For a Posthuman Sexual Theory
I should be delivering this lecture this September at the San Francisco Arse Elektronika 2008 conference, but for the time being I’ll post some stuff here.
The problem I pose is simple: I am doubting all this notion of how the universe of human sexuality is a very vast and unexplored one, that we can never fully understand, and so on. Not in the sense that I am doubting its vastness per se — I am not a total idiot and I know what some people are doing — but in the sense of the “discovery” of such as a natural phenomenon — since when has it been this vast? I am in this sense questioning its very evolution in regards to the experience of embodiment in today’s postmodern bodies that live out more of its social experience in cyberspace. To me, this “vastness” looks more like a postmodern retroactive construction of a larger, almost metaphysical essence our empirical being than a logical scientific deduction. As such, such approach is in fact not grounded so much in openness than in anxiety. Far from being permissive, on the contrary I think it functions greatly as a postmodern mode of sexual control — the shadow of the late capitalist idea for the so-called “unconstrained” consumption. I would even go further and argue that the perception of the “mystery” of human sexuality as such, and the exploitation of this fear of our asexual divinity, is necessary to maintain it as the core of the workings of liberal capitalism. But more on this later.
To me, following Lacan, sexuality is already an effect of this Lacanian primordial difference, and technology a way to handle this difference. With technology, the question is not in what new ways we can have sex, but what having sex means for us — already with cybersex, the line separating porn and sex is blurred more and more. Thus, the proper question to address is not how technology can enhance sexuality, but how it can redefine sexuality, in the crudest way of what we mean when we say the word “sex”. Online paraphilia has always been of interest to me precisely because it is one of the symptoms of the birth of a new 21st century subject. It is not the Internet and Photoshop giving way to perverse desires already inherent in the individual — the perversion is rooted in the very shadow of the system, its own unconcious, structuring the individual’s sexuality from the monitor.