Monday, September 01, 2008

The Complaint.

First she cut my eyelids off with a pair of nail scissors. She did this with a degree of speed and efficiency that immediately reassured me I was in the hands of a professional and that I had not spent my money in vain. So far so good.

I had arranged for a bespoke, two-day “dismemberment special”, though within an hour I was loosing so much blood from the lacerations on my back, with the amputations and cauterizations yet to come, that I wondered how she was going to keep me alive for the required length of time. I experienced the first of what was to be many tics of irritation at the idea that I would simply exsanguinate here on the plastic sheeting draped over every last square inch of the living room before any of the hacking and sawing had even begun. It did cross my mind that she could simply let me die at any point, and that of course it was in the nature of this business that dissatisfied customers simply weren’t around to complain. No testimonials page on this particular website.

I have to say that initially I had reservations about using the service at all, primarily because of its dreadful name: “Sexecutions!” This level of wordplay does not inspire confidence, but their website was extremely well presented and the moment I saw Jasmine I knew that she was The One. Checking the vital stats on her dedicated web page and discovering she was almost six foot tall, and would clearly tower over me in the heels I would request she wore, sealed my decision to go with them as opposed to their main competitor, the slightly hipper and more gothic (if rather bombastic) “” which was, finally, a little too self-consciously “rock and roll” for my taste.

Jasmine was no disappointment in the flesh, I must say. Staggeringly tall and Amazonian, dressed precisely as per my requirements in an extremely tight, low cut and micro-skirted rubber nurse’s outfit that set off her long legs and formidable bosom to its best advantage. I did experience a certain amount of embarrassment requesting such a trite outfit, but then I realised I might as well just look on it as a final bit of fun, a last bit of silliness.

As she began unpacking her equipment from a large black carry-all and laying it out on the dining table we made polite conversation and I was pleased to discover that she was rather well educated. We laughed a little about the company’s name, she told me she‘d been in the business for three or four years (and still so young, at only twenty three!) How had she got into this rather unusual field of work etc? She’d had an early fascination with domination that had gradually developed when an ex-boyfriend had got her into the whole extreme bdsm scene, eventually culminating in an interest in snuff and torture. This had just seemed like the logical next step. I complimented her on her beauty, she was half….? She was quarter Jamaican she explained. Quiet marvellous colouring, with her green eyes, this little tincture of Negro blood varnishing the supple curve of the muscles in her calves and thighs.

I explained to her that I'd had, as long as I could remember, so quiet some number of years now, a fascination with the idea of being slowly eviscerated and dismembered over a number of days by a voluptuous young women and that my entire life really had been lived in the shadow of this overwhelming, impossible desire. I had tried various ways to avoid it’s allure or to find both through games with various and variously willing and broad minded partners and other forms of “expression” some degree of release, but that finally I could not find any respite from myself other than through bringing this fantasy to life. I alluded to the fact that I was a writer and had been something of an enfant terrible when still young enough to qualify for such an appellation.

Would she like a drink first? She didn’t drink. A cup of tea perhaps? She politely accepted, but I noticed a certain reserve, a certain reluctance. Probably she didn’t like to build up too much of an emotional relationship with her clients as this made the process of torturing them to death more difficult and in the kitchen I chastised myself for having been so gauche.

When I came back into the living room I could not help but pause in the doorway to admire her as she stood with her back to me gazing at a reproduction of Miro’s “Harlequin’s Carnival” above the fire. With a discrete cough I put the tea tray down on the table and we sat and sipped Earl Grey for ten minutes or so until, with a polite smile, she suggested that perhaps we ought to begin.

Did I have any final questions before she gagged me? She would be cutting my tongue out at some point wouldn’t she? I asked, concerned. Yes, yes she reassured me and quickly checked her programme, a sheet of A4 in a plastic wallet. She had planned to sever my vocal chords first thing tomorrow, the tongue came out tomorrow night, but she could bring it forward if I preferred. She had thought I might like to try out a variety of gags, bits and restraints for the first few hours of warming up with some light-to-vigorous whipping and bloodletting. Yes, yes I waved my earlier consternation away. I was in her hands.

