Hello, darlings. How are you? Summer has arrived on this side of our pale blue dot and I’ve got not one, not two, but three shows to entice you with. Busy summer, indeed. I’ll certainly be in need of a break--and a few extra cocktails--come the fall. Each has a distinct vibe, setting, and crowd for sure. It will be lots of work, lots of fun, and also—I might add—quite a time of learning for me.

Fire Island Male Erotic Art Trunk Show
July 15 (TOMORROW!!), Fire Island, NY

Flame Con
August 12 and 13, NYC

Clio Art Fair
September 7-10, NYC

The last year or so has seen a slowly evolving and growing commitment to both my practice as an artist (time to make the donuts) but also creating a career as an artist. It’ll be a slow and winding path, with ups and downs, blood, sweat, tears, and who knows what else. That’s the inspiration behind this interesting array of venues and my packed summer. I’m glad you’re on this journey with me, darlings. Buckle up, it’ll be fabulous.

In my flurry of preparations for all these happenings, I noticed a through line to the work. A connection, a thread of a particular color that I want to explore further: the Buddhist and the erotic.

These two themes have been intertwining in my work for some time now, but I've yet to stop and attempt to put into words what's going on. So, here goes.

I have identified as Buddhist for a while now. It creeps into my work here and there. It might be subtle thematic ideas like this series of little paintings. Or, it’ll show up in the comics through Buddhist characters and events inspired by the absolutely astounding array of Buddhist writings across the millennia. (No single Book™️ for us, darlings. We have thousands!!) I’ve also dedicated time to studying traditional Tibetan thangka painting under the tutelage of the fabulous Carmen Mensink. Not to mention a wide array of readings, talks, and retreats over the years. All threads in the tapestry.

And, yes, there are threads of the erotic in this tapestry as well. It might seem an odd pairing, the Buddhist and the erotic. Buddhism’s renunciatory or monastic paths often spring to mind first. For those on that path, the erotic is distraction and is, indeed, left behind. This is not my path.

Less commonly you might run across the word “tantric” and its sexual overtones in connection to Buddhism. Yes, darlings, Buddhism has tantric threads as well. It’s not so much literal sex, though it could be, but is generally treated more symbolically, especially in the aforementioned Tibetan traditions. This is a deep subject that I know way too little about (intellectually or experientially) to comment much further. This is not my path, either.

Instead, I’m searching for my own path out of the dark forest of western thought—duality, hierarchy, original sin, heteronormativity, and all the rest. I’m searching for ways to grapple with these, authentically, and as a new kind of Buddhist—a white, western Buddhist. Celebrating the erotic as a liberatory practice, as a great equalizer, as an energetic movement toward breaking down the barriers of self and other, is becoming the guiding light of my path. The power that eroticism has to be a machete easily dispatching poisonous vines of heteronormativity seems just like Manjushri’s flaming sword of wisdom cutting through delusion and ignorance.

I’ll leave you with this fabulous image from Andy Weber, another westerner dedicated to the Buddhist path, to contemplate. Next week, if you’ll so indulge me, we’ll pick up with this theme again and explore what other queer Buddhist voices have added to the song.

Until next time, flame on! 🔥

This has been the Queer Quantum Dispatch, brought to you by artist Edward Ficklin. If you enjoyed it, smash the forward button and share the love. 💖 If you got this from a friend (and what a friend!) subscribe for more!

Edward Ficklin

Edward Ficklin (he/him), the maverick artist not afraid to say gay, is a self-taught painter, writer, publisher and sometimes technologist. He creates sensuous and erotically-tinged queer surrealist art, publishes queer-centered sci-fi comix, and pontificates regularly on a range of topics in his Queer Quantum Dispatch newsletter.

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