I fear death so much. I’m afraid of keeping my work unfinished, I want to complete it to the highest extent that I can — the will-to-knowledge festers inside my organs. I tremble at the mentioning of death, of the mentioning of brutal events. I’m reading William Pawlett’s doctoral thesis on Bataille and Baudrillard right now and it starts, in the introduction to the method and theory, with a gruesome scene of violence. When I read this excessively violent event, I put myself in the place of the victim, I played out the event as if it was me. This very thought of violence against my body, the pain, the torture, and then death made me want to die. This is to say, I just want to get it over with. But at the same time, I don’t want to die. I need to live to finish my book. I want to make a contribution to the theoretical community, even though this book may not necessarily be a book nor theory. I don’t want to fail again.
I feel that I am a failure. And, I just want to cry because of the very thought of death. I cannot imagine what it would be like, I cannot think it. There is still so much to do. So much to experience, to read, to write, to love, to lose myself in. I, just about eight or nine months ago, would have been completely content with dying because of the fact that I was with her, that is to say, because I was already surrounded by death.
It is in my melancholy that I am ridiculed. It is only when I break down that I am embarrassed. It is only during those times where I need comfort the most that I am thrown out into the abyss. I have come to love being “lonely”. It isn’t foreign to me in any way. I have known loneliness since the state, and then federally, mandated quarantine that began during the March of 2020. But, it is because of the very fact that I am that loneliness will always be my friend. But loneliness will never be a partner in crime, a fellow guilty accomplice.
It is in violent silence that I annihilate myself. I realized that when one is with a lover and “acts,” making out for example, begin to transpire, silence takes hold. Now, I actually have started to vehemently dislike the practice of verbal degradation during erotic acts. I say this because it becomes so monotonous. What I mean by this is that what can I even say? Bitch? Slut? Whore? All I can say after that is just further modified versions of the aforementioned word such as “cumslut,” or I can say some unknown term which would probably just be confusing due to its obscurity and non-conventionality. It really feels like speech is trying to find its way into the erotic act, into silence. This is another contradiction within our (post-?)modern culture of non-erotic sex, hookups, and casual sex (as if sex could ever be “casual”). ow, I don’t know if I ever even liked that practice in the first place. I will confess that I am confused in the sense that I don’t know anything anymore. I don’t know what I “like” anymore. My friends make me take this online BDSM test and with each passing day I become more and more vanilla. I don’t even know if I want to have sex anymore. Of course everyone has that will-to-self-loss and the majority of people have this demonstrated through eroticisim, though asexuals may not (but they still desire to lose themselves too, as they are insufficient after all). But, if I didn’t have this non-volitional will inside me, or maybe outside me, or maybe even nowhere, or everywhere… I don’t think I would want that. I’m very confused and very tired. But, it is within this latter state that I realize things. I’ve realized that I have never been a very erotic being in the sense that I have tried to stick to the prohibitions I knew as a child, but as a teenager, these prohibitions are socially lost, and this leaves everyone so confused. I don’t understand how I can never have had sex and know what I like… I feel as if what I thought I “liked” was really just what she liked but the inverse. That is to say, I don’t think I ever liked verbally degrading, it is that she liked being verbally degraded. I’m so confused. I’m so scared.
I find it funny that scared and sacred are so close to one another in terms of how they are spelled. May horror be the way to the sacred?
Let us go back to asexuality for one moment though. Do asexuals not disprove Bataille? Do they not disprove that there are beings which are outside eroticism? Or, does Bataille disprove the existence of asexuality? I say neither. I don’t think it would be too reactionary to suggest that asexuality is a very recent phenomenon. The LGBTQQIP2SAA+ community has intense micro-labeling and identification within it, and I would know this as I am apart of the community and have participated in micro-labeling in terms of my sexuality, but have since distanced myself from that, opting instead to define my sexuality by the maxim of “if I want to have sex with a person, it is out of attraction, and therefore out of repulsion” and thus my sexuality is therefore necessarily bisexual? But, let us go back to the topic of asexuality.
One could forward the notion that asexuality is just the product of capitalism and the loss of taboo, which I don’t know if it would be wrong to say that necessarily, but I do think that this position can be easily misinterpreted to be a normative prescription, when it is not positing a hierarchy of sexuals and asexuals. What is a more interesting response to the problem of asexuality in the work of Bataille is this: the fact that the erotic is not always the sexual.
