May 10th, 2019

Guiding Into Creativity

I recall with certainty that when I was in grade school, A Wrinkle in Time was one of the books a teacher chose to read out loud to our class (a chapter a day). I don’t remember whether it was in fourth or fifth grade, but I remember that that book was read to me.

In what seems to me both a strange and simultaneously typical circumstance, I have remembered exactly one specific scene and line from the book. That line I could quote almost verbatim. The rest of the book was entirely gone from my conscious memory, including the general plot, characters, beginning, and ending. I can say with confidence this is not likely due to anything about the book itself, since I have experienced such circumstances with numerous books and movies I know I read/saw as a child: frequently, I remember almost nothing about them except one specific line or several-second scene, which I can often quote exactly and/or describe in minute visual detail.

Why has my memory worked this way? I have no idea. I mention it simply to introduce the fact that a few days ago, I found myself drawn to read A Wrinkle in Time again. Even though it is a children’s book, and even though I know I was exposed to it when I was at the age for which it was intended. (Perhaps, in fact, especially for those reasons.)

In the back of this edition was a short interview with the author, Madeleine L’Engle. I noted that the two of us have in common that when we were kids, we wanted to be writers when we grew up; we started writing at a pretty young age (she at 5, I at 7); and English was our best subject in school. I also appreciated noting her response that A Wrinkle in Time was rejected 26 times, and she had just asked for it back from her agent when she was introduced to the publisher who ended up publishing it.

L’Engle’s acceptance speech for the Newbery Medal for the referenced novel followed the interview in this edition. And there were things in this I truly found striking. (To be clear, I found the book itself striking and can easily see why it has become a classic and was so highly awarded.) The first quote I highlighted in the speech was,

“Because of the very nature of the world as it is today, our children receive in school a heavy load of scientific and analytic subjects, so it is in their reading for fun, for pleasure, that they must be guided into creativity.”

While she was speaking specifically about children and children’s books, of course, I immediately felt a parallel with the writing of erotic fiction.

What I write is specifically not for children and instead exclusively for adults. However, similarly to the way that their “reading for fun, for pleasure” may “[guide chidren] into creativity,” as I experience L’Engle as so appropriately lauding and encouraging, I feel erotic fiction may “guide” adults into sexuality—not the superficial and often artificial “sexuality” that is so exploited and used in commercial culture, nor the tyrannical and puritanical oppression of it leveraged for political or social purposes, but a true appreciation of, respect for, exploration around sexuality. An invitation to align with how we truly experience it uniquely and individually and what resonates with us about how we relate to this energy that is responsible for our being here.

Harkening back to part of the plot of the very novel I had just read, L’Engle’s acceptance speech goes on to describe the “forces working in the world . . . for standardization, for the regimentation of us all. . . . [T]he drying, dissipating universe that we can help our children avoid” by providing them with writing that invokes and encourages both imagination and creativity.

In the way that reading for fun and pleasure reminds kids to tap into these things, erotica may remind adults that sexuality is an intrinsic force in their lives and in our collective existence, not to be dismissed among the world of production/competition/frenzy our culture seems so oriented to at this time. That the connection, the awareness, the relaxation and pleasure that sexuality can espouse is as important and deserving of attention as such other things contemporary society seems to place so much emphasis on. L’Engle’s statement that, “Very few children have any problem with the world of the imagination . . . it’s our loss that so many of us grow out of it,” speaks to me of the importance of retaining the understanding of the significance of fun, relaxation, pleasure, play as we grow into our adult understanding of sexuality and its place in our lives.

As most who have ever read this blog or my erotic fiction may have gathered, I truly consider sexuality and eros important subjects, both for literary exploration and also in our everyday existence. I do not choose to write about them frivolously or lightly. In L’Engle’s acceptance speech for one of the most hallowed children’s fiction awards in the US, her proclamation of why she finds writing for children important resonated deeply with me in relation to why I have found writing for adults important.

And yes, in referencing erotica and my own writing I am speaking about actual sexual acts, but the sexual energy I have also referenced is far, far more than that. When L’Engle says, accurately as I see it, “A book, too, can be . . . ‘explosive material, capable of stirring up fresh life endlessly,'” I perceive sex as also literally this, but ultimately, I recognize an inextricable link between sexual energy and the creative impulse, and I also recognize that they represent far more than any specific acts or connections with any particular person(s). Sex, after all, is the impetus for creating life. Sexual energy, far from being only about sexual acts or personal connection, is the foundation that manifests all creation and creativity.

In speaking specifically about A Wrinkle in Time, L’Engle states that, “it was only after it was written that I realized what some of it meant.” I both include and close with that quote because it articulates something I find, simply, one of the most magical things about writing.

