Desire, the Origins of Life, and Mutual Self-Annihilation
First, this is obvious, but I want to acknowledge that Power organ-izes sexuality by reducing sexuality to biological sex. Two sexes, two sexualities—male and female—or, genital sexuality. It’s equally obvious that reducing sexuality to biological sex obscures desiring and destroys sexuality’s creative and connective potential. That’s the point. It’s a cue to understand what organization means and what disorganization might entail.
Second, these days, Power also orients sexuality by reducing it to sexual preference. Straight, gay, bi, etc., whatever—what you want as who you are—or, consumer preference sexuality. There’s no reason to think that reducing sexuality to sexual preference will lead to the liberation of desire but a lot of people think so anyway. It’s a cue to understand what orientation means and what disorientation might entail.
Third, despite what you may have heard, sexuality’s organization and its orientation aren’t even at odds. The two processes just overlap in sexuality’s medium—desire—like what physicists like to call “wave interference.” But “interference” is somewhat misleading in this context. So I’ll say “overlap” instead because it sounds vaguely sexual anyway. Even better is the “principle of superposition,” which can be stated as follows:
When two waves [overlap], the resulting displacement of the medium at any location is the algebraic sum of the displacements of the individual waves at that same location.
We can add as many “waves” or “overlaps” of sexual identity as we want. Each will make the calculation a bit more complicated and the identities a bit more specified. That’s not the liberation of desire. It’s a calculation, a problem, a task. Specifically, it’s
[t]he task of determining the complete shape of the entire medium during [overlap]. [It] demands that the principle of superposition be applied for every point (or nearly every point) along the medium.
Such is the contemporary algebraic physics of sexuality lol. Solve for x—the displacement at your “location” in the medium of desire, your superposition— or, your sexual identity. It’s all a cue to understand what identification means and what disidentification might entail.
On a related note,
[b]isexuality is no better a concept than the separateness of the sexes. It is as deplorable to miniturize, internalize the binary machine as it is to exacerbate it; it does not extricate us from it.
So yeah, there’s a general hesitation to theorize sexuality and desire beyond human sexual organization, orientation, and identity. It’s a distraction from what’s going on with sex, desire, and the Earth itself. In fact, sexuality is present throughout the social field as a part of all flows, whether physical, semiotic, economic, metaphysical or any other.
Next, subjectivity is created in four foldings: (1) of the material, (2) of forces, (3) of knowledge, and (4) of the outside. Each folding is an encounter with sexuality, a crucial element in all relations to the self.
When sexuality and subjectivity are simultaneously defined in terms of four foldings, we need to ask not about the nature of sexuality or subjectivity but about the nature of material, force, knowledge and the outside.
The aim, therefore, is not to question sexual difference or the organization of gender but to theorize sexuality as an event, as a practice, and as creation/destruction itself.
Sexuality is really a multiplicity of connective combinations that reach across sexes and species and genera. Sexuality, then, is better talked about in terms of epidemic than filiation, better practised through contagion than heredity.
Understood this way, sexuality is much older and more extensive than human and even lived experience. I think sexuality preceded life and that life emerges in some folding of geologic, chemical, and statistical forms of desiring. Or maybe God did it, idk.
Either way, the emergence of life was pure sexuality beyond and before sex precisely because it was so excessive. It produced a new excess—the boundary defining the shape of the first organism, folded from material, forces, knowledge, and the outside. I’m thinking of Adam or LUCA, the Last Universal Common Ancestor.
Zooming out, we can recognize that industrialization, urbanization, and globalization are expressions of sexuality as well because they are marked by the coming together of bodies in excessive ways that go beyond self-interest or self-preservation. Has there ever been a place more sexual than The City?1
We live within these excesses that embrace, agitate, and accelerate our mutual self-annihilation. Our relation to our future non-being creates the forces of desire that constitute us. We learn that extinction is also pure sexuality—that sexuality just as easily serves the destruction of life on Earth as its emergence and reproduction.
So yeah, don’t worry about your sexual organization, orientation, and identity so much. Instead, imagine how beautiful it is to be alive and aware of the world at the only time it’s ever possible.
For a more in-depth treatment, read Colebrook (2017) ‘Sex and the (Anthropocene) City.’