Now, Bataille does hold that eroticism is a “special form” of “sexual reproductive activity,” but he also holds that it is not reducible to the act of sex. And once one realizes that Bataille defines “erotic activity” as “an exuberance of life … independent as I say of any concern to reproduce life”. So, necessarily, the erotic act doesn’t have to be the sexual act. Things get even more promising for us when he differentiates between “physical, emotional and religious” eroticism. One could argue that asexuals are still beings of the erotic in a emotional and/or religious sense (and maybe even a physical sense depending on how you view asexuality and its borders, assuming it even has those). For Bataille, emotional eroticisim “may appear detached from material sensuality” but “it often derives from it” [emphasis mine]. So, romantic asexuals can still access the erotic in its emotional form. This also means that aromantic asexuals can still access eroticism as, assuming a rigid definition of aromanticism and asexuality (though I am not at all claiming that either of these latter two notions are entirely reducible to this), they may not access the physical or emotional forms of eroticism but they can still access the religious. Religious eroticism is the eroticisim of the inner experience. Religious eroticism “is concerned with the fusion of beings with a world beyond everyday reality,” and therefore religious eroticism is concerned with laughter, anguish, and all the other inner experiences. Thus, laughter is erotic, anguish can lead to eroticism, etc. The range of what is of the erotic is as far as that which is/is of decomposition. So, Bataille claim is not that all human beings necessarily tend towards sex but towards erotic dissolution which is therefore a tendency towards erotic “sex” (physical eroticism), and/or “erotic” love (emotional eroticism), and/or inner experience which is dissolution into continuity. When talking about the Kinsey Reports (which were respectively Sexual Behavior in the Human Male and Sexual Behavior in the Human Female), Bataille even compares laughter to erotic sex in that it is not a thing. So the question we must now ask is “do asexuals laugh? Do asexuals feel anguish?” and the answer is “yes and yes”. So, it is necessarily true that asexuals are at, the very least, religiously erotic beings and, at the very most, emotionally erotic beings. Now, when Bataille says that “[e]roticisim is primarily a religious matter,” do we not therefore confirm that asexuals are completely erotic beings?
Let us look at another notion of ‘asexual erotics’ proposed by Ela Przybylo in their work Asexual Erotics: Intimate Readings of Compulsory Sexuality. Przybylo speaks of “erotic energies not tethered to sex” which are energies withinn “varying erotic modes that include forms of relating not encompassed by existing sexual identity categories”. Looking at Freudian categories of the erotic, Przybylo puts forward notions that help us conclude, shakily, that asexuals and hypersexuals are those who are at the limit of sexuality, if not transgressing it in order to be the excess outside of sexuality and therefore also constituting it as a concept. In this sense, it is in asexual or hypersexual inner experience that we transgress the limit of sexuality. In terms of asexual inner experience, asexuality is already that excess outside of the realm of the sexual. In terms of hypersexual inner experience, hypersexuality is more sexual than sexual and in this movement it necessarily functions as hyperchristianity does with christianity. So, we have our sexual atheology (asexuality) and our sexual hyperchristianity (hypersexuality).
Ultimately, I think it is clear that asexuals are not in any way excluded from Bataille’s theory of eroticism because of the fact he inadvertently acknowledges them when he says, “[Emotional eroticism] can be divorced from physical eroticism entirely, for the enormous diversity of human kind is bound to contain exceptions of this sort” [emphasis mine].
Bataille, Georges. Eroticism. Translated by Mary Dalwood. New York, NY: Penguin Group, 2012.
Przybylo, Ela. Asexual Erotics: Intimate Readings of Compulsory Sexuality. Columbus, OH: The Ohio State University Press, 2019.
: Georges Bataille, Eroticism, trans. Mary Dalwood (New York: NY: Penguin Group, 2012), 11.
: Ibid., 15.
: Ibid., 19.
: Ibid., 18.
: Ibid., 152–153.
: Ibid., 31.
: Ela Prybylo, Asexual Erotics: Intimate Readings of Compulsory Sexuality (Columbus, OH: The Ohio State University Press, 2019), 1–2.
: Georges Bataille, Eroticism, trans. Mary Dalwood (New York: NY: Penguin Group, 2012), 19.