Katie West recently published an essay about desire, a subject that is almost always on my mind ( and it wasn’t that recently, like months ago now ).
I spend a lot of time wanting things. Her piece inspired me to write this, not as a rebuttal or correction, perhaps out of some kind of recognition. An answering howl in the dark. I want to be desired too, and more than that - I want my life to hold all desire’s shapes and aspects, even the ones that hurt. I want to inspire and feel the desires of others...
I want, it’s always this bright red thing.
What is an appetite, what is it to be satisfied…
Desire is a strong feeling of want, a pull to have, to own, to influence or change. A wish, a longing. Depending on how you talk about it
a philosophical problem, a conflict in higher reasoning, a wildness, motion and momentum, a debasing, a seeking of pleasure, a restraint on freedom, a shattering of free will.
a simple but compelling biological response
a source of obsession
Desire is central to the human condition as the need for touch. It is an inescapable facet of the human experience, and like many things that feel so fundamental, it is mysterious. A force or experience that can be transformative creates bonds that resist or defy categorization. It isn’t only that desire is challenging to understand, at times it seems actually to resist explanation, refuse it.
Desire can undo our understanding of our selves and the world around us.
It is power in that it is knowledge recognizing itself in another. It is also an aspect of vulnerability. It’s satisfaction; its visibility lives outside one’s power to control, our status as objects of desire is a complex aspect of ourselves.
At times over the last few years, I would believe, without any hesitation, that desire is a spiritual journey. Want can be an altered state of consciousness, a way to physically experience peace, harmony, union with all things inside the self - even if only for the breath of a moment. Desire suggests so much hope, a world where things are the same, familiar, but also slightly different, pleasurably strange - and in this, all desires are a desire to penetrate the veil of the unknown, unknowing… to reach a reality that, for a moment, has a deep and personal focus. To create through your will a reality that satisfies, or to be the object of such satisfaction.
The self is complex, a system of influences: environments and genetics, experiences and memories, we all bring a unique interpretive framework to the experience of desiring and being desired. We can never wholly disconnect from this state to objectify and conceptualize desire as something entirely beyond the self, an expression of some personal revelation, a symbol, an act of creation. It suggests a creative and intuitive openness, a sense of progressive motion - Learning, explorations and acknowledgements of the differences between what is and what could be, desires are creations that close the delta. Art requires objects, and desire renders many things objects. Art involves a unique vision, insight into underlying possibilities, a glimpsed reality.
Want creates a uniquely personal world, a self-consistent and expressive one. Built of imaginative concepts, it becomes desire like music notes in a symphony or colour and light and form in a photograph. Great desires are made out of an active examination of truth and beauty, of the possible, out of understanding what is essential and what can change. To desire something and imagine it possible, happening, is to see things in a new way, through a veil of the unknown. Stendhal syndrome for my imagination. The idea that an arrangement or combination of colours and form or sound, or touch can render us… undone, broken open,
I desire to be desired, to be the source of this sensation, to move and be moved, touched, changed. Great romances are significant in part because they use the language of desire, see it’s all-pervading rhythm, exalt it as ecstasy. The disorder of love used set to the scale of the sublime; through it, we surpass our understanding of the world as it was before. The deeper the desire, the more well-realized, the more intense its characteristics and refined its details.
The colours of the bruises I desire produce a joyful correspondent vibration when I see them bloom under my skin, created in the world. Fresh on flesh. Even if it is only a subjective physical impression is of importance to me alone, it doesn’t matter. It still makes my heart race. Blue and purple and reds become heavenly shades.