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< S.P.K. >
Dokument III
Text by K. Osmosis.

 

 

This <SPK> document is part of an evolving project inspired by the collective vision of the group, and expressed in the prose and poetry of K. Osmosis. These ruminations are dispersed across the property: <SPK> DESPAIR 2007, which includes the DVD "Despair", and the textual material contained on the website linked to this DVD, viewable at: http://spk.id.au. These writings are the property of SPK and K. Osmosis, and may only be reproduced with the author's consent.

 

 

Introduction


The following discourse may be considered as a rhizomatic work in flux. I hereby embark on a schizolytic concatenation of ideas.

 

The Schreber Experience


Interestingly, Sigmund Freud's exploration of schizophrenia in his exhaustive case study of the convoluted paranoid delusions of his famous patient - a prominent lawyer who suffered a schizophrenic breakdown - Dr Daniel Paul Schreber, provides a fascinating description and incisive insight into the mechanisms of psychosis and its interdependence with the traditional patriarchal, nuclear family and the life-denying ethos of bourgeois society.

 

From the age of three, Schreber was bathed by his mother in ice-water in accordance with his father's instructions. Schreber's father - a doctor and pedagogue - devised a series of elaborately engineered orthopaedic 'toys', or rather, constraints for his son, including an ornate 'shoulder-band', a figure-eight of metal and leather whose two loops, tightly curving around and strapped to the middle of his back, in combination with a 'straight-hold'- an iron cross-bar fastened to a table - compressed the boy's collarbones and shoulders. These mechanical devices were designed specifically to prevent any 'unproductive' movements or 'wasteful' spontaneity; it also ensured the young Schreber's rigid adherence to the 'dignified', 'upright' posture commensurate with his social position as an upstanding and 'respectable' member of the bourgeoisie.

 

Needless to say, the micro-despotism of Dr Schreber's nuclear familial structure in conjunction with the macro-despotism of capitalist society, resulted in the efflorescence of Schreber's unique brand of schizophrenia, a psychotic breakdown brilliantly transcribed in the schizophrenic language of his diary accounts. The 'miraculous machines' contrived to discipline Schreber's body, articulate themselves into a paranoid system where the brain is conceived as a network of canals and relays, and personality disintegrates into a series of information transfers and biochemical processes. Schreber struggles against a host of imaginary persecutors intent on the systematic, 'scientific' murder of his soul as he undergoes a process of becoming-woman.

 

 

Schreber's seminal role in Deleuzian ideas and the praxis of <SPK>

 

 

 

The schizophrenic discourse employed by Schreber in his diary to express the experiences of his mental disintegration provides the vocabulary for Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia, a seminal 'schizo-text' co-written by the philosopher Gilles Deleuze and the psychoanalyst Felix Guattari, whose ideas resemble the praxis of <SPK>, reproducing the delirium they analyze such that the traditional distinctions between 'form' and 'content' breakdown through a frenzied collage of theoretical flights of fancy in conjunction with images designed to shock and disturb the viewer. The objective is to engender 'shizo-subjects' engaged in 'lines of flight' involving liberation from repressive social codes and rigid psychic boundaries, where cracks appear in the faŤade of 'identity' and the subject is shattered in the process of becoming-multiple.

 

<SPK>, Deleuze and Guattari share a common fascination with the body "in terms of flesh and meat" and the mutual relationship between the bones "as the material structure of the body" and the flesh "as the corporeal material".

 

 

<SPK>'s Rhizomatic Dialectical Coporalia

 


<SPK>'s representation of grotesque imagery corresponds with its exploration of the socially marginalised or 'abject' - with gross deformity, filth, and disease. An attempt to look beneath the skin, to penetrate into the very visceral structure of what constitutes human identity and the human condition (our intestines, tubes, veins, etc.).

 

Ancient creation myths uphold the idea that anything emanating from the body - semen, spittle, urine, excrement, flatus - is a creative element. There are religions that associate the "body scheme" with that of the cosmos. The ancient Greeks and the Hebrews, for example, believed the seat of consciousness to reside in the ventricles of the heart; the Buddhists believed it to reside in the stomach and intestines. The liver and kidneys are also important centres of psychic life. Thus Zeus punishes Prometheus for his hubris by sending an eagle to feed upon his liver. The visceral centres (the alimentary tract and the intestines) thus embody the human psyche.