She approached me with the gag, a slightly grubby looking length of fabric that I hoped she wasn’t reusing form a previous job. Ah, yes, questions. I had just one: how was my body to be disposed of? Jasmine paused, twisting the gag gently between her long fingers and explained that she was only responsible for me up to the point at which I lost consciousness “for good” ( by which I assumed she meant “died”, but was chary of using the word) and that after that a crew of “cleaners” would come to the house and make sure there were no traces of the firm’s activities in evidence. That my body would then be “liquidified” ( I chose not to correct her catachrestic misstep here) in some way and that as far as anyone was concerned I had left for Beijing on an early morning flight the day before and had simply disappeared.

I was slightly disconcerted by this revelation, by the rather impersonal nature of what happened the moment I lost consciousness “for good”. I had imagined and had taken great delight in imagining a rather humid, tangily fragrant Jasmine, long limbs stippled with sweat sawing my torso up on the living room carpet, tenderly stroking my decapitated head perhaps, perhaps dancing around the dining room table with it and bestowing a last, possibly tender kiss, a la Salome. Ah I see, I said, a faint sourness creeping into it all. The idea that a pair of ham-fisted ex-criminals on the minimum wage would lug me around in the back of a Volvo in a couple of bin bags before “liquidifying” my last mortal remains struck me as a rather inelegant denoument. Still, business was business, I supposed. My own fault really, best not to ask, best not to peep behind the facade at the grimy old clockwork of it all. Yes. Life had taught me that.

I tried to put it out of my mind and concentrate on what was immediately at hand, two days of “intensive pruning”, as I had rather amusingly characterised it in my request. Start with the extremities and work in. I was also keen to be kept alive through a process of dissection should this prove a realistic request, though I assured them that if this was a practical impossibility I would of course understand. I also stipulated that of course I wished to be treated with extreme brutality throughout and that I was not averse to, indeed positively welcomed coprophagic, omophagic, and autophagic practices, in short I was a phagophile. One of “Sexecutions!” team, my own personal client manager, Ruth, very promptly got back to me asking for clarification of these terms “in order to ensure everything is as per your requirements on your big day.”

I had an idea that she would eat certain parts of me then regurgitate them or otherwise pass them through her system and that I would then consume them, my own disgusting corporeality alchemically transmuted inside her! But a flurry of email exchanges with Ruth revealed that Jasmine had drawn the line at cannibalism, on health rather than moral grounds of course. I hinted that I may go to one of “Sexecutions!” competitors: Ruth countered that, “the welfare and happiness of our girls is this company’s number one priority as it is of myself.” And so despite a couple of days of fairly intense bargaining over the price we eventually agreed that she would both defecate and vomit on me as well as feed me parts of my own body, but would not, alas, eat any of me herself.

Was I certain I was ready for this before we began? Jasmine asked me. I said I was. She smiled, I thought a little sadly. Once we begin there’s no going back. So be it I said, brave soldier that I am. The dismemberment special, she said absent-mindedly. I sensed the atmosphere in the room was shifting slightly. Darling, two days is nothing. A pause. I’ve been through a divorce I declared, then laughed uproariously. Old trooper that I am.

We got under way.

First the gag, then she cut my clothes off with a pair of rather blunt scissors and forced me down on my knees to worship at the feet of the goddess Jasmine and so on. Even through the fairly formulaic grovelling preamble I was immensely excited at the prospect of what was to come and this probably blinded me to her relative inexperience as a dominatrix. In the same way that I suspected Ruth had perhaps had more experience organising weddings and birthdays than the range of services “Sexecutions” offered I began to imagine that perhaps Jasmine supplemented her income as an aerobics instructor. I soon pushed this to the back of my mind however and concentrated on the strokes she was administering to my buttocks and back, though the dynamic was rather spoiled after ten minutes or so by her making me put all the plastic sheeting down myself, and while she did bark commands and flick at me with a riding crop while I scurried about I didn’t wonder if even at this early stage she wasn’t simply shirking. What’s next I wondered? Will she order me to cut my own legs off while she nips out for a cigarette? And so the surprising and rather deft eyelid removal, a little personal touch that I hadn’t thought to request myself but which nonetheless showed a certain amount of flair and imagination, served to quell my misgivings. Off we go.

