You know it's a bad week when you find yourself reading George Bataille's "eroticism" as a self help book.
Welcome to the whacky world of mayhem.
I had to read some of his dry cailloisey stuff so as to teach it to the youn'uns on tuesday..... Talking about praying mantises and deaht and seduciton as linked and weird proliferating nature of sexual versus asexual reproduction......
and then the next little bit on the structure of desire and transgression within marriages and orgies. Nice solid vintage colege du sociologie stuff. Nowhere near as weird as that egg and urine story. Sex, violence & transgression all in a palatable sandstone format. so I got bored and turned to my nice english copy of the accursed share - to bask in nice pages, nice gratuious words....
And the bit about 'the object of desire' twinning absolute collapse, repugnance, fear of collapse, delight in surrender etc. etc. all made complete heartbreaking sense.......
Let me tell you a little story.
I spent last Sunday morning sitting I on a couch in a suburban medical centre, having waited for an hour in the hope of seeing a bulk billing medico. Beside me, sat the olive toting consort, trying to be supportive, responsive, responsible and proffering me more buttery sicilan olives in the hope of comforting me. On the next couch, some mullet headed forty something surfie masticated loudly on jellybeans. I needed comfort. It was the 8th anniversary of meeting Abel, and last night a condom burst. I ran to bathroom, tried to rinse vagina over sink, cut and inserted a wedge of lemon (homegirls guide to kitchen cupboard spermicides 101). Woke frantically in the night and realised that my periods were already a week late. Sobbed for an hour. OK less, but it felt like an hour. I felt like tess of the D'urbervilles. I sat cursing myself, cursing him, cursing my stupid hosebeast of a libido.
Is (it) fucking worth it? an hour of pole dancing once a week, stripped and sauntering between clean sheets after dinner, after a week of distracted longing, trying to be good, trying to work on the tome, reading theory, reading books, mediating, swimming, walking, eating sensibly, voiding abel, avoiding ambiguity. a nice reward for a nice girl. And now this. Sex should not be about life or death but it is.
So back to the couch, in the burbs, surrounded by trancksuit clad, four wheel driving Breeders and their mcDonals fed spawn. enough to make me want to jam a coathanger up my cervix forthwith. Hormones however, have other ideas. I find myself involunterily clucking at babies. bloody hell. I scowl and bury my nose in the Bataille.
A song comes over the radio......
Oooh, we're half way theeeey-errr
Livin on a prayer!!!
Just one chance
We'll make it I swayyyerrr
Livin on a prayer!!!
wayyy cool! I can't help chuckling. I smile at the consort. he's not my age, doesn't know the reference, prefers classical music anyway. I explain how my whole year 12 sat on the stage at the shcool hall, drily mouthing the words as the song was blared out during our farewell concert - half the class runing offstage in relays, spewing ornage passion pop into buckets. The rest stoicly soldiering on beneath bad mullet perms and badder sunnies. It was my first day without a hymen. ho ho heterosexuality is such a stupid thing really.......
Back to the books. He's reading the 'passion as a path' section of a self help book that I also adore. Yep, even better than my perennial favrourite "It's called a breakup because it's broken". He hasn't reached the bit that made me cry, just yet. Or maybe he has. that the feeling of death, of dying, is part of the change that accompanies any relationship. that the feeling that somehting has died between a couple - is a sign that they can let go of old habits and open themselves up to something new. (why dind't I read that 6 months ago? then I'd still be wiht Abel, instead of well, still wiht Abel?). That there is a profoudn linke between llove and death; that to experience love, you need to embrace death and that to die, you need to embrace love. Or words to that effect.
so to Bataille. Sex, death, trasngression. I'm meant to teach it to the earnest twenty somethings at sandstone city. Dear old George, trying to be alll earnest and marxist - delinieating his honest account of subjective eroticism form an 'objective reality' of the science of how animals, cells, plants split and divide. it's the mingling of earnest assiduous quasi scienctific proclamations wiht the painfully intense honesty that makes me falll in love with Bataille each time.
bascially he's tyring to intellecutally juxtaspose two dillemmas: what happens to the original cell when it divides in tow? does it die? where does it do? and 'why do I feel so empty after great sex?'
hell what a legend!
