I have always claimed that intellectual orgasms are better than physical orgasms. I believe this because I have had intellectual orgasms long before I could have physical ones. And I will continue to have the former long after I stop having the latter. The former last longer and are more permanent. I still get a thrill from thinking about how I solved the Rubik's cube when I was eight. That's a thrill that no physical experience can match. Even today, each time I use the solution (well, this is a different solution, but still) to complete the cube, I get a big kick out of it.
I'm a very sexual person, and I enjoy sex a lot, and sure, sex for the second/minute/hour/day seems great at that moment but it is temporal and ephemeral. All the sex I've had, even though some of it was excellent at the time, does not have the longevity of solving an intellectual problem. That is, sex is generally extremely fleeting whereas the spurts of thought (interesting choice of words there, eh?) you experience I think are more fulfilling.
The idea of thinking in terms of orgasms is a goal oriented one indeed. However, my comments apply to the process of sex and intellectualisation also. In other words, before a great intellectual discovery, there is usually a period of passionate labour involved which is akin to foreplay before engaging in an orgasmic act. Like with orgasms, intellectual foreplay is better than physical foreplay.
Ultimately, I think humans are fundamentally creatures of the mind (even though we are just animals, our survival is dependent on us using our minds not our bodies). I do recognise that the mind is not really differentiable from the physical body from which it emerges, ergo the tongue in cheek (no pun, sexual or otherwise, intended) nature of this missive. My PhD mentor John Moult once asked me to compare the expression on a face of dog when it's having sex to the expression on a face of a human. His question then was: "have you ever seen a dog think?"
His comment was what motivated me to write this missive. A deeper point related to that comment is that physical orgasms are the norm since we are fundamentally animals. Intellectual orgasms, like physical orgasms, I believe are possible after one has gone through a period of "intellectual puberty", which can occur at any physical age and can last for any arbitrary length of time (for me, it was approximately between ages 5 and 7). This is the period when one overcomes self created mental hurdles to realise that extreme pleasure experienced during physical sexual orgasms are not limited to physical or sexual actions and are just as easily associated with intellectual "Eureka" moments and periods. Or, as in my case, when the physical comes second, intellectual orgasms tap into and excite neurotransmitter circuitry that would also later be used for the sensations experienced during physical sexual orgasms. In this regard, I believe humanity is unique among all living creatures we know of capable of this trait, yet I believe few humans ever achieve it. This to me is a fascinating condition to be in, like someone after puberty who has not experienced a physical sexual orgasm yet.
Upon encountering my viewpoint, people often say that perhaps I am not having sex correctly. I say to them that perhaps they are not thinking right.
This was written sometime in 1993 and the image shows our Pi painting on top my Silicon Graphics Iris computer (running Irix).