Stronger Loving World

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Friday, January 30, 2004

Through The Teeth

So I am browsing the internet late at night, and I encounter, like a lost friend bumping into me in the rain, Steven Shaviro's remarkable collection of essays on the cultural life of the 90's, Doom Patrols. I'm melted into the acid bath of these very 90's aproaches and topics; the obsession with dissolution, distillment, deferral, death, and delimitation of boundaries. Reading the essay on Foucalt, I come across these lines:

" 'From a biological standpoint, our sex lives are exceedingly dreary. Other organisms are far more inventive. Consider, for instance, the bedbug (Cimex lectularius). The males of this species fuck by stabbing and puncturing their conspecifics' abdomens. Every copulation is a wound. The victims of these aggressions, males and females alike, are permanently scarred; and they carry their rapists' sperm in their circulatory systems for the rest of their lives. As Howard Ensign Evans puts it: "the image of a covey of bedbugs disporting themselves in this manner while waiting for a blood meal--copulating with either sex and at the same time nourishing one another with their semen--makes Sodom seem as pure as the Vatican.' Even Sade never imagined such a scenario!"

the after-image having just burned itself backwards through my retina and into my brainstem in hot red flashes, through pigments and filaments, sets me all a flutter, and I need to unwind a bit. We sip some herbal tea, masturbate furiously to a back issue of Vampirella or Bowie's The Man Who Fell To Earth, then click away at the headline news on CNN and come across this equally poignant, equally pathos-laden statement:

"There's absolutely no way back for me, only forwards, through your teeth."

Our German friend, what parts of him are not swimming in a sewage tank in Berlin or have not been broken down into amino acids, is not alone, we are told. We are informed that he is a part of a "hitherto unacknowledged world of cannibalism and extreme fetishism." This is only one remarkably documented case of self-propelled oblivion over the net, which we can juxtapose to the fascinating trend of e-mails that spurt out automatically upon notice of our death, like hot fleshy death spasms 'extended' across electronic skin, to use a Mcluhanism.(I would prefer if, in an act of Burroughsian hyperrealism, these death spasms were posthumous eroticisms, like the ejaculation known to spurt from erect penises during old Western hangings. Imagine your loved ones treated not to a warm condolence written dryly, in emotional detachment,sitting in their inbox in visual relationships with hundreds of articles of spam and porn solicitations, but the ultimate treatment of love and regeneration and the poetic literalization of rebirth: hot milky semen flooding their computer screens, hosing them into a sopping mess of your love, your sweet goddamn love.) But forget about the technological implications;the fact that this is an internet-solicited suicide. After all, crazy people do have a way of finding eachother, internet or no internet. What is it about this particular oral fixation, the 'victim's desire for regeneration within the body of another man. This is not exactly the Freudian Death Instinct outlined in Beyond the Pleasure Principle, is it? There is no desire for latency, no rocketing towards oblivion or inactivity. "Forward", he says, "through the teeth." It is every bit as sacrosanct, and holy, and blissful, and out and out sexual as it sounds. Remember, that sex is a secondary, 'epiphenomenon'outside of reproduction, born of mitochondrial bacteria's constant, violent cannibilistic tussles:

"Sexuality first appeared in the world as a form of primordial cannibalism. In the anaerobic earth of three and a half billion years ago, terrorist bacteria preyed relentlessly on one another. Every random encounter was fraught with violence and danger. Cells continually penetrated and devoured other cells. "Everywhere poisonous mixtures seethed in the depths of bodies; abominable necromancies, incests, and feedings were elaborated" (Deleuze). But at some point, a certain aggressor cell had an attack of indigestion. Its victim's DNA resisted digestive breakdown. Instead, it continued to manufacture proteins in its new environment of alien cytoplasm. No cellular reproduction had occurred, yet a new, monstrous hybrid was born: the first sexual being, the first infection. The universal feeding frenzy was transformed into a delirious erotic intermingling: "cannibalism became fertilization, and meiosis was forced to evolve" (Margulis and Sagan)."

Sexuality is defined as a difference, but more specifically, it is a resistance. It is an apocalyptic material breakdown that resists its own Death instinct as well as the survival tactics of its predator. It is matter that, aproached with radical all-encompassing dissolution, retains its form, its only method of survival to lose the 'self' and force its predator to become part of it. Union, parasitism, look at it however you like. It is a remarkably consumptive, digestive act.

