Tag Archives: essays

JULY 8 EVENT with GORDON WHITE + SEMI-SECRET BONUS AUDIO EPISODE OF AGAINST EVERYONE with CONNER HABIB

3 Jul

D&DHey folks, two quick announcements. An event and an audio ep of Against Everyone with Conner Habib. Read on!

First, I have an event Saturday, July 8, with Gordon White (author of The Chaos Protocols and Star.Ships) in LA! It’s an evening of in-depth discussion and exploration of why we urgently need the occult to guide us through our world called CHAOTIC GOOD: WHY THE OCCULT MATTERS NOW (MORE THAN EVER). You can buy tickets HERE.

The discussion is moderate by special guest mortician, bestselling author Caitlin Doughty, and features tarot readings by everyone’s favorite witch from The Craft, the brilliant and intuitive Rachel True. The event is followed by a Q&A.

We’ll explore:

  • How the occult intersects with today’s politics, sexuality, science, and art.
  • The use of occult worldviews by and against the political milieu
  • Wealth, money, career and magic in an unpredictable economy.
  • Working with the spirits of place.
  • Which wheels Jesus takes, which ones you have to take, and why the fuck you’d want God as your co-pilot instead of just letting Him fly the plane himself.
  • Managing despair, anxiety and depression in uncertain times.
  • Today’s magical revival.

Books by Gordon, Conner, and Caitlin, as well as other esoterica, will be provided by the best bookshop in Los Angeles, the amazing Skylight Books. Tickets are almost sold out, so get yours ASAP.

***

Screen Shot 2017-06-04 at 8.26.37 PMI have new equipment on the way for my web series, so: In the lull between episodes, I’ve decided to post this audio only bonus episode of Against Everyone with Conner Habib, in which I read and talk about my essay “If You Ever Did Write Anything About Me, Id Want It To Be About Love.”

The essay details a painful relationship I was in that is always re-evoked for me around July 4.

The episode is NOT available via YouTube like the rest of the show, but there’s an easy workaround – just go to my Patreon page by clicking here, and you can listen or download the audio as an MP3.

While you’re there, please do contribute to my Patreon and my livelihood. Your support makes my web series, writing, movies, and media possible. Thank you.

Love,

CH

Conner Habib’s 10 Tips For Writers

19 Apr

cropped-chAs a writing coach and consultant, I’ve been helping writers sell their work, finish projects, improve their voices, and get better habits for nearly 15 years. Below are my 10 Tips For Writers. And no, they’re not the ones you’ve heard a million times before!

***

I’ve been writing almost daily since I was 7 years old, when I typed the first pages of a fantasy novel on my mom’s new and at the time cutting edge Apple IIc computer. (The book was about how awesome dragons are. That project remains in the unfinished bin, mostly because no one needs convincing that dragons are awesome.) In the 33 years between then and now, I’ve gotten my BA in creative writing, taken writing workshops, joined writers’ groups, pursued my MFA in fiction writing at University of Massachusetts, and more.

The bad news is: Most of the advice I’ve gotten along the way (and paid for) hasn’t been very good. There are two primary problems. First, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to writing. Writers, and their aesthetics, have different temperaments, different obstacles, different desires. But writing is rarely taught that way. As a result, as an emerging writer, I often felt like I was being asked to be the writer my teachers and peers expected me to be, rather than the writer I knew I was. The other problem was that the advice was generally just…bad. Vague. Ultimately meaningless. Stuff like, “What are the stakes here?” and “I don’t think the character would do that.” None of it was helpful, because one of it really meant anything.

The good news is: In wading through a lot of bad advice, learned a great deal about what really helps writers. The main thing being, if you want to write well, you have to be a better writer. Before you say, “Duh!” let me explain. The best advice for you as a writer, whether in the beginning of your career or the beginning of a new project, is advice that helps you discover your individual creative desires and process, then builds from there. It’s advice that helps you understand your relationship to writing and the things you write about and how you write, not some generic idea of what your writing is “supposed” to be like. That’s why this is a list of tips for writers, not writing.

Read on, and be the writer only you can be!

