edited by Kamillea Aghtan, Michael O'Rourke and Karin Sellberg
This special issue of Inter/Alia
is devoted to "Bodily Fluids” and broadly concerns itself with the fluidity of the body and various bodily fluids with the aim of developinga queer theory and politics of corporeality and ontology which is not simply transgressive for transgression's sake or uncritically re-elevating fluidity to its place as the dominant and fetishised trope in queer studies (as Brad Epps has persuasively argued). Rather, this issue takes on what we perceive to be a certain hygienicisation-and by extension domestication-of queer thinking.
While queer theory and corporeal feminism have never shied away from bodily excess and that which is abjected from the body, this issue aims to adapt, draw on and expand upon already existing work in the field (and we are thinking here of Elizabeth Grosz, Tim Dean, Calvin Thomas, Shannon Bell, John Paul Ricco among others) by focusing on bodily productions- sweat, blood, pus, semen, mucous, milk, tears, vomit, diarrhea, saliva, bile, spinal fluid, urine, menses, oils, female ejaculate, amniotic fluid, acids- which tend to provoke squeamishness and acute ontological anxiety.This issue has a transdisciplinary focus which examines how the queerness of the body's precarious corporeal wholeness or properness is problematised in a number of settings and locations. While Julia Kristeva's writing on the abject is certainly pertinent for such a project we prefer to look to other more affirmative perspectives in order to advance a revivified and refluidified queer politics and ontology.
Our sense is that much that currently passes for or out of queer thinking detaches itself from and absents both the material body and that body's
abjectified traces and productions (indeed many of the fluids we list above have never received any attention at all from queer theorists). Also in corporeal feminism, which claims to re-corporealise ontology, the body and embodied being tends to be discussed in abstract and holistic terms that in many ways reaffirm rather than challenge the boundaries of physicality and embodied interaction/diffusion. In contradistinction to that trend, this issue showcases work which problematises the swerve away from bodily abjection and instead embraces a mucosal, suppurative and leaky ontology. Such a move would arguably nudge queer theory toward a truer sense of materiality, being, and corporeal proximity. The body for us does not simply mean the actual body but also refers to the corpuses or bodies of queer and feminist theory and we argue that queer is, like the body, somehow excessive to meaning, to definition and that it overspills clean and proper limits of knowledge production. By thinking through queer theory and corporeal feminism's own expulsions and excorporations as well as its refusals to get too proximate to certain bodily effusions, this issue aims to re-fluidify queer theory and contribute to its future development across theoretical, artistic, political, geographical and activist locations.
Mary Foltz: Excremental Eros: Pleasurable Decomposition and The Lesbian Body
Helen Hester: Exchanging Bodily Fluids: Transubstantiations in Contemporary Pornography
Karin Sellberg: Fluid Fat
Rosemary Deller: Just "a body melting into the carpet”: Bodily Fluids in Carol Morley's Dreams of a Life (2011)
Shannon Bell: Fluid-Truth: Ten Theses on Politics of Female Ejaculation
Eszter Timár: Squirm
Anna Gibbs: The Evolution of Tears: Between Science and Speculation
Tim Dean: Make It Nasty
Kathleen Biddick: Tears of Reign: Weeping over the State of Exception
Elizabeth Stephens: Fixated on Fluidity: Rhetorics of Mobility in Contemporary Queer Studies
Tomasz Sikora & Tomasz Kaliściak: Soma Rhei, or the New Vision of Porn
John Paul Ricco: Liquid Fore-speech of the Fore-scene
Nikki Sullivan: Who Will Write a Queer Somatechnics of Tears?
Peta Hinton: The Breast Milk Taboo: Queering Motherhood
Ania Chromik: Dividuals, Confluences, and Cross-Contaminations
Maria Parsons: Menstrual War-Machines and Economies of Fear
Patricia MacCormack: Creative Aproduction: Mucous and the Blank
Excremental Eros: Pleasurable Decomposition and The Lesbian Body
For my submission to this special issue, I would like to focus on Monique Wittig's The Lesbian Body
as within this text she depicts erotic practices, which unravel the subjectivity of lover and beloved, as the two decompose into each other in unproductive ecstasy.Her focus on bodily fluids - saliva, blood, vaginal discharge - mark the ultimate erotic connection as bodies fall apart and into each other, uniting in soil and fertilising, not birthing, the world.In her fictional depiction of waste, lesbians' connection to each other and to the world lies not in the creation of a unique subject stance, but instead in the dissolution of self, revelling in pleasurable rupture and porousness, and in delighting in decay.By presenting the pleasures of the abject, Wittig suggest that the ways in which we understand human waste, the way in which we treat excreta, can help us to map our violence against self, other, and the world.Moreover, she suggests that sinking into the world marks a unique kind of intimacy and an excremental Eros that might just help us focus on the joy of being organic matter, rather than the horrors of decay and death.
