Friday, April 25, 2014


Sex is a portal.  It opens the door to adulthood.  In fact, partly because of its entanglement with the law and partly because it changes a lot of interpersonal dynamics, for most people it is the only criterion.  Maybe a driver’s license comes close, but the tie to educational progress is pretty well broken.  Money?  I have too little experience to know.  I've never made a "grown-up" salary.

I’ve been watching “Game of Thrones” at the rate of four episodes per night, which means that the child actors grow up by leaps and bounds, something like watching all the Harry Potter movies one-after-another.  

Isaac Hempstead-Wright

Isaac hempstead-wright (Bran Stark) in particular develops quickly away from his beguiling child face, so that his upper lip shadows and then his nose asserts itself.  I don’t know how parallel this is to the character in the story.  The girls seem to be easier to manage visually, since no testosterone is giving them Adam’s apples and beards.  

Also Isaac Hempstead-Wright

When one looks at Google Images, Isaac looks almost nerdy, though endearingly so, but he probably will have to assure all of us that he is an adult by somehow looking sexy, which is the only main thing a lot of people know about adulthood.

Daniel Radcliffe in "Equus"

Harry Potter’s Daniel Radcliffe made the transition through the "door" by stripping onstage to be in "Equus."  It worked well, partly because he’s an excellent actor anyway, and now he’s turned out to be quite handsome as an adult.  

Daniel Radcliffe

He is helped because the spotlight shifted to J.K. Rowling anyway.  By now he's taking adult roles in series.

Neil Patrick Harris as Dougie Houser

Neil Patrick Harris was once Dougie Houser whose whole shtick was acting like a genius adult while he looked like a little kid, needed something strong to turn the "doorknob" to adulthood.

Annie Leibowitz' photo of Neil Patrick Harris in Vanity Fair

Natassja Kinski by Richard Avedon

Annie Leibowitz, always resourceful, took him there in the Natassja Kinski way.  Double snakes, one overtly penile -- the bigger one.  It works in part because though Harris’ body is hairless, his face is not a child’s.  On the other hand, Kinski looks almost a child, though she was twenty.  In our culture women need to be childlike; men need to be more than adult.  Kinski herself, who was born into the risky edge-world of a daring and powerful actor father, feels exploited.  Hard to argue.

Parallel to sexy-child women and super-competent men, there is a dynamic of innocence versus wickedness.  Somehow wickedness is considered a feature of adulthood and victimhood (though certainly powerful men can become victims like Ned Stark), but moral wickedness or criminality is considered not just adult but also sexy in both men and women.  Consider "Oz" or "Deadwood," et al.  It is presented as an entitlement to abuse -- or at least use -- the childish. 

Childishness and innocence in pre-pubertal boys is sexy to certain people.  Defiant wickedness in adolescent boys is sexy to almost everyone except authority figures.  Authority figures, especially ones who are either protective of innocents or else cruelly powerful, are sexy.  Bureaucrats are not.  Grownup crybabies are not.  Unless they're Russell Crowe full-out grieving while clasping the feet of his dead wife in "Gladiator".

Natassja Kinski grown-up

These are cultural categories that vary from one time period and one place to another.  In our kakatopia, they are not so much about sex or even power as they are about wealth.  They are ways to get richer and to demonstrate wealth, which always attracts more money.  But they are definitions for groups bent on survival.  What about individual lives?

The highly technical announcement for professional psychoanalysts that I've pasted below is about "opening doors" through the embodiment/incarnation of sexual transgression.  I think "The Black Swan" ballet movie was aiming for this but missed.  I will not be doing real-world research.  But isn't the embodiment of sex what happens to all of us at puberty? And doesn't it mean the old and powerful can consume the young and helpless?

Transgression: murdering the future


This presentation extends Botella and Botella’s (2005) and Levine’s (2012) work on figurability and unrepresented states to the domain of sexuality, and specifically, transgressive sexuality. Transgressive sexuality operates within an economical regime of escalating excitations, pushing against the limit of what is tolerable. Its insatiable appetite for intensified stimulation can lead to a welling up of pleasure to the point of pain or exhaustion producing pleasure that is suffered. Such suffering of pleasure can override homeostatic controls and, at its apex, may result in a shattering of the ego (Bersani).

This shattering, I will propose, behaves like a portal that allows unrepresented experiential fragments to leap forward. These embodied bits are akin to Bion’s beta elements: insofar as they have evaded representation they cannot be thought with or thought about. By nature impossible to gather into language, they arrive as sensuous bodily states which can then be worked with in the consulting room. A vignette will illustrate how an analysand’s transgressive sexual encounter and the generative dysregulation it produced made it possible for us to find a way to think and speak about previously unrepresented states.

More when the book comes and I've had a chance to read it.


No comments: