Spring is here, so we are naturally thinking about sex all the time. It was a busy winter with many personal calamities and meltdowns, and this only makes now a better time to think about sex. Big beautiful interspecies sex. Instrumentalized sex. Makeup sex and breakup sex. Overman sex and that business with the eunuch. Tender Marvin Gaye sex and also the weird stuff. Sex as the symbolic drainage area for desires that exceed and escape the society, but also as the visceral pelvic thrust behind those desires that glue the whole contraption together when it is actually hopelessly falling apart. Because we all know the fear of sex, and most of us have spent too much time close to a military or imperial or populist regime bent on regulating or functionalizing it. Keep it minimal, because this kind of intimacy mashes subject and object relations together in a way that makes governance confusing if not impossible.
In order to stabilize power, it is absolutely necessary to keep sex cordoned off and in its place because of how it switches and mutually erases notions of emancipation and enslavement, which is after all why sexual practices and codes can be such a terrifyingly direct line to how deeply emancipation and enslavement have been inscribed into the most minute practices of a person. Just on the level of muscle movements, you can detect an emancipated citizen lapsing into the most severe or infantile brutality, and the most repressed can freely express all the tenderness that is usually systematically foreclosed in every other part of the day or in every other part of the city. Sex is where classes switch roles just for kicks and gender can forget itself. In it, you can only be a conduit for codes of submission and domination that were written into your being at some point by history, ancestry, upbringing, star sign—and even though you can never change the fact that you will always be a macho entitled fuckhead or a generous submissive who stores all that hardship on a remote server, you can rewrite yourself through role play with another person.
Even if sex has been celebrated as a means for collectives to be formed by desire rather than by birthright, we know by now that it is too unstable to use as a base to construct any kind of lasting structure, and will rather always work as a force of entropy that exceeds attempts to capture and limit its flows within any stabilization mechanism. Sex now joins with a parliament of abstract and unruly forces that are integral to logics of class, capital, power, and property relations, but that also overflow their terms and compromise their command at every turn. It will always be the most visceral metaphor for what cannot be contained, just like the change of seasons. Which is why spring can only make us think about how there are things that you guess and things that you know, boys you can trust and girls that you don’t, about the little things you hide and the little things you show. Sometimes you think you’re gonna get it but you don’t, and that’s just the way it goes.1
×© 2014 e-flux and the author