Friday, September 23, 2011
Sunday, March 20, 2011
Monday, February 14, 2011
"Locate an irritation withoutIt is withinWithin" (4)
"I am the centreOf a circle of painExceeding its boundaries in every direction[...]Pain is no stronger than the resisting forcePain calls up in meThe struggle is equal[...]I am climbing a distorted mountain of agonyIncidentally with the exhaustion of controlI reach the summitAnd gradually subside into anticipation ofReposeWhich never comes" (4-5)
"Red a warm colour on the battle-fieldHeavy on my knees as a counterpane" (60)
"We might have given birth to a butterflyWith the daily newsPrinted in blood on its wings" (54)
"The procreative truth of MePetered outIn pestilentTear drops" (62)
"Mother I amIdenticalWith infinite MaternityIndivisibleAcutelyI am absorbedIntoThe was--is--ever--shall--beOf cosmic reproductivity" ("Parturition" 7)
Thursday, February 10, 2011
"Spawn of FantasiesSilting the appraisablePig Cupid his rosy snoutRooting erotic garbage"Once upon a time"Pulls a weed white star-toppedAmong wild oats sown in mucous-membrane"
"When we liftedOur eye-lids on LoveA cosmosOf coloured voicesAnd laughing honeyAnd spermatozoaAt the core of Nothingin the milk of the Moon"
"I am the jealous store-house of the candle-endsThat lit your adolescent learning-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --Behind God's eyesThere mightBe other lights"
"Where two or three are welded togetherThey shall become god-- -- -- -- -- -- -- ---Oh that's rightKeep away from me Please give me a pushDon't let me understand you Don't realise meOr we might tumble togetherDepersonalizedIdenticalInto the terrific NirvanaMe you -- you -- me"
"Let them clash togetherFrom their incognitoesIn seismic orgasmFor far furtherDifferentiationRather than watchOwn-self distortionWince in the alien ego"
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
"In these terms, woman's erogenous zones never amount to anything but a clitoris-sex that is not comparable to the noble phallic organ, or a hole-envelope that serves to sheathe and massage the penis in intercourse: a non-sex, or a masculine organ turned back upon itself, self-embracing" (23).
"the brutal separation of the two lips by a violating penis, an intrusion that distracts and deflects the woman from this "self-caressing" she needs if she is not to incur the disappearance of her own pleasure in sexual relations" (24).For both authors, male pleasure, derived from the penetration of women, precludes female sexual pleasure by depriving her of self-caress, by invading her inner being as experienced through her body--or often by simply not lasting long enough.
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
"There is a deep recognition in culture and in experience that intercourse is both the normal use of a woman, her human potentiality affirmed by it, and a violative abuse, her privacy irredeemably compromised, her selfhood changed in a way that is irrevocable, unrecoverable. And it is recognized that the use and abuse are not distinct phenomena but somehow a synthesized reality: both are true at the same time as if they were one harmonious truth instead of mutually exclusive contradictions" (154).Yet, as Dworkin points out in the above, society also recognizes that penetration changes a woman. There are psychological components to having something inside oneself. Sometimes they're positive, with feelings of welcoming, trust, fulfillment, satisfaction, intimacy. Sometimes, they're negative: violation, pain, invasion, betrayal, derogation, humiliation. As modern women, we tend to think of the distinction as clear, with laws of consent and such; but is it? Remember the "Hazards of Duke" article: Karen Owen was humiliated by a one-night stand she consented to. Even with a partner one trusts, some positions and methods of intercourse are considered more derogatory to women than others by society.
"...that slit that means entry into her--intercourse--appears to be the key to women's lower human status" (155).
Sunday, January 30, 2011
This week, we're reading selections from Intercourse, by Andrea Dworkin (referenced in at least one, if not both, of the Atlantic articles from last week), This Sex Which Is Not One, by Luce Irigaray, and if we have time, the last chapter of James Joyce's Ulysses.