Exchanging Bodily Fluids: Transubstantiations in Contemporary Pornography
Gagging has become an increasingly conspicuous presence within contemporary adult entertainment, with the act of irrumatio
featuring prominently in both mainstream titles and specialist lines. In this article, I will argue that irrumatio
is not merely "an intensification of the blowjob, a deep penetration of the mouth, an obvious staging of male power” (Stüttgen 2009, 52), but furthermore an extension of pornography's generic investment in generating a visual vocabulary for pleasure. Drawing upon Linda Williams' work on the frenzy of the visible, I will suggest that gagging pornography uses the secretions of the throat and mouth to both extend and prefigure the conventional cum shot, and that these secretions come to act as a fetishistic substitute for the female orgasm, which remains perniciously resistant to photorealistic forms of representation.
As I will demonstrate, gagging within the field of moving-image porn can be seen to represent an act of exchange and transubstantiation, in which alternative kinds of bodily fluids and corporeal paroxysms substitute for both penile ejaculation and female sexual climax. But the significance of the gag reflex within pornography is not limited to the depiction of bodies on screen, and this article will also consider the role of retching within the consumer-viewer's experience of porn. In what circumstances does the visceral response of nausea come to stand in for that of arousal? Can a text still be said to be pornographic if it elicits this kind of bodily response? Using examples from commercial porn and contemporary memes, this article will argue that the cultural visibility of the gag reflex both generates and demands a new kind of ocular and visceral vocabulary of sex.
Karin SellbergKarin Sellberg
This article will discuss the divides that are commonly made between solid/fluid matter and exterior/interior physicality. I will argue that the phenomenon of fat, which is biochemically constituted by a set of acids, but yet appears on our body in a somewhat solid form, challenges these divides. Its appearance is neither fully internalised nor completely externalised and references to its "wobbliness” are proof of the simultaneously solid and fluid shape it has been given in the Western imaginary. Politically, fat is either portrayed as an abject or a celebrated substance and when fat is invoked all other material substances fall in its shade.
Referring primarily to the poetry, fiction, theory and criticism (and all the intermediary pieces of writing) of Margaret Atwood, Angela Carter and Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick I will distinguish a twentieth and twenty-first century philosophy of fat that draws on the affective power of fat comes from its intermediary materiality. This is made further potent by the narrative techniques used by these writers; they form a type of "fatty” narratology through which the boundaries between solid generics and more fluid forms of writing become indistinguishable.
Fundamentally, this article will argue for a "wobblier” consideration of embodiment than has hitherto been presented in philosophies of the body. Few substances in the human body remain either fluid or solid throughout their life cycle. All elements take part in continual fluidification and solidification processes. On closer contact, the fatty folds that appear solid to the eye, will melt into quagmiric insubstantiality.
Just "a body melting into the carpet”: Bodily Fluids in Carol Morley's Dreams of a Life
Recently released documentary Dreams of a Life
(2011) provides a poignant exploration of both the life and death of Joyce Carol Vincent. Brought to national attention after being found in her London flat three years after her death, director Carol Morley uses fragments of memory provided by the testimony of friends and former lovers alongside streams of music and song to offer a ghostly homage to Joyce's life on the cinema screen. Yet, while Dreams of a Life
certainly seeks to offer something of a tribute to Joyce, the documentary nonetheless makes recurrent allusion to the disintegration of Joyce's body; discovered simply as a "body melting into the carpet”, her death "unascertainable”, surrounded by dust, decay and debris. As the juxtaposition between the horrific idea of her decomposed body and the testimony of those who repeatedly describe Joyce as vivacious, glamorous and "immaculate” recurs throughout the film, my paper explores the way in which fluidity permeates Dreams of a Life
. Here fluids - dripping milk, rings around bath tubs, dribbled jam, and ultimately the body-sized stain in her front room - all act as "signals”, jarring moments forced between orally expressed memory and the cinematic image that creates cracks in the surface veneer revered most particularly by former male lovers and admirers of Joyce. However, rather than simply perpetuate the long-standing tendency to contrast the superficial appearance of femininity with a (sometimes cruel) revelation of a rotten, visceral bodily interior, Dreams of a Life
uses the presence of these fluids to force a reinterpretation of a life lived, not in the eyes of others but between the "cracks” of vision.
Fluid-Truth: Ten Theses on Politics of Female Ejaculation
This essay brings together Jacques Ranciere's concept of politics and Catharine MacKinnon's concept of method and politics with Shannon Bell's concept of the female phallus to document a radical inaesthetics of female fluid.
