The Orgasm of Art
by Ruwan Meepagala Nov 5, 2013
Art used to make no sense to me. I couldn’t figure it out as I could with most things. In college I took the most logical class to fulfill my art requirement—photography. Certainly there was formula to formatting, method to lighting, and a manipulation of hues than would create the ideal photograph. I can figure that out, I thought.
For the first project, I photograph trees. I spend hours systemizing the perfect lighting formula. In my presentation I talk about the impeccable contrast. I get a D. For the next project, I figured I didn’t do enough photoshopping. I capture hundreds of photos of clouds and stay in the lab editing all weekend. I present and talk about the stunningly vibrant hues. Another D. I decide that if there was a formula to art, I was far from cracking it. By my final photo project, I have given up. I take a single mugshot of my roommate and split the photo in two and submit it. I present by telling a long dramatized story about the emotionality of his left face vs. the logical right face. I get an A plus. Dumbfounded, I deduce that art quality is completely arbitrary and subjective and must just depend on how well you can bullshit a story around it. Case closed.
Fast forward to the Fill Up America Fundraising Talent Show a few days ago where I recite a poem. I reopen the mental file when a fellow OMer tells me that she almost cried at “that moment” in my reading. I say, “Thank you,” then rush to my mental laboratory to understand what she means. I know from OM that crying, or any involuntary response, occurs when a person reaches high levels of sensation. I have to figure out what I did and how to recreate it! Was it that I spoke in present tense? Was it something I did with my eyes? My sentence fragments? What made that moment evoke feeling in her? What makes a string of vocal sounds art versus explanation? What's the formula?
Then it hits me in the gut. The moment she referred to was unquestionable. We both knew it because we felt it. What made that one moment “that moment” was the sensation it carried. There was nothing special about the words or gestures. They were just there to carry the sensation. Similar to in an OM, there is not perfect speed, pressure, or location. The “perfect stroke” is the one that allows the most sensation to come through in the given moment. No stroke, whether by paintbrush or lubed finger, can be recreated. As in OM, so in art.
All we are ever doing is transmitting sensation to each other. Once you learn to feel, that transmission is the only thing that matters in communication. Laughter and tears, contractions and ejaculate, the involuntary response to an infusion of sensation often is some form of spasm and secretion. The artist is a sender of sensation, a stroker, who with the resonant stroke can enter said involuntary with the audience. Every comedian says that humor is all about timing. The words of a joke do no more than seize the mind while the joke teller strokes us to involuntary contractions. Paintings, photos, music, spoken word, stroking pussy; they are all just ways to feel each other. The medium of art is simply a medium--that is, the intervening substance that allows the transmission of sensation through the space between beings.There is no formula to art, and there is no formula to orgasm. At best you can follow the sensation to paint the resonant stroke that allows others to feel it too. In a twisted way, my original assessment that “the quality of art just depends on the story you put around it” did have some truth to it. Stories themselves are art. The reading of poetry is itself poetry. The medium of the transmission doesn't matter. You can only “get” it when you feel it. OM has given me that ability to feel such transmission and finally make sense of art. Art is sense being made and it can only be sensed, not synthesized. Make sense?