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The Erotics of Intent

Erotica, with its more complex focus on sexuality, clearly offers more scope for Kore Desires on bodyinterpretation and response in the individual reader. Speaking for a moment as a reader of erotica, I come primarily to the erotic text to be aroused, and to be shown something I resonate with about sexuality, desire and relating. As a voracious life-long lover of literature, I also seek out erotica that is, as importantly, well-crafted storytelling.  Erotica that fulfils these aspects for me as a reader is erotica I will most likely return to, reflect upon, purchase a hard copy to put on my bookshelf (as an unapologetic bibliophile), and recommend to others.

Additionally, as a sapio-sexual, I have a relentless curiosity about the broader spectrum of sexual desire and its manifestations. So even if a story doesn’t get me wet, but shows me a narrative of sexuality that challenges my thoughts about sex, reveals something new to me, affects me strongly in some way, and is also a story well-told –  I’m satisfied – though perhaps on a slightly less visceral level.

I believe an audience comes to any art form wanting to be shown the known in the unknown, or the unknown in the known. Even if this desire is in the subconscious, even if the audience is only partially aware of this desire, it is present. Erotica as a fiction genre plays constantly on this tension between the known and the unknown, between concealing and revealing.

As writers of erotica, I think the most fundamental intent we can all agree on is that we are exploring sexuality either to arouse and engage ourselves, our readers, or ideally both.

To engage and arouse.

As intents, they can be mutually compatible or exclusive. This is what I meant in the last post when I said that in erotica, characters don’t always have to enjoy sex. From the writerly perspective, we are freed from those limiting constraints placed upon romance. We can sketch the sexual scene in chiaroscuro; in all its permutations of light and dark. Yes. I did just avoid the word “shades”. We can sketch a scene to explore disparity in sexual desire, or depression, or need without affection.

In its strategies of arousal, as I mentioned in terms of focus, erotica employs a complexity of language that is specialised in terms of both its precision and its poetic elements. Descriptions of sexual encounters must rest (however heavily or lightly) on a framework of anatomically precise geography; it must provide that most basic of maps of what is going where for the reader, in order for them to orient themselves. The bare “mechanics”, as Anais Nin calls them, must be present in order for the reader to be receptive to the more abstract levels of sexual experience; to convey emotion, sensation, transcendent states. And through the history of human self-expression, when attempting to express abstract concepts such as spirituality or love, writers have turned to poetry. Think Tennyson, Shakespeare, Dickinson, Rumi.

Erotica asks complex questions about consent, personal limits and relationships. And it doesn’t just ask these questions of the characters. It asks them of the reader, also.

I don’t mean that every time there’s a sex scene, prose writers should suddenly break into lyrical verse form. I do mean that prose is more than capable of embodying poetic elements, however.

Shifting language into the poetic realm allows us to convey more effectively that which is “beyond language”; the sublime, the transcendent, the profane. Sex can be all of these things.  It’s why I think “poetic” elements such as rhythm, alliteration, repetition and onomatopoeia are so powerful in writing about sex; they circumvent the cerebral, they grunt and slither their way into our limbic brains, our cunts and cocks. Sex is rhythmic, percussive, slippery, so when language describing sex embodies this, it has the power to arouse and put the reader “inside the skin” of the protagonists.

“Keeping my motions to the rhythm of a hypnotic pendulum, I take one hand and guide his bound wrists to caress my breasts, while my other hand clasps the front of his throat. I want to make him ache for each breath.

I hook my fingers into the leather binding his wrists, allowing me traction to lean back, the shift of balance weighting down through my spine, deep into my sex. A feline strength surges through me, as I tighten my grasp on these three offerings of surrender – wrists, cock, throat. Harnessing the totality of his hardness inside me. Breathing the masculine force of him up through my centre as I contract around him. Drawing him inwards, upwards, until his supple wand is bruising the petals of that sweet carnal flower blooming  inside my womb; its tendrils seeming to generate downwards from the underside of my navel, its centre steeped in waiting nectar.”

~ Wet Satin Plaything (WIP) – Adrea Kore 2013

It’s not the only effective way of writing sex, but it’s the one I resonate with most, as both a reader and a writer, when poetic elements of language are employed with care. Referring back to the forum for erotica authors I’m part of, I’m going to quote Remittance Girl in a discussion on a related topic: ” language, like cunts, gets slippery and unmanageable”. I’d add, that it’s the kind of ‘slippery’ certain readers want to engage with , and harnessing the poetics of erotic language as traction allows us to slide into that realm; to find the unknown in the known.

So, in engaging the reader, erotica seeks to arouse. But it may also confront. Provoke. And subvert. Even without arousal, these intents are valuable and powerful.

Erotica writes into those areas of the human sexual psyche and behaviour that some other genres gloss over or shy away from. Erotica reveals the links between our inner psychological desires, motivations and our sexual actions. It can also bring into the light the contradictions between our inner sexual desires and our outward behaviour. What do we settle for? What do we secretly long for, and to attain that, what lengths would we go to?

“My unspoken fantasy. Hidden in the crevices of my unconscious. But dark alleywaysomehow, you have found me out.

Follow me like a stranger.

Find me when I least expect you to.

Fuck me with the hard-edged flint of your desire.

Fear and desire. Desire and fear. Mysteriously entwined threads that weave this heightened electricity through my body. My orgasms, white-hot flashes of neon luminescence. Splitting through the dark unknown of alleyway shadows.”

~ from Hand of A Stranger – Adrea Kore 2013

(published on forthegirls.com 2013) 

Erotica asks complex questions about consent, personal limits and relationships. And it doesn’t just ask these questions of the characters. It asks them of the reader, also.

This is why I am drawn to writing in the erotic genre. It’s why I feel proud of my craft. Sexuality is such a vital part of the map of the human psyche. Sexuality reveals so much of ourselves.

So next time the subject of erotica comes up, and someone glibly refers to “that book” as if it’s the beginning and the end of erotica, declaiming its awful prose and thereby somehow dismissing an entire literary genre through sheer ignorance, I hope that you, the discerning reader of this article, can offer something more intelligent in the defence of erotica as a literary tradition, a genre and an art form. I hope you might cite this article or some examples of well-crafted, intelligent, provocative erotica stories.

 Poetic elements such as rhythm, alliteration, repetition and onomatopoeia are so powerful in writing about sex; they circumvent the cerebral, they grunt and slither their way into our limbic brains, our cunts and cocks. Sex is rhythmic, percussive, slippery, so when language describing sex embodies this …

Any culture of ideas is only changed in increments. You and I can both be a part of that.

elusive woman 

“The sensual is not delivered superficially for its titillation; it is delved into for what it reveals about the human condition.”

~ Nigel Krauth