What holds the key to desire? In an age of instant gratification and constant communication, with sex virtually at our fingertips, moments of mystery feel hard to come by and easy to bypass. Yet scientists suggest that the most powerful dopamine kick can take place in the anticipatory stages, when the neurochemistry of romantic potential runs high. So how can we draw on these moments of longing, of savouring the before, of almost-touching to achieve transcendence? By exploring the erotic poetics of language — from famous love letters over untranslatable words to sexting— I discovered the ways in which the human imagination shapes desire, and learnt that a little yearning in life and love goes a long way.
Aimed at the more discerning gourmand, Edible Pleasures is a cultural and culinary romp through the history of aphrodisiacs. Written in three parts the first titled How an Appetite is formed explores how and why universally, culturally and historically food and love have become intertwined.
That season is once again upon us when we find ourselves shivering in the damp embrace of the weather, which sputters over our spectacles and dribbles down our necks like an elderly maiden aunt.
At one point in December, about a month after I had moved to the tiny office run by this black-hearted publishing concern, I had gone for one of my lengthy walks around the pier at midday when I got a call from the Ely office to say that the CEO of the House had turned up unexpectedly at the office in London and wanted to know why I wasn’t there. I gave an excuse and made haste back to my post. Once I arrived on the 33rd floor, I was accosted by a tall, young Indian man dressed in an outrageous polyester suit that was so shiny I could see my face in it, iridescent gold trainers, and was wearing shades that shielded his eyes (even indoors and in December).
It is difficult, and probably unnecessary, to describe the existential panic that descends on you once you are cast loose from university to fend for yourself in the adult world. In my case, the general misery that descends with the realisation that you are going to have to be responsible for your own fuck-ups from now on was compounded with a series of personal crises. In a pinch, I accepted a job offer from a friend to be a housekeeper in Colorado for a couple of months, and then spent the rest of the year Kerouacking about the Americas, taking a sabbatical from reality and generally putting off sorting my life out for a little while. I applied for a few postgrad places but didn’t get close to getting in anywhere thanks to my fluffed Finals results, and returned to the UK in the Summer of ’17 to try and blaze some path as a freelance journalist/editorialist/content writer/lion tamer/any old busybody in the London literary scene, more as a default than a last resort.
Some while past, and putting a novel spin on the phrase ‘green fingered’, a close friend of mine declared a rare passion for vegetables: she informed me that she had adopted the humble courgette as her preferred masturbatory contrivance. I say humble – in truth it was generally a courgette with much to pride itself upon, firm, thick and of a goodly length.
My new show Dr Carnesky’s Incredible Bleeding Woman creates erotically charged bodily rituals as performance activism. Cyclical, monthly rituals that tune into the phases of the moon. In fact, it’s specifically about reinventing menstrual rituals. If you think that’s a bit icky or new age and not sexy or activist please read on, so I can challenge your ideas about women and blood, theatrical spectacle, red lipstick and changing the world.
My life at the moment can be summed up alliteratively by two words - fasting and fucking. Honestly, the health kick trend of not eating seems to ignite the root chakra or something. All that energy normally spent on digesting food has to go somewhere. The result is a paradoxical union of the transcendent and the profane.
More often than not, the story of Héloïse and Abélard is hurled onto the same stockpile of ‘star-crossed lovers’ to which Juliet, Troilus, Mélisande and Pyramus belong. Admittedly it has all the conventional elements of a tragic romance: a philosopher and his student fall in love; the girl’s uncle opposes; they marry in secret; the girl bears a child; the philosopher is brutally castrated; faced with no other option they both enter religious orders, while exchanging passionate letters to the end of their lives. A heady mix of piety and illicit desire, guilt and fury, it appears good enough, if not too good, for stage and screen.