The flogging proper, for which she produced, much to my approval, a rather ornate cat ‘o’ nine tails with a dark, lacquered handle worn smooth over time by the hot palms of several generation’s worth of full-throated flagellators, certainly was both vigorous and protracted and throughout I had the pleasure of watching Jasmine’s lithe, panther-like switching and stalking at my back in the full-length mirror opposite the fireplace. It is often difficult to strike the appropriate level of hauteur required for a truly imperious flogging, the line between haughty, aristocratic disdain for the floggee and the merely desultory often difficult to attain. But here Jasmine did rather well and I felt fully and gratifyingly worthless bent shivering beneath the twin beams of her withering green-eyed froideur.

It was around this point, with a welter of crimson tears weeping from my lacerated back, that Jasmine saw fit to disappear into the bathroom for ten minutes.

“That tea,” she explained re-emerging from the downstairs loo, still smoothing out her rubber skirt, then consulted her itinerary with a puzzled expression on her face. “The fingers, the fingers,” I tried to say through the now frankly rather damp gag but my muffled instructions went unheard. Eventually she rummaged around in her bag for the secateurs with which she was going to snip them off and, composing herself, stalked toward me. Then, spotting the small lagoon of blood pooling around me, turned back in a frenzy of self-remonstratory tutting for a handful of the heavy duty trauma bandages she had piled up on the table.

The wave of sparking pain that I was lifted on as the antiseptic bit into my raw back and the bandages went on simply took my breath away. A moment’s dizzying elevation, an exquisitely attenuated curlicue of white fire licking at the inside of my skull. Then I was back, with Jasmine bent over me slowly working my index finger into the secateurs cold, curved jaws and finding them too narrow. Ho-hum. Had I been able to smile indulgently I would doubtless have done so. She apologized and went back to get a larger pair, pulling a huge pair of forceps out of her bag and leaning them against the sideboard in the process. This was the one that would be used to get through the bones in my legs, presumably. It stood there gleaming dully, beak raised skyward, the exoskeleton of some fearful prehistoric bird, its beady hexagonal eye flashing at me.

Caught in its gaze I almost didn’t notice that Jasmine had returned and cut off my little finger. It fell into a hummock in the rumpled plastic sheeting and rolled there forlornly. The others soon followed and at first there was surprisingly little pain, the body mobilising a whole host of complicated opiates in my defence, I imagine, but the respite was short lived and as Jasmine worked away at the joint of my stubbornly opposable thumb the pain hit me, a pain the likes of which I had never before known, which soon redoubled and intensified as she moved across to the left hand, a pain that I felt in the roots of my teeth, in my tear ducts, playing in arcs of blue-white electricity over my lidless, swivelling eyeballs. Yes, yes! I had breached a boundary, was caught in some bright zone between worlds, spinning away from the profane toward a blinding consummation and I knew as I had always known, strange inversion! that my body was the gross, material shadow of that eternal, ideal form that came ghosting up through all the depth of apperception now to meet me.

Shall we have a little break there? Jasmine asked, dabbing at her damp forehead with the back of her hand and breathing heavily. Then with a smile she reached for the gag and pulled it down rather uncomfortably over my chin so I could respond. Perhaps we could do the toes first and then have a break, I suggested, somewhat piqued. We had barely been at it an hour. We still have quite a lot to get through I reminded her. She nodded. Any chance of some water? I asked. Thirsty work, she replied. No, no for my eyeballs, I explained. They felt as though they had been popped out, rolled in grit then replaced. I have some champagne to drink in the refrigerator. I rather fancy a glass.

While she was in the kitchen and I was distractedly inspecting the concentric pink and white rings of gristle where my fingers had been her mobile rang, buzzing angrily and describing circles on its back. Jasmine came hurrying back through the door saying so sorry, so sorry, turned it off and hid it away in her bag but not, I noticed before she had rapidly thumbed back a quick text message. She popped the cork and held a flute to my lips. I drank deeply, feeling the bubbles. At least she had chosen the appropriate glass. Then she sprinkled some water onto my eyes, a rather unpleasant sensation, before she quickly and to my mind rather perfunctorily, cut off my toes. Why all this unseemly haste? While it was excruciatingly painful, I had to ask her several times to move back a little as her head was blocking my view of the whole procedure.

