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TryingNotToBreathe:transgression,strangulationandcensorshipinDarkSpringandEdenEden Eden. Anexaminationoftheroleofbreathineroticliteratureandtherelationshipbetweenpersonal writingandsuppression.

JessicaWorden MAPerformanceWriting Scale:60credits DartingtonCollegeofArts October2009

TryingNotToBreathe:transgression,strangulationandcensorshipinDarkSpringandEdenEden Eden.Anexaminationoftheroleofbreathineroticliteratureandtherelationshipbetween personalwritingandsupression.JessicaWorden,2009

TryingNotToBreathe:transgression,strangulationandcensorshipinDarkSpringandEdenEden Eden.Anexaminationoftheroleofbreathineroticliteratureandtherelationshipbetween personalwritingandsuppression. JessicaWorden ThispieceexaminesthebackgroundandproseofUnicaZrnsnovelDarkSpringandPierre GuyotatsnovelEdenEdenEdenandhowitrelatestobreathandbreathlessnessinliterature. Themesofsuppressedbreatharethefocusofthisexamination.Byanalyzingthelayeringwithinthe proseusedtocreateasenseofliteralormetaphoricalbreathlessness,Iplantoestablishthelinks betweenwritingaboutsexualityandatthesametime,suppressesit.Bothnovelsdealheavilywith transgressivesubjectmatter;thisisofspecificinteresttomeinhowitrelatestocensorshipfroman outsidesourceaswellasfromwithin.InthistextIinterweavepersonalwritingnotonlytocreatea layeredtexture,buttoalsototransgressasIwrite.ThefirstsectionexaminesZrnsnovelandthe themesofsuffocationandsexualpleasure,aswellashowitislayeredwithintheactofwriting. Writingbecomesanactthatexposesasitconceals.Thesecondsectionhandlesstylistic breathlessnessandactivetransgressioninGuyotatsnovelanddrawsparallelsbetweenhisworkand contemporaryexamples,particularlywithinthecontextofcontemporarycensorship.Thelast sectionincorporatespersonalwritinganddrawsparallelsbetweenbreathplay(eroticasphyxiation) practicesandselfcensorship,particularlywithinfemalewriting.Inadditiontothemainsections, therearetwominorinterludesthatbrieflyexplorewrittenbreathintwodifferenteroticnovels.The dissertationfunctionsasaselectionofofferings,ratherthanconclusions.

AspecialthankstothecontinuedsupportreceivedfromMarkLeahyandCarolineWalters.The conceptionofthisdissertationwouldnothavebeenpossiblewithoutJeromeFletcherandthe DartingtonCollegeofArtsLibrary.

Index
section

page 6 9 22 24 36 38 48 49 50

Introduction

Dolls,RopeandOtherKindsofUnhappiness ASexualInterlude

Dypsnea/TakingWalksintheGarden AgonySighs

IntroducingSilence Conclusion Appendix

Bibliography

Introduction
Thereisastrangeoverlapinstorytellingwheretheauthorwritestotellsomethingandyet,by tellingit,transgresses.Whenthesubjectmatterissexualinnatureandutilizeshumansexuality eitherliterallyormetaphoricallytocreatecontent,thewriteroftenfindstheirmateriallabelled pornographicsuchasinthecaseofEdenEdenEden.Guyotatsnovelwasprohibitedin1970bythe FrenchMinistryofInteriorfromsaletominors,advertisementanddisplay.UnicaZurnpublishedher novelDarkSpringatapproximatelythesametime(1969)withaGermanpublisher.Whileboth bookscontainedsimilarlyexplicit,taboocontent,Guyotatsnovelsparkedpoliticaloutragewhereas Zrnsnovelelicitedsomeinterestfromtheavantgardeartcirclesbeforedisappearingfromview. Thephenomenonthatisevidentinpornography,whereallislaidbareandyetnothingisrevealed strangelymirrorsthewritingofZrn.Itsastrangejuxtapositionbetweenrevealingtheprohibited andyetshowingnothing.Thepracticethatismostdisturbingisthatoftheindividual,whoactively censorshimorherself.Thisphenomenonismostwidelydocumentedinfemalework;wherethe struggletoexpressonesselfismostpalpable.ThisstruggleisdiscussedinHeleneCixous theoreticalworkandbyotherwritersinvolvedinthemovementknownascriturefeminine.Their workfocusedondevelopinganewwayofwritingthatbetterunabledthefemaletoexpressherself throughwriting(depictingwritingasafemaleasanendeavourthatwasultimatelydoomed/flawed whenwritinginalanguagethatwasdeterminedbyapatriarchalcultureandwastherefore phallocentric). Bylookingathowtwodifferentauthorsutilizetheeroticnovelasaformattorevealallandatthe sametime,smotherinsomewayoranother,Ihopetofurtherexploretheparallelsbetween breathingandrevealinginwriting.Controlofbreath,eitherthroughthemannerinwhichtheactual proseiswrittenorliterallydiscussedasasubjectwithintheprose,ispresentinbothnovels.Iam

fascinatedbyhowsilencingthroughwritingworksinconjunctionwithconfessionandexposure; thisisparticularlyevidentinZrnsnovel Aspartofthis,Iplantoexaminetheactualwritingofthetwonovels,DarkSpringandEdenEden Eden,thebackgroundofthenovelsandtheliteraryorthematicpredecessors.InDarkSpring,Zrn describesviolenceandbreathlessness,butitisGuyotatsnovelthatenactsit.EdenEdenEden literallyperformsthecontentofthetext,itinducesthebreathlessnessitdescribesandviolently attacksthereaderinthesamewaythattheprotagonist,Wazzag,isanallypenetratedoverandover againthroughoutthecourseofthenovel.Transgressionplaysanimportantroleintheeffectiveness ofthisattack;withoutit,theimpactofthecontentwouldbeconsiderablyless. ParticularlyinthecaseofGuyotatsnovel,myinterestisinhowthenovelrelatestoother transgressiveliteratureandmediaaswellashowtheactualcontentofthenoveltransgressesand thereforemustbesilenced.Thethematicareasofoverlapbetweeneroticasphyxiationand censorship(silencing)willbediscussedbothliterallyandalsoexploredthroughpersonalwritingin thelattersection. Itismyintenttonotonlycriticallyexaminetheroleofbreathinthenovels,butalsotoexamineit throughpersonalwriting.Breathfunctionsnotonlyasaliterarytropeforfemaleorgasmandsexual pleasureineroticliterature,butalsoimpliessuppression,enclosureandsuffocation.Inadditionto that,Ihaveseveralshortsectionswhichspecificallyhandlemoansandexpulsionsofbreathas modesof(sexual)expression.Thelastsectionofthedissertationcombinespersonalwritingwitha comparisonoferoticasphyxiationandfemaleselfcensorship. Itismyintentiontoutilizeasprawlingfocustoencourageassociativethought.Byswitching betweenpersonalwritingandcriticalanalysis,Iintendtomakethereaderconstantlyselfaware,as wellascreatearichertexturetotheprose.Inadditiontothis,Ibelievethatthisapproachbetter reflectsthetypeandstyleofcommunicationasdescribedinthelatterportionwhichspecifically 7

looksattheimpactofcriturefeminineonfemaleselfcensorship.InmyBachelorsthesis,I exploredtheimpactofDeleuzesrhizometheoryoncommunicationwithinthearts.Thiscontinues toimpactmyworkandthewaythatIchoosetocommunicate.Inadditiontothis,Ialsochosenotto includeanyillustrationsofthedifferentimagesIhavechosentodiscussinthebodyofthetext. Lastly,breathisorganic.Eachmomentoflifeisreducedtoacycleofinvoluntaryinhalationsand exhalations.Eachbreathisacomplexseriesofminoreventsthattakeplacewithinthebodyto createalargerevent.Thevariabilityofeachindividualbreathisendlessandcomplex;thebody expandsandthencontracts.Theairofthispiecebranchesintotheouterbronchiolesofa metaphoricalsetoflungsandthenretractstoonlyberedirectedelsewhere.

Dolls,RopeandOtherKindsofUnhappiness
Itmurmursinside.Itmurmurs.Insideisthepainofspeechthepaintosay.Largerstill. Greaterthanisthepainnottosay.Tonotsay.Saysnothingagainstthepaintospeak.It festersinside.Thewound,liquid,dust.Mustbreak.Mustvoid.(Cha,2001:3) TheworkofUnicaZrnisafascinatingglimpseintothemindoftheschizophrenicaswellas documentationoftheperspectiveofafemaleartistworkingwithinthesurrealistartcircle.She pursuedavarietyofforms,producingworkbothasawriterandasanartist.Tothisday,herwork continuestocropupincontemporaryartexhibitionsandfeministstudies.Whatmakesherallthe morepoignantisthefactthatherworkwasneverovertlyfeministorhadanysociallymotivated goals.Herworkwasdeeplyintrospective,darklysexualandoftenviolent.Hersemi autobiographicalnovel,DarkSpring,whichwaspublishedshortlybeforeherdeath,functionsasa strangesortofmirrortoherownlife. DarkSpringisastoryaboutabuse.Itchroniclesthevariouswaysthechildprotagonistishurt, betrayedandneglectedbyherimmediateenvironment.Atthesametime,itisataleofsexual awakening.Thejuxtapositionofsexualityandinnocencecreateastrangevocabularyofrepression andmetaphoricalreplacementtermsforthingsthelittlegirllacksthewordstoexplain.Silence, suppressionandconfusionarecommonthemesinabusesituations.Ifindellipticalwaysof expressingmyselfwhenIneedtospeak.Itsnotjustspeechaboutincestthatisdifficult:Ifindthat speechisimpossibleinmanycontexts.(Dralus&Shelton,1995:21)Hidingacrimewithinasecret, wherethevictimlacksthevocabularytobegintoencapsulatetheexperience. InthistalewhereZrnrevealsdetailedsexualencountersandacts,theprotagonistishamperedat everyturninherabilitytoexpressherself.Hermasturbatorypracticeswiththefamilydogare explicitlyrecorded,butevenasshetellsusaboutyieldingtothedogstongueforhours(Zrn, 9

1969,2000:58)shedescribesthesoundofherfatherssecretarytypingandthesecrecyinwhich thisacttakesplace.Shemustrestrainherselffrommakingnoiseinordertokeeptheactivitysecret. Thetickticktickofthetypewritermaskstheeventtakingplace,replacingthewordswrittenbyZrn. Bysuperimposingthesoundofthetypewritingoverthedescriptionofthemasturbation,theactof writingmufflestheactualactivitiesnotonlyliterally,butalsometaphorically.Thewritingcovers upthedirtythingsthatZrnhasjustdescribed. Muffling,silencingandsuffocationarereoccurringdevicesinthenovel.Theincestuousrape betweenbrotherandsister,towhichZrndevotestwopages,takesplacewithoutnoise.Duringand after,thegirlremainssilent.Shedoesnotevenrespondtoherbrothersthreattokillherifshetells theirmother.Illkillyouifyoutellmotheraboutthis.(Zrn,1969,2000:57)Sheremainssilent, herangerandhumiliationlockedwithin.Thenovelstatesthatshehastheseemotions,buttheyare notexpressed.Similarly,whileshedoesremainsilentregardingherrape,itdoesnotseemthatshe isallthataffectedbythethreatsherbrothermakes.Althoughhethreatenstokillher,neveratany pointdoesthenovelimplythatitisthisthreatthatbuyshersilence.Shemayhateherbrother,but shehateshimpassively.Herrape,alongwithhersexualfantasiesandpleasure,allrevolvearound thingsdonetoher.ItisstrangethatZrnchoosestoportrayhercharacterassuchapassive participantinherownlife,almostasatoytakenfromtheshelftobeplayedwithatwhim. WhenHansBellmer,Zrnsloverfrom1953tillherdeath[suicide]in1970,initiallymetZrn,heis reputedtohavesaid,ThisistheDoll.(Rupprecht,2000:19)Bellmerhadspentthelargerportion ofhiscareerasanartistconstructingandthenphotographingaseriesoflifesizedfemaledolls. Whilehisoriginaldolllackedmobilelimbs,hissecondseriesofdollscomprisedofexchangeable parts,balljointedlimbs,breastsandabdomensthatwereremoved,replacedandmultipliedat random,positioned,forthephotographsheconstructed.

