My tenure at Oh Get a Grip blog is coming to an end, so I thought I'd reprint one my my contributions here. The question for the week was "What is the most erotic thing?" You'd think that would be easy to answer, but it wasn't for me.
Recent studies have determined that your brain doesn’t distinguish between actually doing something and reading about it. So my sex scene can make your brain think you actually had a sexual experience? I don't think so. It might get you in the mood. It might set off body responses tied to arousal. But how much of that is the brain and how much is the body? Do the mechanisms of arousal (such as increased blood flow to the genitals) start a feedback loop of sexual expectation and more arousal? And is there causality between expectation and experience when you read? If you expect to be scared by a horror novel, is it more likely to scare you? Similarly if you expect to be turned on by erotica, are you more likely to get aroused?
I think quite a bit about what’s erotic and I have no clue how to begin to discuss it. Not one. Some things turn me on and I spend a lot of time analyzing why but I never figure it out. Part of that is because there's a gap between what's happening in my brain and my ability to describe it. It’s as if we don’t even have the language to describe the erotic.When we try to talk about the erotic we often fall back on the symptoms (physical) because the causality (mental) is outside shared experience or whatever it is that gives us the ability to slap a word on an idea and pass it around like an appetizer tray at a party. Sex we can talk about forever because it’s fairly simple. It can be examined as a purely physical act. The erotic is far more mysterious.
There are infinite colors outside the visible spectrum and I guarantee you not one is named. Things can exist without having a word attached, but that makes it awfully hard to discuss them. So for the sake of argument, think of the concept of an unimaginable color and call it Ephemeral Blaznous. Why Blaznous? Because it couldn’t be called Ephemeral Blue. There may be millions of shades of blue but blue is a specific idea. Blue is something we can talk about and the letters B-L-U-E in that arrangement can contain the concept of it in text and evoke the image of it.The erotic isn't as easy as blue. As an idea, it's a slippery sucker that dodges just as you try to pin a definition on it. It changes over time. It hovers outside the spectrum. It's blaznous.
I could tell you about things that turn me on, but only a general description of what I saw or read and I can't tell you why. The actual trigger, if there’s only one and it isn’t a cumulative thing, is a big old mystery. This is why I'm a bit in awe of the "porn" writers who can reach out and evoke a physical response to their words in just a few paragraphs. There's a real art to that. But it doesn't quite fit my idea of the erotic.
What's most erotic thing? I don’t know it. Often, stories or movies almost reach the state of pure eroticism for me, but then they devolve [I'm a bit sorry I used this word, as there's nothing wrong with the physical, but I can't change it now] into the physical because it’s easier that way or because the artist felt a need to resort to the shared vocabulary of sex or maybe they reach that state of Ephemeral Blaznous where everything gets hazy and fragments into uncertainty, and while they can reach for it, they can never drag it into the visible spectrum. Much like my thoughts on this topic.