1. Writing is a part of who you are, not just something you do.

Writing is like conversation, it’s free; free financially and free in its contours and where it goes. A few rudimentary tools are needed, but other than that, it’s up to you. Writing playful. It’s totally unbounded except by its form: symbols. You can write anywhere. You can, like conversation, write from any state of mind, whether you’re happy, motivated, tired, sick, drunk, or anxious.

Have you ever met someone who doesn’t know how to shake hands or who simply can’t have an introductory conversation without being rude or abrasive? Writing is like that: When it’s good, it’s a sign that someone has done inner work. When it’s bad, it’s a sign that there’s inner work yet to be done. So my first tip is really just a concept that the rest grow from: Writing is a part of who you are.

deconstructed-typewriter2. Even though writing is free, it deserves some sacrifice.

To be made healthy, writing demands sacrifice. This means inner or behavioral development in one way or another. It means developing a different relationship to your life overall. Most commonly, that takes the form of reorienting to and creating time. People love to say, “I just wish I had time to write!” As a writing coach, I help writers create time. I have clients who have 9-5 jobs, 7-6 jobs, clients with two jobs and three kids, and guess what? They write.

There are ways to do it.

If your dream of writing is big enough, you’re willing to give up the lie that you don’t have time to do it. Make that your first sacrifice. And after that, keep in mind that a foundational question of being a writer is: What are you willing to give up?

3. Writing well requires rhythm.

That means picking a time to write and keeping your commitment to writing each day. Why? Another lie writers tell themselves is that they can only write when they’re inspired. But writing needs, instead, to be ritualized. If you write only when you feel inspired, or if you don’t write when you’re sick or tired or unhappy, you will not continue to write. Why should good writing show up for you if you keep changing plans?

Turn yourself into a rhythmic person who writes every day. I work with my clients to get them in writing patterns that are rhythmic and sustainable. When you get into a groove like that, the writing starts to appear more often, and it gets better and better.

4. Not writing is part of writing, so be a person who enjoys sitting.gettingthere

When you become rhythmic, making yourself an address for writing to show up in, there will still be days when it does not come. But don’t deceive yourself into thinking you’re not doing the work. Sitting is the work.

It’s a bit like owning a store: you open the shop, sometimes people come in and buy stuff, sometimes they don’t, but you still open the store each day.

Before you yawn, think of how amazing that is: You get to just sit and think about your creative project, dreaming about it, considering it from different angles. That’s not a drag. That’s awesome.

5. It’s not about being finished, it’s about knowing when to stop and when to keep going.

As a writer, you may never feel totally satisfied with your work. When you’re done with a story/essay/article/book/screenplay/etc., you may continue to feel a longing. Or at the beginning of a project, you may be plagued with doubt. I offer a service called a Writer’s Assessment. It’s a 90 minute meeting in which I talk to writers about their work and process. Very often they want to know “Am I a good writer?” This is a question that’s based on the idea that someone will realize that they’re good and then the doubt will go away and that’ll be that. But it’s a not a worthwhile question, because even if you’re good, even if you’re like Joyce Carol Oates good or Seamus Heaney good or fill-in-the-blank-with-your-favorite-amazing-writer good, you can still be better. Indeed, one of the hallmarks of being good is wanting to do better. (Note here though, “do better” is subtly different than “be better.”)

“Am I a good writer” is a garbage question. Throw it away. Start focusing on helpful ones like: How do I know when to stop writing? How do I know when to keep going? When do I apply my power to do better and when do I just let go and let the piece have its own life without me fiddling anymore?

It’s not about recognizing when it’s done, it’s about recognizing when you should stop or keep going.

6. Finish what you’ve started or abandon it completely.

Writers are haunted by incomplete projects. They’ll start a novel, get 100 pages in and quit. Don’t do it. Don’t stop once you’ve started unless you’re willing to let go entirely. Not only will you never finish the project you’ve stopped, you’ve made yourself unworthy of the story you wanted to create. If you abandon something, abandon it completely. Your thoughts that you “should” be writing it will slow up all future writing. That doesn’t mean you can’t come back to in a few years and rediscover it, but that can only happen when you’re a different person with a different outlook and therefore the whole thing is a different project. Keep going or let it go.

