Circulation of Technology, Circulation of Desire. Cybersex and the “Sadian Collective Intellectual”

Renato Stella

Abstract


Abstract: Cybersex represents a particular, distinctive form of sexuality. Computer mediation enables the hic et nunc to be suspended thanks to processes such as deindividuation, self-disclosure and visual anonymity. These characteristics allow individuals to develop fantasies that recall the worlds explored by Sade’s universes in much the same way, i.e. through narrative practices. The article addresses these questions by presenting data coming from an ethnographic empirical research based on online sexual activities. Borrowing from the works of Akim Bay and Pierre Levy, the article introduces the concept of “Sadian collective intellectual” in order to interpret the evolution of extreme sexual interactions over the Internet. On the basis of this empirical data, the article argues that the use of technological platforms such as chat rooms amplifies the circulation of extreme sexual imaginaries and leads to the formation of microcommunities around them. Internet also enables the construction and circulation of symbolic material to be used in exploring and activating “extreme” desire. By means of this circulation, the boundaries between real and virtual are reshaped by those who define themselves as “amoral”, “perverted”, “evil”, the protagonists of narrations of rape, incest and violence. As in the relationship between Sade and the objects of his compositions, desire and pleasure can only exist in the absence of the other party.

Keywords: cybersex; chat rooms; Sade; collective intellectual; temporary libertine zones.


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