I need to see everything that goes on I explained to her. Otherwise what was the point in you cutting my eyelids off at all? Sorry, sorry she said. I’ll make sure you see everything when I do the feet. Hands next, surely? I queried. She tottered off to the table, one leg slaloming out from under her as she hit a blood-slicked crease in the sheeting. It says feet here. No, I distinctly stipulated hands first. Well, you’re the boss she said. An unforgivable faux pas for a dominatrix.

I now had the stem of the glass pressed between my palms and was rather clumsily trying to drain it. Saw? She asked, dangling just such an implement from her left hand, or.. she gestured to the forceps with a faintly hopeful air. Clip it all off in twenty minutes and get away before last orders was called, that was the idea was it? Well no, she could damn well work for her money. This was after all costing me an enormous sum, robbing my children of their inheritance and so forth. I imagined she was being handsomely rewarded for her efforts.

Yes, yes. The saw, I insisted. My words slurred slightly. The combination of bloodloss and champagne was making me dizzy. You know how it is.

She had plugged in a large steam iron and left it to heat up on the table top, to use as an ad hoc cauterisation tool I imagined. I hoped it wasn’t going to mark the surface. I was about to ask her if she could slide one of the doilies from the sideboard drawer under it but just as I was about to say something she took me by surprise from behind and whipped a leather bit into my mouth.

Kicking my toes and fingers to one side Jasmine knelt before me and took what remained of my hand in hers, hacksaw momentarily clamped between her teeth, and assessed it. She laid the blade across my wrist at a variety of angles trying to decide on the best way to begin then pressed my palm flat to the floor and made a couple of preparatory nicks at the edge of my wrists but it was quickly evident that the only way she was going to be able to successfully saw it off was to hold it firmly between her legs.

This she did, straddling my forearm and clamping it tightly between her thighs, completely obscuring my view of the action. With the feet, you could definitely see, she said. I grunted and she removed the bit. Yes but that’s really something you should have taken into consideration, didn’t you bring some kind of chopping block or something? She smiled tightly. Or some kind of vice? I mean you have done this before haven’t you? I asked.

I mean usually, she said. Usually I just use the… the word forceps eluded her…the shears. Well. I was not some ovine Johnny-come- lately to be wrestled to the stocks, sheared and have his last mortal remains melted away to paste in some dingy south London basement and I told her as much. Did my itinerary not stipulate: hands to be sawn off? She checked as I knelt glowering. Just “remove hands”, she said. Well then clearly there’s a mistake isn’t there? As I was extremely precise in my stipulations. Well, you’ll have to take that up with my line manager, she replied, rather glibly. I let out a burst of cold laughter. Do you mean straight after I’ve lost consciousness “for good” or after I’ve been “liquidified”? I asked, wiggling the nubs of my toes.

There was a few moments’ silence as Jasmine chewed her top lip. Don’t you have any DIY stuff around the place? She asked. I let another gratifying burst of laughter break free. Do I strike you as the kind of person who would have “DIY” “stuff” around the house? No, regrettably, not being in the painting and decorating trade I do not have now, nor have I EVER had, such “stuff” on the premises, M’Lud. Do you have a policy that your customers should provide you, free of charge, with the means to carry out the services which they have contracted you to provide? A most curious business model. I paused for breath. As I had been speaking I’d had my eyeballs raised to heaven, entreating some higher power to intervene on my behalf and when I lowered them again I thought I saw Jasmine sneaking a look at the clock on the sideboard.

A pause. Shall we put the gag back on now? She asked, with an ingenuous smile, as though she were talking to an invalid. No “we” shall not, I should prefer to remain UNgagged for the remainder of our time together. Her forehead creased a little. Her nostrils flared. Attitude. You don’t have to like me, dear, I said. Just do your job.

And the hands? She asked. Your problem, I said. You know my requirements. Find a solution. That’s what you’re being paid for. She glanced around the room. And don’t even think about trying to use any of the furniture in here, I told her.

And I’d like another class of Champagne I said, gesturing to my empty glass and the ice bucket. She filled it and held it to my lips. I drank it down in one, a long, cold rivulet of foam escaping down my chin and tickling my throat. The moment I’d finished she pushed the bit back in, stepped quickly round behind me to tighten it.

