Currently reading : You’re One Orgasm Away From Sanity
Nature has placed mankind under the governance of two sovereign masters, pain and pleasure.
The preoccupation of conforming to either of these powers reaffirms the binary relationship between them. Whereby the existence of pleasure at any given moment decreases the existence of pain and vice versa. Considering them as one, allows for a varied response to the states of play and torture. Pain as a state of sexual pleasure is a well-documented phenomena; bodies reveling in the limitations opposed by the tools of inhibition no longer instills fear into the hearts and minds of the ordinary. Sexual pleasure as a cure for pain is lesser known and unlike the former is often categorized as a short lived chemical experience, wherein the release of oxytocin promotes a sense of calm and a state of well-being. Wilhelm Reich (1897-1957) the Austrian psychoanalyst was famed for developing methods to harness the powers of pleasure and he preoccupied himself with the functionality of sexual satisfaction.
In his book The Function of the Orgasm (1927) he concluded that ‘there is only one thing wrong with the neurotic patients: the lack of full and repeated sexual satisfaction.’ To Reich sexual repression could be shed and a ‘genital utopia’ could liberate and revolutionize the masses. It was always a question of geniality, but not of impulsion as he has so often been misread in advocating. It was not about ‘free sexual expression’ and ‘obeying the impulses’ of desire, nor about constant masturbation or sexual gratification, it was about realising an individual morality or what Reich termed, a ‘non-natural existence.’
It was believed that ‘natural’ morals are concerned with the following values; sex is desirable if one is with a partner they love, promiscuity and perversion are insipid and pornography is repulsive. A non-natural or individually self-regulated sexual existence relies on the reliance of copious orgasms as a gateway to health and freedom. The orgasm provides energy that enables a healthy existence. The process behind the libido, unlike Freud’s thinking on the matter, was believed by Reich to be a real energy and not just a working hypothesis. The power was held back in the muscular armor of the body, where the hopeful discharge of this tension harnessed ‘the climax’ – a balance between health and pleasure.
The severity of every form of psychic illness is directly related to the severity of the genital disturbance.
The prospects of cure and the success of the cure are directly dependent upon the possibility of establishing the capacity for full genital gratification.
Reich moved to America, having caused a sexual revolution in both Vienna and Berlin, before the Nazis who deemed it a ‘conspiracy to undermine European culture’ crushed it. Soon after his move he invented the Orgone Energy Accumulator, a pre-packaged ‘orgasmic potent’ wooden telephone box that was lined with metal and insulated with steel wood. On entering the device, ‘orgone energy’ which circulates in the atmosphere is harnessed from the universe. These currents could dissolve repression, illness and treat cancer. Used by counterculture figureheads including J. D. Salinger, Norman Mailer and William Burroughs – who was said to have had experienced a spontaneous orgasm within, was further fuelled by Woody Allen whom parodied the device in the movie Sleeper nicknaming it the ‘Orgasmatron’.
The conservatives failed to accept the sexual freedom that Reich offered and his fore fronting of pleasure; promiscuous sex was seen as a current of chaos and rebellion. Reich’s life was plagued by the system he so desperately tried to rid himself from; he was under surveillance from the US government, inundated with FDA investigations and later on in his life talks grew of his paranoia. However all this did not stop the establishment of a sexual openness that opposed the existing system of sexual production and consumption. The Orgone Energy Accumulator offered its users an opportunity to release their tension and suppression through the power of pleasure. It heightened the experience of pleasure and more importantly offered awareness that it could be harnessed into energy for not only the health of society, but for the benefit of the individual. Although its obvious health benefits were apparent it was often parodied. A device similar to the Orgone Energy Accumulator was used as a torture device, as seen in Roger Vadim’s ‘Barbarella’ (1968), where Jane Fonda is put under extreme duress by the powers of pleasure in the hope that it would end with her death.
Death by pleasure, seems an absurd concept to those seek out pleasure through the repeated action of the orgasm. Fuck them till they can no longer stand – yes, fuck them till they can no longer breathe – less so. The perpetual desire to pleasure oneself or another, in this case, was used as a panacea; an overall solution for societal woes and to rid the masses of overbearing ideals.
The one that sacrifices is free to indulge.
Frustrated desires, passion turns into isolation, an inability to unveil the true natures of our most intimate companions.
This dissolve seizes the subject in a midst of bliss.
Liberating impulses, arouses the human spirit, ravishes the senses more, and horrifies more, than provokes terror.