The erotic functions for me in several ways, and the first is in providing the power which comes from sharing deeply any pursuit with another person. The sharing of joy, whether physical, emotional, psychic, or intellectual, forms a bridge between the sharers which can be the basis for understanding much of what is not shared between them, and lessens the threat of their difference.

That self-connection shared is a measure of the joy which I know myself to be capable of feeling, a reminder of my capacity for feeling. And that deep and irreplaceable knowledge of my capacity for joy comes to demand from all of my life that it be lived within the knowledge that such satisfaction is possible, and does not have to be called marriage, nor god, nor an afterlife.

In the same way, we have attempted to separate the spiritual and the erotic, thereby reducing the spiritual to a world of flattened affect, a world of the ascetic who aspires to feel nothing. But nothing is farther from the truth. For the ascetic position is one of the highest fear, the gravest immobility. The gravest abstinence of the ascetic becomes the ruling obsession. And it is no tone of self-discipline but of self-abnegation.

— Audre Lorde, The Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power

Excerpt from Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches by Audre Lorde

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file retrieved from Self Maintenance Resource Center, curated by Anaïs Duplan and Katherine Simone Reynolds at The Luminary in St. Louis, Missouri.

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