A Guide To: An Erotic State of Mind

A Guide To: An Erotic State of Mind


The concept of the erotic comes from the Greek word Eros, referring to the god of love. Eros symbolises a passion and desire for life and the living. Over the decades various scholars and dreamers have been inspired by the erotic and its potential to influence our lives.  

In 1978, the feminist poet, Audre Lorde wrote the essay titled ‘Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power.’ The essay aimed to disentangle eroticism from its cultural misuse and instead praises it as a ‘resource [that lies] within each of us.’ Lorde goes on to explain how the erotic has been wrongly associated with the pornographic that ‘emphasises sensation without feeling.’ Conversely, Lorde describes the erotic as ‘not a question only of what we do [but rather] a question of how acutely and fully we can feel in the doing.’  

Jonny is intrigued by this distinction between sensation and feeling. Sensation is triggered by external stimulation. Feelings/emotions grow from the wants and desires of your mind. Hence, by using our erotic knowledge, we can be directed to what truly makes us feel alive. We become empowered by our wants instead of settling for what we’re told that we want.

This concept is extended by Esther Perel, a trained psycho-sex therapist who endorses the idea of an erotic state of mind as a way to widen the realm of our senses to invite the world in. To be receptive, willing, open and responsive. By using our creativity to fantasize about an erotic experience our lives become framed from a point of wanting, which is something fully our own, rather than fruitlessly relying on others to want you.  

Embracing the erotic aides in the avoidance of being victimised by the versions of ourselves that have been created by the desires of others. In the book, ‘Play it as it Lays,’ Joan Didion writes ‘to run out of both desires and motives – the epitome of a generation made ill by too much freedom.’ However, maybe it’s not freedom that has made us ill, but a numbness caused by external overstimulation, the pornographic. Our minds have been overfed but undernourished and Perel argues that the remedy for such an illness is through engaging in eroticism enabling a ‘sense of aliveness, vibrancy, and vitality.’

Ways for nourishing our erotic selves:

  • Drown yourself in mulled, indulgent, and generous time where you prioritise long lunches, slow paced conversations over coffee, and daydreaming under a tree
  • Learn to re-engage with your five senses to keep your mind present
  • Explore your desires either with a partner, through porn, erotic novels, or journaling by asking yourself the questions I turn myself on when and I turn myself off when?
Finally, give yourself permission to do the things that make you feel good, own your wants. Expanding on this notion, Perel highlights that ‘in order to own something, there needs to be a sovereign self that is free to choose, and, of course, feels worthy of wanting and feels worthy of receiving.’ In other words, there is an intimate connection between the erotic and your self-worth.



Written By : Carrie Vanrensburg

Photography by Eric T. White