Thursday, December 30, 2004

Of Postmodern Sex

“But isn’t sex always sexier in the mind?”

Last night at chuckey’s toma party, listening to more outrageous sextories from a friend got me motivated to finally write something I’d been meaning to write about for quite some time now. Mediated sex. Sex through the media, i.e. SMS and the internet.

I’ve been a netizen for four years. And with those four years, I confess to having had my share of sexual conquests and blunders. When I broke someone’s heart quite callously, I thought, “I really shouldn’t do this again.” But there’s a certain high in making someone cum just through your words, maybe even sometimes your voice. For certain people in a particular state of mind, mind fucking works. Without question, nothing a beats real-person sex; the smells, the tastes, the sensations. But sex seems sexier, hotter, hornier in the mind. So much so that when you finally get to doing the deed, it’s almost an anti-climax. What makes you wonder is, why so?

What is postmodern?

Postmodernism: philosophical ideas, mainly derived from poststructuralist theory, and also cultural formations, especially associated with global popular culture. (McGuigan)

Now, before this brief definition scares you away from reading the rest of this article, let’s dissect some key terms in the definition.

Postmodernism is a movement in the visual arts, cinema, architecture, philosophy, literature and various other “knowledge” disciplines on the latter half of the 20th century. Postmodernism is simply a collection of new ideas to interpret social phenomena, a new lens through which “observers” may view reality.

Since it’s a “post” then it implies a modernism. Modernism emphasizes the importance of our being “material,” made of bone and flesh, with material needs (food, shelter, clothing) in order to survive. Our reality is constructed by our materiality. You are what you eat. The reality of your body is the sum of the genes you inherited, the food you ingest, and the amount of physical work you do. You do poorly in school partly because you may be malnourished, and so, pre-disposed to “failing” in life. These are some “modern” explanations to the reality of your body.

What then, is a “postmodern” explanation? For one, it breaks away from anchoring reality on the material. It veers away from claiming there is an observable material reality out there waiting to be discovered and analyzed. Rather, reality is perception. There is no “real body,” only a “sign.” You are who you perceive yourself to be, and others’ perception of you. And since we’re not an all hooked up in a bee-hive brain, we all have different perceptions or interpretations of what is real.

Since the invention of language, what is “real” has always been mediated by language. Words, both written and spoken, in a way mediate between a subject (you) and an object (reality).

Postmodernism is heavily influenced by linguistics, particularly semiology; “A science which studies the life of signs at the heart of social life.” Simply put, semiology claims that:

A Sign as a unit of meaning is made up of:

1. Signifier—acoustic sound, visual mark (the sound your mouth makes when you speak and the swirly lines you make when you write)

2. Signified—concept of meaning associated with Signifier

A “sign” could be CAR. The car’s signifier is the letters C-A-R and that sound produced by your voice box. The car’s signified is the idea triggered in your brain when you see the sign “car.” Your mental picture of a car (indeed, for all I know, not only a mental picture, but also a mental smell, mental noise or whatever) will not be the same as mine, for a variety of reasons. Your idea of “car” might mean a Volkswagen Beetle while “car” might trigger “gas-guzzling Ford Expedition” in my brain. Maybe you have never seen a Ford Expedition in your life and that is why your idea (or signified) of CAR is different from mine.

Semiology shifted the emphasis from the notion that there is some kind of 'real world' out there to which we all refer in words which mean the same to all of us. Reality is constructed through “signs.”

We are the active makers of meanings. We don't sleep on a structure of metal, foam and springs, we sleep on a BED. The fact that we refer to it as a BED means that it is to be slept on. We don’t usually eat on it or shit on it. We do not live among and relate to physical objects and events. We live among and relate to systems of signs.

What is postmodern sex?

The signs SEX, FUCK, LOVE, DICK, CUNT may have as many meanings as there are interpreters. And we are active makers of the meanings behind these signifiers. The written words “I am sucking your clit” elicits different responses in us, and our individual “system of signs” connect the words “I am sucking your clit” to different equivalences most pleasurable to our egos and our senses.

And so, through mediated sex we are able to fulfill our fantasies and wants not so much with another human being, but really, with ourselves. You’re alone typing away on your computer screen “communicating” with someone of a similar proclivity, but you’re not having sex with them. You’re screwing with yourself, in your mind. You’re not screwing him and he certainly isn’t screwing you.

You wonder why you feel so empty and emptied out after having your sexual encounter with the random cunt or dick of the day. And for those who are bolder, you wonder why, upon meeting your cybersex partner, there seems to be no connection, no spark, no nothing. Only awkward stretches of silence when you’ve run out of things to say. The mind fuck seemed infinitely better than the promise of the real. Well because, a promise was all it was.

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