I know this will sound weird but I get turned on by the oddest things. But the day I discovered it was real was when I read a book by Turkish writer Orhan Parmuk called My Name is Red. It is perhaps true that I have never reached such levels of ecstatic excitement while reading (or in relationship to a body) anything else before and since. Mind you, My Name is Red is not at all an erotic novel on the contrary. It is mostly but not only about art and discipline and vice versa.
The Guardian newspaper’s Hywel Williams describes it as a philosophical thriller constructed around the clash between two world civilizations, east and west. So I got turned on by something as dry as 15th Century Ottoman art something which I had never showed an interest in before. This experience was quite shocking to me. I was aroused by a book. By words which created images that led me to experience physical sensations in places I had never imagined existed before in my life. Places which in some ways still do not exist. But which I found through the book existed in me already, which is how I could just go there, dive in, and soak in every texture, hue and taste. It was like getting a gentle beautiful massage on your cerebral Cortex. (Head massages turn me on too, no pun intended).
I was gushing over it the morning after the night before in the office one day when a friend and colleague asked to borrow it. I gladly gave her the book imagining all the amazing orgasms she would experience as a result. When she said nothing I asked her how it was going with the book a few weeks later and she rolled her eyes and said “argh, I couldn’t get in to it, I found it boring!”
To say I was a little disappointed would be an understatement. My multiple orgasms were to my friend like watching paint dry (to her defence the book is about miniature art/ists so “watching paint dry” was a huge part of the book).
But I had to face the fact that just because this book threw me into the throes of absolute pleasure, caused earthquakes, tsunamis, sunshine, rain and hurricanes whose physical pleasure was so great it was painful – storms which moved me beyond my wildest dreams, didn’t mean that another person would have the exact same experience. So there was no point in even asking her why, because the person didn’t even bother to continue reading the whole book, there was no time. We could never have a discussion about art, philosophy and history because it was not their cup of tea (at the time), so we talked about something else we had in common instead, something which was of interest to both of us, work. Since then I have never recommended the book to anyone or spoken about it until now. Incidentally the book which was published in 1998 and translated into English in 2001, contributed to Orhan Parmuk being awarded a Nobel Peace Prize for literature in 2006, so I feel slightly vindicated.
Of course I didn’t just ‘come” on the first page. I had to take my time reading the book, getting to know the characters, the terrain, a lot of it was unfamiliar and completely new to me so I had to exercise a lot of patience. It was not a specific scene or page that finally lit my fire. It was a gradual process, each turn of the page was like someone gently stoking a fire, blowing hot air on my coals, making them warmer and warmer until they were sizzling hot and boiling over, like hot molten lava. The process was repeated again and again throughout the book until I was left panting with an insatiable desire for more. It was like the Suns heat penetrating every pore and open crevice in my body and forcing me to voluntarily peel of layers of clothing soaked in sweat. Every part of me yearned to be naked. To be devoured.
I have read hundreds of books since. But this one –left me feeling so high on pleasure and happiness, nothing mattered. Of course the subject matter was not always gay. There was a lot of deception, betrayal, murder, death, witch-hunts etc. I suppose the way the story was told was magical to me. It was like downing a huge glass of Ambrosia!
Other things which have (and can) turned me on include: a voice which when I first heard it sounded as if it came straight from my own heart and travelled through the other persons’ vocal chords so I could hear it. Like an echo, from someone whose face I had never seen. It was an incredible sensation to feel so viscerally connected to someone I hadn’t even met. Listening to said voice felt like my heart was speaking to me. Smiles: the way a smile lights up someone’s face is such a fascination for me, I could stare at people who are smiling all day. It feels like such a miracle to me that people smile and can smile with such ease. I often feel quite awkward about smiling, I end up making faces instead of smiling because I feel less vulnerable that way. So people who can smile effortlessly, they turn me on. Laughter: Beautiful laughter is erotic for me. I grew up in a family which could laugh the whole night and still wake up laughing, they knew how to laugh with such abandon and lyricism, and they could laugh until they cried which was often. Laughter does something to me when I hear it, and I often laugh too just because people are laughing without even knowing what’s funny. My own laugh sounds rather awkward, worse than when I smile, it sounds forced no matter how genuine it is so sometimes I laugh at the sound of my own laughter. The more I hear it, the more it makes me laugh! Silence: is attractive to me, someone who is still within themselves, someone who is confident is a huge turn on for me. But not in the arrogant, bullish, I’m the worlds’ greatest Mohammed Ali way, but more in a reserved way for lack of a better word. Someone who is confident without the need to shout about it, gets my juices going. A challenge: if someone says to me you can’t, that turns me on, because then of course I must do it! But the one thing, one major turn on which is what what made the experience of reading My Name is Red so orgasmic and satisfying is this: Patience! Oh My God! The word also means: self-restraint. Composure. Equanimity. Kindness. Consideration and understanding.
In other words, Time.
This quality wakes me up anytime. anywhere. All the time. As to the rest, we’ll just have to see how it goes…
PS: Thank you for choosing me!
Pictured: Jedi at the exact moment in time when she realized she wanted to be (with) someone who had all the time in the world to love.Sign is in Afrikaans, English translation: HeLP! MUST MARRY. I’m laughing at myself as you read!