7. Writers read.

cropped-books.jpgI’m astounded by how many writers don’t read. This tip may be obvious but here it is: Writers – the successful and talented ones – read. They read often. Writers need to be inwardly and outwardly woven into a world of books, screenplays, essays, plays, comics, poems, and other writers. If you don’t give yourself over to the international community of writers and literary works, why should that community embrace you? And don’t just stick to reading stuff that’s like the stuff you write. Read widely as well as deeply. Cultivate talent and success as a writer by reading. Give loving attention to the literary world and you’ll be welcomed into it.

8. You can do anything you want.

Writers love to get stuck.

They love writing two thirds of a story and stopping dead in their tracks, unable to answer their own question of ,“how do I get from Point A to Point B?”

Here’s an example from one of my clients: He was writing a young adult novel, and he wanted to have a character sneak into a room to spy on some people. So there was all this twisting and turning to get the character through the only door to the room and remain unseen. How would the people in the room not notice this kid sneaking in? My client kept redesigning the room, trying to create distractions for the characters so the spy could get in, whatever. It was driving him crazy.

So I said, “Why don’t you just have your character in the room already by the time everyone enters?” Oh!

He’d worked himself into such a terrible corner trying to figure out how to deal with the confines he’d set for himself that he didn’t realize that there were no confines because he was the creator!

But there’s more to this tip. When I say you can do anything, I also mean: YOU CAN DO ANYTHING YOU CAN IMAGINE.

Want to write a 300 page novel that has a UFO show up for the first time on the last page and kill your two main characters? Nothing’s stopping you.

So you thought of a famous painting in the middle of your essay and want to include it? Go ahead!

Want to stop mid-play and have a character come to the front of the stage and discuss the merits of plastic wrap? Totally up to you.

Yes, you want to write well. But always keep in mind: You’re making this thing. It exists through and because of you. 

9. Style is a mood you generate out of yourself.

Huh? I know, this one sounds weird. But it’s so fundamental. When you’re writing well, when words and sentences and narratives are coming through you and they feel right, pay attention to the feeling. It’s a feeling only you have, and it’s style.

We tend to think of style of something we can observe when we’ve broken a piece of writing down into word choices and sentence structure. Sure, that’s how style emerges when a reader interacts with writing. But style for the author is a mood.

When you’re in that zone of writing well, you’ll get a feeling that is irreproducible elsewhere in life and is unique to you. It’s generated by you in the act of writing, and it’s your guide to when you’re at your best and purest. That doesn’t mean that every time you experience this mood you’re creating a masterpiece. As you get better as a writer, the feeling refines itself, just as when you refine your palate as you get a better sense of food and ingredients, etc. This mood — your style — is refined as you become a better writer.

10. Don’t listen to anyone who tells you how to write. For the most part.

Okay, okay, I’m being a little goofy here. Ending my list of advice with a call to disregard advice. Of course, the difference between this list and many others out there is that I’m focusing, mostly, on what it means to be a writer; the other lists often insist on telling you how you should write. But you’re an individual. You have your own desires, tastes, etc. That’s why writing groups, writing teachers, and how-to books can be disastrous. They can misdirect you or discourage your unique voice or give you a false sense of validation. The important thing is to become the writer that you are, not the sort of writer others are telling you you should be.

But that doesn’t mean complacency. Find the voices that resonate with you in a challenging way. In other words, ask yourself: What challenges feel right? Who’s offering me those challenges? That also means: if you find a teacher that gives you that sense (and yes, sure, it might be me!), keep up with him/her!

And of course, that’s a pitch…

If there’s an 11th tip, it’s this:

Hire me as your writing coach and consultant to take your writing to the next level and to completely transform your relationship to your creative process!

Click here or email me at connerwrites[at]gmail.com for details.

Onward, writer!