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Adollhasnovoiceofitsown;itspeakssolelythroughthepossessorthatholdsit.Justasthe ventriloquistanimatesthedummy,sodidBellmeranimatehisdoll.Bellmersdollcouldbe manipulatedandtakenaparttoexposedifferentaspects;whileitassumedahumanform,ithad noneofouragency.IfZrnisthedoll,asBellmerproclaimshertobe,heconsequentlyappropriates hervoiceorherabilitytospeak.(Rupprecht,2000) Thetraditionaldollhasonlyarepresentationofamouth.Whileshehaslipsandsometimeseven paintedteeth,hermouthdoesnotactuallyopen.Adollishollowandemptyontheinside. Bellmersoriginaldollswereoftenphotographedwiththeirinsideshalfexposed.Intheeroticstory LaFemmeEndormiebyMadameB.,amanasksanartisantoconstructadollforhis(sexual) pleasure.Thedollisdeliveredwithamessagefromtheartisanthatreads; TheextraordinarydollthatIveconceivedandexecuted...doesntdifferfromawoman, exceptinonerespect:shecantspeak.Ipaidparticularattentiontoherinterior,whichis fittedwiththreebasins,severalboxesandcylinders,andanumberoflittleductssoasto permitthecirculationofallsortsofproductsthatitwouldpleasetheexperimenterto introduceintothesilentgoddesssbody.Bypullingcertaincurlsofherhair,hereyesand lipscanbemadetomove.Onecanplaceherineveryimaginableposition:standingup, seated,kneeling,lyingprone,lyingonherback.(MadameB,unknown,J.Renold,1899, Kronhausen,1969) Thepurposeofthedollistohavethedesiresofothersimposeduponher.Thepropensityto formulateandpursueherdesiresisnotexistent.InTheStoryofO,theprotagonist,awomannamed O,successivelysacrificesherselfidentityinordertocomeclosertotheultimatestateof objectification.Heronlydesireistofurtherherownpassivity.Thenovelwaswrittenasaseriesof lovelettersfromtheauthor,AnneDeclos,toherlover,publisherJeanPaulhan.Ossubmission becomesthemeanswithwhichDeclosexpressesherdeeploveanddevotion.Zrnsprotagonistis similarinsomanywaystoBellmersdolls;sheisBellmersfantasymadeflesh.Itisdifficultto distinguishwherethefactofZrnscharacterbeginsandwhereitfadesoverintotherealizationof fantasy.

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Asshestrugglestofreeherselffromherbonds,sheexperiencesenormouspleasureastheropes cutmoredeeplyintoherflesh.Sheismocked,deridedandhumiliated.(Zrn,1969,2000:48) Elevenyearspriortothepublicationofthispassage,Zrnposedforaseriesofphotographstakenby herlover[HansBellmer].(seepage49)Inthephotographs,thintwinecutsintoherskin,sectioning itoffandparcellingitintoanonymoushumps.Aheadlesstorso,amassofcrevices;thestringisthin enoughtocut.Insomeimages,herbreastsarecutintoandsquashedintounrecognizablelumpy bumps.Thesephotographswerepartofanongoingstudyoftheanamorphousfemalebodyby Bellmer.He[Bellmer]describesinLePetitAnatomieanimageburnedintohismemory,amanhad haphazardlyboundhisvictimsthighs,shoulders,chest,backandbellywithstrongironwireinorder todeformher.Tightlycrisscrossed,itproducedswollencushionsofflesh,irregular,spherical triangles,incisingherbodywithlongcreasesandimpurelips,creatinghithertounseen multiplicationsofbreastsinindescribableplaces.(Bellmer,1963,2005:129) Sheisboundandcontorted,notjustbytheropesinthegamesthatareplayed,butbythefamilial hierarchy.JustasZrnfeltsodeeplyandinextricablyentwinedwithBellmer,boundbydependence andlove,soisthegirlchildofhernovel.Theabsenceoftheparentsenablesherbrothertorapeher withoutconsequence.Itisalsotheabsenceoftheparentsthatenablesherlongmasturbatory sessions.Anddespitetheexistenceoftheselong,unsupervisedhours,sheisabandoned,notfree. Herfathereventuallyleavesthenesttobetteraccommodatehisloveaffairswhilehermotherlocks herselfupinherroomwithmenandherartisticpursuits. Itisdifficulttowordanactualassault,toencompassaviolent,painfulexperiencewithwords.Using wordstodescribeanactcreatespassivitystagnatestheactualemotionsofamoment.Itisdifficult todeterminewhetheritistherecountingofanactualassaultthatwouldcauseZrntodescribeitin suchpassive,baldtermsorifitisareflectionofherpositionwithinherrelationship.Itisthevictim whopassivelyendureswhateveritisthattheirinflictormayormaynotdotothem.However,by establishingparallelswiththeroleoftheDoll,Zrnbecomesboundtodepictingherscenesof 12

violencewiththesamepassivitywithwhichsheendurestheobjectificationofherbodywhileposing forHansBellmersphotographs. Itsherlittlegirlbody,vulnerableandsoftfortracingoutallofthebadthingsbeendone;allthebad thingsshewantsdone.Arethesesecretdesiresorisshejustdoomedtorepeateverytransgressive actuntilshecanfollowherheroinetoherultimateend? AccordingtoJenniferCizekMarshall,UnicaZrnunderwentseveralbackalleyabortions.(Cizek Marshall,2000:21)Marshallalsoimpliesthathermentalinstabilitymayhavebeenlinkedtoor exacerbatedbytheseexperiences.Consideringthephysicalstressofanabortion,nottomention theemotional,itisnothardtoimaginethatthisisthecase.Deniedmotherhoodisareturning themeinZrnslife;shelosesherchildrentoherfirsthusbandanddespitehercontinuedfertility, choosesnottobringanotherpregnancytoterm.Hercharacterdiesayounggirl,butnotavirgin. LikethekillerinHetGoudenEi(TheGoldenEgg)byTimKrabb,Zrnkillshercharacteratherpeak. Krabbsvillainisobsessedwithcommittingthemostvilecrime,robbinglifeinthemosttragicway possible.Inthisinstance,thekillerbelievesthattakingthelifeofawomanonthecuspof motherhood(loved,attached,fertile,butnotyetamother)ismostpoignant.(Krabbe,1984)Zrn endsthegirlslifejustasitisbeginningAsthetitlesuggests,itisadarkspringindeed:fully withouthope.

Theopenspacecontainsbreasts,aheadonadelicateneck,andthegermoflightdeepin hereyesthatholdnosecrets.(Artaud,1963,2005)
IntheintroductiontoDarkSpring,CarolineRupprechtquestionstowhatextentZrnslittlegirl couldbereadasaresponsetoBellmersownpeculiareroticismwhichfocusesprimarilyonthe bodiesoflittlegirlsbutgiventhatZrnsocloselyresembledthegirlishdoll,itslikelythather decisiontoportrayachildssexualitywasadefaultone.(Rupprecht,2000:20)Onecouldalsoargue thatitfollowsacertainerotictradition.Theheroinesoferoticliteratureareoftenundertheageof 13

twenty.BataillesSimoneis16,(Bataille,1928:9)andComtedeMirabeausLaurais15atthestart ofthenovella.(ComtedeMirabeau,1783:15)Thereisanaddedurgencytotheblossoming sexualityofachildversusthatofagrownadult.Everythingthelittlegirlexperiences,she experiencesitforthefirsttimeandwiththedramaofanadolescent.Herfantasylifeissostrongly presentbecauseitfunctionsasastandintoforthesexualrealitythatcomeswithadulthood. Theportrayalofachildssexualityalsoreinforcestheunderlyingthemeofsilenceandinhibited voice.Achildlackstheadultvocabularytoproperlydescribetheevents(inthisinstance,abuse)that havetakeplace.Thegirlreferstoherownsexasawoundandbyusingthatspecificterm,dictates thathervaginaisasourceofpain.Themalesexisalsospokenofmetaphorically.Itisdescribedas mysteriousandfrightening.Sheandafriendareconfrontedbyaflasher,whoexposeshisengorged membertothem.(Zrn,1969,2000:67)Theyrunawayinfearofthisstrangeandgrotesque protrusion.Thistypeofnaivetisacommontropeineroticliterature.InJeandeBergsEducation inCharmetheprotagonist,ayounggirlnamedSylvia,issenttolivewithherAuntandUncle,is introducedtoherUnclessexorganintermsofatoy.Shedescribesitatgreatlength,thetoys attributes,andherfamilyencouragesthisperception,namingthephallusPapaBouquet,aclever playonwordsthatassociatestheorganwithacupandballgamecalledbilbouquet.(deBerg, 1985:1478)DeBergutilizesathisconceittochargethestorywithasexualatmospherebutalsoto thepreservethesexualinnocenceoftheprotagonist.Thistongueincheek,humorousapproach allowstitillation,butnotatthecostofthechildsinnocence.Inasubsequentpassage,Sylviaand hercousinLucilehearanoiseinanadjoiningroomandgotoinvestigate.Hercousinasksifitmay havebeenaghosttowhichSylviareplies,Ifitisaghost...hemustliveonadietofpalemilk.(de Berg,1985:161)Mycousinlookeddownandsawthepaledropsofliquidwhichstoodoutagainst theparquetfloor.Blushingfornoapparentreason,shedraggedmeaway...(deBerg,1985:161) Thecontrastbetweenthesetwotalesliesintheunderlyingemotions.Sylvia,likeZrnsgirlchild,is introducedtosexualactsbymoreexperienced,olderfamilymembers.Bothlacktherequisite 14

