Ten axioms for sexual ethics

[One:Realm]
Sexual ethics names the realm of consideration in which questions and practices of leading a good sexual life might be framed and thought.

[Two:Terms]
sex ≠ sexuality ≠ sexual difference
sex: act/s
sexuality: relations and related self-understanding
sexual difference: the irreducible difference of at least two {Irigaray}

[Three:Force|Subject/Object]
Desire is neither a response to objective provocation, nor it is it a pure expression of subjective will. Desire is a directional force {Grosz} that invites interactions which portend the temporary emergence of a subjective position or an objective fixation. There are no subjects or objects apart from lines of desire.

[Four:Responsibility]
To be responsible to desire is not the same as being responsible for desire. Responsibility to desire commits one to tracing the transversal lines it draws through and across a life. Responsibility to desire is delimited and general. Responsibility for desire establishes the particularity of a relation and demands a witness. Responsibility for desire is partitive and acts within the particular boundaries of a real relation.

[Five:Encounter]
Sex with desire is a commitment to encountering a force which is proper to none of the participants. It is contact with primary movement. Sexual ethics demands a willingness to be moved beyond the confines of categorical self-expression. Every encounter is emotional and therefore every encounter entails the ‘risk’ of a commitment.

[Six:Absence]
Sex which aspires to be/come without emotion is solipsistic in the most terrifically narcissistic way.

[Seven:Departure]
Radical indeterminacy and total openness are not starting points, they are the real conditions for desire. Categorically limited relational structures, such as monogamy, must never be assumed. If they are to obtain, their immanence must be mutually/plurally acknowledged and their terms must be clearly delineated. Categorical relational structures desired by one, imposed on the other, are patriarchal. Enforcing or assuming these relational structures unilaterally is a form of violence and must be refused.

[Eight:Declension]
If one yields to desire, one falls in love. If one radically accepts the generative force of desire, one is reinventing love. {Rimbaud} The former disposition expresses lack, the latter excess.

[Nine:Endurance]
Only a coward chooses cruel endings.

[Ten:Portability]
Collective subjects of a radically open relation may abdicate responsibility for their particular desire, but they may never subvert responsibility to desire. One who seeks to abdicate responsibility to desire commits oneself to a subjectivity which treats all relations as objective and externalizable. This dangerous and violent condition is conservatively megalomaniacal, serving only an unacknowledged desire for abstract power over all relations. Acceptance of the collective subjectivity of radically open relations establishes a discontinuous continuity which reënacts the initial condition of all desire (including that which would be disavowed in an abdication of responsibility to desire) with the embodied emotional awareness of the chronological past.

This is the only ethical position in which to start a new relation out of the old.

3 comments
  1. This is a cool thing and it describes a lot of stuff. But what makes you think these things are axiomatic?

    • thisisdarren said:

      It’s a good question. I suppose I was torn a bit between the notion of a thesis and an axiom. I wanted to experiment with a form of concise statements. I suppose I write them as axiomatic in an ironically obsolete Baconian sense: something generalized from experience, inductive. If I’m held to non-obsolete terms, then it is perhaps a little more tongue-in-cheek or normative.

      • Yeah, I get that. There’s no sense in denying the reality of things you’ve actually witnessed first-hand. I feel like identity is often like that but I don’t usually think of sexuality and relationships in those terms, but then again, I’m not really anti-identitarian when it comes to other factors, like race. So there’s nothing off about acknowledging that these statements are normative, from the standpoint you assume in making them.

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