 

Sigmund Freud and the medieval alchemists both connected gold, and its abstract form - money ('filthy lucre') with excrement, symbolically juxtaposing the "lowest" and the "highest" values. The alchemists sought to distil or 'sublimate' from excrement the prima materia, one of the arcane substances from which it was hoped that the philosopher's stone would emerge.

 

The instigator of the European Protestant Reformation, Martin Luther, possessed an obsessive preoccupation with obscenity, decay and excrement. Psychoanalytically, this is symptomatic of a bipolar mental state, which accords with Luther's sense of being victimised by some kind of external enemy that he was forever trying to symbolically "eliminate". When terrorized by the Devil, for example, Luther retorts: "I have shit in my pants, and you can hang them around your neck and wipe your mouth with it". Such language eased his inner tensions, doubts and anxiety, helping him to express that religious self-repudiation of the flesh in terms of the sphincter muscle and the alimentary process. " I am like ripe shit", he declared, " and the world is a gigantic ass-hole".

 

In like manner, the father of Christian theology, St Augustine, bases his faith in the reality of Original Sin on the fact that babies - "the limbs of Satan" - are born and conceived "between faeces and urine".

 

For the Enlightenment Encyclopaedist, philosopher and satirist, Voltaire, humanity is "a wretched being, an embryo born in between urine and excrement, excrement itself, formed to fatten up the slime from the area in which it emerges".

 

 

The Spectacle of the Polymorphously Perverse Body

 


The novelist John Barth appropriates the biologist Ernst Haeckel's statement "ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny," but substitutes the word "cosmogony" for "phylogeny". Barth concludes: "the mystery of the universe and the sphincter's riddle are identical because the genesis of the individual and the genesis of the cosmos are aspects of the same process".

 

The simple consideration of the nature of the sex act from the insertion of the penis to ejaculation would seem to support this assumption. The terminal event of coitus, the ejaculation of semen, may be considered a urethral phenomenon, which has in common with the voiding of urine not only its channel of excretion but the fact of being the ejection of a fluid under great pressure. It is notable that during the frictional process inhibitory influences, emanating from the sphincter, seem to assert themselves, and are capable, if they predominate, of bringing about a complete cessation of ejaculation. However, everything points to the proposition that the urethral (i.e., ejaculatory) tendency is at work from the beginning, throughout the entire frictional process, and that in consequence a dialectical contradiction emerges between, on the one hand, evacuation and expulsion, and on the other hand, between inhibition and retention; in which, in the 'lonely hour' of the 'last instance', the urethral element asserts itself as the 'structure in dominance'. This dialectic manifests itself in the to-and-fro motion of the frictional process, in which penetration corresponds to the ejaculatory tendency, and withdrawal to a perpetually recurring inhibition. In accordance with the laws of dialectical materialism (akin to the transformation of water at a certain point of temperature into either steam or ice), the accumulation of quantitative changes (the excitement resulting from prolonged friction) leads to a qualitative 'leap': upon exceeding a certain level, the increase of excitement consequent upon continued friction, finally overcomes the (retentive) spasm of the sphincter, resulting in ejaculation of the seminal material (spermata).

 

The term endoscopy encompasses a number of different medical procedures. For example, gastroscopy visualises the upper digestive tract, sigmoidoscopy visualises the lower digestive tract, and laparoscopy visualises the organs which can be accessed via a puncture through the navel. Apart from being used for the internal visualisation of the body for medical diagnostic evaluation and therapeutic intervention, images obtained by endoscope techniques are used to bring us face to face, so to speak, with the immediacy of the body's interior.

 

Thus the invention of the endoscope is one of many medical instruments whose genealogy can be traced to the dissecting gaze of the anatomist, Andreas Vesalius. Casting aside all ideality of the body's formal appeal, this mode of seeing incised right into the fabric of flesh in order to disclose, by means of light, the minutest detail of its vital function. This conception contrasts with the traditional view of anatomy as a morbid practice carried out under the curtain of night which life paradoxically threw over the body's inner workings. It was only after death that it was acceptable for the portals of the corpse to be opened up to the light of day. To quote the philosopher Michel Foucault: "Nineteenth century medicine was haunted by that absolute eye that cadaverizes life, and rediscovers in the corpse the frail, broken nervure of life". Opening up the corpses, Foucault maintains, gave medicine the opportunity to subject the entire human body to the scientific Gaze. Thus Scientific Objectivity meets the naked individual. From a teleological perspective, the endoscope triumphs over the tradition of the morbid anatomist by rending the curtain of night. The European Enlightenment thus arrives as sight, and it is the history of the gaze transmuted into systems of surveillance and control that constitutes the principal point of attack of <SPK>.

