Friday, July 13, 2007

Infantile Sexualism: The Auto-Metonumia of Pornography

"Nothing is more exotic than the world around us, nothing more fantastical than Sachlichkeit." Egon Erwin Kisch, Der Rasende Reporter, (1924.) 1.

Paraphilia is sexual deviation or perversion. Paraphilia includes fantasy, behavior, or sexual urges fixated on objects, activities, or situations. One kind of paraphilia is form fetishism, as opposed to model fetishism. It is the "model" of the form fetish that intrigues me this dull day. It is "The Real" as part transformed and represented as the whole that intrigues me, the reissuing of the being itself as not the being, as the presentation behind which hides the unreal, undeveloped real.

In the world of publicity one must be seen to be known as attractive enough to warrant a mate. In the state of privacy everyone can be Dag. And then there is the compromise, the twilight zone of form fetish and the elaborate dissolution of privacy in a mock publicity.

From sacerdotal profanities to the sacred anecdotal, our magic rites become private form fetishes of publicity, of death and decay for sport and profit. To make a plain example: A fat girl works as a stripper in a tavern. She is the comedy act. She takes off her clothes in a semi-public place and makes jokes about her appearance and her sex life. People laugh at her jokes while they are sickened by her bodily appearance. In the audience is a young man in shiny jack-boots, a long black leather trench coat, and a black eye-patch. In the audience are others who look like they have spent days preparing their elaborate costumes for their hour upon this stage they'll never reach. Take your pick, any costume will do. Try to be respectful because this is, after all, a church, and the congregants are taking communion.

The form fetishist needs for his needs the objective form in hand, as it were. He needs, not the person, but the person as part of the person in hand, i.e. a thing to hold and think on, a boot, for example, perhaps with a person inside it. The wearer? "I am a shiny boot!" Look at that worm squirm. That part stands for the whole, and the communion of believers accept it in the flesh. The part is the whole. Magnificat anima mea Dominum.

'What seems to be me is not me. I am a Sorites Paradox before you.'

The Sorites Paradox of The Parable of the Hooded Man goes thus: 'Do you know your father? Yes. Is that him? Yes. No, it is a man in a hood who looks from a distance like your father.'

Some people dress up and pretend they are what they wear, and that attracts perhaps those who are attracted to the object, the thing worn and the thing wearing. "Oh, object of my heart's desire, I've longed to pretend on you for an age!' Doing it alone, not so cool. Stepping out of the shower and looking in the mirror, maybe not good at all. So, the tattoos. The focus, the deflection. The object of magic that transforms one into a part representing the whole. They pretend they are what they look like in part.

This idea. This issue. This ideology. This piece of chatter picked up from the internet. This blah-blah. This Palestinians. This I hate the Israelis. This Save the Poor. This yaya.

I'm sometimes stricken by the pornographic presentation of the people I meet. They do it to themselves in the hope I'll be deceived by the Sorites Paradox of the tattooed fat girl. No, that doesn't work very often. I usually see a tattooed fat girl. Silly me, I take the person as the whole person, even if they demand that I reduce them to the deflection. When people want to be attractive to others and find they just aren't, some find compensatory tactics to make themselves happier than they might otherwise be if shut out from the communion of lost souls. I don't care. Some are genuine fetishists who do as they do because it's what they do. I don't care. Don't sit on my couch, don't join my communion. Find your own and do as you will. Don't expect me to pretend with you.

Some people are so fragile they cannot stand to be seen as they are, for otherwise they would break into shards and splinters. I can't help it. I don't even care. I don't even pretend to. And some are so desperate for attention that they intrude into the publicity they so much fear: they become models in the eternal world of photographs, the dead undying. Some display themselves in our shared publicity as an image representing their wholeness, as if we are fooled. The image lasts, and the part and the whole remain private anyway. All that remains is evidence of a fake.

Some people are into diapers, and what can you say? Some demand the rest of us play the same game or suffer. I'm not that likely to reduce myself to the part. I'm not that into being a pornographic model of someone else's need for form. Some are. Auto-metonumia isn't for me.

Magnificat anima mea Dominum.

It's simple: some people can't figure out how to attract a mate, and they get lonely. They try something to make themselves presentable while still reserving the right not to be criticized for who they are. It don't work. The person is still the whole person, good, bad or ugly. No tattoos, no nothing makes the difference. Some are strange, and so what? But those who make themselves diminished, that has less than appeal. And such is much of our modern Western world. I see it for what it is, and it's increasingly fetishistic and phony.