"The men are tortured in their minds by the meaning of being naked, especially by the literal nakedness of women but also by their own nakedness: what it means to be seen and to be vulnerable. [...] The women are at ease being naked. ...being naked does not unnerve or expose her. [...] Men's nakedness is unbearable to them without the nakedness of a woman; men need women to survive their own nakedness" (40-41).Dworkin maintains that men's inability to reconcile their nakedness is due to their obsession with identity. Men are self-absorbed; therefore, their sex is wrapped up in abstraction, in looking without touching, in thinking rather than feeling. Men can't really touch because touch is real, and what is real may not be what the man wants. Since men can't really touch, they can never really dissolve their skin, lose their boundaries, and fuse with another person. Throughout the chapter Dworkin examines these ideas in the work of author Kobo Abe, and one of her examples is a man who barricaded a woman in a house with him and shut off the electricity so that in the dark, as long as he didn't touch her, he could pretend she was naked and be comforted, because:
"The women are the escape route from mental self-absorption into reality: they are the world, connection, contact, touch, feeling, what is real, the physical, what is true outside the frenetic self-involvement of the men, the convulsions of their passionate self-regard" (42).
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
"He found a quarter in a princess of cities where people were being good because they were being happy, because, after the lost years, a small tide of earthly joy was rising gently in that place. Or winding in and out of it like a little stream no evil thing could cross. A place where, even if people suffered, a touch of rapture, as though the pain was about something real, a necessary part of something like immortal life. A place where men and women were beginning to live again, beginning to make up for the years that the War had taken" (234-235).These people are the artists and the lovers and they love the old delights: "love of a party, work, solitude, study, indolence, or an exhilarating row. Love of loving Paris, of good wine, good food; love of one's friends, one's enemies, one's beloved. The lovers went..." (236) and with them the tonic provided by Montparnasse. They're replaced by "imitators and failures" who effectively create a tourist trade:
"parasites on all the arts and all the passions, the men and women harlots and the fashionable purveyors of sexual excitements disguised as art. And with these, their panders, not of social or sexual tastes, but the neurotic vices which follow fashion and have nothing to do with desire. Also the men and women whose hell had not been occasioned by any dislocation of our society, but by the putrid state of their subconscious selves, occasioned by fear, by over-indulgence and sometimes by the intolerable repression of american life." (236).
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
"When all's said and done, we do hang together against our women, and not wholly from rational reasons. All one finally discovers is that, when they urge us, the loveliest and wisest become all one with the slut" (203).
"It is getting more and more inopportune to suppose that women have no secrets unconnected with sex" (210).Or just the above. I rather like it.
"MEn, so the conventional wisdom goes, tend to desire more than women are willing to give them sexually. The granting of sex is the most powerful weapon women possess in their struggle with men."We saw a bit of this in the Duke article from yesterday, as we see it in our daily lives. It's rare to find a man, virgin or not, who wants to "wait" in a relationship. We know this not just from stereotypes, but from personal experience. Only once have I personally known such a man; and we're not talking about men who will wait until the woman is ready, but rather the man who tells the woman that he is not ready.
"But the reactionary political correctness of the 1990s put forth a proposition even more disastrous to women than free love: sexual equality."The article argues that sexual equality, and the idea that by communicating our boundaries we could teach men to respect female sexuality, is an "intellectual swindle that leads women to misjudge male sexuality, which they do at their own emotional and physical peril." The argument that sexuality is not neutral stands in direct opposition to my pipe dream from the last post, but I'm okay with that; in our generation and the next couple at least, it's true. Societally, we embrace egalitarian sex because it makes us feel better, but:
"Internet porn, on the other hand, shows us an unvarnished (albeit partial) view of male sexuality as an often dark force streaked with aggression."Porn, according to this article, shows us not a hyperbolic version of male sexuality, but the real thing, the brutishness that really underlies what we encounter. I find this a little extreme, but not impossible; the best sex, which stripped them of their shame, that Connie and Oliver had in Lady Chatterley's Lover was undoubtedly the roughest and least tender. The article says that this kind of sexuality is "unattractive" and sometimes "dangerous," but not deviant. Porn is not the source, but the result.
"It’s the clash between vulnerability and indifference that transpires after sex that is so savage. This is what Kael called “realism with the terror of actual experience.” The most frightening truths about sex rarely exist in the physical, but instead live in the intangible yet indelible wounds created in the psyche."
Monday, January 24, 2011
"If what we are seeing in Karen Owen is the realization of female sexual power, [...] What rotten luck that the first true daughter of sex-positive feminism would have an erotic proclivity for serving every kind of male need, no matter how mundane or humiliating, that she would so eagerly turn herself from sex mate to soccer mom, depending on what was wanted from her."
"In [the past], we relied on our own good judgment to keep us safe, but also—and this is the terrible, unchanging fact about being female—on the mercy of the men around us."
