Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Face of a Defiant Woman

It's rather adorable, because most men fail to achieve the particular softness of feature that makes the posture of principled, mindless resistance lovable. Perhaps even redeeming. The chin slightly raised brilliantly displays the iridescence of play captured in the schema of an earnestly heaved gesture that vaunts from the sloping churlishness of a smirk that seems to beg for a kiss. Not from the man she's with, of course. Though she has kissed him. (Fucked him, too, duh.) But not from the man _this_ photograph is for, either. That man, who aroused such defiance, such principled abandon, has nothing to do with this drama any more, and so a kiss from him would be meaningless. She is begging for a break. She is covered in tattoos, by the way, and that this guy is a tattoo artist (the new one, that is, not the one she is defiantly divorcing) and just inks her up... seems like a Mel Gibson snuff script. Because she's also Christian, and most of these tattoos profess this truth. There was always a certain defiance, I suppose: Christians like their torture to be more private, more "internal" or "intimate." The spectacle of a mutilated body, scarred and stained, cut and mortified, profaned and punished, bloodied... All of this comes too close to the spectacularly masochistic carnival of torture: penance. And yet, a the tattoo is also a mark of distance from the traditional Western subcultures of painted peoples: whores, sailors, criminals, deserters, homosexuals--the entire menagerie of Genet's oeuvre. She's married in an ill-fated decision, on Halloween, the Devil's (un)holiday. The day is bucolically consecrated under the structuring trellis of an ambivalent sign.

My boyfriend executes this look with a subtly and grace that is simply atrocious... It is a performance, the performance of an history which I am not privy to, and which does not refract my gaze. It was a plea for help which dare not speak, which is to say it circumvented the necessities of speech by striking the difference with a pose, a sculpture, a routinized interface. I see this, and I see it's strategic deployment and I am hurt: I can see you are posturing, I want to yell, you're full of shit when you do this! And my aggression is another form morphologically protean anxiety takes when it fears it has too much to lose: a symptom of a foreclosure of futurity is the overdetermination of the present. It's as if I constantly yell, AM I GOOD ENOUGH?! half pissed to be still asking the question, the other half the result of failed defiance. I lack the specifically feminine softness that makes defiance completely neutralizing. Paralyzing. This is the femme fetale, Socrates, Rosa Parks... Politics requires a certain capacity for neutralization. This is also what is called, 'persuasion.' An argument is arresting. I am impeded, immobilized. As if by magic. And he does this with his face, not using a word: words do not fail him, they are beneath his talent, not worth their weight in water (or gold). The gesture is skin-tight and nothing gets through, for words are slippery, words collapse, things begin to fall apart; the whisper of doubt is impossible to properly appreciate: it is either a weak draft that does no harm, or it is what is forced through otherwise reinforced repressions--if the latter, opening the door is eradication--and so in this way even the slightest tickle of dis-ease becomes the sure portent of catastrophe. This, I imagine is a certain kind of crisis mode. It could be allegorized in a story about a survivor of post-Katrina New Orleans fleeing to the mountains so as to never live near rising tides again, a man for whom even too much rain is aggravating.

Silence was his guarantor against this inevitable confrontation with the sound of things falling down around him: he did not speak, disarmed speech by silencing it's perverse polyvalence. But I think it's because he enjoys the polymorphous perversity he's inciting in himself, and in me, that got in the way of the injunction to avoid the mess of speech. He's risking the compromises of speech, though, and that means he's parting with the iconicity of victimhood the defiant gesture is captured in. Mercurial, a herald of things to come, giving signs... my darling little faggot is becoming a queer.

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