The time has come the walrus said to rethink the language of sex. Or maybe I should say the language of love, emotion, heartbreak and ciriosis, because Christ you don’t know the meaning of heartbreak. But the meaning of insert tab A into slot B is an old story, older than even that of Amaterasu, birthing the world from her fiery womb. So what does the moon say and how talks the sunset when blankets aren’t enough? And in the middle of the night, which shifts from decade to decade, how now do slippery limbs find entrance? If our oldest stories stop before the moment, because they might be too sticky to share in the light, then it’s up to us to write myths again that stop far beyond it. It’s only enough to to say ‘they lay with one another,’ if you don’t remember the three thousand-four-hundred-sixteen variations that comprise the universal book of how to fuck.
There’s a long history of language that describes a man doing something to a woman, and for maybe all of history it almost made sense. At least in the most mundane of instances, in the common and the mud, in the barns and the fields where rutting was the norm and slot B was indeed put upon over and over again, it might have made sense. But history is written by those who can write, and those who can write often avoid the squishy bits, because putting a thing down on a page is oh so different than doing it in the flesh.
And the winners are always uptight. Maybe there’s an ancient myth to tell this truth far clearer, but it’s a truth all the same. From the Pilgrims to the righteous commies throwing down the Czar, the winners are always uptight. So the story is written over and over again without the grunting and the thrusting, all which is left to the lower decks and the darkness. All of which is left to those with nothing to lose; those who can switch on nothing without blinking an eye. Between monks, priests, and politicians, the history of sex has been written by those with no experience of it, and the times it has broken through into the masses, it’s been snuck in like a horse at dusk.
But Lucretia didn’t ‘slip down between the sheets’ with her lover, and Marcus never felt the ‘rush of waves as pleasure was won and lost.’ They fucked and sucked, the overwhelming smell of human behavior lingering in their nostrils as they made a mess of everything in exactly the right way. Sampson didn’t ‘delight in the love nest’ of Delilah any more than Cuchulainn ‘spent his bliss upon the womb’ of his lover. There was come and sweat and tears, and for thousands of years we’ve drawn it, painted it, and then hidden the words in the dusty waterfront bars and brothels where no one has enough money to make up metaphors for something they do as easily as they breath.
But now the world has changed once more, and while our great literature still stops short of describing the divine with all it’s warts and blood, the light is brighter. We can write a million sounds and a million words, each one taking us closer to the truth, but we’ve lost the poets and the heartbroken. We’ve medicated our way out of romance and channeled emotion into anxiety that can be cured in so many different ways. We’ve abdicated our poetry to Bang Bros and Mandingo. We’ve let it go, as we’ve done so many times before, asking someone else to shine the light in the places we fear the most. And shine it they have, often too brightly to see a thing. They’ve shined it on piss and shit, on come and milk, and they’ve shined it on rape with a laugh and a nod. The light shows anger, fear, and guilt, and as small men watch while their wives are taken by big black fantasies, we pretend that it was never us at all. It was not what we meant at all.
But there are a million words for a million things and they change every day, allowing us to say new things that have never been said. Allowing us to say new things have that been said a million times again.
If the photographer shows us the reality of a thing in stark contrast, forcing us to see it for what it is without the comfort of a muddy imagination, than the poet talks around it, hoping that her language might be a finger pointing at the moon. This way lies bliss and exhaustion. This way lies exaltation.
This ways lies the things we do in the dark.