Friday, January 21, 2011
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
"Till Laura dwindlingSeemed knocking at Death's door:Then Lizzie weighed no moreBetter and worse;But put a silver penny in her purse,Kissed Laura, crossed the heath with clump of furzeAt twilight, halted by the brook:And for the first time in her lifeBegan to listen and look" (33).
"'Thank you," said Lizzie: "But one waitsAt home alone for me:So without further parleying,If you will not sell me anyOf your fruits though much and many,Give me back my silver pennyI tossed you for a fee."--(39-40)
"Her lips began to scorch,That juice was wormwood to her tongue,She loathed the feast:Writhing as one possessed she leaped and sung,Rent all her robe, and wrungHer hands in lamentable haste,And beat her breast" (51).
"Brother with queer brother;Signaling each other,Brother with sly brother" (10).
"She sucked and sucked and sucked the moreFruits which that unknown orchard bore;She sucked until her lips were sore;Then flung the emptied rinds away" (14)
"Should not loiter in the glenIn the haunts of goblin men.Do you not remember Jeanie,How she met them in the moonlight,Took their gifts both choice and many,Ate their fruits and wore their flowersPlucked from bowersWhere summer ripens at all hours?
But ever in the noonlightShe pined and pined away;Sought them by night and day,Found them no more, but dwindled and grew gray" (15-16)
"Laura turned cold as stoneTo find her sister heard that cry alone,That goblin cry,"Come buy our fruits, come buy."Must she then buy no more such dainty fruit?[...]Her tree of life drooped from the root:She said not one word in her heart's sore ache;[...]So crept to bed, and laySilent till Lizzie slept;Then sat up in a passionate yearning,And gnashed her teeth for baulked desire, and weptAs if her heart would break" (26-27).
“It’s the one insane taboo left: sex as a natural and vital thing” (291).
Chapter seventeen details the beginnings of Connie’s trip abroad. She gets very little enjoyment out of the atmosphere, the landscape, and the diversions: “This tourist performance of enjoying oneself is too hopelessly humiliating: it’s such a failure” (281).
But there are two developments: Connie finds out that she is pregnant, and Oliver’s wife returns to claim him. He rejects her, but upon hearing the news Connie begins to have doubts:
“She felt angry with him for not having got clear of a Bertha Coutts: nay, for having ever married her. Perhaps he had a certain hankering after lowness. […] It would be well to be rid of him, clear of him altogether. He was perhaps really common, really low” (290).But no worries; she comes to her senses:
“Oh no! I mustn’t go back on it! I must not go back on him. I must stick to him and to what I had of him, through everything. I had no warm, flamy life till he gave it to me. And I won’t go back on it.”
Things will be rough for Connie and Oliver in the last two chapters. Bertha, upon being rejected, began spewing all kinds of nasty slander about her sex life with Oliver while they were married, and claimed that Oliver had had lovers since their separation (pot calls kettle black, continued on page four). Based on a set of initials she found on the charred remains of her and Oliver’s family portrait, she even went so far as to accuse Connie of being the lover. Connie was still abroad, but Clifford took legal action, and Bertha’s gone into hiding. But Oliver has been sacked, and is leaving for London the same day Connie returns from Venice.
On to chapter eighteen!
Chapter eighteen begins to wrap up the scandal. Connie and Oliver agree to get divorces from their spouses, keeping clear of each other during the proceedings, then getting married and living together to raise their child. Though Oliver has misgivings about raising a child in a world he hates with an uncertain future, Connie says: "Be tender to it, and that will be its future" (306). They have sex, with this lovely sentiment: "And as his seed sprang in her, his soul sprang towards her too, in the creative act that is far more than procreative" (307).
In chapter nineteen, after receiving a letter from Connie asking for a divorce, Clifford really goes a bit insane. His relationship with Mrs. Bolton becomes quite perverse; he acts like a child with her, but fondles her breasts and kisses her. It's extremely weird, especially for Mrs. Bolton:
"And while she aided and abetted him all she could, away in the remotest corner of her ancient healthy womanhood she despised him with a savage contempt that knew no bounds" (321).
He demands to see Connie again at Wragby. Connie, afraid, enlists Hilda to go with her to help convince Clifford's delusional mind that the child is not his and that she is leaving, and convince him to agree to the divorce which he is threatening to withhold. As they argue, Clifford says he will never divorce Connie because he doesn't believe in love, and therefore her love for Oliver can't be more important than the routine at Wragby, of which she had been a part. So Connie doesn't get her divorce, but she and Oliver proceed with their plans anyway, and the novel ends with Oliver working on a farm to prepare for starting a farm of their own when the child is born.
