Monday, April 19, 2010

What is Erotic, or The Erotic: Someone Dares To Ask

CODE RED: Caribbean conversations on politics, sex, gender and freedom.

People, if you haven't read this essay by Audre Lorde, what, pray tell, HAVE you been reading? Seriously! To read the essay, please click on the page numbers in the next sentence. As the blogger notes and as I also say in my comment below the brief cross post, the profound essay appears in a classic feminist text, Sister Outsider, pages 53 - 59. The whole essay is there.

What's up next is cross posted, from a Caribbean feminist discussion blog Code Red, *here*, and please link back to it to answer THERE, but you can answer here too!!! This is a "both/and", not "either/or" proposition! If you only do one, please answer there. They posed the question, after all.

What follows is from that blog; it is a short-but-sweet post consisting of one morsel of the goodness of Lorde's awesome essay. And my comment is under that. It's less sweet. Bitter even. But you know me!! I'll be sweet as honey after the revolution. I promise!

A little Audre Lorde in the morning…

The principal horror of any system which defines the good in terms of profit rather than in terms of human need, or which defines human need to the exclusion of the psychic and emotional components of that need – the principal horror of such a system is that it robs our work of its erotic value, its erotic power and life appeal and fulfillment. Such a system reduces work to a travesty of necessities, a duty by which we earn bread or oblivion for ourselves and those we love. But this is tantamount to blinding a painter and then telling her to improve her work, and to enjoy the act of painting. It is not only next to impossible, it is also profoundly cruel.
Source: Audre Lorde, Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power.

What does erotic mean to you?


  • Julian  On April 19, 2010 at 7:20 pm
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    I can tell you what it doesn’t mean:
    1. Advertising, Cosmetics, and Fashion-industry B.S.
    2. Sadism or masochism, brutality in any form
    3. Anything associated with corporate capitalism
    4. Anything “marketed” or “marketable”, anything “bought and sold”
    5. Sexism-as-sexiness
    6. Racism-as-”racy”
    7. Heterosexism, in any guise or form or expression
    8. Any other form of oppression, like ageism, worship of youth, despising the elderly as asexual-only
    9. Dehumanisation and inhumanity
    10. What pornographers and pimps make and distribute

    I’ve only found this essay by Audre Lorde in print, in her book, Sister Outsider (1984), Crossing Press, or online unedited in one place (even while it appears supposedly in full on some websites–there’s a “Cool Beans” one that is missing the ending, for example!!). That one place is in “Google books” where you’re reading it right off the pages, so to speak. This essay, The Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power” is about as radical and important an essay as I’ve ever read on any subject. One could read it daily all one’s life, and just let its truths marinate into one’s soul and transform one’s being.

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