 

The history of European science is replete with descriptions of the unveiling, stripping and laying bare of the female body as a metaphor for the activities of the male scientist engaged in the activity of discovering nature's hidden secrets. Freud described female psychology in terms of the colonist and the conquistador, as "a 'dark continent'.............still veiled in impenetrable obscurity". In the Eighteenth century, scientists of the European Enlightenment were aided in their attempts at discovering the secret inner workings of the human body through the extensive use of "Anatomical Venuses". These 'Venuses' were finely detailed life-like reproductions of the female body made from wax; and they came complete with hair, jewellery and internal organs, passive and with their insides open to the exploratory gaze of the anatomist. For the pioneering gynaecologist Marion Sims, writing in the mid-Nineteenth century, employing the newly invented speculum made him feel "like an explorer in medicine who first views a new and important territory..............a colonising and conquering hero". <SPK> turns its speculum back upon the world once again.

 

 

The Psychotic Imaginary

 


The philosopher Karl Marx exults in that colourful allure of the sublime imagination latent in the "youthful and fantastic dream" of Hegelian philosophy, and he aspired to bring reality into harmony with that idealised image of a world that philosophy had hitherto realised only in thought. In a spirit of optimism, Marx proclaims that the world "has not yet become clear to itself. It will then turn out that the world has long dreamt of that of which it had only to have a clear idea to possess it really". Marx's autopsy upon what he describes as the "putrefying corpse" of Hegel's philosophical system,
likewise applies to the psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud's interpretation of the phantasmatical dreams dredged from the hidden depths and dark recesses of his patients' unconscious - a realm he describes as a "seething cauldron of excitations". The marriage of Marx's hermeneutics and Freud's 'Dream-work' provides <SPK> with a theoretical concept that triggers an area of research: the latent dream content is placed in opposition to the prosaic, everyday world of conscious activity. This promises a ludic permutation, an alternative model of accepted social reality, amounting to the potential for a revolutionary metamorphosis and the realisation of a 'surreality'- a pataphysical transformation of society.

 

Thus Freud defines dreams as the symbolic fulfilment of desires denied satisfaction in the real world, along with the inevitable conflict that ensues between, on the one hand, the body's demands for a pleasurable satisfaction of its desires and, on the other hand, a disagreeable reality that obstructs the gratification of these desires. A conflict ameliorated through the construction of an interior world of 'phantasy', described by Freud as a kind of nature reserve where humanity's unfulfilled desires are protected, providing the blueprints and building blocks for the construction of a new reality to replace the old.

 

A process where accepted notions of what differentiates 'normalcy' from 'psychosis' disappear in the common goal of transforming reality in accordance with the wishful constructions preserved in phantasy. This results in two different approaches: in practical action directed towards the outside world designed to achieve the remoulding of objective reality in favour of erotic desires previously denied (Freud's "alloplastic adaptation"); or, conversely, in a 'psychotic' - philosophically idealist - approach, concentrating upon passive, internal changes, amounting to the construction in thought of an ideal reality as a substitute for the partial or complete denial of the existence of the real external world (Freud's "autoplastic adaptation"). <SPK>'s intense interest in the deranged sensory awareness, visions, and artistic productions of the clinically insane, amounts to an exploration the liminal space where the psychotic imaginary intersects with 'normalcy' in the revolutionary transformation of reality.

 

 

Body Dysmorphology



<SPK> is keenly interested in exploring the notion that the human body is in a continual process of production and transformation. There is a constant interchange between the subject and the world in the ways in which the body's boundaries shrink or expand, incorporates objects into itself, or expels impulses and substances emanating from within. Relations between the body and its surrounding environment are blurred and confused - the outside environment is not distinct from the body but is an active internal component of its 'identity'. The borders of the body are not fixed or confined to its anatomical 'container', the skin. The boundaries are extremely fluid and dynamic, and there is an ongoing interchange between inside and outside.

The plasticity of our conceptions of the body and its boundaries is indicated by what many social scientists are currently describing as a pandemic what they call 'body dysmorphic disorder'. People suffering this disorder feel that their bodies are somehow incomplete or imperfect. The illness generally manifests itself in the form of the more common eating disorders, such as bulimia or anorexia nervosa; but there are also patients with an obsessive desire to acquire extra body parts, or to have otherwise healthy limbs surgically removed because they perceive them as somehow ugly, extraneous, or abject.

