I made love to the Earth on ecstasy. I dug my nails into it and held it in my hands. I pressed my pelvis against it and inhaled deeply, like I would the neck of a lover. I cried and pushed into the ground, trying to move inside it and feel it all around me. John Berger wrote, “When in love, the sight of the beloved has a completeness which no words and no embrace can match: a completeness which only the act of making love can temporarily accommodate.” 1
Soaking and pulsating
You are Springtime
The wind smells different, the earth is defrosting and remembering how to grow.
I press one finger into the mud and its tight caress is cold still. I wiggle my finger around until I know the dirt is under my nail and closer to my blood.
My mother is my best friend. I thank the universe for her every day. She rocks me in her lap through heartbreak and tells me I am still her baby. While snot runs down my face and my eyes are swollen she calls me beautiful, and I believe her. She laughs out stories about how good I was at breastfeeding. “A natural, you always found your way to the boob,” she boasts. She cries angry mama bear tears when thinking about the people that cause her children pain. She is a marathon runner and loves to sweat. She takes herself to the ocean every second year to be in the salt water. I learned passion from her: drive beyond discipline. I learned how to ooze. I was given space to be open.
In A Lover’s Discourse, Roland Barthes writes of the propensity to release fluids when in love: “By releasing his tears without constraint, he follows the orders of the amorous body, which is a body in liquid expansion, a bathed body: to weep together, to flow together.” What does he mean by “liquid expansion’”? Perhaps he is referring to the secretion beyond the boundaries of our skin. However, the unrestraint required to “flow together” also implies a different type of expansion: that of melting into pleasure and moving uninhibited through the world—allowing oneself to be seen.
How could a violin sound wet? Vivaldi’s “La Primavera: Spring II: Largo” is a broken heart purging nostalgia. “La Primavera: Spring: III. Allegro” is the smell of a newborn’s head, sunlight on closed eyelids, an impulse to rip apart your ribcage. “L’estate: Summer III. Presto” is the hand scratching down a lover’s back, spine curving with a thrust and a shout at climax.
I am the rotten fruit Lawrence loves
Seeping through my own broken skin
Too sickly sweet to be maintained by it all
Ruined and open wide
Too much pleasure, debauchery in a Seven of Cups
“It takes courage to enjoy it—the hardcore, and the gentle,” Björk growls in “Big Time Sensuality.” In her music video for “All is Full of Love,” two identical robots caress each other. Liquid drips over the exposed wires and metal as they fuck. It is devastatingly sexy. On my nineteenth birthday, I stood in front of the robots at her retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. My overexerted heart made me sweaty while I cried and stared, just as I would while standing in front of Auguste Rodin’s sculpture The Kiss in Paris two years later.
Artists commit to oozing. Jackson Pollock’s splattered paint on canvas like a cum-shot. It’s a bit of a “chicken or egg” scenario: are artists born with more goo than others? Or are we just more practiced in the skill of releasing it? Diane Di Prima’s memoir of her gorgeous hedonism, Memoir of a Beatnik, can serve as an allegory for this commitment to oozing. She documents every lick of her lovers’ flesh, their taste and smells, the way they feel inside her, even the way the sun hits their glistening postcoital bodies.
A commitment to an oozing kind of love is a political act. It encourages care and openness beyond what we are shown in media and society. adrienne marie brown writes: “We are socialized to seek and perpetuate private, even corporate love… What we need now is a radical, global love that grows from deep within us to encompass all life.” Subverting the concept of Hedonism (the blind pursuit of pleasure), we can understand it instead as a conscious pursuit of embodied, radical pleasure - pleasure in all that we engage in and do. Harnessing and fueling intention, radical honesty, and tender intimacy in our work and relationships results in deeper connection and community strength.
Do you see it—the wetness that exudes from all aspects of an erotic life?
Audre Lorde explains that it can be throughout all we do: “There is, for me, no difference between writing a good poem and moving into sunlight against the body of a woman I love.”
Under the water no sound is not muted
Like death or sleep or shock or love
It slows down in the fluid
The above was written by Madeline Rae. She is a performance artist and (future) sex counsellor living on Treaty 1 (Winnipeg, MB). Rae's work focuses on reclaiming sensuality and expanding the scope of the performative space through a lens of Pleasure Activism. Frontis image by Madeline Rae.
1. John Berger Ways of Seeing
2. Rolande Barthes A Lover’s Discourse
3. Antonio Vivaldi The Four Seasons
4. D. H. Lawrence Medlars and Sorb-Apples
5. Seven of Cups – card in any Tarot deck
6. Björk Big Time Sensuality & All is Full of Love
7. Auguste Rodin The Kiss
8. Jackson Pollock Autumn Rhythm (Number 30)
9. Diane Di Prima Memoirs of a Beatnik
10. adrienne marie brown Pleasure Activism: Love as Political Resistance
11. Audre Lorde Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power