The social media site and app Tumblr, has proven particularly well suited for sharing porn in tiny snippets. Perhaps this, more than anything, embodies the spirit of truly being a thousand tiny sextapes. Deleuze & Guattari’s term a thousand tiny sexes is meant to display a vast array of sexualities, pointing to that there is not one or two or possibly six (Hetero + LGBTQ = 6) different versions of sexuality that you must slot yourself into. Tumblr is sharing, reblogging images, gifs, short movies and short texts, and as such it’s perfectly suited to assemble your own flow of sexual difference.
If you are following the users holdyourorgasm, gentle-pegging, zerotika, ling0n, sexandlove, kinkywaifu, and submissive-feminist for instance, you end up with a bricolage of bite sized sexual desire, like this:
As you can see, these are not amateur enactments (although there is plenty of that as well), but a deep well of expressions where people are using Tumblr to express yearnings and desires and the right to assemble their own tiny sex. The connections between these blogs are also rhizomatic, a lot of reposts of each other (most people seemingly being mindful to preserve captions and credit whoever posted first). Sometimes it also seems like (in the presentation/biography) that people are reaching out to each other, with this display of their sexual desires and yearnings. Although not being your typical contact add, some presentations read in a way that seems very much to be about reaching out to others, in order to feel less alone, to have themselves and their drives confirmed by others, regardless of distance (which is not a factor in the online world). What should we do with the fact that these multitudes of sexual expression is out there, begging us to interact with them?
Above I have argued that theology should not, cannot, dodge the issue of sex — theology should be deleuzian about it. With that I don’t mean that we have to affirm a plurivocity of solar anus machines and anything that one may do with such machines. However, if we abstain from thinking in novel terms about sex, and fail to produce new modes of construal, then sex will always be in the clutches of those who actually say something about it; which are typically conservative pope-fellows. So what now then? Am I saying that all theologians out there should put their books down and record their bedroom action? I don’t know. No. Probably not. Maybe?
One thing I am certain of: Any worth-while theology in the Internet age cannot simply act as if it’s not understanding how people are interaction with each other in regards to their drives and desires online. Nor do I believe that the point is to do what churches and clergy has traditionally done: to attempt and give each other a list of what’s permissible and what is dirty, out of place matter. Instead, let’s not pretend that we (whoever ’we’ are in this case) are merely ’analysts of matter’ that has withdrawn from (in this case the digital) world. To go back to David Capener’s sentiment that contemporary theology seems to mainly be about answering questions that no one is asking, I think a theologian only becomes relevant when s/he starts caring about questions that burn in the minds and subconscious of people. And more than anything: stop living the lie of only dealing with eroticism in the dark ages and the extatic encounters of Hildegard af Bingen. Then, theology will keep failing to be co-producer or a prosumer of anything novel and relevant for our age.
So, what’s next then? The systematic theology of sex? Replacing monotheistic belief in god with belief in human creativity and desire, ending up with a new form of polytheism? Or abandoning monotheism for syntheism? My critique against Bard & Söderqvist would not be that their theology is relevant. I have read few theologies that holds more promise of relevance for our age. However, the construal of having to choose monotheism or Syntheism as opposing religions is unnecessary.
In their book Syntheism: Creating God in The Internet Age Bard & Söderqvist start out with the question ”does god exist” saying that we must then venture into what we mean with ”god” and what we mean with ”exist”. Speaking with Heidegger they make the distinction between something that exists ontically; physically, regardless of what we think of it (like a pot on the stove, keeping the stew inside from spilling out all over the stovetop) and something that exists ontologically, which includes everything that we dream up (such as things that exists in fairy tails like trolls and dragons). Undeniably, god exists ontologically, because we have a word, a term, for it. Ontically, well, that’s another matter. Bard & Söderqvist says ’no’, and furthermore places their ontological god in the future. However, we may also venture to think that the bardian, created god (which is all our hopes and dreams put together) may exist simultaneously with two things; a Christian type of god, which then can be construed as existing both ontically and ontologically. Much like Bard & Söderqvist describes a painting as undoubtedly existing ontically, because it consists of paint on a canvas, art is something ontological. Art is something that is created with the viewing of the piece. Whilst some people may view graffiti as ontically present in the world, they may fail to grasp it as a piece of art that awakens certain responses and feelings inside us, and may only see vandalism (which then is another ontological category to place the graffiti in). Likewise, we can see god as something that both exists independently of us (however physical or non-material you see this god), but also – and more importantly – something/someone that awakens certain deep and meaningful responses in us. There is nothing that says that we can only ever entertain one such ontological god, but we are equally free of crossing the line into (ontological) polytheism.
If we are to operate with Bard & Söderqvist’s understanding of the god concept, then sex can certainly be a type of god. Sex can likewise be a master-narrative that structure other things in our lives. But, to stay as deleuzian as possible, I would like to remind you that also the polytheistic mixture of ontic and ontological god can abstain from a clear hierarchy of gods.
I know there are a lot of things I haven’t done in this text. The most obvious I addressed in the initial disclaimer, to not talk about the negative sides of sex. I have made the conscious choice to not go in any direction that is not affirming sex or any direction moralising about sex on the internet — for instance from a socio-economic multifactorial perspective. The reason for this is simple. The church, any church, always ends up discussing all the bad with sex, the possible pitfalls, all the possible shady workings. I have never experienced any attempt to just talk about sex in the affirmative. I am not naïve, when writing this text. It’s not that we shouldn’t talk about such aspects of life and sexuality. It’s just that I firmly believe that we shouldn’t always add on that whole discussion as soon as we talk about sex. That would be the equivalent of always thinking about the anatomy of the human body whilst having sex. Let’s not do that. Not today, ok?
But also, from a deleuzian standpoint, it’s important to not let suspicions, or the fact that (at least) hypothetically behind every situation there may be eschewed power relations, be what most imprints our perception. It’s my contention that we should and could affirm multiple ’gonzos’, multiple narratives, but in this — we should also remember the non-representational character imbued in our judgements. Here I quite like, and will end with Derrida’s definition of deconstruction: ”To say yes to multiple alternatives at the same time.” This has been an essay of only multiple yes-es. But continuing this conversation, I’m sure that someone will inevitably start folding in all the no:s we can also say yes to.