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Meanings, Naughty and Potent!

Black and white image of ice cubes on exposed skin

I can live a thousand lives through a thousand stories and a thousand orgasms. Every story (on has its own plot and I vicariously weave some of those plots into the narrative of my life. Perhaps I just interpret my world through those erotic moments.

My first piece of visual erotica was the ad of Milind Soman and Madhu Sapre wearing Tuff shoes and a python around their naked bodies. That newspaper print was the first image I possessed of a nude man. I would gaze at the image until I could feel myself pressed against Milind, sometimes longing to be the python weaving itself around him, and mostly hoping that he would perhaps stir and give my eyes access to what was concealed. I was really young then, when the Internet was just a fancy word, and posters of Bollywood actors were probably the only available images of attractive bodies. The Milind Soman image was for the longest time a visual source of my erotic fantasies, apart from getting a sexual high from random words in the dictionary. I recall teenage moments of flipping through my dictionary, scanning words like ‘penis’ or ‘sex’ and discovering words like ‘concupiscence,’ ‘sodomy’ ‘fornication’ and ‘fellatio’, to my libidinal delight.

What is it that makes something erotic or pornographic? Is it the stirrings of the imagination? How much of the body can be revealed to retain its eroticism? At which point did the Tuff ad cease being a commercial text and become erotic? Or was it an erotic text that pretended to have commercial intent?  Perhaps eroticism is part of the imagination, a balancing act between societal expectations and our unhindered libidinal desires.

Over my growing-up years, cocooned on an island in Goa, with barely any books to stimulate my imagination, it was the bible that was a source of erotica for me. I would fantasise between the lines of each story, especially about the first two biblical brothers. I’d see Cain and Abel gazing at each other their whole lives, covering the nakedness of their bodies with a loinskin. Perhaps, the jealousy between the two brothers was sexual covetousness. Did their loinskin stay put when they wrestled each other?  In my mind’s eye, Abel had soft skin, curly hair and strong slender thighs and Cain, a lean, hairy and rugged body with powerful arms. Then there was Onan who withdrew himself from Tamar after penetrating her, holding his turgid organ in his hand, as his life-giving seed splashed onto the ground. And, there was David, dancing like crazy the whole night in a translucent linen garment in god’s temple. So much energy, movement, sensuousness, and wonder!

What makes something erotic? Is it a state of my mind or the potential that an object holds to play out my desires? The imagination can find the erotic lurking in the midst of the everydayness of things. Suddenly the naked hairy arm of my colleague intoxicates me with an erotic delight. The sight of a sweaty runner transports me into other galaxies and back. The muskiness of a person’s odour makes me swirl like a drop of white wine. What titillates my desires then are not objects or works of art, but a moment. This openness to experiencing these erotic moments infuses my life with this constant surprise, an elevated state of an impending orgasm.

Erotica has its value within a context which allows it to play into our sensual/sexual self. Erotica has the capacity to evoke the erotic. It arouses us. Perhaps, what is erotica for one is not for another. It enhances and feeds into our fantasies and desires. Erotica can be liberating as it operates from the realm of our creativity. Identifying something only as erotica would be reducing its other dimensions and meanings. Meanings become fluid, sensual and sexual. A pair of handcuffs is not associated with crime, but with pleasure. An ice cube finds itself not just in a drink, but against some bare skin. Used underwear is not just dirty laundry, but a lover’s aroma feast. Our imagination takes over and naughtily plays with meanings. Our minds break free from the prison of meanings that we ascribe to them and allow for newer ways of understanding our world. Objects become imbued with possibilities and begin to have multiple utilitarian, aesthetic, and affective values.

Our creativity is an aphrodisiac. It attracts, hopefully arouses, others. There is an ever-evolving newness to how we perceive our reality and relationships with people and other living beings around us. Our sense of wonder comes alive when we let our creativity and playfulness take over. There is a newer sense of purpose, self-worth and appreciation for ourselves. Embracing our creativity involves being in the present and being aware of the needs of others and ourselves.

Lots of things, people, and moments have possibilities for stirring the erotic within us. The bible, the dictionary or the stories on may become pre-texts to something new within ourselves and others. All we need is to undo the constraints of meanings within us to experience that naughtiness or potential in all its multiplicity.

Cover Image: Pixabay

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