Anonymous asked: I'm 21 years old, I've never had sex or any partners of any kind. this is something I actively want, but would feel strange to actively "pursue". opportunities have never presented themselves. should I be worried? can I alleviate this situation?
I think your instinct about sex as something that feels strange to pursue is right on. Not in a moral dimension, where you might think it’s wrong or douchey to hunt for sex, but in a deeper sense of strange.
It’s a strangeness that stems from the way we’re all educated about sex as we grow up. And the fact that sex bears little resemblance to what you’re taught.
The words we reach for to talk about sex before we understand it are words that make it seem discrete and isolated. In the same way you reach up for a product on a store shelf, sex seems like something that can be acquired. An object of desire.
If you don’t have it, thanks to your education in treating anything valuable as an object, you’re impoverished. And in societies that educate people to link possession with feeling okay, nothing fills your cup with shame like being poor.
But of course, it’s dead wrong to think of your relationship to sex as nothing more than the sliding spot on a line connecting ‘Wealthy’ to ‘Broke.’ Societies like ours do something much worse than merely to instill this connection—they conceal the words by which any other picture could be expressed. These other ways are hidden by seeming strange and different. And difference, real difference, is nearly as potent a source of shame as poverty.
We’re taught to think of sex as an object of desire and so the satisfaction of that desire as something you have to ‘get.’ But in reality, sex is nothing like an ipad.
Sex isn’t an ipad in exactly the same way that being alive isn’t a substance. There is no essence of life that fills your body but which is missing from the that of a corpse. Everyone used to think that there was, that there was something you could distill out of blood or fraction off of breath, and that the presence of this substance in medicines was what lent them their power to cure. Now of course, we know that life is not an essence you could isolate into a product, but instead that it’s a process.
Same with sex. Fucking is change.
Sex is the chance to remake yourself on the anvil of nature. To remake yourself in whatever shape pleases you. It’s our opportunity to unlearn the lessons we didn’t know we were receiving. Every orgasm is a hammerblow, and beneath the sparks you are malleable. The vulnerability of being naked with another person does not come from being close to harm but from being close to freedom.
(By the way, this fact—sex as a catalyst for change—shows the true perversity of sex tapes. Sex tapes aren’t perverse because recording yourself as you fuck is wrong, they’re perverse because they imprison the people in them, people in the act of purest personal freedom, in a capsule of desperation, strengthlessness, or shame. Or, if made deliberately, worst of all: imprisoned in a crystal of loneliness, as their thirst for attention is stuffed, mounted and preserved forever.)
When it comes to wanting sex, first make sure you know what you want to be. Because sex, just like the societal educations you didn’t know you were receiving, will make you a way. And it will engrave you all the deeper for finding you blank. Because the world we live in has some deep-delving and extremely thorough ideas about what it wants you to be, and none of them involve you making up your own mind.
In Australia, opal mining happens in a fairly primitive way. The opals are formed when silicate rocks are subjected to high-temperature water, as this water snakes its way through deep-underground faults. Because of this, the opals are found stretched over a wide area as nodes in a spidery network of rock faults. This means they have to be mined with a scattershot method.
A prospector usually hooks an enormous auger to the back of a truck and drives it out to the middle of nowhere. He anchors the truck with hydraulic spikes and drills the spiral bit of the auger into the Earth. He sifts the hill of dirt and broken rocks that the augur bores up out of the shaft. And he either finds opals or he doesn’t.
This type of mining has turned vast areas of opal-bearing land into swiss cheese. Land full of vertical graves ninety feet deep and just wide enough to make sure you go all the way down. The mining has made a landscape where it’s suicide to walk around at night.
Rock salt is mined in a very different way. Geologic salt is usually laid down when an ancient sea dries up. The salt flat it leaves behind is first buried, then folded into a corrugated sheet as it is compressed and distorted by the weight of rock above it. This tends to produce huge volumes of nearly pure salt. These masses can be equivalent to a cube of salt, a half-mile on each side, just buried in the Earth.
Formations like these tend to be mined in a way that turns them into architecture. That is, the salt tends to be so extensive and so deeply buried that the only way of excavating it is to make a kind of subterranean building whose only structural material is rock salt. Salt pillars, salt arches, salt hallways and salt galleries. The miners getting what they want from the formation—by necessity—creates something else: a vast and secret building, hidden underground and given definition by what has been drilled out of it.
So you can be out there drilling dry well after dry well, flagrant in your destruction of an entire landscape. All in search of a fourth rate gemstone.
Or you can be otherwise. And realize that beneath even the most featureless Kansan field, a secret city can be excavated. Vast, unified and private. Far too majestic ever to be confused with a grave.