Public Transit, and the Death of Sensuality
ometimes I enjoy public transit. The intimacy found there is profound. The smells...even more profound. How many
sardines can we stuff in this tin? Sure, let us touch our thighs together; we don’t have a choice otherwise. Am I in your bubble? No matter, you are
One time when I was on a city bus, a woman was leaning against me as we stood in the crowded aisle. She was immersed in a screen, headphones on,
texting or facebooking as we stood there in an awkward embrace. Every time we went around a corner she would lean her head on my chest without any
care; and me, almost frozen, did best to control my heartbeat for fear that she might feel it. With every motion, we moved together, closer, her cheek
to my sternum, in a way reserved strictly for lovers. And I could feel her breath through my clothes as she exhaled, as I fought hard not not to
breathe at all, for fear that it might make her feel just as aware as I. It was a strange and intimate slow dance, and her hair smelt of lilac. The
moment had me. She, on the other hand, didn’t know I existed.
A somnambulist no doubt; or at least one that was conscious enough to get from point A to point B without inflicting serious harm upon herself. But
other than some mediocre signs of humanity and wherewithal, she was senseless. So was the man behind me, lost in some imaginary world on the tiny
screen in front of him as he huddled into my overcoat. I could taste the odors as they achieved a vortex right in front of me. It was completely
silent. Every one on the entire bus was trying so hard not to notice each other, peering into some little fetish of theirs, fingering it and fondling
it in a nervous fashion, running away from their sensual lives as they dehumanize themselves right before me. Is this what we are becoming? some sort
of ape entranced by shiny objects?
I suppose it saves us from an awkward moment—or, God forbid, from having to talk to one another. But I don’t mind a little awkwardness. In fact,
the awkward feeling I get is quite invigorating in moments such as these. That combined with my own desires, fears, arousal, amidst the darting back
and forth of thoughts, and the inundation of all sensuality coordinated into a fully alive human being in a fully dead and lifeless environment, made
me feel alive. Why would I not make it more awkward?
“There’s a world out there you know.” I said. Genius, of course—an icebreaker to make a polar expedition jealous.
“We’re in a bus,” she said back not looking up from her screen. I had nothing else to say. I became bored. I closed my eyes and I thought—
Sensuality is dead, and we’ve gone to great lengths to hide it. Nietzsche was right when he said “Christianity gave Eros poison to drink; but he
did not die of it, certainly, but degenerated into Vice.” I mean how could we be sensual after thousands of years of religion denouncing it as evil,
and philosophy denouncing it as false? Consequently, philosophy and religion have always been in bed together. None of these have been life affirming,
but life denying principles, for sensuality, and therefor embodiment, and therefor mindfulness, and therefor love, and awareness of others, are hidden
from plain view, denounced and discouraged out of perhaps fear or because some people are just too offended by their own sensuality, that they refuse
to see it in others.
But no matter. We will always be sensual beings. Remember that. Throw them into new things, new risks. Become sensitive, sensual and vulnerable. Shame
is never found in the senses. Sensuality doesn’t need to be hidden and suppressed, and nor does it need to be let loose in wanton abandon. It only
needs to be seen, felt and listened to.
Thank you for reading,
P.S. Is sensuality dead?
edit on 14-6-2014 by LesMisanthrope because: spelling