No, no, no. I started shaking my head. I said without the gag. My tongue worked weakly at the black plastic ball. I started to get to my feet, felt that I had a terrible cramp in my calves, stumbled forward finding it impossible to get any purchase on the plastic with no toes. I went face first into Jasmine who pushed me back down with a thud. She had picked up the forceps.

No, no, no. This is not as per my requirements. I raised my arm up to ward them off as they came clacking and swooping in and watched in disbelief as my hand leapt free of those scything jaws in a sudden starburst of blood and powdered bone, shaking me to the core, my mind reeling and folding in on itself.

A pause, then it all came ribboning from my wrist’s broken spigot in two long claret-coloured arcs. I must have passed out for a few moments and it was the smell of charred flesh that brought me round to see the stump at my forearm’s end spitting and crackling against the smoking iron. After a few moments Jasmine pulled it away, a black cat’s cradle of congealed strands stretching out then snapping. Already, with a grimace of concentration and effort, she was prizing open the forceps one more time, angling them toward my left hand, which had come fluttering up to my shoulder.

No, No. Wait a moment I wanted to say. But the bit turned my words back unspoken into my throat. It isn’t supposed to be this way. Too fast. Too violent. Too real, I almost said. Old Contrarian that I am. This isn’t what I paid for.

The left hand went, then she moved on to my feet, her face full of anger and contempt.

Bored. Businesslike.

And this is the nature of my complaint


Anonymous said...

It must cost an arm and a leg for that kind of service - your complaint therefore appears justified and I recommend you contact the regulatory body -Offlimb. Offlimb will keep you abreast of developments as they finger the culprits- who will probably throw their hand in once they realise somethings afoot. If not there'll be blood on the boardroom carpet- you mark my words. Heads will roll and inevitably somebody will get the sac[k]. So socket to 'em.

Dominic said...

Evidently 30 years of Thatcher and Blair have warped you beyond all hope of human rehabilitation. This piece is a transparent glorification of neoliberal "creative destruction", which sickeningly attempts to shift the blame for the system's failings on the workers who fail to carry out their duties with sufficient enthusiasm and imagination...(continues for 37 posts, with slightly varying cadence...)

Anonymous said...

No, Dominic, surely it's a study of the intersubjective, not to mention intrasubjective ("I had a terrible cramp in my calves")torsion experienced by social participants in situ as the result of a particular ludic connivance, a work that courageously depicts unpleasant truths about individuals and never offers the viewer the fantasy of being extracted from this connivance, elevated above the fray, and able to see what makes other people (synechdochised as social "types", such as bored Dominas) tick? (continues for 371 posts, with slightly varying cadence...)

Still, it's good to see a woman coping. The only mystery is why Jasmine didn't start by removing the narrator's tongue.

Anonymous said...

nice to see the spirit of good humour has returned to blogland!

Dominic said...

I don't see anyone claiming that this is realist fiction, and therefore better than the infantile fantasies enjoyed by sniggering overgrown adolescents. It's a morbid shaggy-dog story with a decent punchline. It has some memorable images, although I prefer not to remember them. It is better than many other things of its sort, simply because it is better written, although it reminds me rather of Amis Jr and I've never much liked him - his clever-nastiness is a mask for a not-so-clever nastiness, which is increasingly in evidence these days. Even so, I'll take my cleverness where I can get it. Rather Celine than Carol Anne Duffy.

Anonymous said...

"Rather Celine than Carol Anne Duffy."

Luckily, these are not the only two choices available to any of us.

Dominic said...

Happily there do, indeed, exist people who are both clever and not fascists. They do seem to be somewhat of a minority though. Fascism is stupid, but it's one of those sorts of stupidity clever people go for, perplexingly in spite of the fact that it's also one of those sorts of stupidity stupid people go for.

Perhaps that's the point - people convinced of their own cleverness who want to feel that they belong, after all, to the same species as stupid people will find in fascism the simulacrum of a common bond...

Anonymous said...

"Fascism is stupid, but it's one of those sorts of stupidity clever people go for, perplexingly in spite of the fact that it's also one of those sorts of stupidity stupid people go for."

