Orgasmic Femininity as a Gift from Gods to Women and Men

Iris is the messenger of Heaven, who restores peace in nature. She is the personification of the rainbow.

Iris represents the sudden onrush of artistic creativity, how it strikes the artist unawares. As with creation itself, one moment there is nothing, and in next there is something.

Iris is the only one that can penetrate the cave of Hypnos, god of sleep, to give him a message without being overtaken by sleep.

Rodin’s “Iris, Messenger of the Gods” is more than a provocation that presents obscene female genitals to the viewer’s face. The violence of the movement that cuts the body in two, the stiff right arm stuck to the leg in spasms, the left arm cut off like the head, and the raised left foot, which seems to serve as a support for climax – or flight – possesses a grace dissolving the borders between heaven and hell.
Julia Kristeva, “Hatred and Forgiveness”, Columbia Univ. Pr, 2010, p. 77

Vajrayana in Vajrayana Buddhism is the “way” or doctrine of the bolt of lightning and the diamond. Vajra refers to a lightning bolt and also to the invulnerable, indestructible diamond-like nature both of the doctrine and of the state of beatitude that the ascetic attains to. At the same time vajra also stands for the male sex organ in Tantric rites and language. The vulva is the “house of vajra” and also wisdom. Series of metaphors composed of terms that now belong to the corporeal world, now to the incorporeal world: the lightning bolt and the phallus, the vulva and wisdom, the diamond and the beatitude of the liberated yogi… the series of psychic terms ends with another image in which the carnal embrace is indistinguishable from the indifference of the ascetic during meditation – a transfiguration of passion into essence. The two metaphors in the end become one: a fusion of the macrocosm and the microcosm.

Octavio Paz, “Conjunctions and Disjunctions”, Seaver Books, 1982, p. 7

Auguste Rodin (1840 – 1917)
Auguste Rodin (1840 – 1917)

Auguste Rodin, “Iris, the Messenger of the Gods”
A. Rodin, “Iris, the Messenger of the Gods”, a semi-frontal view

Auguste Rodin, “Iris, the Messenger of the Gods”
Auguste Rodin, “Iris, the Messenger of the Gods” , a frontal view

A. Rodin, “Iris, the Messenger of the Gods”
A. Rodin, “Iris, the Messenger of the Gods”

To represent woman’s body during the very orgasmic convulsions and without any visible masculine “support” was a challenge for Rodin’s daring. But to involve Gods in the human sexual act and to mark the ecstatic femininity as making Gods a part of human physiology, as a mystical extension of human sexual function – is a creative blasphemy the rare artist could allow himself.

Moments of orgasmic intensity are, indeed, rainbows (apparition of Iris as the personification of rainbow) amidst human experiences. Amorous sexuality is the message of the Gods to humans about sexual love as a godly potential of human nature, as the earthly Olympus or instant reincarnation of human being into God, alas, short-lived, with paid ticket back into flat human condition.

Woman’s sexual intensity is message from the Gods, like the woman’s open genitals Rodin forces us to contemplate as delivery of a Godly message. Sex between beloveds transcends borders between heaven and hell, when biological tremble transforms into ultimate beauty of sensation. The orgasmic woman looks at the heavens but sees nothing – she is liberated from the need to see. She knows with her sensation. Anarchically loyal to mythological reference, she is able to awaken to her sensual glimpse of Gods and Goddesses.

So, Rodin not just uses mythological association to cover up his daring intuitive breakthrough of making the orgasmic woman, not man, an associate of Gods. He meticulously interweaves (mythological) content with narrating form. Iris’ face drowned in orgasmic concentration is isolated not only from the world but from her lover. If Iris sees anything at all, it is Gods; she screams to them that their message is delivered. We observe here the most frightening moment a man’s ego must learn to witness/to receive – the transformation of the woman he loves into the monster of otherness.

The messenger’s of Gods fly to orgasmic sensation creates asymmetrical spasmodic strain of her legs. The message of Gods is its delivery. On the level of (mythological) content the right arm/hand holding the foot is an indication that the gift of Gods coincides with its offering. It is a great tautology of God’s irresistibility. The ultimate gift is the fact that God addresses the human being. But on the level of the screaming form Iris’ arm/hand keeps her leg on the way to the final leap toward sensational goal, while the left leg pursues its own spasmodic configuration.

Rodin’s “Iris, the Messenger of Gods” is an impossible revelation of a woman to lovers of women, a revelation which even today seems premature for a phobic, over-careful and a hypersensitive male ego that encircles itself with frozen pop-beauty of mass-cultural stars and models whose sex-appeal serves men, not Gods. It is not only the principle of vitality Rodin asserts against the principle of beauty, but a feminist point about woman who belongs to Gods, not to men. Iris-women’s orgasmic delivery is a godly gift to men who are the beneficiaries of Gods’ condescension.

Rodin in 1862
Rodin in 1862