CH

The Future-Non-Future of the Adult Industry

2 Dec

image1In 2013, I wrote an essay (called “Facing the Torsos”) for The Stranger about hook-up apps (like Scruff, Grindr, etc) having the potential for becoming individuated pornographic experiences. Actually, let me restate that – these apps have already become our new porn, whether they claim to be or not. I’m presenting it again here because, porn companies have still failed to realize better models and structures for delivering erotic and arousing experiences to viewers. Basically, studios/producers are still doing the 1980s/1990s VHS model of things: Record a scene, deliver it to viewers, hope they’ll pay. What they don’t realize is that the potential for new realms is not in the platform or even the content, but the INTERFACE. This is why something like VR where you wear a giant occulus goggle thingy is still ultimately a boring extension of the VHS model: You’re still just watching it happen. Sure, it’s a different sort of watching, but the interface is essentially the same, panoramic or not.

I’m tired of constant complaints from producers in the porn industry about piracy and how people not paying for porn is why the industry is failing; ultimately using that as an excuse to justify docking performer pay.

No, it’s not piracy, it’s lack of innovation (or better said, lazy refusal to innovate) on multiple levels, and one of the big ones is interface.  

But producers won’t get this till they understand: porn is not a set “thing,” it’s not just a scene of people fucking on a website. It’s a set of aesthetic rules that inspire a way of watching by individuals.

I’ll write more on this later (I’ve given talks on this at a bunch of art schools now, so the essay is imminent). What might be “porn” for you may not be porn for me (for example, did you masturbate to the Macy’s underwear catalog when you were a kid like I did? Or The Real World Season 2 whenever that blonde surfer dude came on?).

Until people get a handle on this, porn payouts will continue to decline, decline, decline, and at the same time drag performer wages, quality of experience, and producer integrity down with them.

And let’s not forget that all the while, anti-sex bigots and internet censorship dressed up as anti-porn legislation will keep coming at us.

Innovate happily, adapt, or die.

If you’re a producer, feel free to hire me to consult on this.

Anyway, here’s the article again. Hope you enjoy it.

***

fttFACING THE TORSOS

You’re at a gay bar with a group of searching, horny guys, and you’re talking to a bunch of them at once. “Pull your dick out,” you say to one of the cuter ones. He does, and it’s hard and good-looking. “Nice dick!” you say, naturally.

“Sup,” someone else says to you while you’re admiring it, but you don’t pay him much attention.

One of the guys in the group has been talking for a while, but he’s so boring that you turn your back on him mid-sentence and ignore him.

Just a few feet away is a guy who’s really attractive but doesn’t seem interested. You go up and say hello. When he doesn’t respond, you say hi again. Nothing. Well, you’ll see him again a few days later anyway, in the same spot, and you’ll say hello again.

But look, there’s that boring guy you turned your back on. Now that you know what it feels like to be ignored, you reluctantly say, “Sorry. I had a phone call.” Or whatever. Then you pick up the conversation right where you left off.

These are the absurd in-person equivalents of phone hookup apps like Scruff, Grindr, Mister, and Jack’d: brief hellos (“sup”), the trading of nude pics, the dance of expressing interest, dropping in and out of conversations, and picking up chats you abandoned days ago.

It’s obvious in the imagined bar above that our in-person behavior doesn’t mirror our behavior and expectations on the apps. But there’s a good deal more confusion as to how much of our behavior and expectations on the apps should mirror real life. This can be seen most clearly in the common declaration of many profiles: “I wouldn’t talk to someone without a head at a bar, so have a face pic.”

I don’t like when profiles don’t have face pics, and I wouldn’t talk to a headless person in life, either. But neither would I—at least for the most part—ask to see a guy’s dick at a bar and expect him to pull it out. And I wouldn’t suddenly stop talking to someone with no explanation. So there’s a tension and confusion between how much “real life” we’re supposed to enact on these apps. This is, in part, because when we download an app, we don’t just download the standard features, we download a narrative.

The narrative we’re sold is a nice one, and sometimes it plays out: You create a profile, you chat with guys, you meet in person and fuck or even go on a date. I’ve had the good fortune of having this happen, but that’s not what usually happens. Just last night I was on Scruff while in bed, facing the gay man’s dilemma of too-horny-to-sleep-but-too-tired-to-go-out-and-get-some. Typical. With my phone hand, I was scrolling through pics, and with my other hand, I was casually and lazily playing with myself. I talked to a few guys, unlocked my photos, jerked off, and called it a night. Also typical.

