Monstrous Bodies Queer Homunculi in Artaud, Bataille and Bellmer
AntoninArtaud (1896-1948) • Addiction to opiates, Failure of theater projects (Alfred Jarry Theater and Theater of Cruelty), intermittent asylum incarceration, longest form 1937-1946, last three years involved 51 electroshock treatments • During his internment, created an all female family, “the daughters of the heart to be born,” which included both grandmothers, and several past lovers.
To Have Done With the Judgment of God (1947) • …I say, to remake his anatomy. Man is sick because he is badly constructed. We must make up our minds to strip him bare in order to scrape off that animalcule that itches him mortally…For you can tie me up if you wish, but there is nothing more useless than an organ. When you will have made him a body without organs, then you will have delivered him from all his automatic reactions and restored him to his true freedom. Then you will teach him again to dance wrong side out as in the frenzy of dance halls and this wrong side out will be his real place.
Georges Bataille’s Notion of Expenditure (depense) • “…[H]umanityrecognizes the right to acquire, to conserve, and to consume rationally, but it excludes in principle nonproductive expenditure (117). Ex: luxury, mourning, war, cults, the construction of sumptuary monuments, games, spectacles, arts, perverse sexual activity (i.e., deflected from genital finality [and thus not aimed at (re)production]—activities that have no end in themselves. On poetry-It is easier to indicate that, for the rare human beings who have this element at their disposal, poetic expenditure ceases to be symbolic in its consequences; thus, to a certain extent, the function of representation engages the very life of the one who assumes it. It condemns him to the most disappointing forms of activity, to misery, to despair, to the pursuit of inconsistent shadows that provide nothing but vertigo and rage” (120).
Bataille’s Sovereign • “The sovereign acts insubordinately and consumes with regard only to the moment of consumption, prepared to risk death if only to affirm a human status beyond that of a thing. In opposition to the labour and subordination of the worker, the sovereign is distinguished by the ability to consume wealth and energy without working for it, enjoying the surplus rather than reinvesting it in production.”
Bellmer on Bataille • “I agree with Georges Bataille, that eroticism relates to a knowledge of evil and the inevitability of death, it is not simply an expression of joyful passion.”
Questions • How do we think through “non-productivity” or depense in a way that does not undo itself? In other words, can expenditure do work that is inappropriable to homogenizing elements (the state, medicine, the law) while remaining sovereign? • How do we transform our bodies on an everyday, material plane? • Is a monstrous, queer body possible-either within representation or lived action? • What would the contours/spaces of a sovereign queer life look/be like? Or is there a benefit in thinking through this impossiblity? Malfunctioning bodies as a site of escape?