 

Dr Joseph Rosen, Associate Professor of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Centre, New Hampshire, asserts that our limbs are intimately connected to neural networks or maps within our brains which possess the capacity to contract or expand. When we have a limb amputated, it takes considerable time for our neural map of that limb to contract or fade (hence the phantom limb effect). Alternatively, if we acquire an extra body part, our neural map expands accordingly. For Dr Rosen, this discovery opens up infinite possibilities for the reconstruction of the human body.

 

Dr Rosen believes, with current surgical techniques with the capacity to rearrange rib bones and stretch torso fat, in the near future it will be possible to create wings for the human body. Although we would lack the ability to fly, we would resemble angels, and our wings, hanging flaps of boned tissue, would possess full sensation. Dr Rosen is also currently developing methods of equipping the human body with tails and enhanced hearing. In response to criticism from his peers at a recent conference of plastic surgeons, Dr Rosen posed the question:

 

Why do we only value the average? Why are plastic surgeons dedicated only to restoring our current notions of the conventional, as opposed to letting people explore, if they want, the possibilities? Human wings will be here; mark my words. If I were to give you wings, you would develop, literally, a winged

brain. Our bodies change our brains, and our brains are infinitely mouldable.

 

The Eroticism of Death

 


Through music and images, <SPK> traces an historical trajectory of the human body's objectification. An exploration of what amounts to a psychopathic dismemberment of the human body experienced as a random jumble of fragmented parts; a solidified, un-individuated mass, synonymous with the artist Antonin Artaud's 'body without organs' and his Theatre of Cruelty: deformity and the material horror of annihilation - the flash of the knife and the moment of truth. The image of the body cut, dissected, ripped, eviscerated, tortured and abject; emptied out and displayed; part human and part machine - visceral, fluid and sticky with blood, semen, faeces and urine. The body monstrously there,
but already so alien as to constitute a horrific 'Other': a sticky mess of undifferentiated organs - a type of interior slime. <SPK>'s objective is to envisage the emergence of new anatomical structures: fluid-filled, corporeal machines, uncannily exposed to a fascinated and sensationalized gaze, where the body, sexuality, death and violence underwrite the wildest fetishes.

 

The praxis of <SPK> is centred on corporeality and a philosophically consistent, 'base' materialism ('coporalia') ending in revelation and annihilation, scandal and catastrophe. A perverse cornucopia of chilling imagery, expressing a society immersed in the throes of libidinous violence, the actualisation of Sadean fantasy, genocide, and the wholesale transgression of traditional taboos. <SPK> explores the fatal moment prophesied by the philosopher Martin Heidegger's reflections on a technological logic culminating in the Death Camps, and drifting into the suicidal nihilism and terminal catastrophe of the present.

 

The fatal residues of history have completed the dismal task of reification: the transformation of humanity into a 'thing'. The atomized human individual exists as a bare commodity, an exchange value locked into a system of production, with the human personality progressively denuded of 'depth': a mere 'surface affect' manipulated by the increasingly sophisticated images of a consumption industry intent on colonising the human psyche, producing new and fragmented forms of commercialised 'personhood' ('subjectification'). This marks a form of control amounting to a convergence of powerful systems of external, spectacular surveillance with seemingly apolitical regimes of 'self'-surveillance, producing a compliant complicity with the status quo. A mass conformity inextricably combined with a psychologically regressive passivity.

 

Through the vectors of instantaneous communication, our senses are overloaded exponentially with an increasing mass of information depicting a world on the brink of catastrophe. We are beset with an information overload culminating in an all-pervasive paranoia concerning the global realities of war, mass poverty, plague, genocide, terror, torture, arbitrary imprisonment, fundamentalist economic and religious fanaticisms, serial murder, and the rapid destruction of the ecosphere.

 

 

 