I really don't see anything perplexing about it. Goering was not mentally deficient. The attraction of fascism for the (superficially or insecurely or resentfully) clever is surely no mystery. Inside many smart-but-alienated adolescent boys there's a protofascist flailing to get out, often disguised as a left-Nietzschean, or a "post-humanist", or a technogeek, or a 'taboo-breaking' artist. Wilhelm Reich described the aetiology more than seven decades ago. Robert Crumb drew more than one memorable cartoon about it.

- w.

it said...

Way to make left-wing politics sound sexy, w! Aren't you supposed to assume that everyone is really a humanist trying to shrug off the misanthropy engendered by Batman films, or something? Don't you have a tiny bit of love left over for the unhappily protofascist teen-boys? Miserable bastard!

Dominic said...

What has the left-Nietzschean anti-humanist technogeek to do with the blood-and-soil bits of fascism, the kids-church-kitchen bit, the unity-is-strength bit, the theatrical militarism, the biological race theory and the ovens? Without these elements, all of which he will generally find both contemptible and personally menacing, what really is left?

This "proto-" fascism is nothing of the sort. It's just a hatred of biological existence ("the human animal"), quotidian sociality ("opinion") and the tyranny of received ideas ("the state"). It meshes with neoliberal ambition in its deterritorialising phase, but is absolutely hostile to the reterritorialisation that inevitably follows: what it wills is destructive destruction.

What particularly appeals to me about Badiou, besides the mathematics, is that this desire is acknowledged, given a name ("the passion for the real"), and then artfully persuaded to invest itself in the search for novel egalitarian political forms instead of just burning shit down.

I don't see a passion for the real in chauvinistic left-humanism; I see an intransigent defence of fairytales (be they Reichian or whatever) about the intrinsic niceness of human beings, with the concommittant misidentification of its enemies as enemies of niceness, rather than all-too-human partisans of their own class interest. The oppressors are assuredly members of the same biological species as the oppressed (not lizards...). The value of humanity as such to an emancipatory politics is precisely nil.

Anonymous said...

"(superficially or insecurely or resentfully) clever"

pound? heidegger? celine?

Anonymous said...

"Way to make left-wing politics sound sexy, w!"

I know, IT, it'sterribleisn'tit. A Left that truly aspired to sound sexy would fantasise at inordinate length about being tailored to death by a Jasmine dressed precisely "as per" our requirements, because after all who's paying? Or else that sad 'n' schlubby left would address its lamentable sexiness-deficit from another angle, namely Dominic's, by arguing that "the value of humanity as such to an emancipatory politics is precisely nil". That should madden 'em with desire.

Way to go, guys. It reminds me of Rudolf Valentino. The left will soon require bodyguards.


Anonymous said...

"I don't see a passion for the real in chauvinistic left-humanism; I see an intransigent defence of fairytales (be they Reichian or whatever) about the intrinsic niceness of human beings, with the concommittant misidentification of its enemies as enemies of niceness, rather than all-too-human partisans of their own class interest. "

Well, if you "see" that, then it's solely because you've constructed a giant straw man in your own living-room, and it's blocking your window.

It's nice to see that the old cottage industries haven't died out, though, and I'm glad you have a hobby, if you feel you need one. And you can beat Mr. Strawman up all you want, Dominic, but don't expect thunderous applause when you win. "Fairytales ... about the intrinsic niceness of human beings"? You clearly haven't read a word of Reich. Maybe you're confusing him with Tony Blair, or Terry Wogan. Or maybe you're just too attached to your own comforting fairytales about Humanity's Intrinisic Nastiness.

"The oppressors are assuredly members of the same biological species as the oppressed (not lizards...)."

Dot dot dot. You don't say. Or rather you do, but why? Who's denying it? Certainly not I. But you do love constructing those straw men of yours, or in this case straw lizards.

As you pride yourself on noticing, Dominic, it's not always nice to be nice. Reich noticed this too, of course. (He did very much more than notice it, but whatever.) But is it always deep to be nasty? By no means, as you demonstrate. Feel free to equate "a passion for the real" with "a hatred of biological existence", or a round-the-world trip with an episode of EastEnders, but I'm going to need more than your word for it that you're right.

