Saturday, April 23, 2011

On Being Boring and Stuff

I am deriving a cruel delight from being able to turn away from you.
Not only in those moments when I am solicited by you. But also in these moments when I am tempted by my own sentimentality, tempted, too, by the desire to turn against myself, turning toward you.
And so I turn away from this impulse, and turn toward the work before me. Which comes before me, and which will come after me, even if I turn away from it.
I'm not quite sure that I am turning toward myself, per se. But I am turning toward something that I can live with at least. It is workable.
And some how, being able to put you aside, for long enough to get on with what is in front of me, is a cruel pleasure. I'm being my own best Daddy.

Next week is going to be really crazy, and really stressful. Apply for jobs, looking for a place to live. Writing another paper (though this one will be much, much easier I am pleased to report. I am able, I think, to approach it with a more generous spirit of inquiry than I was before). I want to be a good standing member of my community, which sounds so cheesy to write out loud, but I suppose is true. I've been slow on this one, and it's been a mistake. I've nothing really pulling me so terribly strongly up here. I'm leaving, after all.

And it's strange, I suppose I'm ready to leave, too. Last night, for the first time with real fervor, I listened with resentment to the drunken gaiety of the 2am roamers making their ways from one bar to the next. I didn't like feeling it, and so I took it as a sign that I had brought myself to a place where I was ready to leave. Best to recognize it, and not make the matter moral. I'm still just very nervous about the whole thing. I think I stayed in Btown for as long as I have in part because I was afraid of having to make new friends and start that whole thing over again. But, seeing as I effectively ruined most friendships I had simply by making my relationship with J. disproportionately predominant, it is as though nothing really other than work and the allure of the nightlife keeps me here. And both are insufficient reasons.

I think I am going to be able to write something rather punch-up for my MA. It'll be nice to finally redress this issue.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Finders, Seekers, Merciless Cheaters

Right now, I want you. Your voice to answer mine when it calls, and your body to come when I arouse it.
An exercise in causality, the desire for something necessary. And familiar.
This paper is killing me. Coming in fits and bursts, a torturous delivery.
I saw you on a4a last night. You'd changed one of your pictures, and I stared at it longingly, wondering how many other boys were, too. Wondering which one you would have over, or were already entertaining.
You'd texted me earlier. "I just wish I could talk to you =("
I followed our pre-arranged script: I said nothing, I ignored you.
And then you texted me again, almost two hours later: "wanna have sex?"
And I again followed our pre-arranged script: "Fuck off, J. This sucks."
"ok sorry," you replied.
And then I saw you on a4a and I seethed with longing. A kettle full of evaporation, nothing but hot metal.
I did not hide that I was looking at you, I did not "delete the trace" of my cruise.
I did not want to hide my desire for you, from you.
And now, after being flaked out on three times--and after doing it twice over myself to other boys--I am desperate for you. Some one as desperate as me. Perhaps you'd even be desperate for me.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Interior of a Dutch House

I wanted to call you twice tonight, and to text you 5 times through-out the day. I checked a4a 3x for you. I was on Grindr hourly, looking for the golden glow of the trace of your prowl. I never took my finger out of my Facebook newstream (even though I knew you wouldn't appear--I looked anyway, as if for a miracle, a glitch).

I didn't find you and I wouldn't let myself seek you out thoroughly enough. I'm writing this instead, so I don't obsess about what you were doing, while I was was staring at the green dot of your activity. Nonchalant chatting with another boy only made the murmur of my longing more insufferable. I was suddenly scrolling through an archive of what amassed more recorded fights than I thought even existed, and which made me cringe with embarrassment as I read them. You delete your chat history, as if by impulse. A willful forgetfulness, a will-power to healthfully swallowing-down and passing-out the past. But that mechanism is miscarrying somewhere because you sometimes get wicked sick and I've seen it, a ball of writhing snakes in the pit of your stomach.

The most awful part of my lapse into memory was how vividly I remembered the intensity of the particular feeling I was suffering, and yet also how relatively insignificant it seems in light of how melodramatic I was over it. At least now, reading back on it. This isn't what's awful though. No, what's awful is that I don't know if I am simply equivocating because I am feeling lonely and distracted and jealous (imagining you happier than me, more sufficiently selfish), or if I'm realizing that I was brash and impulsive.

But as I draw near to that possibility, my senses return, my clarity of purpose thrusts its way forward again, proud and insistent.

That's all.

And I hate getting haircuts. It's not that it's bad, it's just not what she said she would do. And now some of my plumage is shorn, not like a Samson, but like a peacock, I may be striding more imperiously.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

I can't say no to you

... Say nothing.