Masturbation cued me in, as it has more than a few times, to something valuable: These apps are geared not specifically toward sex but toward stimulation, masturbation, and desire. Put another way, hookup apps are pornography—individualized, participatory pornography.

As a porn actor, I’ve been hearing fearful noises from porn studios and misguided journalists for years now, bemoaning how porn isn’t as lucrative as it once was. While a lot of these concerns are aimed at the internet, what’s overlooked is that a lot of our sexual attention is being diverted to our devices and hookup apps. Instead of writing about how apps compete with bars, we should be looking at how apps are dovetailing with other forms of sexual imagery. Because the substance of these apps isn’t hooking up—it’s browsing. All the traditional elements of porn are there, and more. By creating a profile, we agree to put ourselves on display. Many of the photos we post are borderline pornographic, even if they’re “G-rated.” They’re chest pics or pics of us looking seductive, or they’re goofy because we’ve sexualized goofiness. Exhibitionism is part of the agreement of these apps. We turn ourselves into desirable objects for others to look at.

Meanwhile, we’re voyeurs, looking into everyone’s little windows. The interface is similar to the way we view porn now, not fixating on one scene until we come but flipping through scenes—bringing up the next and the next until we find the one we want to stick with. The ability to chat with the person whose image you’re getting off to amplifies the individualization of the experience. While I’m looking at someone’s dick, I’m also wondering: Is he a top or a bottom? Does he like the same sexual acts as me? But it goes further than that—everyone on the app has access to what turns them on about personalities, too. Does he like the same movies? Is he into comic books? Will he wear that Thor helmet in his pic when he fucks me?

And the best thing is—unlike porn on the computer—we get to be on the screen, too, displaying ourselves to the other player.

But these encounters often do not lead to meeting. When you get to the point of hooking up, the person you think you’re about to hook up with disappears. Or the person says, “I’m busy.” Or you call it off because you don’t feel like cleaning out your butt or going all the way over to that neighborhood because that’s like a 20- minute walk!

And of course, there’s the possibility that the person in the photo is not who he seems to be, that he’ll look different than his photos, or that maybe he’s expecting too much from you.

So instead of meeting up, the next step is turning the app off (or leaving it on) and masturbating. After the interaction has, um, come and gone, you “star” or “favorite” a guy’s profile and revisit the scene again—like a replay, only better.

With apps, we create living pornography on the spot; they embody exhibitionism and voyeurism par excellence. They’re portable, they’re accessible when we want them to be (in your office! In the Starbucks bathroom!), they’re not one-way like much live cam porn, they’re not expensive, and everyone who signs up is agreeing to the same basic premises.

Some features are even optimized for the pornographic experience. The Global feature on Scruff, for example, allows you to engage in chatting and pic sharing without the promise of an encounter. If the person you’re talking to lives in Papua New Guinea and you live in Chicago, you’re probably not getting it in anytime soon. In other words, the Global feature presents a more realistic expectation of what’s probably going to happen when we sign on.

This kind of realistic expectation can help save us from becoming dependent on these new technologies or trapped in the nervous energy that propels them. We’ve all seen people at bars staring into their phones, chatting up the very same sorts of guys they feel unable to approach in person. When we use the apps too frequently or depend on the narrative we’re sold—one of meeting rather than browsing—it can become a crutch and diminish our skill sets for approaching others. We all know someone (or may be someone) who checks his apps constantly or inappropriately. I’m guilty of saying hi to someone via app when he’s sitting four tables away from me at the coffee shop (embarrassingly, he didn’t respond even as I watched him check his phone).

If we can see most of our time on these apps for what it is, we can access the apps’ potential. Seeing the apps as pornographic allows us to interact with our desires rather than try to approximate in-person experiences. Engaging in—rather than just receiving—personalized sexual imagery can afford a degree of healthy detachment through which we can explore the contours of what gets us off. Right now, because the apps are clinging only to the prepackaged narrative, their potential isn’t yet realized. Not expecting our devices and apps to approximate the same experiences we have via in-person contact will let us drop real-time expectations for them. Then we can face the torsos, whether they have faces or not.