"It seems to me that the totaity of what is the universe swallows me (physically), and if it swallows me, or since it swallows me, I can't distinguish yself from it; nothing remains, except this or that, which are less meangingful than nothing. In a sense it is unbearable and I seem to be dying. It is at this cost, no doubt, that I am no longer myself, but an infinity in which am lost....
No doubt this is not entirely true; in fact, on the contrary, never have I been closer to the one who... but it's like an aspiration followed by an expiration: suddenly the intensity of her desire, which destroys her, terrifies me; she succumbs to it, and then, as if she were returning form the underworld, I find her again, I embrace her....
This too is quite strange,: she is no longer the one who prepared meals, washed herself, or bought small articles.She is vast, she is distant like that darkness in which she has trouble breathing, and she is so truly the vastness of the universe in her cries, her silences are so truly the emptiness of death, that I embrace her inasmuch as anguish and fever throw me into a place of death, which is the absence of bounds to the universe. but between her and me there is a kind of appeasement which, denoting rebellion and apathy at the same time, eliiminates the distance that serparated us from each other, and the one that separated us both from the unverse....."
(the accursed share vols 2&3, translated by Robert Hurley, published by ZOne Books NYC 1991, p116)
I found the above paragraph the most enlightening thing about straight male sexuality, since the bit in "sex tips for boys" about morning erections not actually being an invitation to sex.
so now I know, that not only are men less likely to want sex first thing in the morning than women (in my experience) and that they are betrayed by their genitals (women aren't - an open wet throbbbing vagina usually means one thing, or two or three or four or five....) , and THAT THEY FIND INFINITY AND COLLAPSE INTO THE MORASS OF DESIRE TERRIFYING.
whereas I find it quite delightful.
I took the consort to Liz Grosz the other night to hear her deliciously expound on deleuzian becoming, creativity, music and animality. He was blissed out as I was. "See!" I tried to explain "grosz's view of life an endless becoming, a line of flight, outward from the self, an infinity of molecular possibilities, it comes from her experience of being a dyke. Lesbian desire IS INFINITE. It's not a nice refrain coded by society and taken after dinner - it's constant, endless, impossible!"
i'm not sure if he understood and I'm not sure why I felt I had to share it with him. I sitll don't know what I'm doing, gobbling morsels of staightsvilles, while i'm mired in my own immense desire.....
oh yes, now I know. My desire, my life, my wife. here at home, in the next room.
You want infinite and endless? bloody hell, we've been broken up for nearly 6 months and she still hasn't moved out, still eats all my food, still offers me hers (which i decline, doesn't she GET IT?), still offers me cuddles and conversations which I accept and return, and we sit sobbing for bloody hours and hours.....
fortunately she wears a chastity belt of beer breath most nights or i'd be racing in and ravishing her as well. and then doing her washing, and hey ho its back into the marriage we go. she still loves SLUT, still wants me as her wife.
so I sit here and try to read or meditate, or type like now, when I can't sleep at night. Go to the consort for sleep, meals, fruit and vegetables, decent coffee, conversation, cock, cuddles, comfort. Retreat into chez consort when I can't stand it any more, when I'm scared i'll run in and start clawing at her clothes. He visits here sometimes, for chaste cups of tea. We kiss in his car, plot sex in random places, or wait for his place.
Actually, this is all so unbelievable fucked I don't actually have any words any more to describe it. I am at my wits end, I don't know what to do, I'm annoyed and powerless and too tired to even panic anymore.
I haven't sobbed for 2 days, but will probably resume tear flooding in the next day or two. I write, I walk, I mediddate, I do yoga, I see a counsellor, I get massage, I try to read, try to teach, try to write, try to even do my thesis sometimes.
Try to be a nice girl, a good friend, a good lover, a good teacher, a good student, a good art reviewer, a decent person. Try to breathe.
there's a certain level of freedom in a state of complete powerlessness. while calmly and coolly planning classes, travel, completing timesheets, payslips, articles, whatever, inside I'm quite happily anticipating my own death. I'll just keep on trucking on, and if I drive myself into an early grave - well that can't be helped either, can it?
It's not a morbid fatalism. Just a bewildered sense of the impossibility of my life at the moment.
Nov 11: Giving a reading at Naked Heart Festival
2 weeks ago