Stop doing that to my leg.

1. From Frederick J. Schwartz, "Form Follows Fetish: Adolph Behne and the Problem of Sachlichkeit," Oxford Journal of Art. Oxford: Oxford University Press; 1998; v.21, n.2, p. 47.


truepeers said...

I sympathize with you... up to a point.

It's easy to see that many people, and public life, are less than whole today, though surely it's always been a problem. Today, we no longer have a public culture with widely shared understandings of the sacred producing evident models of the mostly whole person - e.g either the aristocratic or tradesmen or self-sacrificing mother heroes of old - the kind of public culture that, if it existed today, some would call totalitarian (and I don't mean the soft totalitarianism of today's dictatorship of relativism: I mean what today's leftist dictatorship defines itself against).

Or more exactly, we no longer widely share an understanding of our nonetheless still shared dependence on the sacred and transcendent, even as we inevitably still have shared sacred norms, such as the widespread recognition of the sacredness of individual persons to make of themselves what they can or want, though today it's according to the limits imposed by the dictatorship of relativism.

We survive the ever-present risk of collapse into totalitarianism my moving foward to an increasingly decentralized, or omni-centric, market society where everyone gets a chance to make a sacred centre of themselves (even if it is only to perform an idea of obedience to reality, to the order of Being), one anyone can imitate and change without it seeming as if the model dominates the sacred centre to my exclusion. In this sense, the fat tatooed girl is a more welcome model than the perfect celebrity I can never hope to be. (Not that that is necessarily saying much. I still need other models, quite possibly divine ones.)

In other words, like it or not, people today have no choice but to stage their own sacraments in their own covenant zones. Even if, say, they join the Catholic Church, it is not likely to be the church of everyone else they know at work or play. The crucifix they wear inevitably gets seen as roughly comparable to the tribal tatoo of another on the free market playing field where the game is to attract and influence others in their freedom.

No doubt there is much more of a well-established tradition for rigorous thought and spirituality behind the cross than the tatoo. But, the point is, the Christian today cannot or should not hope to show this without going on to the playing field that is the free marketplace where all kinds of sacraments, rites of initiation, are being semi-privately staged, and where maybe, maybe not, people are slowly getting wiser about the sacred game by openly playing it as such.

If we hope to build up a sense of a covenantal culture, to share in sacraments of political and national life that take us beyond the limits of consumer markets to address genuine shared political needs for, e.g., security and freedom, for strong families who reproduce our culture, we have to face the paradox that these needs are for yet greater degrees of (disciplined) freedom to overcome the limits of our left-liberal elites and bureaucracies, their present inability to provide us real security and shared faith, models for hope in the future.

There will come a time when we have to rely, to some degree, on the freedom of the fat tattooed girl, for example, working for a modest wage in airport security; we will have to rely on her to do her part in the covenant, to stand up and speak out when she sees or knows something that needs to be pointed out in face of liberal pieties about profiling and equality. She will need to be proud of who she is, of her status as something more than just another module in a free economic marketplace.

Thus in calling for a greater wholeness, through a renewed national covenant, we also have to respect all of us, all the limited beings about and within us. Sometimes they/we are idiots, but we can't just call them that unless they are truly hopeless to the cause and only a kick in the pants can realistically help. We have to find ways to reach out and bring them into a greater whole. Knowing whether to affirm the tattoo, that she may have the sense of a shared covenant with us, that she might be able to do the right thing in a moment of crisis, or whether to try to show the tattoo wearer something more in the way of a sophisticated (Judeo-Christian) sacramental and secular covenantal culture, is not a straightforward either/or question. You do the first to get a chance to do the second, and you have to allow them to try the same on us. We have to think about what we need to do to seduce people in order to change them, together with us. And in that, we should be playing essentially the same game, if on a different scale, as the fat girl who gets a tattoo in hopes of tricking a guy into thinking she's captivating.

It's not enough to insist on our superior wholeness. We have to show the fat girl what we all need and should want, without falsely promising that any of us can ever be exactly "it". "It" we can only make the horizon of our shared covenant, which maybe both the tattoo and the cross may help signify.

dag said...

I'm responding to your comments but it's taking more time than I can devote to one sitting. Will be back as soon as time allows.