vocabularytodescribeaswellasfullycomprehendtheactstheyarecoercedintoparticipatingin. However,forSylvia,itispartofadelightfulgameandthuseludestheshame,guiltandhurtthat accompaniesincestuousandpaedophilicacts.ThewordsandimagesthatZrnsgirlappliestoher organsaswellasthoseofmenreflectpain,fearandshame.Anditistheseemotionsthatextend theinitialperiodofsilencesurroundingtheseevents.Thelimitedvocabularyshepossessesis furtherconstrainedbyfeelingsofshameandguilt.Andasitfallsoutsideoftherealmofgeneral childhoodexperience,sheisalsoisolated.Evenifshedidhavethewordstotalkaboutwhathad happened,articulatingittoafriendofherownagewouldsimplybeimpossible. IrememberalengthyparablethatwassharedinSundayschoolwhenIwastwelveregarding chastity.Thiswomancomparedchastitytoabottlesubmergedinwater.Therewasagirlwhomet ahandsomeboyatadance.Heconvincedhertotalkmoreintimatelyinhiscar.Somebubbles escaped.Hekissedherandmoreairbubbledup.Shetalkedusthroughtheforeplay,thetongues touching,andhishandinsideherclothesuntilshelostallofherair.(Whenhepuncturedher:she deflatedlikeablowupdollwithasuctiontubeforamouth.) ThisparablestuckwithmeovertheyearsmainlybecauseIwasabitdisturbedbytheconnectionsI hadmadeinmymindatthatage;imaginingmyselftobeabottleofsodaslowlylosingcarbonation. (OrastheysayinDutch,prik.)Theculminationof(lackof)airinthisinstanceispenetration.The decidingfactorseemstobewhetherornothesstuckitinyou;maybeitstheinitialgaspasitslides inorisitthesighofsatisfaction? Thelittlegirlfantasizesnightlyofadeath,...whichtakesplacebymeansofathousandslowand extendedknives.Shesnotallowedtoscreamorchangeherfacialexpression.Graduallyaknife drillsintoherwoundandturnsintothedogshotagiletongue.(Zrn,1969,2000:63)She dreamsofafinalpenetrationwhereherwithheldbreathdissolvesintoanorgasm.Itisinterestingto notethatsheisnotallowedtoscream.Inherfantasy,anoutsideforce,herattacker,hertorturer, 15

doesnotallowhertoscream,butultimatelyasitisafantasyofherdevising,shedoesnotallow herselftoscream.Perhapsinthefaceofgreatpainandevengreaterpleasure,inordertomaintain control,shefeelsshemustrestrainfromanyandallexpression.Perhapsitisatestofendurance. Perhapsherfantasiesmustreflectherreality;justassheenduresrapeandabuse,shemustalso endureherowndarkfantasies.Inordertoretainsomesemblanceofcontrol,ourprotagonistinflicts variationsofthesametortureunderthesameconditionsinordertobravelyconquerthem. Thegirlbecomeslittlemorethananutterance:aunitboundbetweensilences.Silenceaboundsin thisnovel.Itcontainssparsedialogueandforallofthesexualactivity,therearenogasps,moansor exclamationsofwhatareotherwisedescribedaslargelypleasurableexperiences.Breathremains caughtinthebodyofthecharacter:shecannotexhaleandthereforecannotfindexpression.Itis strange,however,thatthecharacterisallowedorgasm,beingthatorgasminitsmostbasic expressionisastheexhalationofbreath. Silenceisareoccurringtheme.Secretsunspeakable,emotionscapturedonpaper,andscreams, moans,criesthatarechokeddown.Silenceistheresultofbreathdiverted,heldinthechest,unable toescape.Andnoise;noiseistheexhalation. ThisraisessomeinterestingparallelswithElaineScarrysTheBodyinPain,whichexploresthe inexpressiblenatureofpainanditsabilitytodestroylanguagewithinthecontextoftorture. Forwhattheprocessoftorturedoesistosplitthehumanbeingintotwo,tomake emphatictheeverpresentbut,exceptintheextremityofsicknessanddeath,onlylatent distinctionbetweenaselfandabody,betweenameandmybody.Theselforme, whichisexperiencedontheonehandasmoreprivate,moreessentiallyatthecenter,and ontheotherhandasparticipatingacrossthebridgeofthebodyintheworld,isembodied inthevoice,inlanguage.(Scarry,1985:4849) AsCarolineRupprechtstatesinherintroduction,languagefailstocommunicatethepainofthe living.(Rupprecht,2000:1)DespitethefactthatZrnchroniclesaseriesofpainfulandsometimes sexuallypleasurableexperiences,hersomewhatbalddescriptionsonlyunderlinetheimpossible natureofcommunicatingtheexperienceitself.Paindestroyslanguage.Paindefiesexpression 16

becauseitunderminesthecohesionofselfandbody.Paindismantlesselfhoodandintheprocess, destroysanindividualscapacitytocommunicate.Notonlythat,painisaspecificallyindividualand internalexperience.Whilewecanwitnessanotherspainandevenattempttoempathize,it remainsentirelytheirown.Itisthisisolation,thisinabilitytoshareherpainthatleadstothe undoingofourprotagonist. Afollowingsectionofthenovelunderlinestheimportanceofwritinginthenovelasameansof surpressingactualdeed.Itdescribestheshortlivedromancebetweenthegirlandherfriend,ashy boynamedEckbert.Eckbertmakestentativeromanticoverturestowardsthegirlthatshe,atfirst, welcomesandthenlaterspurns. Neitherofthemhasbeenkissed.Eckberthasheardthatoneissupposedtoopenones mouthanddosomethingwithonestongue.Howcomplicated!Hedoesnotbelievethathe willsucceedinthis.Heistooshy.Hetakespaperandpencil,andwriteshisfirstloveletter toher: Iloveyou!Foreveryours,Eckbert. Tohim,thisletterseemsinfinitelylongandbold.Ifhethinksaboutalltheunspeakable thingshewantstowritetoher,thingssheissupposedtoguessatifshetrulyloveshim,then thisletterwouldtakehourstoread.(Zrn,1969,2000:76) Eckbertsdesiretoexpresshimselfandhisemotionsphysicallyissuppressedbyfearoriginatingin lackofexperience.Hesuperimposeshisdesireswithwords.Writingfunctionsawayforboth partiestoexpresstheiremotionsinasituationwheretheyfeelotherwiseconstrained.Thenotes thattheyhideforeachothertofindreplacetheverbalcommunicationthatcanotherwisenottake place.Thenotesthemselvesarechildishdeclarationsofloveandpromisesofdevotion.Thegirl returnshisletterwithoneofherownandthisexchangecontinuesuntilhepensanotethatstates thatheknowswhatIcouldwakeyouupwith.Thegirlhasbeenlyinginacornerandwaitingwith evergrowingexcitement;whenshegetsupandreadsit,sheissodisappointedbytheprospectof havingthisexchangeofwordsturnintodeedsthatsheflees.Whiletheinteractionwasfirmly locatedwithintherealmofwords,shewasfreetofantasizeandenjoythebuildinganticipation.The momentsherealizesthatthisexchangewillendinaseriesofdisappointingkisses(andpenetration) 17

sheleaves.Kissingisanunwelcomeinvasion;sheassociatesitwithunpleasantpenetration:her motherstongue,herbrothersphallus. Thecorrespondencealsobrieflyreplacestheeventsofthebook.Suddenly,weareinaworld slightlylessdismal.Aboywoosagirlwithslipsofpaper.Heexpressesinnocentaffection,devoidof truedesire.However,whenitseemsasthoughthewritingwillendandactionswillcommence,we arethrustbackintotherealityofthegirlsexistence.Theactofwritinginthenoveltemporarily mufflestheactualcontent. Asastrangecounterbalancetoallofthissilenceandsuppression,Zrntellsaboutthespecialplay actinggamedevisedbythegirlandherfriend,theSpanishElisaUrquiza.Thegirlhasdeviseda drama,adreadful,painfultaleoftheprodigalsoninwhichsheandherfriendtaketurnsplaying parents,lamentingthedeathoftheirson.(Zrn,1969,2000:53) Theyareroyalty:akingandqueen,lamentingthelossoftheirsonthroughlongand wailingcries.Theyinventahowlingtheatricallanguagethroughwhichisbecomespossible toexpressthegriefofawholeworld,alanguageunderstoodbynoonebutthetwoofthem. Thisimaginarylanguageconsistsofonlyvowels.(Zrn,1969,2000:53) Inlieuofalanguagethatcommunicatesintensepain,thegirlscreateonethatoriginatesinthe depthsofhumanexpression.Basicutterancesthatrequirenounderstanding,nolinguistic structurescomplicatedbygrammarandcustom;thisisthevocabularythattheyturnto.Theirvowel languagedoesnotrequirethemtonecessarilyexercisetheirtongues,northeirmouthstoarticulate. Thenoisestheymakearevariationsinmoanspressedoutofthethroat.Thisdrawsusbacktothe conclusionmadebyScarry:paindefiesarticulateexpression.However,itisnotmerelyphysical painthatZrndescribesinhernovel.Zrndescribestherapiddeclineofagirl;agirlwholacksthe loveandsupportofeitherparent.Shefindsherselfavictimofherparentschoices.Sheisso isolatedwithinherimmediatesurroundingsthatsheisunabletofindanappropriateemotional outletandconsequentlyturnstofantasyforrelief.

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Thebriefepisodeofutteranceisanaberrationinregardtotherestofthenovel.Thenovelrevolves aroundaborted,hamperedorsubstitutivecommunication.Thisisalreadyevident,bothliterally andmetaphoricallyfromtheinitialscenesofthestory.Itdescribeshercrawlingintoherparents bedonemorning,insearchofwarmthandcomfort.Oncesheisinthebed,sheisattackedbyher motherinalewdlysexualfashion,thefrustratedwomanattacksthelittlegirlwithherwet,open mouth,outofwhichslithersalongnakedtongue.(Zrn,1969,2000:40)Thefollowingsentence compareshermotherstonguetoherbrothersphallus,(Itissimilartothethingsinherbrothers pants.)therebyrobbinghermotherofherabilitytospeakandfillinghermouthliterallywitha penis.(Zrn,1969,2000:40)Hermotherstongue,extendedtofillherdaughtersmouth,would alsoseektofillit,justasaphallusfillsthewound(asZrnchoosestocallit).Hermotherstongue becomesthegagthatstiflesheremotions;itsetsthestandardfortherestofthenovel.Timeand timeagain,thelittlegirlfindsherselfhamperedinherabilitytospeak,tomoanortoexpressherself. Asthenovelprogresses,sheactivelyparticipatesinherownsuppression,stillingherownvoice. KristevawritesinThePowersofHorrorthatthesymptomofabjectionistherejectionand reconstructionoflanguages.(Kristeva,1984:45)Thenovelfunctionsinthegreyspacebetween thesetwosteps.Languageislimitedinitsabilitytoexpresspain.Thewriterislimitedinhisorher abilitytoexpresstheirpain.Betweenbaldsummariesandsuggestedemotions,actionand actualization,Zrnallowshernoveltoremainambiguous.Thepainisthere,butalwayslurking beneaththesurfaceofthetext.Perhapsthenovelcanbetterbeconsideredasanexampleofwhat Kristevalaterdescribesas,Theeroticizationofabjection...isanattemptatstoppingthe haemorrhage:athresholdbeforedeath,ahaltorarespite?(Kristeva,1984:55)Thenovel describesasuccessionoftabooacts,intertwiningsexualityandsuffering,drivinghercharacter furtherandfurthertowardstheledgeofherbedroomwindow. Whenshefinallyencountersthemanofhernighttimefantasies,shepinsallofthelovesheonce reservedforherfatheronhim.Shewatcheshimdayin,dayoutatthelocalswimmingpool.Itis 19

