An Experimodern Coda To Human Sexuality


JOE: He shoved his cock inside me and humped me, three times. Then he turned me over, like a sack of potatoes. Then he humped me five times in the arse...

SELIGMAN: ...Three and five, those are fibonacci numbers...

Nymphomaniac Vol. I(Von Trier, 2013)

In 1966, an experiment was carried out to see if classical conditioning could be used to condition a boot fetish.

Three male students were selected who responded with some degree of erection when shown slides of sexually provocative women. A picture of a pair of black knee-length female boots, which did not evoke such a response, was then shown to each subject immediately before the pin-ups. This procedure was repeated eighteen times during each of several sessions. According to the theory of conditioning, the neutral stimulus of the boots should in time become associated with the reward provided by the pin-ups. This is what happened, since after thirty or so pairings, each of the subjects began to respond with erections to the boots”. (Cashmore, Mullan, 1983, p. 53)

This technique, coupled with experimodern music procedures may allow us a way to gain back our sexual agency and take back control of our desire. We can behaviourally condition ourselves to become aroused by any object or idea. When combined with the type of random procedures pioneered by Cage, we can create a sexuality whose randomness catapults us out of the predictable, and forms a radically reconfigured psychosexual nexus for the basis of our art, preventing the incoming ontological crisis of indeterminacy and improvisation.30

This gaining hold of our sexuality is much more than simply the creation of a new sexual practice, such as “iFondling”31, which is ultimately only the articulation of a technological fetishism and the technological abstraction of an existing practice of analogue fondling and sexting, not a paradigm shift in the construction of desire itself. Similarly “fountaining”32 or “hipping”33, though extreme, are simply the age-old mixture of sex, pain and violence.34

Although the set-theoretical, combinatoric and aleatoric techniques that produced much of the experimodern music of the twentieth century have now reached a point of exhaustion (audible in the deepsighs and apathetic smatterings of polite hand flagellation following performances of most new works), they may be of use in combating the encroachment of Big Data on human agency. Even as we design more sophisticated models for our music, 20th Century Music's retirement is into our lives.

The manipulation of our behaviour that will occur as the amount of data about us increases, and themodels for it become more sophisticated, could be countered by using randomness and formalism to provide anomalies in the data, skewing the data, and thus, the models. But, more importantly, this is a randomness and formalism that we choose to introduce.

An imperviousness to the encroachment of Big Data can come from the addition of randomness and formalism on two levels: Firstly, the introduction of anomalies into the data at the point of collection to skew it and prevent our behaviour from being quantified. Secondly, the introduction of randomness and formalism into life at the level of living itself. Through the application of these types of techniques from experimodern music, we provide a framework of structure and controlled randomness that insulates us from possible manipulations of our behaviour, as we have already constrained it under a system of our design. This is the composition of life – an idea far more profound than another fucking solo piano piece.

30 Gramsci understood the connection between sexuality and the creation of work – I have a further elaboration on these ideas in the essay What Is New About New Fordismin The New Fordist Manifesto, found on pages 10-22 here: []

31 A sexual practicein which someone uses their cameraphone to take a picture of their hand and send it to somebody else, who will then send back a photo of the part of their body they would want that hand to touch – this dynamic is repeated multiple times, typically becoming more explicit each time.

32 “Fountaining” is a technique whereby a woman lies naked on a bed placed in the centre of a large room, whilst her partner runs as fast as possible around her for several minutes. When her partner's heart-rate and blood-pressure is at maximum a small incision is cut in one of their arteries, causing a high-pressured fountain of blood to eject, which is then directed onto the woman's clitoris.

33 The extreme sexual practice of cutting open the leg, un-connecting of the top of the femur from the hip-bone and the use of any orifice as a new acetabulum.

34 A violence which has musical implications, as research as shown that people who acted in physical synchrony with each other were more statistically more likely to engage in aggressive behaviour, and destructive behaviour at the behest of authority figures (Wiltermuth, 2011, 2012). Seeing as physical synchrony is present in both music making and sexual intercourse, this could help explain each's inherent violence.