August of another summer, and once again
I am drinking the sun
and the lilies again are spread across the water
∆ Mary Oliver, from The Pond in “Felicity: Poems”.
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.
“Many girls lock themselves up, / become pantries, closets. / Some, like trees, grow bark, / and others, like rivers, / burble into dimpled pools.”
∆ Catherynne M. Valente, from Deathless
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