 

 

Write Better

12 Nov

wbWRITING COACHING

Hello, writers and writer-to-be! I’ve been a writing teacher for almost fifteen years now; helping writers meet their goals, improve their voices, and create sustainable writing practices. Since 2007, I’ve been offering one-on-one writing coach services, and I kept hearing from people that they wanted concentrated courses, editing services, and more. So I decided to up my game as a teacher and re-created my entire practice.

Now you can hire me by signing up for my writing coach packages:

Writing Life: From Page to Publication in Six Weeks for Your Personal Essay and Nonfiction Article

and

8 Weeks To Becoming A (Better) Writer

You can also hire me for a Writer’s AssessmentCritical Editing, and a service that includes everything, One-on-one Writing CoachingI’m also an experienced script doctor and offer Script Elevation services on select-client basis.

For more info on any of these packages or services, click here.

About Me

I’m a prolific and widely-published author and have over a decade experience as a writing teacher. I’ve helped clients get their work published in nationally-recognized publications, prepare scripts for production on stage, make money off their work, polish their screenplays, create regularly updated and respected blogs, kickstart their writing careers, and more!

My writing appears and is featured in/on:  The Stranger, Vice, Salon, Slate, The Advocate, The Rumpus, Headmaster Magazine and more.  I’m a member of PEN American and my work has been anthologized many times, including in Best Sex Writing 2013 (Cleis Press), Best Gay Stories 2012 (Lethe Press), and more. I was awarded the Distinguished Teaching Award as a writing professor at the University of Massachusetts, and the Harvey Swados Prize in fiction writing. I’m an internationally recognized public figure who has given dozens of talks at universities and organizations, from Amherst College to the Museum of Modern Art in New York, from the Rudolf Steiner Social Finance organization to University of Green Bay Wisconsin.

I’m also a nice guy with a wealth of knowledge backing up my practice, and we’ll have a comfortable and fun experience. I’ll read your work and challenge you in constructive ways without hurting your feelings or sugarcoating anything. You’ll feel encouraged and excited to write more.

Please contact me to get started or with any questions you have at connerwrites at gmail dot com.

Facing the Present Moment: Quote&Special Offer #1

7 Jul

Every few days, I’m going to post a quote and a special offer related to my 4-Session online course, The Culture of the Current: A Workshop for Facing the World We Live in Now. The course has a limited amount of space and is mostly a labor of love and excitement on my part. I want to work with interested and motivated people on the problems of the present moment. Today’s quote is by cultural theorist Franco “Bifo” Berardi. The special offer is below the quote.

FBB

“Today psychopathy reveals itself ever more clearly as a social epidemic…

If you want to survive you have to be competitive and if you want to be competitive you must be connected, receive and process continuously an immense and growing mass of data. This provokes a constant attentive stress…

(the effect is) devastation on the individual psyche: depression, panic, anxiety, the sense of solitude and existential misery. But these individual symptoms cannot be indefinitely isolated, as psychopathology has done up until now and as economic power wishes to do. It is not possible to say: ‘You are exhausted, go and take a vacation at Club Med, take a pill, make a cure, get the hell away from it all, recover in the psychiatric hospital, kill yourself.’ It is no longer possible, for the simple reason that it is no longer a matter of a small minority of crazies or a marginal amount of depressives. It concerns a growing mass of existential misery that is tending always more to explode in the center of the social system.”

– FRANCO “BIFO” BERARDI, from Precarious Rhapsody

SPECIAL OFFER: EXCLUSIVE WRITING

  1. Sign up for The Culture of the Current by Saturday, July 9 at 12:00AM PST
  2. Send an email to connerhabibsocial [at] gmail.com with the subject “FBB” and I’ll send you two exclusive personal essay vignettes about isolation. No one else has these; they haven’t yet appeared anywhere in publication.

Sex Before Life (Life Superlives: On the Origins of Sex, Part 4)

9 Apr

This is the final entry in a series of short essays about the origins of sex, inspired by my mentor, the biologist and geoscientist Lynn Margulis,  one of my favorite philosophers, Michel Serres.