Finally made some headway on the paper. I asked it to come.
Often I find this is the case with men I entertain, I have to ask them to cum.
I asked for it to come, so I could share it with the world. In a form fit for its appearance. We needed to work it out, and I was being a slut, giving pieces away here and there.
Why is writing like the great amassing of forces, as in a deep inhalation?
This, I think, has been my struggle: One of transitions, or translations, from one paradigm (the Dionysian) to another (the Apollonian)--these being crude dichotomies.
My desire is to explain corporeal experiences predicated on the loss of the ability for coherence.
And to defend these experiences, and those who practice them, against a morality that would cast them as evil and socially irresponsible, and with a blink from an evil eye, cast them into prisons, asylums, and reformatories: the criminal, the maniac, the sinner.
But to make these experiences somewhat comprehensible I must already efface them through their reductive subordination to language. Dionysian excess in Apollonian fetters?
We scholars of the linguistic turn, we love to lacerate ourselves for this compromise: we lament what is cleaved off of phenomena in its becoming-signified.
It's like the repetition compulsion only makes sense as writing. Language weaves its own labyrinth, perpetually deferring what is promised, namely something different (something other than the grammar of existence).
This may be Nietzsche's problem: he kept writing. But he writes around--around the curvature of a body of ideas that are never properly identified, they are never named. By remaining so, beyond the strictures of language--appearing only in their absence--this body of ideas, this cluster of affects, of regulating principles corporeally suffered, generates powerful desire. Nietzsche calls this, "Will-to-Power," and against the physiologists of his day who insist upon "self-preservation as the cardinal instinct of an organic being" he maintains: "A living thing seeks above all to discharge its strength - life itself is will to power; self-preservation is only one of the indirect and most frequent results." (BGE, #13) There is a yearning for cathartic release. The question is, then, how is this release suffered?
It is plausible that for Nietzsche this sort of release took the form of writing, that he composed himself through his body of works. This is in keeping with certain claims advanced by Nehamas and Conant. However, if what this composition orbits around is the unspoken affirmation of a will-power, then this is more a compost than a singing-and-dancing song, reeking of morality, of an ascetic resentment.
Which unspoken desire?
Must I say it?
Yes, of course, by disciplinary imperative.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Electric Counterpoints, or: Another Aborted Attempt (again)

I type, “I want to…” and thus already subvert this essay: the venture founders. “I-will” is a by-product of the metaphysical idea of “I-think,” which in turn posits an “I-am”: being. My language tightens what I attempt to sneak out from the grasp of… language ensnares—me? I am in a labyrinth.

This is Nietzsche’s problem: the limits of language, the limits of which circumscribe the arena of experience. Nietzsche longs to write, “the body…”—but this, too, is far too discrete. For the boundaries he wishes to dissolve are corporeal. We are no longer minds. We do not think, we feel. But what we feel cannot be isolated: affect pulses, races, wanders, drifts, surges and recedes, climaxes and builds, and always manically. Even in its depressive valleys this energy ricochets.

Every verb resonates with explosive possibility, every noun begs for eruption. This body quivers with anticipation. For innocence. Again.

YOU ARE, or: yet another aborted attempt.

This essay takes its starting point from the treatment of Nietzsche offered by Leo Bersani in his polemical work, The Culture of Redemption.[1] It is well known that Nietzsche’s project is ‘narcissistic’ in the pejorative sense; if truth is only a move in a game of (will-to-) power relations, then under Nietzsche’s regime of subjectivism, egoism, or radical relativism (‘perspectivism’) reduces everything to a violent play of force. Where narcissism is ascendant, Truth is lost. This is because narcissism is here figured as a reentrenchment of the self as a manifestation of a domineering will-power. Bersani, however, figures narcissism from a different slant, from a psychoanalytic lens. He writes, and I quote at length,

The narcissism pointed to in the first pages of Freud’s essay on narcissism is a self-jouissance that dissolves the person and thereby, at least temporarily, erases the sacrosanct value of selfhood, a value that may account for human beings’ extraordinary willingness to kill in order to protect the seriousness of their statements. The self is a practical convenience; promoted to the status of an ethical ideal, it is the sanction for violence. If sexuality is socially dysfunctional in that it brings people together only to plunge them into a self-shattering and solipsistic jouissance that drives them apart […], it can also be thought of as our primary, hygienic practice of nonviolence, and even as a kind of biological protection against our continuously renewed efforts to disguise and to exercise the tyranny of the self in the prestigious form of legitimate cultural authority. (CT, 4)

On this model, sex-negativity—as opposed to an embrace of self-dissolving sexual jouissance—is the moral standard. Evil are those who refuse to cum.

