Sex as Dialectic


William Wordsworth leaves out of his Preface to Lyrical Ballads any particular approach to physicality, to the body, or to bodily awareness in general. By doing so, he leaves a certain critical door wide open to accusations that both Lyrical Ballads and the rest of his oeuvre lack the visceral quality born of rigorous physicality. When the mind, for example, associates ideas in a state of excitement, Wordsworth seeks to document the process in his poems; yet what the mind is reacting to is (Wordsworth suggests) a kind of perceptive consciousness of the durable permanence of natural forms and the human mind’s chiasmus with them. What about the durable permanence of the human body itself, as Renaissance humanism likes to suggest; or, even better, what about texts and textuality which assumes that the body itself is an idea, and associations and entanglements of bodies are associations and entanglements of ideas as well? This is in Keats’ Odal Cycle, and in Apparition Poems as well, especially in 1070, which forms a palimpsest over Wordsworth’s Solitary Reaper:

I said, “I can’t
even remember
the last time I
was excited, how
can I associate
ideas?”
            She pulled
out a gun, a tube
of oil, and an air
cushion,
            and it was
a spontaneous
overflow,
            powerfully
felt, in which we
reaped together

 It is a backbone of one of the strains of my work, which includes (also) Equations and When You Bit…, that sexuality is not only an expression of our physical selves but also an idea. A tangential thought is that, as is expressed in 1070, the human body itself is an idea, and sex itself can be a kind of physical dialectic.