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Dash of Fancy

At seventeen, I devoted myself to the pursuit of eroticism. Evolutionary imperatives necessitated a baseline sexual appetite, but I was more concerned with Sontag. “In place of a hermeneutics we need an erotics of art,” Sontag contends in her 1966 essay “Against Interpretation.” In a miasma of theory, she believed that art had lost its fervor. Now, with heads cocked to analysis, audiences set out on interpretive undertakings at the first twitch of a curtain rising, at the edge of a frame, in the didactic aisles of a title page. We no longer laid ourselves bare and let art wash over us. We no longer felt the acerbic burn when its saline waves seeped into wounds we had forgotten. 

I was no different. An erudite floozy, I had taken to reading the wall text before looking at the painting. No longer! With “Against Interpretation” in tow, I set out to let art stir me. Orgasm was the end game. But like an addict whose senses were dulled by their fix, I could no longer get off on art alone. I craved a hit of theory, chased the electric jolt of recognizing classical allusion. I was Paolo and Francesca in Dante’s fifth Canto, tossed about by blustering waves of desire. Fuck, that was good. 

Music was my first exception. If I sat very still in the dark and turned my headphones as loud as they would go, I could start to detect the buds of excitement. Alone in my room, I had no one to tell that Berlioz was quoting the dies irae in the fifth movement of “Symphonie Fantastique.” Instead, I let the crashing gongs throb unanalyzed. I trembled with emotion. I was redeemed. 

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