michael j. morris

bodies beyond bodies, sex beyond sex

I just posted this on our blog for Laboratory of Independent Scholars. I thought it could live here as well:

These are not wholly cohesive ideas.
But that actually seems appropriate for the line of inquiry.

I am continuing to theorize and work through my understanding of ecosexuality. I find myself really solid in my explication of an ecological consciousness or modality, a blurring the the self/other along trajectories of desire/eroticism, the transgression of borders, boundaries, and taboos, etc.
If you’ve had any time to look at the papers I posted in which I am working of establishing something like a theory of ecosexuality (grounded in and indebted to the Love Art Laboratory), then discussions of porosity and permeability will be familiar. Desire that denotes lack as constitutive of an erotic eco-logic when considered in the conditions of collaborative arts communities.

But again and again I keep finding myself looking for the sex in all of this. I have posited that an ecosexual paradigm employs (queer) sexual epistemologies in the recognition of/engagement with the environment/more-than-human, but here is where I run out of language. I brush against it in the “Fluid Bodies, Liquid Communities” paper when I state: “I argue that in the formulation of an Ecosexual identity and a Sexecology, sex and sexuality function as epistemologies, perhaps even methodologies, for recognizing the conditions of such an identity and ecology. The permeability, the fluidity, the blurring of boundaries during sex—at the edges of flesh, fluids, pleasure, penetration, ejaculation, for example—function as perceptual schemas for an erotic eco-logic, whereby we experience what it means to lose clarity of our individual boundaries and borders at the site of intimate exchange.” It does have something to do with perceptual schemas. It has something to do with the self-annihilating force of pleasure, feeling fluids permeating flesh, tasting “an-other” inside of “your-self,” and losing clarity between “you” and “I.”
But that’s as far as I can get.

Today I am finishing an amazing text called Avatar Bodies: A Tantra for Posthumanism that I hope to use to support my development/mobilization of Tantric philosophy as a critical theory. In delving into Tantra, posthumanism, and deconstructivism, I am again situated within a discussion of bodies far beyond corporeal morphology, selves that are multiple and trembling amongst (infinite?) potentialities. I’ve elsewhere discussed the bigness of bodies, bodies that are flesh and blood and bone, but also regimes of power, sites of political inscription, sites of oppression, resistance, and liberation, bodies that produce knowledge, etc. My new thought today is that if bodies are inclusive of and extended beyond corporeal morphology (the biological systems that we recognize as “the body”), then how might sex be both inclusive of and extended beyond these biological frames? What is the spectrum of sex, sexual acts, sexual roles, sexual modes of knowing? And how might that all take on relevance/extension/application beyond the (bounded, limited, biological) body into the realms of the “big body” (in all its posthuman, poststructural, Tantric, ecosexual contexts) WITHOUT it no longer being sex?
I think it’s an issue of abstraction.
I am trying to find how far sex as an epistemology extends without it becoming only metaphor, only abstract analogy (not that these aren’t modes of epistemology . . . but my interest is in the question of IF bodies are all of these things beyond the reduced biological body, and IF sex is a certain mode of the body, a mode of encounter between bodies, THEN what are the limits of sex?) From that last past it feels as if it might be worth revisiting Butler’s Bodies that Matter: On the Discursive Limits of ‘Sex’ . . .

I am wide open to feedback on this (sexual episteme?). Any insight, perspective, reference, challenge, question, etc. that might help develop this thought further is highly welcome.

1 Comment so far
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not that i’ve read _Bodies that Matter_, okay. but hm. good question.

it is important to think of metaphors as epistemologies. they are powerful.

i think the limits of sex are broad, though. for one thing, sexuality permeates individuals at every level of their being. i challenge your assertion that sex is a mode of the body and posit that it IS bodies. bodies are sexual through and through, along with and perhaps strongly underlying everything else that bodies are. sex acts performed or no, bodies are sexual.

this quickly becomes about cosmology. if bodies are sexual and are also porous, then everything is sexual. for me this is about ecstasy and union being at the core of everything.

sorry if i’ve grossly oversimplified and misconstrued your ideas, my friend. but knowing you, you’ll take it in and let it fertilize something amazing.

Comment by Mara

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