If the 90's were about pointing out lines and boundaries and erasing their distinctions, crossing borders and showing our pores and interconnections, then the post-millenial will be a nostalgic re-inscripting of the body. Not a return to old Edenic, binary distinctions of the body, but a religious, mystical appreciation for what it means to be a consciousness in a body, with limits, with ends, with skin that separates us from something 'other'. It is not so remarkable in this cultural holding pattern then that those of us who seek death would want it only 'through the teeth', re-inscripted into the body of another, fighting for our form in the wake of our own tragedy.


Friday, January 23, 2004

Note:This essay is so unfinished, it's not even funny. I'll get back to it later.

I've heard you say it under your breath at the Starbucks. I've heard you whisper it to a friend after breathing in the toxic aroma of a cigarette at an anti-globalization rally. I've heard it in the spas and gyms. It's the sneer in your lip, the furrow in your brow when you see a Che Guevara t-shirt. It's the smell of a paycheck. It's the glossy feeling you are overcome with, when reading the new Adbusters, you are taken less with a sense of irony at reapropriation than the sheer aesthetic thrill of the original advertisements. You're sick of the discourse on Globalization. You're sick of critiques of "pan-capitalism", and cultural theories seminars that graph dislocated, decentered semiotic graphs to map how a global economic system is making your culture meaningless. Gag me with that new Luis Vuitton blouse! My corpse would look gorgeous in this season's model. Besides, you're getting used to something. You can feel your way around the curves. Your fingers are sliding from pocket to pocket, from side to side, from handle to handle, a pinball is flying around in front of you. Where you used to see adversity and competition, now you are starting to see patterns reproducing, falling down and reconstituting themselves. Where you used to see a hierarchy, now you have a full view of the structures and ultra-structures folding complexly, sliding into pentagons and splitting diagonally before you. The flat linear is now the multi-dimensional, the geometric. Top-Down is now sideways and inside-out. Where you used to feel opressed, now you feel integrated. Where you felt like you were being strung along, now you are navigating. Where there was friction, now there is only play.
As I usually tend to do, I come up with my best ideas rambling drunkenly to innocent bystanders in bars. In yet another secretive hole in Williamsburg, I'm flailing my arms about and grinning self-importantly while asking whether or not any one at the table likes Capitalism. "How do you mean?" Like, as an object. What do you mean,as object. Like, a constituted thing, embodied materially, with a function. Give form to your abstractions; As a structured, fully-operational, interactive..thing. Like a game? Like a Game. Like, ( I place my hands to either side of the imaginary machine) as a pinball machine, (I carve its shape in the air like a beatnick describing hips.) "Like if it were a pinball machine", I ask, "Would you like to play it? Would you still stop to glance at it afterwards, notice its color and its shape, the kitschy decals on its front?" Is Marxism an Atari-5200? "I'd rather be playing Frogger."
A recurring cultural studies debate is the discussion of what is and is not being "co-opted" by the "mainstream". How is it that we can freely express ourselves without being reclaimed, re-branded and redistributed for the gains of capitalism. How is that we can have our meanings, our own languages, our own forms of expression, how is it that we can "own" anything in culture when that cultural information demands no ownership, when our identity is created and subsumed by a larger force. It is a rather selfish question, of course. Following Daniel Bell's aphorism that "information wants to be free", as most left-leaning new media types do, then cultural information wants to be free from you, you goddamned over-possessive asshole. New forms of musical expression do not want to squat in hovels in Portland forever, they want to replicate, as all ideas do, infinitely, they want to reproduce like alien viruses on the buzz of a new protein fragment, and they will take over the moon if they have to. Even the model I used in the previous run-on sentence, memetics, is built on the foundation of game theory. In order to visualize ideas as existing for the sake of reproduction in the manner of genes, we have to cluster our thoughts around the series of competition-based structures that organizes social behavior, evolution, and society right down to the micro-biology of our physical environments. There is no “mine” and “yours”, there is no need to “own” an argument, there is no us vs. them. Magazines like Adbusters attempt to hijack the form of traditional consumer capitalism, its gloss, its shimmer, and re-brand it so that it means something else. Inevitably, the nay-sayers will point out that even Adbusters can not circumvent the need for advertising. They’ll bandy around the word ‘hypocrite’. The true failure of the magazine, however, is a more embarrassing one: it is an artistic failure. It simply fails in scope, in vision. It is unimaginative. It has no eye for a pretty picture. The issue is not how quickly something considered subversive is
“reconstituted by the mainstream”, or, if you are a Hebdige enthusiast, how fast a subculture bubbles up and is re-created as part of a ‘culture’. If we can imagine that all art is reconstituted by corporations, it is not a huge leap of imagination to visualize how all corporations are reconstituted by art. If you want to insist that two are so chemically bound, then flip the equation.