Peter Baltensperger – Sex and Erotica
In response to our Self-Interview post, one of our more thoughtful contributors, Peter Baltensperger, provided us with this well-crafted essay. I feel we’re meant to express our sexuality in whatever ways come naturally and storytelling is just a natural part of that. It is, to use a well worn expression, the story of us, of how we will evolve and know one another better – M.R.
Sex between or among lovers and partners is a deeply intimate and highly private activity. It should not be open to public display or scrutiny in any way, and most people wouldn’t have it any other way. With few exceptions, couples and groups engaged in sexual activities all over the world keep their sensuous explorations to themselves and within the confines of their various beds, abodes, or gathering places without any exposure to the outside world.
It is erotica that has long served and still serves as the accepted vehicle for generalizing and publicizing sexual activities for the population at large. Erotica depersonalizes the intimate couplings of lovers in all their many forms and thus makes them accessible to a general readership. Of course most erotica is at least in part based on personal experiences, but it doesn’t usually portray them as such. Instead, it presents them as generalized descriptions, embellished by the writer’s imagination and creative inspiration. In this way, it removes sex from the intimate privacy in which it is performed and elevates it into the realm of public visibility.
Having said that, it should be pointed out that direct personal experience is in no way a prerequisite for writing erotica. It is always the writer’s creative abilities and his or her attitudes, preferences, and interests that determine settings, character developments, and plot progressions and make erotica the inspired literature that it is. I have written numerous stories as well as essays about paraphilias and other fringe activities from sexual stimulation by insects to plush animals to inanimate objects and beyond without ever having, or even desiring to have, experienced them myself. Undoubtedly, may other writers of erotica have done the same thing, for the sake of exploration, curiosity, mental expansion, or simply personal preferences.
The actual writing of erotica is, of course, a purely personal and intimate activity, a deeply individual exploration of the equally personal and intimate act of sex. The writer creates his or her work in the silence of the imaginative mind, simply for the pleasure and, often, the need to create. The end product, on the other hand, be it a short story or an entire novel, is by its very nature always a public act. By publishing an erotic work in whatever form, the writer exposes him or herself to the world and presents his or her innermost thoughts and feelings to the potential readership, just as any other writer does.
In this way, good erotica provides its readership with a wide variety of topics, attitudes, depictions, and variations involving the act of sexual gratification. In addition to the pure enjoyment derived from reading others’ presentations of sexual experiences, the discerning reader can derive new insights, consider different techniques, and expand his or her own approach to sexuality. Erotica is exactly the same as any other reading experience: the more one partakes of it, the more one can learn and the better one’s own life, and, in particular, one’s sex life, will become.
It is my hope that erotica will make substantial gains in popularity in our 21st century society and become an integral part of general popular literature. If that happens, and in my opinion it is destined to happen sooner or later, a steadily growing readership will get access to and avail itself of the excellent erotica that is being written today. It just needs to become more acceptable, just as the topic of sex itself should become much less “forbidden” than it unfortunately still is. The writers of erotica will emerge from their relative obscurity and their works will become generally accepted and valid instruments of elucidation and personal expansion.
It’ll take a long time yet to change society’s attitudes towards sex and create an open and receptive enough readership that is not only capable of appreciating, but also of understanding the significance and inherent importance of contemporary erotica. It will be then that erotica will be elevated from its obscurity to the mainstream reading material it should be. I probably won’t be around any longer to be part of that evolution, much as I would have loved to be a direct participant in the inevitable progression of erotica.
Also by Peter Baltensperger on Pink Litter: