Four Pillars of Eroticism

Morin outlines four cornerstones of eroticism that speak to the foundational types of conditions and situations that we might find erotic. The first is longing and anticipation. In this case, the attraction must overcome the obstacle of distance, space, and time. In the waiting, the erotic charge builds, creating heightened intensity when that obstacle is finally overcome. The second is violating prohibitions. A societal norm prohibits two beings from being together. Think Romeo and Juliet. The obstacle is the prohibition itself, the fact that society, culture, or a powerful person/group of people considers the attraction wrong, dangerous, or shameful. And then what happens to the object of desire? It seems even more desirable! The third cornerstone is power dynamics. Let’s face it. Power differentials are hot. Teacher/student. Doctor/nurse. Coach/player. Eroticism thrives on the inherent tension present in a relationship with a power differential. Last is overcoming ambivalence. The experience of disagreement with or even dislike of someone else might inspire enough tension to fuel erotic desire. Have you ever had passionate sex after a fight with your partner? Yea. That feeling is overcoming ambivalence.