Sunday, January 13, 2008

Narrating the Sensual Senses

In real life we are bombarded daily with sensations: sound, sight, smell, taste, touch. In SL we are a bit more limited. All we have is the visual (our avatars and animations) and verbal (chat and IM) for expressing ourselves--although happily that verbal is sometimes now audio (second life voice is live) as well as text. But without the sensation of touch, the ability to run fingertips over skin, to let lips connect, to feel the pleasure of orgasm and ejaculation, how can sex in SL be as gratifying as that in real life? For some it can't. For those, however, who are willing to let their imaginations go, there is a a remarkable wealth of sensations that can be described and thus imagined along with the physical release that comes from the mutual masturbation that accompanies SL sex.

Think about it. Some of the most remarkable pleasures of a sexual relationship are not in the end product: orgasm, but rather are those small things that trigger imagination and desire. The warmth and strength of a holding lover's hand in yours carries with it the memory every hand that you have ever held, from the security of the parent's hand when you were a child to that first daring time you touched a member of the opposite (or same) sex, to the fingers of the most desired lover you can't forget. When you describe twining your fingers with those of your SL partner--describe the way your fingers slide into his, describe feeling the strength of his hand that could crush yours yet holds you with a touch as light as a butterfly--you evoke the memories he carries as well as your own. We connect best in SL when those memory patterns overlap, when both partners have the same sort of pleasurable memories to draw on. Another way of saying this is that you must be willing or able to connect on some inner levels with your partner. Know what he likes and dislikes.

Take scents for instance. Scents are remarkable triggers of memory. Lavender always reminds me of my grandmother, pleasant memories, but not conducive to romance. Jasmine, however, makes me feel sexy, exotic. I can trigger either scent in my own brain by its description, by merely naming it. No olfactory stimulation necessary. So if I tell my lover that I love the way he smells, like cinnamon and deep woods, and when I tell him that if he buries his face in my hair I will smell of oranges and jasmine, I am triggering my own memories of certain sexy men's colognes, of cooking in a kitchen with a lover, and of my own sexual identity.

He, too, has to on some level, think of those as sexy agreeable scents and also be able to imagine them. If he has never smelled jasmine he might be able to as least conjure an image of flowers and connect that to a romantic moment. But if cinnamon reminds him of pumpkin pie and Christmas and family things, that might not be the frame of reference I want to evoke for a truly lusty encounter. The important thing is to listen to what your lover is saying, pay attention to how he responds to your descriptive moments in IM or voice. Don't get so carried away by your own narrative that you forget to listen to what he is saying and especially what he is responding to!

If you can flesh out the narrative, clearly describing what the sights, scents, tastes, and touches of your lovemaking are, and encourage (by example) your partner to do the same . . . SL sex can be as good as (even if different from) RL sex.

--originally posted at Diary of a Second Life Courtesan by Tsai Jie--

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