully, and enjoy the literary adventure of having fun with the oldest game in the world. Even the Kama Sutra, after all, has its limits.

    But Referential Erotica is a challenge, as it calls for skill, style, imagination, subtlety, taste, humor and a touch of mischief, along with literary sensIbility. I got bored with this too, except when it could add some depth and quality to a story.

    I suggest that the REAL challenge (and opportunity) here for any aspiring writer of erotica is to see how much true art, wit and craft you can bring to those places in your writing where you want to add a pinch of curry and a dab of chipotle to a poem or a story. But work within a larger purpose and story line, where there is real substance and value to be gained from the reading.

    One of my favorite Cultural Anthropologists says, often: “ART IS LANGUAGE ABOUT CULTURE.”

    What we see in art today, whether we like it or not, is language about who we are, how we value (or fail to value) life and each other, how we love, how we see ourselves in community and in the world.

    In the books, stories, films, songs, videos and other media that focus on the pornographic, the perverted, the debased and the depraved, the “language” of violence in sexuality does not have very much to report that bodes well for the future. The rise in pornography involving young children, and myriad debasements of women tall a sorry tale indeed.


    Perhaps the most vivid symbol of where we are right now is in an institute in San Francisco, in a crash course geared to bust people out of their sexual taboos. It is called the “Efforama” (fill in the blank) and consists of days and days of dawn to dusk watching films of every imaginable sexual act, practice and perversion. Days and days, nine to five. Hello? This is supposed to help people? Has it gotten this bad?

    I suspect that the victims of this sex-crash therapy stagger from the experience like dying wasps on a summer windowsill and end up taking vows of celibacy in Cistercian and Poor Clare monastaries and convents. But perhaps there is a message here for us about the sorry place at which we have arrived in terms of rock bottom. We need to start coming up for air. For me, quality erotic writing needs to support a larger purpose than just sexual escapades. Quality erotic writing needs to have a home in stories about love, relationships, and the whole of life.

    The landscape is not pretty. It is generally grotesque and bloodied. From the horrors of internet predators and child porn, to the aforementioned extreme violence against women that is becoming so prevalent, we live in a culture that is coming apart at the seams, and there is an urgent need for a few brave souls to step up and try to fix things.

    Fixing things will involve shifting a paradigm around how we relate to each other as sexual beings, and how we can develop new healthy, healing and loving ways to depict sexuality in our art, weaving it into stories that inspire, uplift and most of all, heal our broken and weary hearts.

    Is the worldwide best seller FIFTY SHADES OF GREY trilogy a movement in the right direction, even though it involves consensual BDSM? Or is it a sort of Guernica of the times? You decide.


    PART 2 IN A SERIES...







    (Photograph by Alex in the 3-D virtual world of Second Life)
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