onlyoncehebecomesillthatshedarestoapproachhim.Shetravelstohishomeandintheshort spanofhervisit;shemakesherintenseloveforhimclearwithglancesandherearnestrequests. Evenduringtheirbrieftimetogether,Zrnhintsthatthelittlegirlisawarethatthisislikelythelast timeshewillseehim.Anditis.Whenshereturns,hertripisfoundoutandsheisconfinedtoher roomandthewelcomingopenwindow. InTheHouseofIllnesses,ZrndescribesherrelationshipwiththeMagician[adelusion],Hehas receivedneitherahair,norscarcelyahandshakeorakissfromme,butstillhemanagestopummel, topresshiswaythroughandfinallydevourme.(Zrn,1977,p.19)Thesuffocatingembracesof fantasiesarepresentinthispassage.TheidentityofM,theMagician,ManofJasmine,etcis believedtobeHenriMichauxwhoisalsorumouredtohaveplayedanintegralpartinthetriggering ofZrnsinsanity.(Thisiscontestable.Rupprechtstatesintheintroductionthatitislikelythat Michauxplayedaroleintheonsetofherschizophreniaandvariousdubiousinternetreferencesthat mentionuseofmescalin,however,thiscanalsobeattributedtothegeneralmythosthatsurrounds thelifeofUnicaZrn.)Zrndescribesapresencethatboththreatensandoverwhelmsher.Thisis alsodepictedinthefantasiesofthelittlegirl,whereapresencethreatensherwithpenetrating knivesandsheisnotallowedtoscream. DarkSpringwritesoverwhathashappened,mufflingthepainoflivingwiththeactsthatinturn makeitsounbearable.Zrnssufferingisultimatelyincommunicableinadirectfashionanditis onlythroughthemediumofhergirlcharacterthatsheiscapableofexpressing(toadegree)her personalpain.Layeredunderthestoryofthechild,thepainandsexualecstacysheexperiences,is therealityofZrn.ThewritingcoversthedesperationofZrnsmentalstateandatthesame functionsasanoutlet.YearsofsuppressionandsilenceleadtoanovelinwhichZrnisfinally capableofbreathingouthersecrets.Herdarkdesiresanddarksexualhistoryareoverlainwiththe textofthenovel,bothobscuringandrevealingit.Silence,stiflingandsuppressionarecorethemes withinthenovelthatarepresentbothinthecontentaswellasthestyleofthetext. 20

MakeanoiseandIllkillyou. Ifyoupromisenottoscream,Illtakemyhandaway. IllletyouliveifyoudoasIsay.

Ipromiseyou,thingswillonlygetbetter.
21

ASexualInterlude
(Pleasetrynottopant) TheLiftedCurtainbyComtedeMirabeaudetailsthesexualeducationofayoungwoman.Sheis introducedtothesexactthroughspyinguponhermaidandfatherthroughaliftedcurtain.Her fatherthenintroduceshertosexualpleasurewiththehelpofthemaid.Aftertheinitialincestual titillation,herfatherrevealsthatwhilstheconsidersherhisdaughter,sheisinfact,notofhisloins. (Well,notquiteyetatthatpointinthestory).Thesexualescapadesescalatebyadding/subtracting partners/holes.Ourbraveheroineremainsadevoteddaughterwhosehealthysexualinterestlends itselftothegratificationofthedesiresofthefather. WhenIreleasedmystickyhand,heresumedhispreviousgamewithhistongue.Iwasdying ofanineffablebliss.Iwassuffocating,buthecontinued. HerKissesmultipliedandhersighsbecamemoans. Stop!Thatsenough!shemoaned.Faster!Putitinalltheway,mydearest.MyGod,Iam coming!Thisistheend.(ComtedeMirabeau,1783:2829) ThepainIfeltandthescreamthatescapedfrommylipsweresignsofhisvictory. Insertingherhandbetweenus,Lucettestrokedmycuntandwiththeotherhandtickledmy asshole.Themelangeofpainadpleasure,andtheflowingfuckandbloodraisedmeto paradise,toanineffablesensuousness. Iwassuffocating;Iwasexpiringmyarmsandlegsbecamelimpandmyheadsagged.Iwas nolongeramoungtheliving.(ComtedeMirabeau,1783:46) 22 DearPapa,stopit!Ipleaded.Icantstanditanylonger. AndIfaintedinhisarms.(ComtedeMirabeau,1783:25)

InTheLiftedCurtain,thegaspbecomessomethingentirelydifferent.Itisnolongerasigh,amoan oranotherexpressionofair.Itistheabsencethereofentirely.Pleasureisexpressedintermsof death,dyingandsuffocation.Theorgasmisnotsignifiedwithexpressivevowels(nonwords), expectorants,butwithexclamationsofhowunbearablethepleasureisandthensimply,lossof consciousness.Itsadifferentkindofobliteration.Itsnoattempttodescribepleasurebeyond wordlessness;thepleasureitselfissoallencompassingthatitcompletelydefiesallexpression. Blissbecomesanabsence.Oncetheindividualachievesaspecificplateau,theirexperienceexceeds thecapacityoflanguage,asBarthesattests(asmentionedinconjunctionwithlossofexpression, orgasmandasphyxiation)blissexceedstheboundsofthelanguageandtherefore,cannotbe communicated.(Barthes,1990)


23

Dypsnea/TakingWalksintheGarden
Thedemons,especiallyiftheyaredemonsoflanguage(andwhatelsecouldtheybe?)are foughtbylanguage.HenceIcanhopetoexorcisethedemonicwordwhichisbreathedinto myears(bymyself)ifIsubstituteforit(ifIhavethegiftsoflanguagefordoingso)another, calmerword(Iyieldtoeuphemism).Thus:IimaginedIhadescapedfromthecrisisatlast, whenbeholdfavoredbyalongcartripafloodoflanguagesweepsmeaway,Ikeep tormentingmyselfwiththethoughtofdesire,regretandrageoftheother;andIaddto thesewoundsthediscouragementofhavingtoacknowledgethatIamfallingback, relapsing;buttheFrenchvocabularyisaveritablepharmacopoeia(poisonontheoneside, antidoteontheother):no,thisisnotarelapse,onlyalastsoubresaut,afinalconvulsionof thepreviousdemon.(Barthes,1977,1990,p.81) PierreGuyotatsnovel,EdenEdenEden,describesaseriesoftransgressivesexualactsinveryexplicit prosethattakeplaceintheAlgeriandesertduringtheFrenchAlgerianWar.Theproseofthenovel doesnotcontainfullstopsandthiscreatesaspecifickindofbreathlessexperienceforthereader.In thissectionIplantolookattherelationshipbetweenthewritingofthenovelandbreathlessnessas wellasthetransgressivenatureofthecontent.AstransgressionplaysalargepartinEdenEden Eden,Ifinditimportanttodiscussthisaspectinrelationtothedynamicsoftellingasdiscussedin theprevioussection.Thiswillalsofunctionasaprecursortothelastsectionthatwilllookat suffocationandselfcensorship.ByexaminingtherelationshipbetweenEdenEdenEdenand subsequenttransgressiveworks,Iplantoestablishtherelationshipbetweentransgression, expressionandsuppressionanddrawfurtherparallelsbetweenthethemesofsilencingand suffocationinUnicaZrnswork. Bytheendofthefirstpage,Iamgaspingtokeepupwiththepacesetbytheprose;thealternation betweenlistsofobjects[nouns]andthelongdescriptionssetanunnaturalpaceforthebreath, makingitterseandarrhythmic....oil,cloves,henna,butter,indigo,blackantimonyinFerkous valley,belowbreakwaterheapedwithcharredcedars,barley,wheat,beehives,tombstones,drinks 24

stand,school,gaddous,figtrees,mechtas...,readinshortpuffs,eachnewitempunctuatedbythe commathatfollowsit.(Guyotat,1970:1)Listsaresucceededbylongexhalationslike,milkfrom stalksmixingonknifebladeswithbloodofyouthsdisembowelledinonyxquarryagainstcentral vein.(Guyotat,1970:1)Thedescriptiondescribestheclimaxthatitthenmimics.Seedspurtsforth astheknifepenetratesthesoftrecessesofthebelly,redandblackmixandthewordmirrorsthe deathsdescribedasthelinediesoutwiththemandthenwebreathedeepanditcontinues. Inthedesert,theairissodrythatitmakesyoureyesgoredandirritated.Thereisnomoisturein theairtokeepdowndustorpollensfromthedesertplants.Toseeifsomeoneunconsciouswas breathing,peopleusedtoholdmirrorstotheirmouthstoseetheglasssurfacefogoverwiththe moistureoftheirexhalations.Inthedesert,themoistureyouexhalethedryairsucksupandtheair youbreathebackinisdryandsticksinyourmouth,oesophagusandlungs.Inthedesert,theairis dryandbrittle.Inthedesert,youbecomedryandbrittle.Semenisexpungedonlytocrust;itdries inwrinklesandcrevices.Itdoesntdriporrunacrosssurfaces.Itdribblesforthlikeslimeanddryly coatshair,skinandclothes.Theonlyfluidthatflows,thatspurts,isblood. Awashwithfluidsandsuffering,thelandscapeofEdenissimilartothebloodsoakedearthofthe TortureGarden.Mirbeaus1899noveldepictsagardendevotedtothetortureandpunishmentof criminalsbyeverincreasinglyintricate,detailedandgruesomeways.Thelushchroniclingofthe differentformsoftortureutilizedtoelicitconfessionsandtopunishtheguiltyoverwhelmsthe readerwithitsprofusedetailandcreatesaheavy,suppressiveatmosphere.Thedescriptionsgrow thickerandthickerwithstickycongealingbloodanddeathcrieswhiletheplotsimultaneously critiquesthethencontemporarysocialorder.AsZiegelerwritesinhisarticleonutopianismand perversion,TheTortureGardenisa...polemicalcritiqueofanoppressivestateruledbymilitarists, charlatans,colonialists,andantiSemitesinvitesthesalutaryviolence,thepurifyingdestructionthat wouldpreparethewayforgrowthandrenewal.Mirbeau,theanarchist,thereforerecastshimselfas asocietaltorturer,mirroringinhisnarrativethedisintegrationofafailedpoliticalapparatusthatis 25

brokendown,cuttopieceswiththesawofantipositivistsatire,burnedbyideologicalvitriol, dismemberedbyattacksondisablinginstitutions.(Ziegeler,unknown:1)Mirbeausnovelisin manywaysaprecursortoGuyotatsEden.NotonlydoesMirbeauutilizedrowningthereaderin intenseandexplicitdescriptionsofcrueltyandsuffering,buthedescribesthedegradationofhuman beingsatthehandsofanauthorizedpowerandbydoingso,hecritiquesthesocietythatpermits thistypeofduplicity.LikeMirbeau,Guyotatsnovelisacritiqueofduplicitousculturalmores. Edenhasalwaysbeenasymbolofduplicity,amonocultureinwhichapairisallowedtoinhabitonly underspecificstrictures.Mormondoctrineemphasizesthenecessarycatch22oftheeatingofthe appleforthecontinuationoflife.Itistaughtthatwithoutknowledge,AdamandEveweresexually unawareandthereforeunabletoprocreate.Andagain,asGodcreatedmanandwomantodojust that,thetransgressionoftheapplewasunavoidable:onesinservedtoobeyagreater commandment.InGuyotatsEden,however,thereisnoredemption,thereisnoknowledgegained; thereisonlyaneverendingseriesofgraphic,explicit,abhorrentactions.Unlikethemomentof hesitation,andthendumbbelief,thereisnoEveandthereisnoexpulsion.ThisnewEdenisa gardentowhichthereisnoexit. ThefinalsceneofTheTortureGardendepictstheorgasmicclimaxoftheorgyofviolencewithinthe bodyofthefemaleantagonist,thevoluptuousClara.Overthecourseofincreasinglyvileandblood andexcrementsoakedpunishmentsthatbothClaraandthenarratorwitness,Mirbeaudescribes Clarasincreasingexcitementthroughchroniclingthepaceofherbreath.Ontheboatjourneyfrom thetorturegarden,Claraisfaintandcanbarelyspeak.Herspeechcomesoutinlittlemoansand sighs,punctuatedbydifficultbreathing.Shegrowswhiteandisdescribedaspinchedandpained looking.Andthenthereisherclimax: ThenClarabegantostruggle.Allhermusclestighten,swelledandcontracted frightfully...herarticulationscracked,likethejointsofaboatdisabledinastorm.An expressionofhorriblesuffering,allthemorehorribleforbeingsilent,maskedherface, contortedlikethefacesofthetorturedmenunderthebellinthegarden.Betweenherhalf 26

