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Valar Qringaomis

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Monday, December 27, 2010

Extracts from The Sadeian Woman (1)

"In certain kinds of writing, particularly in art criticism and literary criticism, it is normal to come across long passages which are almost completely lacking in meaning." - George Orwell, "Politics and the English Language"

***

After the part that rings true, here begins a series of the rest of the extracts from a book that is most fun to read.

Even if most of it is baseless rubbish, I can understand why people like to believe in well-written nonsense that resonates with their convictions and beliefs (this also explains why Freud is so popular despite an almost total lack of evidence)


"Our flesh arrives to us out of history, like everything else does. We may believe we fuck stripped of social artifice; in bed, we even feel we touch the bedrock of human nature itself. But we are deceived. Flesh is not an irreducible human universal. Although the erotic relationship may seem to exist freely, on its own terms, among the distorted social relationships of a bourgeois society, it is, in fact, the most self-conscious of all human relationships, a direct confrontation of two beings whose actions in the bed are wholly determined by their acts when they are out of it. If one sexual partner is economically dependent on the other, then the question of sexual coercion, of contractual obligation, raises its ugly head in the very abode of love and inevitably colours the nature of the sexual expression of affection. The marriage bed is a particularly delusive refuge from the world because all wives of necessity fuck by contract. Prostitutes are at least decently paid on the nail and boast fewer illusions about a hireling status that has no veneer of social acceptability, but their services are suffering a decline in demand now that other women have invaded their territory in their own search for a newly acknowledged sexual pleasure. In this period, promiscuous abandon may seem the only type of free exchange.

But no bed, however unexpected, no matter how apparently gratuitous, is free from the de-universalising facts of real life. We do not go to bed in simple pairs; even if we choose not to refer to them, we still drag there with us the cultural impedimenta of our social class, our parents’ lives, our bank balances, our sexual and emotional expectations, our whole biographies - all the bits and pieces of our unique existences. These considerations have limited our choice of partners before we have even got them into the bedroom"


"Women experience sexuality and reproduction quite differently than men do; rich women are more in control of the sequence than poor women and so may ac tually enjoy flicking and childbirth, when poor women might find them both atrocious simply because they are poor and cannot afford comfort, privacy and paid help.

The notion of a universality of human experience is a confidence trick and the notion of a universality of female experience is a clever confidence trick."

"The function of plot in a pornograhic narrativ is always the same. It exists purely to provide as many opportunities as possible for the sexual act to take place. There is no room here for tension or the unexpected. We know what is going to happen; that is why we are reading the book. Characterisation is necessarily limited by the formal necessity for the actors to fuck as frequently and as ingeniously as possible. But they do not do so because they are continually consumed by desire; the free expression of desire is as alien to pornography as it is to marriage. In pornography, both men and women fuck because to fuck is their raison d'etre. It is their life work."


"Pornogaphy can only allow its phantoms to exist in the moment of sexual excitation; they cannot engage in the wide range of activity in the real world in which sexual performance is not the supeme business of all people at all times... pornogrphy is basically propaganda for fucking, an activity, one would have thought, that did not need much advertising in itself, because most people want to do it as soon as they know how.

The denial of the social fact of sexuality in pornography is made explicit in its audience. Produced in the main by men for an all-male cliente1 suggesting certain analogies with a male brothel, access to pornography is usually denied to women at any any level, often on the specious grounds that women do not find descriptions of the seual act erotically stimulating. Yet if pornograpby is produced by men for a male audience, it is exclusively concerned with relations between the sexes and even the specialised area of homosexual pornography divides its actors into sexual types who might roughtly be defined as 'masculine' and 'feminine'. So all pornography suffers the methodological defects of a manual of navigation written by and for land-lubbers.

Many pornographic novels are written in the first person as if by a woman, or use a woman as the focus of the narrative; but this device only reinforces the male orientation of the fiction. John Cleland’s Fanny Hill and the anonymous The Story of O, both classics of the genre, appear in this way to describe a woman’s mind through the fiction of her sexuality. This technique ensures that the gap left in the text is of just the right size for the reader to insert his prick into, the exact dimensions, in fact, of Fanny’s vagina or of O’s anus."

--- The Sadeian Woman: An Exercise in Cultural History / Angela Carter
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