Wednesday, June 3, 2009

I Drink From the Bottle Weeping: "Why Can't You Last?!"

Today was the first day at the new job. I correct myself: my first day on my own. I did quite well, actually, though it took longer than expected to close. No worries, though--that's the sort of stuff that comes with habituation. They have a blog they keep, and of course, being a sucker for pontification (though, without illusions of being the "pontiff") I couldn't resist. Below is my first post, inspired by a post by the Writer and staring at S/M gear. I think it's an interesting combination, actually, which hopefully produced readable results.

The job itself is a kick. My favorite customers, by far, was this straight couple, though the guy was fascinated with the prostate massagers. After a slow dance around the issue he finally asked what he could buy that would accommodate both him and his girlfriend. At first I thought he meant at the same time, but then I realized he meant a toy each could use, but not necessarily at once. So I sold him a small g-spot targeting vibe that is gently tapered. "Try this out," I told him, "It will hit the prostate." The sexual subtext was near intoxicating; this tall, blonde man flirting with me in front of his equally beautiful girlfriend. He winked at me when he left and I blushed.

Enough: We-turn to the Thing itself!...

A friend of mine recently recited a poem by Anne Carson which prompted me to return to the volume he drew from, wherein I found another poem I was pleased I'd underscored when I first read it. In this poem Carson poses a question--"What really connects words and things?"--but the question is both a rift in the unfolding of the poem, and a bridge that tenuously connects one stanza to the next.

Perhaps this is as fitting--hand in glove, like--an introduction as any.

But then, maybe the question itself is loaded, packing, carrying underneath the folds of appearance a hidden intention. What is to say words and things are not coextensive--hand in glove, like? What does Carson want from us? Why does she open this abyss while seemingly promising to repair the schism she has just effected? Who are we, as readers, if we are both bridge and abyss?

Perhaps, like OJ, the glove doesn't fit, like.

But then, which is the glove and which the hand? Is the thing the hand which our words envelop in a fabric(ated) [of] meaning? Or is it words which animate our motility, dexterous, limber, fleshing-out the empty shell of the thing? It was assumed that the sculptor "unlocked" the statue from the slab of marble, as if there were no question about a difference between matter (phusis)/idea (eidos), as if the rift Carson opens and cares-to does not exist.

Perhaps, unwittingly, I am speaking of (Lacanian) sexual difference, of activity//passivity, masculine//feminine, hand//glove.

Foucault once remarked that S/M allows for a plasticity in the "gendered" roles of top/bottom, and for precisely this reason he was attracted to that scene. In this thoroughly Freudian moment (I refer my kind readers to the First of the "Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality") Foucault speaks to, from another angle, the very problematic contained in Carson's question: "What really connects things and words?" Like Foucault, Carson is confronting a distinctly Western (Aristotlean-Hegelian) metaphysics of activity/passivity. For Foucault S/M was a means of resisting this hierarchical dualism, to be, in the act of sexual pleasure, both abyss and bridge. That is, just as Foucault "queers" the scene of sex by subverting the very (gendered) meaning of top/bottom, Carson queers her text: to read this poem, to move within it, one becomes the nihilistic (w)hole of meaninglessness (words and things are irreconcilable) _and_ the bridge that "traverses the fantasy" of this meaninglessness giving it meaning; meaning, the connection between words and things, can only ever be affirmed if, she suggests, there is always already this threat of meaninglessness.

Perhaps, when thinking of sex one must think poetically, to incorporealize the paradoxical position of Carson's reader.

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