closed,twitchinglids,onlyaslenderbluishtraceofhereyesshowed.Alittlefrothfoamedat herlips...Inalastconvulsionherbodyarchedfromherheelstoherneckandhertautskin quivered.(Mirbeau,1899,2004:1178) Theclimaxisdescribedasanattack,withcontortedexpressionsandtorturedlimbs.Thedescription resemblesthestudiesmadebyJeanMartinCharcotoffemalehystericsinthelate1800satthe SalptrireHospital.OnepatientofparticularinterestwasayoungwomannamedAugustine,of whommanyphotographsexistdepictingherinvarioushystericstates.Onephotograph,entitled AttitudesPassionnelles(plateXXV),isofparticularinterest.Inthisphotograph,Augustinelaysstiffly onahospitalbed,herbodysupportedbypillows,herarmsoutstretchedandmimingcrucifixion.Her whitegownistwistedandshoveduptoherhips,exposingtheentiretyofherthigh.Thereligious positioningofherbodytakesondecidedlysexualconnotations;herexposedfleshrestingona rumpledbedandherchestthrustupwards.Herposeisalmostwelcoming,seductive.Elisabeth BronfenwritesinTheKnottedSubject:HysteriaanditsDiscontentsthattheclinicfunctions...asa stageforaspectacleofthehystericalmalady,wherethearticulationofactualpsychicanguishis inextricablycrossedwiththesimulationofassumedposes.Justastheclinicfunctionsasastagefor theactingoutofinternalanguish,sodoesthenovel(EdenEdenEden)createaplatformuponwhich hischaractersassumesexualpositions,actingoutanendlessseriesoftransgressions. Andthereader,thespectator,isinturnattackedbytheauthor.Thereaderbecomesbothwitness andvictim,helplessandtransfixedbythespectacleofhorror,byrepulsionandcomplicity.Mirbeau makeshisreaderaccompliceinthefirstlinesofhisnovelbyaddressinghisaudiencedirectly.To readGuyotatistoactivelyparticipateinthedestructionofthenovel.Theentirenoveliscaughtin thegripsofaspasticseizure,afrenziedattackuponthesenses.Andthespectatormerelystands witness,andbydoingso,becomespartofit.Therebymakingtheactofreadingthebookas trangressiveasitscontents.Phantomemotionsbecomemanifestonthephysicalplane,grotesque depictionsoftortureculminateinaviolentorgasmandthewordonthepageinEdenEdenEden

27

becomesflesh.AsStephenBarberpromisesatthecloseofhis1994introductiontothenovel,It willderangeyouanditwillscaryou.(Barber,1994) AsStephenMarcussummarizesinTheOtherVictorians,Apornographicworkoffiction characteristicallydevelopsbyunremittingrepetitionandminutemechanicalvariationthewords thatmaydescribethisprocessareagain,again,againandmore,more,more.(Marcus,1966) (Pleaserefertothedescriptionsofpleasure/paindiscussedsubsequently.Ofparticularinterestis theuseofmultiplevowelsinthespellingofexpressionsofpaininthenovelSubmissionofaClan Girl.)Thepornographicworkrepeatsitselfoverandoveragain.Theactsthataredescribedgrow graduallymorefrenzied,grandandextreme;itisasunrelentingasthedrydesertheatandthe beatingsun.Butthroughtheendlessrepetitionofactafteract,sodomybecomesakindof monotonousbackgroundnoise.Thebodiesblur,thefluidssmearandviolencefadesout.Thetext firsthorrifies,overwhelmsandthenitallturnsintoapassivenumbnessaseachconsecutiveact blendsintothenextinaprogressionirrespectiveoftime.Itisaslowmarchintonothing,asthe meaningoftheactsthewordsdescribeisslowlystrippedawayuntileventhewordsthemselves succumb.Itistheslowrepetitionofpain,graduallyincreasingtosomethingbeyondbearingthat sweepsyouaway,itisasendlessasbreathing. Thedrydesertairsweepsupcloudsofdusttosearyourthroatwith.Igrewupinatimeofdrought andwewereplaguedwithwinds.TheSantaAnaswecalledthem.Theywerefilledwithdust, pollutionandpollens.Ifyoureyeswerewatery,oryouhadahacking,phelgmycough;youdshrug andsay,SantaAnasandeveryonewouldunderstand. Asthmaentailstheblockageofbreath,whencetheimpossibilityofspeaking;itisthe symptomofaninadmissiblepainthatliterallycannotbestated,thussignifyingsomething thatistoremainineffable.Whatinotherconditionsmaybeexpressedbythescream,asis sopoignantlyandviolentlystressedbybothArtaudandBataille,asthmaexhibitsthrougha chokingsilencethatmetaphorizesthemosthorrifyingandcrushingsolitudeofdeath.It transformsbreathintoadeathrattle.Theasthmaticcrisisparadoxicallybringsthesufferer tothevergeofdeathsoasnottodie,soasnottogomad,soasnottocommitsuicide. Literallyspeaking,asthmaismortification:itisthustheexpressionofaninexpressible 28

tragedy,averitablerefusalofcommunication,theimpossibilityofadmittingaprofound innerconflict.(Weiss,Michel,1984) Theintimacyofthetextasyoustruggleforbreathcomescloser;thelinesdonotgive,thesentences donotend.Fortheasthmatic,thereisnocontrolovertheirmostbasicfunction.Atanygiven moment,theirlungswillbetraythemandceasetowork.Breathbecomesanendeavourtowhich attentiontothemostminutedetailispaid.Eachgaspislaboured,tiringandultimately unsatisfactoryasitfailstocompletelysaturatethebodywiththeoxygenitcraves.Thelungsfailto expandandbreathisshort,justliketheshortnessinducedbytheproseofEdenEdenEden. TheairitselfinEdenEdenEdenisnoxious.Itisfilledwiththestenchofthedying,withslowdrying fluidsandblood.Bowelsareemptied,alongwithbladders.Excrementisdescribedingreatdetail; theturdsofthesoldiersarelooseandtheremainsofdiarrhoeacrusttheiranuses.Inthelastpages ofthebookthereisascenebetweentheboywhoreandanursingmotherwhichispunctuatedby smallfarts.Waterisscarceandbathingscarcer,bodiesremainunwashed,filthyandripewithodors. Guyotatdoesnotspareusthedankcrevicesofthebody;infact,itislargelywithintheseplacesthat thenoveltakesplace. InthearticlebyJohnTaylor,ReadingPierreGuyotat,theauthorbrieflycomparestheworkof GuyotattothatofJeanGenet,referringspecificallytothereferentialintentionofthisnoholds barredaestheticofcruelty,brutesex,bluntviolence.(Taylor,nodate)GenetsOurLadyofthe Flowers,isascatty,rollingnarrativethatchroniclesthewhimsy,filthandfantasiesoftheauthor whilstincarcerated.UnlikeBataillesStoryoftheEye,whichfollowsthetraditionalformulaofan eroticnovelbyincorporatingeverincreasinglyfantasticsexuallyexplicitescapadesintotheflimsy fabricofthestory,bothGenetsaswellasGuyotatsworkchallengethedefinitionoftheerotic novel.Whilebothareclearlyexplicitanddeeplysexual(aswellasarousing)intone,bothutilize grossandexplicitdescriptionsasameanstoanend.(Although,itisalsoarguablethatBatailledid

29

thisaswellandthathiseroticwritingsarelargelymetaphorical.However,astheysuperficially resemblethetraditionaleroticnovel,inthisspecificinstance,Ifeelthatheisanappropriatefoil.) Genetsnovelhasundergoneseveralboutsofediting;thecopyIpossessisoneofthelatterones, andconsequently,mostheavilyedited.Fromtheinitialconfiscationofthefirst50pagestothe subsequentremovalofthemoresexuallyexplicitpassagesbyGenet;thiscopyhasundergonethe mosttransformations.Oddlyenough,thisreflectstheunderlyingthemeofthenovel.Genetuses hisnoveltoreallocatespecificvaluestospecificacts.Hecreatesanupsidedownethicalsystem wherethevile,despicableandunacceptableareconsideredbehaviourstoaspireto.Inthissense, he,likeGuyotat,championstransgression.Atthesametime,Genetmirrorshisownideasby subjectinghisnoveltoselfcensorship.Essentially,bydeemingpassagesunacceptable,Genet commitstheworstofbetrayals:hecensorshisownwritings. ViolenceandsexualaggressionmarkedGuyotatslifefromaveryearlyage,evenpriortohistimeas asoldier.Asachild,hewasrapedbyagroupofolderboys.Histenureasasoldier,Francesrolein Algeriaandtheatrocitiesthattookplaceappalledhim.Asaresultofencouragingothersoldiersto desertduringtheFrenchAlgerianWar,hewasimprisonedunderinhumaneconditionsandlefttorot inanearthenpitforseveralmonths.(Kendall,2008)Conditionslikethesecreatedamplebreeding groundforthewritingofEdenEdenEden.Hehadboththeexperienceofvictimaswellasthatof witnesstodrawuponfortheconjuringupofhisnihilisticparadise. GuyotatsnovelportrayedandconsequentlycriticizedtheroleoftheFrenchgovernmentinthe AlgerianWar(19541962).BythetimeofthepublicationofEdenEdenEden,thewarwasstillan issueofgreatcontroversy.Thetransgressivenatureofthenovelonlyfurtherservedtounderline thetransgressionsoftheFrenchgovernmentandbyextension,theFrenchpeople.[Itwasnotuntil 1999thatFranceadmittedthatwhathadbeenreferredtoasalawandordermaintenance operationwasinfactawar.](noauthorlisted,1999)Guyotatssuccessionofdepravedactsof 30