I very much enjoyed Lady Chatterley's Lover. In the beginning we saw that "a woman could yield to a man without yielding her inner, free self" (4), but as the novel progresses we see that that seems to be the very problem. Connie doesn't really find peace, for lack of a better term, until she and Oliver share the "sheer fiery sensuality" that strips them to their "final nakedness" together (273), where they are both shameless and tender with each other. In between is the struggle to find self-sustaining tenderness and awareness, the two things that were lacking in her life and other relationships. Lack of tender touch and true intimacy diminish a person's humanity and reality, which frustrates their chances for happiness. It is through her sexual relationship with Mellors that Connie finds a tender awareness that flows back and forth between them, reinvigorated with every passing.
Fascinating stuff. Up next, Goblin Market, an epic poem by Christina Rossetti.
Sunday, January 16, 2011
"It was sensuality sharp and searing as fire, burning the soul to tinder. Burning out the shames, the deepest, oldest shames, in the most secret places. [...] But it took some getting at, the core of the physical jungle, the last and deepest recess of organic shame. The phallus alone could explore it. And how he had pressed in on her!
And how, in fear she had hated it. But how she had really wanted it! She knew now. At the bottom of her soul, fundamentally, she had needed this phallic hunting out, she had secretly wanted it, and she had believed that she would never get it. Now suddenly there it was, and a man was sharing her last and final nakedness, she was shameless.
What liars poets and everybody were! They made one think they wanted sentiment. When what one supremely wanted was this piercing, consuming, rather awful sensuality. To find a man who dared to do it, without shame or sin or final misgiving! ... What a pity most men are so doggy, a bit shameful, like Clifford! Like Michaelis even! Both sensually a bit doggy and humiliating. The supreme pleasure of the mind! And what is that to a woman? What is it, really, to the man either! He becomes merely messy and doggy, even in his mind. It needs sheer sensuality even to purify and quicken the mind" (271-273).And that's how one really awakens to life.
Saturday, January 15, 2011
"He had brought columbines and campions, and new-mown hay, and oak-tufts and honeysuckle in a small bud. He fastened fluffy young oak-sprays round her breasts, sticking in tufts of bluebells and campion: and in her navel he poised a pink campion flower, and in her maiden-hair were forget-me-nots and woodruff. [...] And he stuck flowers in the hair of his own body, and wound a bit of creeping-jenny round his penis, and stuck a single bell of a hyacinth in his navel" (250).He's adorning their bodies for the "wedding" of John Thomas and Lady Jane (their genitals, respectively). In many pre-modern traditions, many kinds of plants and flowers were used in such ceremonies, both as decoration and occasionally because of the plant's perceived special or magical properties. There are countless Greek deities, for example, who are depicted with plant adornments, with Dionysus being perhaps one of the most recognizable. He is often shown wound with ivy and holds a thrysus, which is a stalk of fennel or vine.
Thursday, January 13, 2011
- most women want a man, but not the sex; "but they put up with it, as part of the bargain"
- "The more old-fashioned sort just lie there like nothing ... the actual [sex] itself is nothing to them"
- sly women who "pretend they're passionate and have thrills. But it's all cockaloopy."
- "the ones that love everything, every kind of feeling and cuddling and going off [...] except the natural one", who "make you go off when you're not in the only place you should be, when you go off"
- "the hard sort, that are the devil to bring off at all, and bring themselves off"
- "the sort that's just dead inside"
- "the sort that puts you out before you really 'come,' and go on writhing their loins till they bring themselves off against your thighs" (aka, lesbians.)
"The man looked down in silence at the tense phallus, that did not change.--"Ay!" he said at last, in a little voice. "Ay ma lad! tha'rt theer right enough. Yi, tha mun rear thy head! Theer on thy own, eh? an' ta'es no count o' nob'dy! Tha ma'es nowt o' me, John Thomas. Art boss? of me? eh well, tha'rt more cocky than me, an' tha says less. John Thomas! Dost want her? Does want my Lady Jane? Tha's dipped me in again, tha hast. Ay, an' tha comes up smilin'.--Ax 'er then! Ax Lady Jane! Say: Lift up your heads o' ye gates, that the king of glory may come in. Ay, th' cheek on thee! Cunt, that's what tha'rt after. Tell Lady Jane tha wants cunt. John Thomas, an' th' cunt o' Lady Jane!--"