The value of misanthropy as such to an emancipatory politics is less than nil, as the left sooned noticed in the case of Celine. Now you're telling us the way forward is to expand our focus and start hating everything that lives, before being "artfully persuaded" -- somehow, perhaps magically, by someone big & clever, a natural Leader of Men, no doubt -- to channel this passion for the real [sic] into something much nicer and more constructive, which will yet be equally real, somehow, or so you claim.

Your thinking is undeniably artful (indeed, it's positively rococo), but I'm still not fully persuaded it's emancipatory, or even sexy, much less sane. But then I'm no mathematician. In any case, the world has been down this road before, in sexay uniforms. The Nazis called themselves socialists too, y'know. Dot dot dot.


Dominic said...

Fuck me, but I've heard all this before. You're not Lawrence Upton, are you? You sound exactly exactly exactly like him.

Anonymous said...

No, I am not Lawrence Upton. Who is he? (Clearly a man of taste and discernment, whoever he is.)

- w.

Dominic said...

Somewhere around the outset of Andrea Dworkin's Pornography there's a reference to napalm and nuclear bombs as weapons so perverse and hideous as to defy "any authentically human imagination". The crux of the phrase is the word "authentically". Dworkin's not claiming that napalm was invented by lizards, but that the human beings who invented it must have become separated from some wellspring of authentic humanity. This is the move I'm disagreeing with: I don't think that the humanity that invents hideous weapons is any more or less authentic than the humanity that recognises their hideousness and recoils from it. "Humanity" cannot be separated into "authentic" and "inauthentic" humanity (indeed, there's something decidedly fascist about this sort of distinction). An emancipatory politics cannot therefore take humanity as a value, since generic humanity includes the humanity of (amongst others) oppressors and napalm-inventors. I am not asserting that napalm-inventors represent the true, authentic, intrinsic humanity. I am asserting that there is no true, authentic, intrinsic humanity that does not include the humanity of napalm-inventors.

Dominic said...

More telegraphically: emancipation requires an idea.

Anonymous said...

"Dworkin's not claiming that napalm was invented by lizards, but that the human beings who invented it must have become separated from some wellspring of authentic humanity. This is the move I'm disagreeing with"

Good for you. It's not my move, though, it's Andrea Dworkin's, so I don't see why I'm being blamed for it.

I am asserting that there is no true, authentic, intrinsic humanity that does not include the humanity of napalm-inventors."

Where did I deny this, Dominic? Nowhere. It's a trivial truth. And of course I don't deny it and never have done.

There's that straw man again; or, in this case, straw woman. I am no more it than I am Lawrence Upton.

- w.

Dominic said...

But do you now understand what I mean when I say that humanity as such is of no value to an emancipatory politics?

Dominic said...

Or that, in general, a politics that promises to emancipate an authentic humanity from an inauthentic humanity is likely to be fascist?

Anonymous said...

A cheap evasion, warzawa!

Anonymous said...

"But do you now understand what I mean when I say that humanity as such is of no value to an emancipatory politics?"

No, because it's incoherent. Precisely what do you mean by "humanity"? What is any politics going to emancipate, if not human beings?

"Or that, in general, a politics that promises to emancipate an authentic humanity from an inauthentic humanity is likely to be fascist"

That would depend on how your terms are defined, and who's defining them, and to what end. "Authentic" is not a word I'm in the habit of using, but "humanity" is certainly indispensable.

And some ways of living are clearly more suited to human beings than others. I wouldn't say it's inauthentic to work a 12-hour day for a pittance and then go home hungry to sleep in a slum; I'd say it's crap, I'd say it's wrong, and I'd say it should be changed.

No need to complicate matters unnecessarily. But I do in fact agree with Debord that there are even better ways of living than the one we enjoy right now. Do you disagree?

PS In saying "promises" you're also putting your thumb on the scales, surreptitiously. (I saw that!) Certainly, the promises of ideologues are generally worth distrusting. But who's promising, exactly? To whom are you referring?

- w.

chimp said...

god you two should get a room for christ's sake.

Anonymous said...

Chimp, you're authentically human, but not intrinsically nice.

Have a banana.