violencethatarerepeatedoverandoveragainaswellasthepredominatelyhomosexualactivities describedinthebookassaultdecencyandculturalmores.Theveryactofreadingthiscreatesa similarsenseofcomplicitytothecomplicityoftheentireFrenchpopulationintheatrocitiesofthe FrenchAlgerianWar,orforexample,thecombinedculturalguiltoftheGermancivilianpopulation afterthehorrorofWorldWarTwowaslaidbare.ThecensorshipofGuyotatsnovelisaveryclear exampleofpolitical/socialcensorship,whereagoverningbodyprohibitsaspecifictextorworkofart basedontheexplicitlysexual/trangressivecontent. ThecensorshipofGuyotatsnovelwas,ofcourse,notunique.AsismentionedinStuartKendalls articleonEdenEdenEden,thebanonthesaleoftheMarquisdeSadesnovelswasliftedonlyin 1957bytheFrenchgovernment.(Kendall,2008)Thebodyofhisworkwaswritteninthelate18th centuryandremainsbannedinmanycountriestodate.Thecensorshipofliteraturehaslargely disappearedincontemporarywesternsociety.Sexuallyexplicitfeaturefilmsgenerallyfallpreyto thistypeofcensorship,arecentexamplebeingthefilmBaiseMoi(directedbyVirginieDespentes andCoralieTrinhThi)whichwaspulledfromtheatresafteritsreleasein2000afterprotestsand litigationledtotheoriginal16ratingtoberevoked.ItwaslatergivenanXratingbasedonthe graphicsexdepictedinthefilm.Aportionofthesexsceneswerenotsimulatedandthisformed partoftheoutrage,aswellastheargumentforitsreclassification.However,theclassificationofthe filmasXratedwasbasedontheargumentthatBaiseMoiwasapornographicfilm.Indeed,thefilm depictsseveralviolentsexscenes,includingalonggangrapeofoneofthefemaleprotagonistsas wellasgraphickillings.Twoscenesinparticularhaveremainedforeveringrainedinmymind.The firstisthenonresponseofRaffalaAndersonscharacterManutoherrape.Shedoesnotfight,nor evenmakenoiseassheisraped.Sheenduresherrapeandatthesametime,expressesherutter contemptforherattackersbysimplynotreacting.Thisfurtherenragesthemandservestoescalate theviolenceoftheattack.Sheisseverelybeateninadditiontotherapeasaresult.Thesecond sceneiswhereManuandNadineenteraswingersclubandthefilmimpliesthatagunisanally 31

insertedanddischargedintoamalevisitoroftheclub.Neitherscenewasremotelyarousing.The levelofviolencecompletelycounteredanyresidualeroticism,notunlikeGuyotatsnovelwherethe sexualcontentdoesnotarouse,butonlyfurtheremphasizesthetransgressivenatureofthecontent. AsTrinhThiisquotedintheSundayTimesarticlewrittenaboutthefilm,"Thismovieisnotfor masturbation,[thusit]isnotporn."(Young,2002)Moreimportantly,thesexualitydepictedinthis filmisnotintendedtotitillateandarouse.Itispossiblethatitmaywelldoso,whichisacommon offshootofdepictingsexualityinafilm.Thesamecouldbesaidforamildlyeroticcouplingwhere twoactorstastefullywritheagainsteachother,infact,itismuchmorelikelythattheintentionof thefilminthisinstancewouldbetoarousetheaudiencethroughsuggestion. AnotherrecentexampleisthefilmAntichristbyLarsvonTrier.Antichristdepictstwoparentswho attempttorecoverfromtheaccidentaldeathoftheirchildbyholingupinacabininthewoods,a placecalledEden.ThefilmfeaturesthesamesortofgrotesqueasGuyotatsnovel.Granted,itis presentedinahighlystylized,arguablymisogynisticartfilm,buttheessenceofthetwoissimilar. ThefemalecharacterShetranslatesherimmenseanddeepemotionalpainintophysicallypainful transgressiveacts.Thereasonwhythisfilmisappallingisnotbecauseitdepictsgraphicviolenceor sex;itisbecauseofthewayitisdepicted.Extremeviolenceisoftenlaudedincontemporary culture.QuentinTarantinossuccessasadirectorrestsontheexorbitantamountofbloodandgore spilttongueincheekinhisfilms.AsJoannaBourkeisquotedinXanBrooksGuardianarticleonthe film,Butitisnotdesignerviolence,intendedtoappalandtitillateinthesamebreath.Neitherdoes itinspirecompassion.VonTriersimplypresentscrueltyas"there",servingnoliberatingfunctionfor theaudience.Painitsinflictionanditssufferingisintegraltolife.(Bourke,2009)VonTriers transgressionisnotthatheshowsusviolence,itisthemannerinwhichhedoessothatissoreviled. Inessence,histruecrimeisthathedoesnotmakethecrueltypalatablebutpresentsitbaldlyforit is.Anditisindeedstomachturning.

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Anotheraspectofthefilmthatcausedagreatdealofuproarwastheportrayalofthefemale.She isdepictedinthefilmastheembodimentofChristianideas(spawnedfromtheinitialEden/Eve myth):thefemaleasinnatelyevil.Audiencesofhorrorfilmshaveanapparentlyinsatiableappetite forthepenetration,mutilationandmurderoffemalebodies.Justlikethosemedievalimagesof burningandtorturedwomen,thecinemarevealsustobeagynocidalculture,acceptingasnormal themutilationandabuseofwomenbymen,buthorrifiedwhenitiswomenwhobecomethe abusers.(Beattie,2009)Portrayingthefemaleastheevildoerisequallyanathemaastheendless andlargelyhomosexualorgiesdescribedinGuyotatsEdenincontemporarysociety.Although,that thefemalecommitsviolentactsinthefilmdoesnotimplythatsheisnecessarilytheprogenitorof thatsameviolence.Sheismerelyavesselthroughwhichviolenceenacted,justastheblurof charactersinEdenEdenEdenalmostpassivelyshiftfromonesexualacttothenext. Thesedifferentenclosures;thecabininthewoodscalledEden,thepagesbetweenthecoverofEden EdenEdenandtheoriginalGardenofEden,fromwhichmanandwomanwerecastforth,allrun parallel.Theyareallsimilarlytrappedexistences.Thecabininthewoodsbecomesthestagein whichamarriagedissolvesintoactsoftortureandselfmutilation,thegriefofamothertranslates intoprimalragewhichisthendirectedatherhusband.Similarly,EdenEdenEdenisthestageupon whichGuyotatpublishesthedescriptionofaseeminglyendlesshomosexualorgy.Bothworks incorporatefundamentaltaboos,suchasinfanticide,childabuse,homosexuality,andsexual mutilation.TheextremeexplicitnessoftheviolencedepictedinAntichristtransgresseswhatis acceptable.VonTriersfilmdoesnotsuggest;throughexplicitlyshowing,hetransgressestherules ofcinema.Theviolenceenduredbytheaudienceishoweverhighlyfocussed.Itisnotrandomnoris itmeaningless.Theveryfactthattheexplicitsexualityandviolencearehighlymeaningfulisperhaps theworsttransgressionofallinasocietywhereviolenceisonlypalatableifitpossessesahigh entertainmentvalue.

33

Commonlanguagewillnotexpressviolence.Ittreatsitasaguiltyandimportunatethingand disallowsitbydenyingitanyfunctionoranyexcuse.Ifviolencedoesoccur,andoccuritwill,itis explainedbyamistakesomewhere...Butsilencecannotdoawaywiththingsthatlanguagecannot state.Violenceisasstubbornlythereasmuchasdeath,andiflanguagecheatstoconcealuniversal annihilation,theplacidworkoftime,languagealonesuffers,languageisthepoorer,nottimeand notviolence.Uselessanddangerousviolencecannotbeabolishedbyirrationalrefusalstohaveany truckwithit,anymorethantheirrationalrefusalstotreatwithdeathcaneliminatethat.Butthe expressionofviolencecomesupagainstthedoubleoppositionofreasonwhichdeniesitandof violenceitselfwhichclingstosilentcontemptforthewordsusedaboutit.(Bataille,1957:1867)It isonlythroughextraordinarymeansthatweareabletocommunicateviolenceandatthesame time,thosemeansrequireacertaindeconstructionofthemeansweutilizetocommunicateit.If languageisnotequippedtocommunicateviolence,thanlanguagemustchange,isthepremise.And thisiswhatGuyotatdoes.Ratherthanletviolenceandthecommunicationthereofbesubjecttothe limitationsoflanguage,hesubjectslanguagetoviolence. Thetabooaspectinbothtalesisequallyrelevant.AndreaDworkinwritesinIntercoursethatskinis alineofdemarcation,aperiphery,thefence,theform,theshape,thefirstcluetoidentity...and,in purelyphysicalterms,theformalpreconditionforbeinghuman.Itisathinveilofmatterseparating theoutsidefromtheinside...skinisseparation,individuality,thebasisforcorporealprivacy... (Dworkin,1987:25)Itisthefemalebodythatisbydefinitionthepenetratedbody.Andbecauseit isthedefiningcharacteristicoftheothernessofthefemalebody,whenthemalebodyispenetrated, itisanactofupmosttaboo.Penetrationiscloselylinkedtoviolation,tostabbing,todeath.Itisthe impenetrabilityofthemalebodywhichmakeshimstrong.Becausepenetrationissocloselyaligned todeath,topenetratethemalebody,istonotonlyunderminehismaleness,butalsotokillhim.In essence,penetratingthesanctityofthemalebodyisatransgression.IfwelookbacktoZrnsnovel DarkSpring,penetrationissynonymouswithsilenceandsuffocation. 34

Inhearing,thepercipientisatthemercyofsomethingorsomebodyelse.(Arendt,1981:112) Hearingsoundispenetrationandtherefore,bymakingsoundonehasthepotentialtocommita violentact.Arendtgoesontounderlinethepenetrativenatureofsound,itsrootswithinthe germanlanguageandtherelationshipbetweensoundandpower.Asisimpliedbytheselfinflicted silencebyZrnsprotagonist,totellistotransgress,tobreatheistogiveaway.Forthe transgressionoftellingtheremustbeapunishmentandthatpunishmentliesinsuppression.At thesametime,itisthewritingthatsuppressesinEdenEdenEden,boththroughtheweightofthe extravagantproseaswellasthroughtheexplicitandexcessiveviolentsexuality.