In response to the dominant ideologies of power and privilege responsible for the present chaos, <SPK> resorts to the iconoclasm of the hammer, combined with cultural electroconvulsive shock therapy. In connection with our own empirical observations, we find the horrors of the human condition embodied in the plastic creations and fragmented experiences of marginalised artists deemed clinically insane: personalities who turn inward in response to the experience of chaos and dehumanization in Late Capitalist society. An outer environment experienced as an alien, frozen world congealed into objective ('reified') historical structures (social relationships), dominating and destroying our lives. Critically opposed to this appalling state of affairs, <SPK> insinuates itself into the ruptures, cracks and fissures of this frozen world in a rearguard attempt to expose the hollowness and corruption of its inward decay, to corrode the empty facades that support and legitimise it from without. Our activities consist in the establishment of correspondences between seemingly disconnected facts, combined with the juxtaposition of disparate images and the elaboration of electronic 'noise' (dissonance), culminating in <SPK>'s development of a consummate technical skill designed to reflect the confused and disfigured nature of contemporary reality. These skills are informed by the shifting, multi-faceted and multi-perspectival techniques of seminal writers such as Louis-Ferdinand Celine, and William S. Burroughs. Artists who embrace a critical nihilism against the tired and sclerotic orthodoxies of objective truth, countering the routinization of language and life with the bitter-sweet taste of a the erotic, and the hallucinatory intensities of colour, amidst the grimy numbness of human bodies instrumentalized, brutalized and exhausted by the economic rationalist fundamentalism of the transnational corporations of a globalized New World Order. The music of <SPK> is not an alibi, a comfortable retreat, but a descent to the subterranean depths of the political scene - a vast crypt from which the underside of politics can be viewed upside-down or turned inside-out.

 

The strength and relevance of <SPK>'s music lies precisely in the emancipated dissonance that refuses resolution, harmony, consolation, the quieting of tension in easy repose, or easy comfort. Instead, we give expression in sound, text, images and performance to the disharmonies of contemporary society - the 'nightmare'that is the world 'out there'. The ultimate goal of our music is to form, within itself, within its very structure, the force of those contradictions and the need to resolve them in society. We will succeed the more precisely we express, in the forms and language of our musical compositions and imagery, the miseries of the status quo, emphatically calling, through the ciphered language of suffering, for change.

 

<SPK>'s praxis experiments with disruptive and interpolative techniques along with montage and other devices of discontinuity. Accordingly we strive to exploit the fissures in surface inter-relations, to discover premonitions of an apocalyptic utopian promise in the interstices of our totalitarian society. This includes a detailed exploration of decadence leading to a nihilism composed of a random collection of musical notes; shocking images; gobbledygook; fragments of nonsense; a mouth without an Ego, drinking, babbling, pouring it out; confidence tricks in all shapes and sizes; the jokes of a man who has lost his moorings; blind alleys but with paths leading everywhere - with no aims but innumerable destinations; synchronised with the attempt to found a scholastic system grounded on chaos.

 

<SPK's dissection of contemporary culture relentlessly discloses the worm in the bud. Accordingly we are interested in the visceral and frequently violent nature of sexuality, particularly as it is expressed in the complex sado-masochistic patterns of inversion and identification, projection and introjection, submission and domination, exhibitionism and voyeurism. All in all, that dynamic dance of opposites constituting human social interaction.

 

 

Drawing upon the philosophical speculations of the Marquis de Sade, the surrealist writer Georges Bataille writes of the fundamental link "between death and sexual excitement", adding, "In essence, the domain of eroticism is the domain of violence, of violation". Bataille's celebration of sexual violence and the perverse rigorously avoids any association of eroticism with what might be called purely spiritual concepts of ideal beauty, love or romance. Instead, Bataille revels in the links he painstakingly establishes between eroticism and the more earthly concerns of ripeness and decay, the cycles of sexual expenditure, discharge and release, and feelings of repugnance and disgust.

For Bataille, "Eroticism springs from an alternation of fascination and horror", a fascination expressed in the seductive nature of the monstrous and the grotesque. The goal of course is the attainment of unity through the symbolic fusion of two individuals in a sexual embrace that collapses socially prescribed boundaries and constraints. The participants experience a liberating destruction of the "isolation" and "self-contained character" characteristic of their "normal" lives as "discontinuous individuals". The result is an erotic union that completely breaks down the distinction of 'self' and 'other' through a process of the inside collapsing into the outside producing "a feeling of profound continuity", where the individual, who would normally regard themselves with the utmost importance and their sexuality as a means, like any other, for their own satisfaction, become conscious of themselves from a biological standpoint as only a brief episode in a succession of generations, as merely a short-lived appendage to a germ-plasm endowed with virtual immortality.

 

In speaking of the germ cells that "work against the death of the living substance and succeed in winning for it what we can only regard as potential immortality", Freud argues:

 

The instincts which watch over the destinies of these elementary organisms that survive the whole individual, which provide them with a safe shelter while they are defenceless against the stimuli of the external world, which bring about their meeting with other germ-cells, and so on - these constitute

the group of the sexual instincts. They operate against the purpose of the other instincts, which

leads, by reason of their function, to the final aim of life, the task of which is to lead organic life back into the inanimate state - death. It is as though the life of the organism moves with a vacillating rhythm. One group of instincts rushes forward so as to reach the final aim of life as swiftly as possible; but when a certain stage has been reached, the other group jerks back to a certain point to make a fresh start and so prolong the journey.

