Saturday, October 10, 2009

An idea: sexual liberation as an antidote to advertising

This one I didn't come up with by myself but learned from an acquaintance. A lot of advertising depends on simmering the sexual tension to where it's just under the surface, letting enough of it through to entice a person into looking at the products. This partial sexualization of life is more of a wink and a nod transformation of life, because it isn't really sex as is experienced by people in general. Sex as it is is remarkably free; there's so much tension built up around it that the act itself is overpowered by the hype, but the act itself also is its own thing, pure in its own way. It's sort of like finally paying the piper. You can dance around it, use it to sell products, make yourself seem saucy with it, but the act itself is beyond all of that. Sex existed before advertising and will exist after it is gone. It cannot be co-opted because it's something that precedes spin. When you have a relatively unrepressed sexual life that's oriented around actual sexual relations with people as opposed to the images on the screen the factor of control based on repression and the ritualized transgression of repression for capitalistic ends lessens in your life. Sort of like "Yeah yeah yeah, breasts, double entendres, sensuality, seen it, done it, got the t-shirt, doesn't impress me anymore". I would also hope that more honest sexual relations with folks would lessen sexism and the appeal of sexism through forcing people to reckon with actual flesh and blood women instead of images and representations of how women are supposed to be.

*on edit: Sex could be seen as a Kantian thing in itself. I'm not using hyperbole here but using the term technically. According to Kant whle we can't know external things in themselves we can get an idea of what at least one thing in itself is by introspection. What Kant found when he looked inward where all sorts of mental structures that were there because we're human, and that didn't follow from a purely reasonable or rational standpoint. The real existing human being does not have the characteristics of a perfect rational mental computer but is instead conditioned by its species-being. This forms the basis for Kant's "Critique of Pure Reason".

One of the things that Kant found was the Will. How we Will something, how we make decisions, why we make the decisions we make, were areas that Kant found didn't play ball with pure abstract reason but that derived their rules from other sorts of computation that are hardwired into our brains. Sounds straightforward, right? We're animals so we behave in animal ways...but the trick comes in that Kant believed that these biological categories were actually closer to truth than the rational categories and thoughts that we normally create and come up with.

If I am an end in myself, and reason is just a faculty that's second order, then I must belong to a world that's beyond the capability of reason alone to comprehend. If I can look at myself and figure out where my interior experience transcends abstract thought then I can get at a better idea of what life is all about, what the world is all about.

Volition is one thing that's beyond reason's ability alone to explain, and so is a clue to all this. Similarly, sexual attraction and the experience of love come from a super rational order. By studying sex as it actually exists between real people, and by studying love, we can potentially get at the meaning of the world in a way that transcends conventional means.

Of course there are complications. There is never just instinct, there's also the working out of that instinct in the world and between two people, which provides depth and profundity to the process in general.

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