35

AgonySighs
SubmissionofaClanGirlbyMarkStewart Thisbook[SubmissionofaClanGirlbyMarkStewart]wasabirthdaypresent,originallyfoundinthe eroticbookssectionoftheExeterRead&Return.Iwastherenottoolongagoandfoundacopyof AndreaDworkinsIntercoursesnugbetweenBeautysReleasebyAnneRocquelareandSistersin ServitudebyNicoleDere.TheshelvesweredominatedbybooksprintedbySilverMoon,the publisherofSubmissionofaClanGirl[henceforthSCG],ortheirsistercompanySilverMink.Nothing forthcomingfromeitherpublisherisremotelyuniqueorwellwritten;inSCGtherearemanytypos, omittedwordsandotherevidenceofhazardousediting. TheclangirlSamanthaisfollowedthroughaseriesofbeatingsthatgradually,when combinedwithsexualuse,leadtohercompletesubmissionandacceptanceofherpositionasa slave.She,alongwithhercapturedclansisters,areauctionedoff,separatedandthenreunited underasinglemaster.Herspeechisrestrictedandoften,theslavesarenotallowedtoconverse. MakingnoisewhilstenduringapunishmentfunctionsasamatterofprideforSamanthaandyet,itis onlyinthefinalbeatingofthenovel,whenshehasrelinquishedallsenseofself[ownership]and voluntarilyendurestheharshestbeatinginthebookthatshemakesnonoiseandmerelywrithes. Aaaarrgghhh!Alongdrawnoutcryofagony...(Stewart,1999:13) Aaarrrggghhhh.Alongagonizedmoanfromthebentslave...(Stewart,1999:39) Aaarrrgggh.Alongdrawnmoanescaped...(Stewart,1999:56) Samanthasvocabularyofagonyislimitedbytheauthortovaguedescriptionsoroneset expression:argh.Hesharesherthoughtsandreactionstothethingsthathappentoher,but ultimately,hedoesnotallowheranyvarietyofexpressiontooneofthedefinitiveaspectsofthe novel[pain].Shewrigglesandrubsherbottom,butStewartdoesnotenablehertoexclaimmuch morethanargh.Youcouldarguethis,asthereareotherdescriptionssuchas:Ashrillscreamof agonyanddespairechoedthroughtheyard.(Stewart,1999:30)Butultimately,bychoosingto attempttowordheragony,henotonlylimitsit,buttrivializesandunderminesthedepthofher experience. Theridiculousandimplausiblestorylinethatinterweavesseveraldifferentculturesundertheguise ofanonexistentfantasyreality(wheretheonlywomenportrayedareslaves)iscrass.Thereis however,somethinginterestingabouttheflawsofthisnovel.Notonlydoestheauthorrobhis protagonistofpityandempathy,buthistextiswarped.Lettersareomitted,creatingspellingerrors andnewonesarecreatedasaresultofhiscreativespellingofpainedexpressions.Clearly,the excessofvowelsinthemoanservestounderlinethescaleofthepain,notonlytheactuallengthof themoan. However,bychoosingtofocusonthespellingofthemoan,heonlyemphasizestheomissionof lettersincertainwordswithinthenovel.Whentheseerrorsarediscovered,oneisfacedwiththe 36

dilemmaofwhethertheyaretrulyerrorsornot.Isitpossiblethattheseerrorsareintentional? Whatcouldpossiblybethemotivationoftheauthortocreateerrorsbyomission? Inonepassage,thereareapproximately7spacesinbetweenwhereJudyispointedatthenitis stated,Shesfirst.(Stewart,1999:55)Thisgapismysterious,unusual.Inanovelwherethe tellingisgraphicandbald,thiselusivevisualellipsisofsortsstandsout.Itcreatesastrangelittlegap ofairinanotherwisestalenovel.Again,theabsenceofsomethingcontrastswiththe overabundanceoflettersinthedescriptivewordscreatedtodescribemoans. LikeGuyotatsnovel,StewartsSubmissionofaClanGirlpossessessimilarcharacteristics.Both authorsdescribeactsofsexualviolenceingreatdetail.TheextendedvowelsusedinStewartsnovel mimicthelongstretchesofbreathrequiredtoreadEdenEdenEden.Thisbook,however,detailsthe sexualactsinclichs.Stewartslacksfreshair.Thetireclichsusedtodetailthesexacts,thevapid, onedimensionalsexobjectsandtheneverendingcircleoftransgression,punishmentand sexualizedbeatingsallworktowardsastaleresult.Thepornographicgenreasawholesuffersin degreesfromthismalady.Theconstantrepetitionoftiredroutinesisexhaustive.Thepantingit inducesisnotthatprecedinganorgasm,butatiredwheeze.Ultimately,Stewartsattempttoword painisfutile.Hewringsthelastbitofpleasureoutofatiredsubject,attemptstoconveythe complexitiesofpainandpleasureandfails. 37

IntroducingSilence
[ablackclouddescends] Ialwayshavetothinkofthethickblacklinesblanketingoverthebodyofaletter;theblackmark descendstosnuffwordsout.Theletterread,punctuatedwithsilenceandstrangledsentences. Iwouldlaynexttohiminthedarkandlistentohisdeepsnores,tooloudtosleepnextto,andwait forhimtochoke.Sometimes,Icouldlullmyselfintoahalfsleepbythepatternofhisinhalations,but always,justasIwashoveringontheedgeofsleep,Iwouldbegintohearhimattempttoinhale.It wasasifhislungswouldcloseinonthemselves.Icouldhearhislungsstrainingwithinhischestashe vainlyattemptedtobreathe,expandingyetdeflated.Thiswouldgoonforseveralmomentsuntilhe wouldchokelongenoughtorouseoutofhisdeepsleeplongenoughtodrawaragged,snorting breath.Heseemedsolaissezfaireabouthiscondition,yethewasterrifiedofmyembrace.Hedid notlikemylipsonhistoolongandhewouldsometimesturnhisheadaway,lookingelsewhereand nowhereallatonce.Everywherebutme. Inordertoproperlydifferentiatebetweeneroticasphyxiation(asapracticegearedtowards producingeuphoria)andpowerdynamicsthatincorporatebreathcontrolintosexualactivities,Iwill henceforthrefertothelatterasbreathcontrolplay.Thesedifferentformsof(play)strangulation resemblethefunctionofcensorship.Anexternalforcedictateswhatgoesinandwhatcomesout. ThereisanexquisiteimagedepictingbreathcontrolplayinawaythatIhad,tillthen,neverseen before.Ifirstencountereditonmalesubmissionart.com.Ilaterdiscoveredthatitwasascreen capturefromKimKiduks2007film,Breath.(Kiduk,2007)(Seepage49.)Intheimage,awomanis passionatelykissingaman.Hermouthcovershis,herlipsclearlypressingdownhard.Bothoftheir 38

eyesareclosedandhisbrowisdrawnintoaslightfurrow.Thestrapsofherblacktopandbrahave sliddownhershoulder.Hehasathinwhitecollararoundhisneck.Itisdifficulttoseewhatkindof clothingheiswearing.Itismadeofadarkgreyfabricandtheshoulderfacingthecameraisbared. Herlefthandclaspsthebackofhishead,drawinghimtowardsherasherleftthumbpressesdown onhisear.Thefingersofherrighthandclasphisnostrilsshut,blockinghisairsupplywhilsthersare lightlyflaredinexcitement.Sheappearstodevourandemptyhimsimultaneously.Andheappears tobewilling. Thepowerdynamicinasituationlikethisisseeminglysimple:oneindividualhascontroloverthe inandexhalationsofanother.Likemanyactivitiesthatincludeasexualpowerdynamic,thelarger portionoftheactivitiesservenotonlytoexcitebothindividuals,butalsotofurtheremphasizethe controltheoneindividualhasovertheother.Inadditiontothis;therearealsofearandtrust aspectstobreathplay.Formanypractitioners,theinterestisnotinachievinghypoxia,butinthe helplessfearanddesperatetrustthatisdisplayedontheirpartnersface.Itistheinitialstruggleas thesurvivalinstinctskickinandthentheacceptanceofthesituation.Thestruggletobreatheas someoneblocksyourairflowisaninnategesture.Selfpreservationisoneourgreatest,most powerfulinstincts. Weneverspoke.Hisarmsandhandswouldcomearoundme,aroundmyneckandIwouldbreathe onlywhenhewantedmeto.Whenhewasdone,Iwouldhavebitsofhishairstucktomeandhisskin wouldhaveflakedoffontomyback.IwouldinhaleandIwouldinhalehimandleavenotracesof myselfinhisbed. JayWisemanwritesinSM101,Somepeopleplaywithchoking,suffocation,andotherformsof breathcontrol.Thefirstsymptomofoxygendeprivationisofteneuphoria;also,theideaofthis degreeofcontrolcanbecompelling(onesubmissivewomangaspedwithdelightswhenshe consideredthathermastermightcontroltheveryairIbreathe).(Wiseman,1996:344)Wiseman 39

alsoincludesinhisbookanappendixdevotedtooutliningtherealitiesanddangersofthepracticeof asphyxiophiliafromamedicalperspective.ThevalidityofWisemansclaimsarecontestedby KathrinPassiginthearticleSomeCriticalNotesonJayWisemansTheMedicalRealitiesofBreath ControlPlayasshedissectssomeofhisclaimspointbypoint.(Passig,19992000)Essentially, Wisemansarticlehighlightsthelargelyrarepossiblesideeffectsandreactionstobreathcontrol playandPassigsarticlepointsthisout.Effectively,shedoesnotcontesttheactualdangersofthe activity,butdoescriticizeWisemansconclusionsandfairlybombasticwritingstyle. Oneoftheproblemssurroundingbreathcontrolplayistheactuallackofdependablesourcesof information.KathrinPassigswebsite,whichispredominatelywritteninGerman,isoneofthemore concisewebsitesavailableonthesubjectofbreathcontrolplay,withacollectionragingfrombasic howtoinformationtoanthropologicalandmedicalpapersonthesubject.Itisoneofthefew websitesstillupandrunningthatcontainsobjectiveinformationonthepractice.Thereareseveral websiteswithgeneralinformationonBDSMpracticeswhichlinktoothersitesforresourceson breathcontrolplay.Andtheselinksareusuallydead.Forexample,mybdsm.comislistedasa referenceinanarticleonbreathcontrolplayatwww.unfettered.co.uk (http://www.unfettered.co.uk/resources/breathplay.html)butthepartofthesiteitlinkstono longerexists.ThelargerportionofpracticalinformationistobefoundonforumpostingsonBDSM orientedwebsites.Essentially,itimpliesthatwebhostsmonitorandcensorcontent,revoking certaintypesofinformationasatypeofpreemptivecensorship.Effectively,thismeansthatthe onlyauthoritativeinformationleftontheinternetfordemocraticaccessislargelythatof Wiseman,whostronglycautionsagainstthepracticealtogetherinthepreviouslymentionedarticle. Itisaslicksound;leatherraspingthroughbeltloops.Hewrapsitroundmyneckandpullsittight, themetalbucklediggingintothebackofmyneck.Hejerksitwhilehefucksmeandthereare instantsinbetweenwhereIamsimplynotthere.

40

BarthescomparestheblissofthetexttotheorgasmprocuredbyaSadeancharacterpracticing autoeroticasphyxiation.Thepleasureofthetextislikethatuntenable,impossible,purely novelisticinstantsorelishedbyDeSadeslibertinewhenhemanagestobehanged,andthentocut theropeattheverymomentofhisorgasm,hisbliss.(Barthes,1973:7)Wordslikeuntenable, impossiblesuggesttheblissthathespeaksofisobliterating.Blissisunspeakable,interdicted. (Barthes,1973:21)Healsoestablishesthatthedifferencebetweenthepleasureofthetextandthe blissofthetextisthatpleasurecanbeexpressedinwordsandblisscannot.(Barthes,1973:21) Blissisinexpressible. Iwanttotellyousomethingandbeforethewordscancomeout,Ifindmyselfchokingonthem.They catchinmythroat,painfully.Myeyeswellupandmybodyshakes.Igasp.Istopbreathing.There isnothingintheblack. Ahalt,ahaltingreply.Anapology. Imsorry,but... Inormallylastlonger. Avariable,transientpeaksensationofintensepleasure,creatinganalteredstateof consciousness,usuallywithaninitiationaccompaniedbyinvoluntary,rhythmiccontractions ofthepelvicstriatedcircumvaginalmusculature,oftenwithconcomitantuterineandanal contractions,andmyotoniathatresolvesthesexuallyinducedvasocongestionand myotonia,generallywithaninductionofwellbeingandcontentment.(Meston,Levin,et al.,2004) Afemaleorgasmisaccompaniedbymusclespasmsthatthevaginaltunnel.Theycontract,then constrictandsqueeze,justasapairofhandswouldwringaneck.Keepingquiet. 41

42

43

Ireallydontknowhowtotellallofyouthis,butIamactuallydeeplyunhappy.Idontwantto causeyouanyalarm,soIvekeptitmostlytomyself.Itslikevomitingontheinside.