 

 

Freud describes the death drive as "the most universal endeavour of all living substance - namely to return to the quiescence of the inorganic world". Like a river winding its way back to the sea, life is but a series of complicated detours" or "circuitous paths to death". Freud's hypothesis of a death drive is illustrated by the "momentary extinction" of orgasm, and a theory of origins derived from "the poet-philosopher" Plato: "the hypothesis that living substance at the time of its coming to life was torn apart into small particles, which have ever since endeavoured to reunite through the sexual instincts".

 

For Freud this living substance is forever striving to regain its lost unity, the plenitude of its being, through the achievement of an increasingly complex and diversified "combination of the particles into which living substance was originally dispersed". Freud marvels at the almost insurmountable difficulties encountered by the first unicellular organisms - "splintered fragments of living substance" - in their first attempts at forming themselves into multi-cellular entities, and the necessity "which compelled them to form a protective cortical layer by an environment charged with dangerous stimuli". The colonies of cells that make up multi-cellular organisms thus constitute a defence mechanism against a hostile external environment.

 

Freud's equation of life and death, the animate and the inanimate, Eros and Thanatos, represents a striving - intrinsic to all living substance - to find its way to a final state of entopic dissolution and restful oblivion, as a return to a lost unity. The notion of the fundamentally regressive and conservative nature of the instincts connects with Freud's hypothesis, according to which life originates from a type of crystalline matrix, owing to the disruption of inorganic matter by an ancient cosmic catastrophe. Freud's answer to the question of life, its origins and direction, appears, to <SPK>, as an endlessly circular affair, a ceaseless ebb and flow - "But here, I think, the moment has come for breaking off".

 

 

In an essay titled 'Mouth', Bataille establishes the difference between animal and humans as fundamentally a difference in symmetry. The mouth and anus of the animal, he suggests, forms a straight line with the animal's mouth. In the verticality of human anatomy, however, the mouth recedes and the eyes take on greater significance. It is only in the moments of greatest pleasure and pain, Bataille asserts, that the human body reverts to its most primitive form. In these extreme states the body falls to the horizontal position, the head is thrust back and the mouth, now open and protruding, issues a cry. In transposing the animal form onto the human body in his essay "Ear", Bataille affirms this collapse of the hierarchical status of the rational, knowing subject.

 

"Story of the Eye", Bataille's fantasy of ocular violation, employs the eye as a metaphor for the contradiction existing at the heart of human existence; the contradiction between transgression and prohibition as the axis around which desire is played out. The transgressive occupies the liminal space between the asexual maternal and the sexual feminine, incorporating fascination and terror, fear and desire, horror and seduction. This amounts to a radical destabilisation of the limits and boundaries of human subjectivity. According to Bataille:

 

It seems impossible to judge the eye using any word other than seductive, since nothing is more attractive in the bodies of animals and men. But extreme seductiveness is probably at the boundaryof horror.

 

In Freudian theory the eye is synonymous with the phallus so that violence against the eye figures as a symbol for castration. Freud writes:

 

A study of dreams, phantasies and myths has taught us that anxiety about one's eyes, the fear of going blind, is often enough a substitute for the dread of being castrated. The self-blinding of the mythical criminal Oedipus was simply a mitigated form of the punishment of castration.

 

The violence contained in Bataille's "Story of the Eye" is linked to the image of the vagina (the 'vagina dentata') as a terrifying consuming organ, one that voraciously consumes a vast array of objects: an egg, an eye, a bull's testicle and the erect penis of a dying man. Coitus and explicit acts of sexual fetishism are politically deployed against the profane world of capital accumulation and commodity fetishism, in favour of an excessive, unproductive expenditure associated with religious ecstasy and the realm of the sacred.

 

The enucleated eye - everywhere in Bataille's oeuvre a symbol of the hierarchical transcendence of philosophical idealism - is returned to the body's two lowest orifices - the anus and the vagina. Against the eye as a symbol of disembodied reason, Bataille possessed a fondness for the labyrinth as an alternative to the pyramid, that architectural symbol of solidity and substance, homologous to the optical cone and the tumescence of hierarchical social structures.

 

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