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Sex/Philosophy Symposium

Reflections and Meditations


Monday 1st April (9am - 5:30pm) @ Critical Path


What if theoretical investigation were truly to acknowledge its interest in the juicyness of lust? And what if sexual practices were informed without compromise by the philosophical values of rigor and close reading? By extreme attention to language, just as to what is unsaid and un-thought? 


After Xplore on Easter Monday, i.e., April 1st, we are planning at Critical Path a day of reflections and meditations with contributions from philosophers, theorists, academics, sex professionals and enthusiasts. This initiative is driven by the desire to foster a culture of thoughtful conversation about sexuality that is not divorced from, but remains linked to, direct physical and emotional experiences. 


This venture will lead to academic quality publications and other thought-provoking testimonies and texts. As important as it is to reconnect with our bodies and sexual exploration, at a certain point it is also necessary to reflect on what has happened, to think, to read, to listen, perhaps even to theorize, but in such a way that we remain connected to our feelings and our bodies. 


The cost for the day (10am-6pm) is $50. There will be no single session tickets at a reduced rate. (Support for the Sex/Philosophy Symposium has been offered by The Philosophy Research Initiative at the University of Western Sydney.)


Videos from the Symposium are available on vimeo for those who are interested. A book length manuscript based on the Symposium is currently in preparation.  



The Program 



Leading a Double Life and Exploring Integration 


Because of the stigmatization in our culture of many sexual, and in particular BDSM practices, many people feel compelled to create a second identity, a different name or persona, behind which they can hide or compartmentalize this aspect of their lives. While for familial or professional reasons this solution may seem to be an absolute necessity, it can also lead to painful compromises and inevitable deceptions. It is inevitably also a form of capitulation, which leaves society’s stigmatization of certain practices uncontested. In this session we will explore possibilities of integration of the different aspects of our lives: sexual, professional, familial. We will also look at the advantages and the costs of so doing.


Queer/Straight, is there an opposition? 


Is queerness a sub-culture of the gay and lesbian movement? Or does it reach out to effect and perhaps transform the so-called ‘straight’ culture? Who has the right to be called queer? And why has queerness become a label or identity that some people feel obliged to protect from being ‘co-opted’ by others? Xplore is one of the very rare spaces where queer identified people and non-queer identified people mix together to learn and share intimate experiences. This is something to celebrate, because it breaks down barriers of suspicion and distrust – but also it is a possibility for conflict and debate.  




When you do something you otherwise wouldn’t do for the sake of a return: this might be a good definition of prostitution. Following such a definition, prostitution would be something more and other than what is commonly called sex work. It would be something that nearly every one of us engages in one way or another whatever our profession. One could go so far as to say it is the very logic according to which our culture functions. We are constantly invited to expend our energies for the sake of a projected finality, an expected return (be it real or perceived). No doubt, this finality or return very often takes the form of money, but it might also be for example attention, status, security or love. In this session, we will ask without judgment about the ways in which we prostitute ourselves in our lives and we will explore ways in which it may be possible not to do so…or to do so a little less…


(We appreciate that the term prostitution has been used--and is still sometimes used--as a perjorative term to denigrate sex workers. It is in no way our intention to use the term in this way. We respect and affirm the right to do sex work and recognize sex workers as our colleagues in fostering a culture that is more educated and positive about sex.)


Professor Avital Ronell, New York University (live skype interview with Dr. Peter Banki)


Artist Garth Knight in discussion about his rope/nature installation at Xplore


Video of Choreographer Felix Ruckert in discussion about the Xplore Concept


Mistress Gala Vanting on Reinventing Pornography as a Commercial Genre


Doctor Matthew Del Nevo (Catholic Institute of Sydney) on Verdi and Tantra


Janet Hardy (author of the Ethical Slut and Girlfags: A Life Told in Sex and Musicals) on Queer/Straight: Is there an Opposition


Artist talk with Dasniya Sommer on shibari, art, gender and philosophy


Doctor Peter Banki (University of Western Sydney) (Symposium Organiser/Curator)




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