Wednesday, June 11, 2014


St. Agatha

It’s possible that the appetite for “rough sex” as it’s portrayed in television crime series and pop novels is a form of hunger for spirituality that is outside all institutional framing -- including church and law.  Certainly it has to be considered if the subject is the “philosophy of flesh” as grounded in the capacities of the human body.  The Roman Catholic church abounds with examples of holy martyrdom that are exceedingly and inventively cruel as well as often sexual.  No need to review them here, but they have been immortalized in writing and have been an introduction to pornography for more than a few young people.  Those who practice S/M report that occasionally there is a spontaneous “breaking-over” into spirituality and mysticism.  The brain shifts.

Avgi Saketopoulou

This is from an announcement for a psychoanalytical lecture by Avgi Saketopoulou called “To Suffer Pleasure”:

“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.”

THE WASP  (Fiction)

In order to use the services of the Wasp, one had to know the right people.  The name was a mocking one since he was not white, Anglo-Saxon, or Protestant.  In fact, he was some kind of Native American though no one knew what tribe or even whether North or South American.  He never told anyone anything and was never publicly around in the San Francisco streets or baths though he was a part of that alternative life.   He specialized in soldiers -- combat veterans-- who had been in mortal danger and now walked in a vapor cloud of terror and rage, trying not to kill -- not even themselves.

in combat

The Wasp had developed some ingenious equipment, one being a tiny syringe-like mechanism that pinched up a bit of skin and injected it with acid, REAL acid, like nitric or muriatic, just a few drops, very painful.  Thus, the Wasp.  Less remarked upon though technically more sophisticated was a bubble helmet with controlled air flow that could deliver smells both ghastly and overwhelmingly sweet; or flash blinding lights or impose total darkness while muffling screams.  It could be used to deliver gases like an anesthetist’s mask but with molecules that caused super-sensitivity.  It could be used like earphones, deafening -- or murmuring unintelligibly, maybe human voices in other languages.  

And there were immobilizing boards where legs or arms could be encased in neoprene sleeves from wrist to shoulder, from ankle to hip; or cuffs, manacles -- maybe with sheepskin-lined leather and maybe with iron chains.  Sometimes he used tissue-paper restraints and forbade the person to break them, so that only their will had to be strong.

The customers never realized that the Wasp’s real equipment was his own mind and empathy so highly developed and experienced that he could read the emotional responses of a person accurately, understanding at once what would torture them the most, in the most intimate way.  He had no political interests at all.  Didn’t want to know any secrets.  Just wanted that response and to control it, play it like music.  Nor was he trying to heal trauma.  Just explore it.

To begin, the resourceful customer had to make contact with an old lady in what seemed to be a small shop.  She took their photo, two views -- front and side -- like a mug shot, put them on a plastic card, and affixed a cyber-record on a magnetic strip: their credit check, a criminal check (no one was ever turned in), a record of any writing they had done (journalists were stopped at this point, but poets were welcomed), and what should be done with the body in case of death, though no one ever died and, if they had, their bodies would simply have been dumped in some remote spot.  The question was only to intimidate them and test their commitment.  Still, a wasp bite could mean anaphylactic shock.  Sometimes -- very rarely -- the Wasp used poisonous snakes.  He didn't like snakes.

By the time they presented their card in front of the peephole at the door of the “studio,” the men were shaking and possibly otherwise disgracing themselves because they were anticipating what they already knew would be almost unbearable.  Because that’s what they wanted to resolve.  While the Wasp filed the card, which he would never give back, they stood at attention, in dress uniform, usually young and sunburned, scrubbed and crewcut, glistening with sweat and rigid for inspection.  The Indian man they confronted had jaw-length hair, bound by a blue silk scarf.  He wore black, of course.  Some said silk and some said velveteen.  Cut and tailored in cowboy-style. 

Some men were seen again the next day, unwilling to talk; and some didn’t reappear for a week, barely able to walk.  Maybe it depended upon how much money they had.  None of them would discuss it any more than they would describe their combat.  But they were quiet.  Stilled.  Ever after that, if the man thought of it secretly, his penis stiffened, even when he had become an old man, theoretically impotent.

The Wasp was not sexual with all of them but he went close enough to see into their eyes until the ordinary anatomy of sight was gone and he was looking at something like the dark matter of near-empty space.  That’s what he wanted -- to press this person into the fabric of the universe so deeply that the customer merged with it, reduced to warp and woof, filaments geometric and electric in their harpstrings, till the knots frayed and fell apart.  Some had to be deeply humiliated to make them offer it up.  That was more painful than electric shocks to their spinal nerves, burns to the sides of their noses, forced distentions, bruised mouths, and near suffocations.  Even beatings.   They had come/cum because epiphanic orgasms of near death had merged with their identities. Removing the memory was not a therapy.  It was a loss. 

One day a stubby man with a shaved head came to the door.  Somehow he had managed to evade the vetting by the old woman so he had no card to present.  He simply held up his driver’s license, which wasn’t even from California.  His face and knuckles were scarred and one thumb was missing.  A rope burn circled his neck  His clothes were ragged, fatigues in an old style.  He wore cavalry boots.  The Wasp let him in.  This time the Wasp was intensely sexual, using long preparation of arousal for the leather harnesses and cradles, all the underground ways that made straight men curious.  

It lasted days.  In the end the two men disappeared into each other, like colliding galaxies merging and transforming.  The ultimate intimacy is fusion, which is the same as annihilation.  The room with all its equipment was left standing open without so much as a bloodstain.  The landlord took away the little biting, stinging syringe, hoping to get some money from selling it, but no one could make it operate.

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