44

Withregardstofemalewriting,termslikesilenced,unheardandsuppressedareoftenusedto describethereachofthefemalevoice.Themajorityofthisliteraturefocusesonsoftcensorshipof femalewriterfromaculturalorsocialcontext.SimonedeBeauvoirwroteextensivelyonthe othernessofthefemalewithinaphallocentricsociety.(deBeauvoir,1949)Thefunctionofthe femalewithinsocietyisdistinctlydifferenttothatofthemaleanditisthisdifferencethatestranges her,accordingtodeBeauvior.(ItisimportanttocontextualizedeBeauvoirsworkaspresexual emancipation,butneverthelesscontemporaryandrelevant,albeititlessexplicitly.)Thedilemmaof thefemalewriterinaphallocentricsocietyhasbeenextensivelyhandledbywriter/theoristHelene Cixousinhertreatise,LaughoftheMedusa. Write!Writingisforyou,youareforyou;yourbodyisyours,takeit.Iknowwhyyou haven'twritten.(AndwhyIdidn'twritebeforetheageoftwentyseven.)Becausewritingis atoncetoohigh,toogreatforyou,it'sreservedforthegreatthatis,for"greatmen";and it's"silly."Besides,you'vewrittenalittle,butinsecret.Anditwasn'tgood,becauseitwasin secret,andbecauseyoupunishedyourselfforwriting,becauseyoudidn'tgoalltheway;or becauseyouwrote,irresistibly,aswhenwewouldmasturbateinsecret,nottogofurther, buttoattenuatethetensionabit,justenoughtotaketheedgeoff.Andthenassoonaswe come,wegoandmakeourselvesfeelguiltysoastobeforgiven;ortoforget,toburyituntil thenexttime.(Cixous,1976:8767) Iknowitwaspainfulforyoutoreadit.Itwaspainfulwhenyousaidit.Writingitdownwaslike strippingmeatfromabone;nibblingdowntothefleshstillpinkandchewy.Ihatedthefightwehad. IhatethateverytimeIwritethingsdownyoucry.Itmustbewrit,whichisallIcansay.Myonly defenceanditisworthless.Iamchokingonit. Towriteistorevealourinneressence.Whethertheactualcontentofwritingisfactorfictionis ultimatelypointless,bychoosingtoproducesaidcontenttheactofwritingrevealsthemindthat createdit.Atthesametime,toproduceworkofthecalibrethatCixousreferstoaboveitis necessarytosacrificetheveryegothatservestomakeit.Makingworkisadoublebind.Tocreate istoeffectivelydismantle. Itcanalsohappenthatanauthorwillkillhimselforherselfwriting.Theonlybookthatis worthwritingistheonewedonthavethecourageorstrengthtowrite.Thebookthathurts 45

us(wewhoarewriting),thatmakesustremble,redden,bleed.Itiscombatagainst ourselves,theauthor;oneofusmustbevanquishedordie. Idontwanttowritethetruebook;itstheoneIwanttowrite:Itearitfrommyself. (Cixous,1993:32) AclosefriendofminethatIstudiedatartschoolwithcreatedanalteregohalfwaythroughour education.Herotherhalf,knownasShandy,wasachavymiddleagedalcoholic.Shandywasloud, grating,cakedinmakeupcompletewithwildhair,thicklyappliedmascaraandcheapredlipstick. WhatbeganasnovelappearancesasShandy,usuallyspecificallyforaperformancepiece,grewinto awayofliving.Shandyslowlymadeappearancesatpersonalandartfunctionsandoftenwentto barstointeractwithpeople,thetimeIsawmyfriendwasmarginalizedbythepresenceofShandy. Evenifitwasher,itwasherswallowedbyShandy.Itwasdirectlypriortograduationthatmyfriend saidgoodbyetoShandyandcelebratedherdeath,quiteliterally.Itwasaslowandpainful extrication;shecutthecordbeforeitwastoolate. Withfemalework,thebodyisalwaysimplicitasitisherbodythatdefinesherothernesswithinour (phallocentric)culture.Whethertheworkshemakesislanguageorimagebased,herworkis alwayscontextualizedwithinherbody.AsAmeliaJonesquotesartistEleanorAntininBodyArt/ PerformingtheSubject,thenotionofthebodyisitselfanalienationofthephysicalaspectofthe self...Butwhatiftheartistmakestheleapfromthebodytomybody?Mybodyis,afterall,an aspectofmyselfandoneofthemeansbywhichmyselfprojectsitselfintothephysicalworld. (Antin,1974ascitedbyJones,1998:159)AsCixousreiteratesinLaughoftheMedusa,thefemale wayofcommunicating,ofwritingandexpressing,isfundamentallyconstrictedbyhersex. Attemptingtospeakasmenspeakandexpressonefullyisasimpossibleasitistoexpressoneselfas awomanandhaveitbeunderstoodbymen.(Cixous,1976) Atthesametime,Cixousestablishesthearenasofcommunicationwherethefemalecanholdsway andhowshecanpossiblybuildfurtherfromit.Shecitestheemotionalasthestrengthofthe female,beingthatherspeechiscontinuallyladenwithit,unlikethemalewhomaintainsaclose 46

guard,walls,fencesandboundaries.Itmaybeimpossibletodefinethefemalevoiceandfemale writingwiththelanguagewepossess,butitisnotimpossibletoarticulateitsexistence.Whatarose fromthisseminaltextwascriturefeminine,amovementtowardswritinginadistinctlyfeminine fashion.Ratherthanwritingpointed,directedprose,severalwritersfromthisgenreinstead experimentedwithcomplexandsprawlingprose.Fluidityisanimportantcharacteristicoffeminine prose,beingclearlypolartotherigidphallocentricproseaswasdefinedbyCixous. Ifwomanhasalwaysfunctioned"within"thediscourseofman,asignifierthathasalways referredbacktotheoppositesignifierwhichannihilatesitsspecificenergyanddiminishesor stiflesitsverydifferentsounds,itistimeforhertodislocatethis"within,"toexplodeit,turn itaround,andseizeit;tomakeithers,containingit,takingitinherownmouth,bitingthat tonguewithherveryownteethtoinventforherselfalanguagetogetinsideof.Andyou'll seewithwhateaseshewillspringforthfromthat"within"the"within"whereoncesheso drowsilycrouchedtooverflowatthelipsshewillcoverthefoam.(Cixous,1976:887) However,thismovementdoesnotentirelycounterthedrivetocensor[aspectsof]femalework.A largeportionoffemalewritersandartistsdrawonpersonalexperiencetocreatework,including myself.Thisstandspolartotheimpetustocreateconceptual(sexless)work,ortoapproach universalthemesfromanemotionallydistantperspective.Thistiesbacktothetransgression implicitintheactoftelling.Thereisadistrustoftheintegrityofworkbasedonpersonal experience.Distrustoftheinnatetruth,aswellasdistrustofthepersonthatchoosestorevealso muchofthemselves.Creatingworkthatdirectlyreferstopersonalexperiencesisanathema;the ethicsofthisactarecomplex.Ontheonehand,itisimportanttoquestiontheimpactofrevealing personaldetails,particularlyinrelationtotheotherswhomayormaynotbeimplicatedinwhatyou choosetoexpose.Ontheotherhand,itisonlythroughtheactoftellingthattheseaspectsofthe femaleexperiencecanbediscussed.ThisissomethingthatIstruggleimmenselywithwithinmy personalpractice.Thedrivetosilencemyself,tochokebackwhatIamwritingisonlyremotely weakerthanthedrivetoexpelit.Infact,Imustexpelit. 47

Conclusion
ThemoreIbegantoworkonthisdissertation,themoremylifebegantoresembleit.Ifoundmyself strugglingtocopewiththepainofliving,strugglingtoworditandtofindmeansofexpression.Ifelt boundbymycircumstancesandbyguilt.Isoughtpainout,andIfoundit.Ifoundrefuge,however temporary,innegation.Thewritingofthispiecedeterminedmydays;hoursspenttryingtofind wordstodescribeaconditionthatlackswords.Breathlessness,pain,andecstasy:theyalldefy description.Whilewritingthis,mybodybecamethespaceuponwhichthatwhichcouldnotbe writtenwasactedout.ThisisreflectedinthisworksthatIhavedocumentedfromthispasthalf year.(IhaveincludedaPDFofdocumentationandthevocalrecordingsofvowelsoundsresembling moans.)Inreflection,itisinterestingtoseehowthebodyofthewriterinthisinstancehasbecome thepagethatiswrittenupon. BoththeworkofZrnandGuyotatdealfocusheavilyonthedarkerrealmsofhumansexuality.In bothinstances,approachingadescriptionofthattypeofsexualityinvolvesanunderlying transgressiononthepartofthewriter.Thewritingoftheworkisnoteasy,andtherefore,the readingofitreflectsthat:itisaviolentchoke.Thefocusonlackofair,eithermetaphoricallyor literallyinthetextonlyservestounderline(stylistically)thedifficultnatureofwritingaboutthe subjectmatter.Perhapsthisiswhatdriveswriterstoselfcensorship.Perhapsitisnotthefearof exposure,thepotentiallossofprivacythatcausesthemtobalkatwriting,buttheultimatecost. Zrntookherlifeafterpublishinghernovel,Guyotatwashospitalized.(Kendall,2008)Writing becomesalengthofropepulledtighterandtighter,andonlyastheblissapproacheswiththerising darkcanthewriterletgo. Eroticwritingsareinessencewritingsaboutthesexualizedbody.However,itisultimatelyfarmore complexthansimplywritingaboutsexoraboutthebody.Thebodyisindeedimplicitoneverypage. Indeed,eroticawritesthebodyandbreathisthescorebywhichwecanpacethesexualexperience. Itincreasestoapant,isheldinwhenorgasmapproachesandisthenreleasedinagasp,gruntor moan.Writinglendsitselftorecreatingthisthroughthestyle,rhythmandmetaphorsworkedinto theprose.Perhapsitisnotpossibletoencompasstheexperienceofpainorpleasurewithlanguage, butitispossibletowarpitsufficientlytomimicandrecreateanexperienceforthereader. Transgressionplaysanintegralroleinthisprocess.Itisonlythroughchallenginghowlanguageis implemented,suchasinGuyotatsnovel,thatitbecomespossibletocommunicatehighlycomplex ideasthatfunctionondifferentlevels.Withthisdissertation,Iworkedseveraldifferentideasand directionsintoasinglepiece.Thisdoesdestroytheconcentrationgenerallyexpectedofthistypeof writing,butIhopethatbydoingso,Ihaveleftenoughroomtoexplorealargerrangeof interconnectedideas.Thereisnoconclusiontobedrawnwiththisdissertation:thereisnolast bang,thereisonlyafinalwheezeandslowrelease. 48

Appendix
HansBellmer,untitled,1958,photograph KimKiDuk,Breath,2007,film

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