... back into the labyrinth. Fuck.

[1] Bersani, Leo. The Culture of Redemption (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1990). Henceforth cited parenthetically as CR.

Pulses, or: many aborted running starts

Overcoming as Undoing: Vivifying the Body through Sexual Passion


One learns to wander because the earth itself is lovely.

On April 6th, 2011 World Health Organization Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan used the occasion of “World Health Day” to announce to the human populace of the earth the discovery of “drug-resistant bugs,” and with the announcement of this discovery, made in 2008 in the slums of New Dehli, ushered man into a “post-antibiotic era.” The implications of this announcement cannot be understated. In Dr. Chan’s own words, “The world is on the brink of losing these miracle cures.” Nearly half a million cases of multi-drug resistant tuberculosis were detected last year, along with cases of drug-resistant malaria. Even strains of HIV are emerging that are unresponsive to antiretroviral treatments. The global spread of these bugs is, simply, inevitable. Yet, the Director-General cannot affirm this conclusion. Instead, she sounds an alarm: “In the absence of urgent corrective and protective actions, the world is heading towards a post-antibiotic era, in which many common infections will no longer have a cure and, once again, kill unabated.”

This episode is only the most recent, yet for this reason no less terrible, of many moments comprising the history of Western metaphysics. It dramatizes a central contention of this essay, namely, the impossibility of Socratic rationality to therapeutically cure the ‘suffering’ of life itself. It further dramatizes the unwillingness of those steeped in a therapeutic culture of redemption to confront this impossibility; on display, by contrast, is the impulse to place one’s faith all the more in the very method of ruin that brought us to this point in world history. In order to develop this claim I look to Nietzsche, who first diagnosed this eerie compulsion in The Birth of Tragedy. Indeed, Nietzsche’s unrelenting mockery of the philosophical tradition’s prejudices, its faith in the corrective power of rationality, is a thread that weaves his corpus together in interesting and unexpected ways. In this paper I argue that Nietzsche was aware of the impossibility of turning, re-turning, or inverting the traditional conception of man as he is predicated on the Socratic, rational ideal. Nietzsche knew full well that each tact leaves in place the contested term, threatening to entrench it all the more securely as a necessary point of opposition. For this reason he sought to reach beyond the conceptual discourse available to him to describe human experience. This, however, is a project that, as many have observed, works itself up into a referential labyrinth of mythical epic heroes and spiraling snares of metaphysical cosmology.

This essay, then, does not attempt to untangle the knot of Ariadne’s thread so much as bring to bear upon it a critical edge. My blade is not a physician’s scalpel, nor a hero’s sword: it is a prostitute’s stiletto. This methodology does not “cut,” does not dissect and sever, separate or partition; it is penetrative. As it enters the corpus, it passes through many layers of text: it is archeological, and Nietzsche’s body is an “opus incertum”—laid with irregular, imbricating stones. The density of Nietzsche’s corpus, the resilience of his hide, makes this operation a pain-staking delight; the scholar becomes a seducer, soliciting the softest, most voluptuous and tender point of entry. The scholar masks a prostitute, a masked seducer, concealing also the mask of a murderer. He becomes alive as war. He delights in “how closely lust and cruelty are related.” (Venus in Furs, Sacher-Masoch.)

To penetrate Nietzsche’s text is to abandon the methodology of rhetoric sanctioned by Plato’s Socrates in the Phaedrus, where cleaving the ligaments of a text through dialectical slashes is supposed to reveal the truth of a given logos: the philosopher wounds, tortures, the truth into revealing itself. This is a divine moment of dismemberment, inspired by a god. The same god, Socrates says on his deathbed, inspiring philosophy (Phaedo, 69d).[1] And under the regime of this “true eroticist” we all know which member is banished first, condemned to exist as a free-floating signifier in the world of metaphysics: bodies without organs, organs without bodies; either way: “sensualists without spirit, specialists without heart.”[2] This is because the dialectic is the weapon of the metaphysician; a methodology predicated on lack, on negation—even on the negation of the negation. The dialectic sublimely careens towards death, towards nihilism, toward asceticism. This is because Socrates, the true eroticist, never actually loved, knowing only the absence of it—thus under his resentful gaze eros became this awareness, and the pathos of its affect. Socrates is moved: his hand lifts-up-and-away (aufhebung) what he wants: in his self-denial he is “spiritualized.”

[1] What? These cunning, jealous philosophers inspired by—Hera?

[2] In a preface to Barthes’s The Pleasure of the Text, Richard Howard remarks the notable absence of an amorous discourse in English, “we have either the course or the clinical.” I think this an admirable way of capturing the predicament.