Part3 was about the the ultimate sexual merger: Symbiosis.

“Life superlives.”

– Michel Serres

RNALife Superlives: On the Origins of Sex, Part 4

Sex Before Life

We end this series with a story from before the beginning.

Once upon a time,

biology tells us,

Before bacteria…

Before the superliving hypersex of symbiosis…

Before life…

the Earth was teeming with bonds of sugars, phosphates, and nitrogenous substances.

These bonds, or ribonucleic acid (RNA), huddled into themselves, and stretched their ways throughout the surface of the planet.

For these molecules, language was form. When they encounter each other, they strained to understand each other through strange acts of translation. They wrapped themselves up into each other, and this act of language, this braiding of being, created new forms.

A mysterious correspondence: an exchange of material, packed with meaning. This was the exuberant world full of RNA, and this was the birth of sex.

This story provides us with a new and sideways answer to the old question of chicken and egg. Did two chickens having sex make the fertilized egg from which another chicken sprung?

Or did the first chicken spring from a pre-existing egg?

When we look into the origins of sex, we discover an unexpected truth.

Q. Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

A. Sex.

chknegg

Sources

Margulis, Lynn and Dorion Sagan. Microcosmos: Four Billion Years of Microbial Evolution. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997.

Margulis, Lynn and Dorion Sagan. Origins of Sex: Three Billion Years of Genetic Recombination. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1990.

Margulis, Lynn and Dorion Sagan. What Is Sex? New York: Simon and Schuster, 1998.

Serres, Michel. Variations on the Body. Minneapolis: Univocal, 2012.

The Orgy Against Identity (Life Superlives: On the Origins of Sex, Part 2)

18 Mar

This is the second in a short series of essays about the origins of sex, inspired by my mentor, the biologist and geoscientist Lynn Margulis,  one of my favorite philosophers, Michel Serres.

Part 1 was about the first stirrings of sex, with the Sun as a sexual partner. Part 2 is about the constant orgy of life.

“Life superlives.”

– Michel Serres

HB

Life Superlives: On the Origins of Sex, Part 2

The Orgy Against Identity

Life threads through the world, not just living, but superliving, creating more life and more possibilities for what life can be. Every individual has within itself the potential to change, utterly, all potentials.

First, bacteria and the Sun embraced over vast distances, and created sex. After sex was created, different forms of sex were possible.

Bacterial sex can take the form of gene-swapping on a “lateral” level. In other words, genes flow freely from bacterium to bacterium, breaking from an initial host and finding their way into another.

If this happened in humans, “…a man with red hair and freckles might wake up, after a swim with a brunette and her dog, with brown hair and floppy ears.”

Because of their freely exchanged genes, bacteria are engaged in the largest and most continuous orgy of all time.

Or maybe it’s microscopic self-love. It depends on how you define bacterial species:

“(Since) all strains of bacteria can potentially share all bacterial genes, then  strictly speaking, there are no true species in the bacterial world. All bacteria are one  organism,one entity capable of genetic engineering on a planetary or global scale.”

Look closely at the world, and you will see that life defies scale: Are the tiniest organisms really just the largest organism alive, spreading across the planet and into its pores, a giant body with infinite organs? Life superlives.

In another form of bacterial sex, conjugation, a “donor” bacterium transfers genetic material into a “recipient.” The ordinary terms are biological sex — “male” and “female” — are useless in the underlying current of life: hen the donor transfers its genetic material to the recipient, it loses its donor characteristics, and the recipient receives them. Bacteria fuck their identities into each other.

Look closely, again, at the world. You will see the slippage of identity.

pool

Next up: Sex and hypersex.

Sources

Margulis, Lynn and Dorion Sagan. Microcosmos: Four Billion Years of Microbial Evolution. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997.

Margulis, Lynn and Dorion Sagan. Origins of Sex: Three Billion Years of Genetic Recombination. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1990.

Margulis, Lynn and Dorion Sagan. What Is Sex? New York: Simon and Schuster, 1998.

Serres, Michel. Variations on the Body. Minneapolis: Univocal, 2012.