Love,
Emerald

“Even the most straightforward tales say far more than they seem to mean on the surface.”
-Madeleine L’Engle

October 8th, 2018

The Vote of White Women in America and the Intersection of “-isms”

I wrote this post about a month ago. I didn’t post it then, as it seemed somewhat unrelated to immediate goings-on and to come a bit out of nowhere. That of course has now demonstrated itself to be a staggering irony.


There are many people (largely women of color) who have recognized the manifestation of what I write about here for some time. Though a lifelong liberal who has always voted Democratic, I am late in realizing it, largely due to oblivious privilege and not having to recognize it. I had planned to publish this post closer to the November midterm elections in the United States. Given that recent events in the US have brought this phenomenon into stark relief, now certainly seems close enough….


In contemporary human society, within every race, ethnicity, group, there have been female and male members. Obviously…that is how they reproduce. So within every group, however pitted these groups may be against each other, there has been (in modern society) the internal juxtaposition of a hierarchy between women and men. One of the most profound and pervasive distortions that has developed in the human species has purported to see the feminine, which we’ve generally (and superficially) perceived as represented by women, as inferior, subordinate, and weaker. The inaccuracy of this is stunning, but I’ll likely save the elucidation of that for another blog post. Continue reading

October 3rd, 2018

It’s Only Natural…Or Is It?

When I see claims about what is “natural” in contexts using natural as an argument for adhering to a particular behavior, I tend to wrinkle my brow. The argument—what is “natural”—seems a dubious one to me in that numerous things in which we have engaged historically and currently don’t necessarily seem natural.

I’m not sure what’s natural, for example, about inventing and building a cell phone and using it. I’m not saying it shouldn’t be done, just that I’m not sure what seems “natural” about it. To go even further, medical interventions, especially in contexts involving modern medical discoveries and technology, seem to me they could be deemed “unnatural.”

So if the postulation is that we shouldn’t be doing things that aren’t “natural” (I have seen non-heterosexual behavior or attractions, for example, labeled as such) or should stick to engaging in what is, I wonder exactly what those parameters would entail. And in wondering that, I question further that if one does not postulate that everything “unnatural” should be eradicated from our existence and pursuits, then why should some things considered not natural be? How are these chosen, and why is this criterion applied selectively? Continue reading

September 26th, 2018

Patriarchy, Unconsciousness, and the United States Government

Like many people, I have recently felt somewhere along the spectrum of affected to triggered by both the accusations of sexual misconduct directed at Brett Kavanaugh and the response to them from politicians and the culture at large. Interestingly, I have perhaps felt most triggered so far by the insights in Lili Loofbourow’s article entitled “Brett Kavanaugh and the Cruelty of Male Bonding,” which resonates strongly with me.

Why? Because this is the kind of man that has, for as long as I can remember, been the one that has seethed me to my core. The kind I have historically most dreaded, most despised; by whom I have felt most enraged and toward whom I have felt violent urges that surprised me. I have yet to come close to carrying any such violent impulses out, and at this point carrying them out no longer feels forthcoming or like the point. The point is that this is the kind of man I was always considering, always including, when I felt compelled to discount men as a whole, when I thought men and women were at intrinsic odds with each other. It was because I knew this kind of man existed.

The first error in that perspective was that I was identifying the men in question rather than the behavior. I am relieved to say it is now obvious to me that the behavior (more precisely, the manifestation of unconsciousness) is what I despise rather than the human beings themselves. Continue reading

August 11th, 2018

Pernicious Perspectives and the Abomination of #FOSTA / #SESTA

I’ve written about sex work numerous times on this blog (click on the category “Sex+ Work” to the left to see how many). I advocate decriminalization of all forms of consensual sex work and dream of the day the social stigma around it has dissolved.

And I feel a bit like I perceive a new conundrum around it. I used to think that the majority of people just didn’t understand. That there was so much ignorance around sex work because the perspective that sex workers are sub-human and undeserving of basic rights and respect and autonomy was questioned so infrequently, assumed to be acceptable so automatically, perceived so often without even conscious choice or recognition, that people failed to realize how arbitrary, unfounded, and inhumane that perspective is. I truly thought that if people stopped to consider the existence of consensual sex work as an industry like most others, they would quickly recognize how nonsensical and tragically misguided the mainstream perspective around it was.

Now, I find myself wondering if that was naïve of me. It has seemed more and more evident of late that some people simply don’t like sex work or that it exists. Yes, I have understood this to some degree, but as I mentioned, I truly trusted that in large part, it was ignorance rather than malevolence that drove the perpetration of dismissiveness, degradation, and dehumanization of sex workers. Continue reading