The four texts to be used are:
Shannon Bell. Fast Feminism: Speed Philosophy, Pornography, and Politics
(New York: Autonomedia, 2010).
Alain Badiou. Handbook of Inaestheics
, trans. Albeto Toscano (Stanford University Press, 2005).
Catharine MacKinnon. Toward A Feminist Theory of the State
(Cambridge, Massachusetts and London: Cambridge University Press, 1989).
Jacques Ranciere. Dissensus: On Politics and Aesthetics
, trans. Steven Corcoran New York and London: Continuum, 2010).
I propose to take a Derridean look at the troubled ipseity of masculinity through the lexicon of biology. The combination of Derridean deconstruction, its investments in the vocabulary of the life sciences and specific scientific details will be used to queer the notion of masculinity through exposing the non-organic relationship between the key tropes conventionally deployed in political vocabulary in order to guarantee the ipseity or indivisibility posited as the guarantee of its autonomy. This work of exposition is a queer work - if masculinity is a concept which is crucial for any heteronormativity, this work is also fundamentally a work of queering. Throughout the text, I will rely on queer theory (Halperin and Butler) as well as Derridean deconstruction focusing on the problematics of autoimmunity (Derrida's "Faith and Knowledge”, and Rogues
as well as Geoffrey Bennington's and Michael Naas's work on autos
Specifically, I'm interested in the non-coherent non-immediate, non-organic relationship between two key tropes within the notion of masculinity conceived as a political (fraternal) concept. These two key tropes are indemnity and virility and their combined function in the political lexicon of Western metaphysics (phallogocentrism) is to buttress the "point” of masculinity, the notion of the honored and protected seed. The lexicon of biology offers these notions of indemnity and virility significantly in the concepts of the immune system and the sperm. According to findings published in 2007 (Pang et al.), sperm cells avoid triggering an immune response from any human immune system (from the sperm's "own” body as well as any other body they may travel in) by carrying a specific sugary protein which acts as a pass to grant them immune privilege. There is a threefold queerness here: the non-immediate, negotiated privilege of the sperm in the body of its own production which makes its "own” human body queerly foreign to sperm, the same negotiation necessitated for reproductive purposes, which queers all heteronormatively "organic”, or seamlessly conflict-free accounts of reproduction, and the negotiated ease with which sperms are accepted into any kinds of sites, not just those sanctioned for reproduction.
The sperm, the very seed which is in a timeless tropology of conventional political thought has always been imagined as the seed whose protection and careful planning should be a privileged investment of the good life now appears as a conditionally tolerated suspect agent. The autos
, on the other hand, that which is "protected” or posited by the immune system appears to be co-constituted by the other, not merely as an external boundary but also as something that passes through. It becomes in fact impossible to tell whether the sperm is self or non-self and whether it passes as self or not. The possibility of this shift effectively troubles our sense of ipseity at the heart of masculinity: if these findings are surprising, if they make us squirm, it is because the great philosopheme (philoso-meme) of ipseity cannot be assumed as a foundation of fraternal masculinty: at best, it can be the effect of a negotiation (immuno-suppression) which we might condone in the case of the human sperm but wouldn't in the case of cancer or HIV.
The Evolution of Tears: Between Science and Speculation
It seems that only the human animal really cries those salty drops we call tears. This paper asks what tears might represent symbolically, and what they might mean in the evolutionary terms in which Darwin, and, following him, Silvam Tomkins, tried to think human affect. Psychoanalyst Sandor Ferenczi's writing, especially in Thalassa
, comes at these questions from a different angle. Ferenczi advances a theory in which the human appears as an organisation of evolutionary layers, sometimes corresponding to ontogenetic layers of development. This paper asks what kind of "psychic volition” tears represent? Might they be a symptom of the return of Thalassa - the sea, the origin of life - within the heart of the human? In exploring the relationships between human and animal tears, between tears and sweating, psyche and soma, tears of sorrow and tears of joy, this paper touches on the physiology of emotions and raises questions about interdisciplinarity, and especially the relationship between science and speculation.
Make It Nasty
This essay focuses on sexual practice rather than on identity or embodiment per se. It delineates a lingering tension within the field of queer theory that repeatedly distracts attention away from sexual practice by connecting sexuality to other categories of analysis - race, nationality, disability, etc. The very promise of queer - that it would go beyond lesbian and gay identities to encompass other axes of social exclusion - has had the unfortunate consequence of sanitising the field. To broaden queer analysis beyond the merely sexual is now widely seen as the politically progressive move. However, this gesture harmonises a little too closely with the liberal politics of sexual disgust, in which variant sexual identities can be recognised and embraced on condition that the nitty-gritty of variant erotic practices is glossed over. I'm interested in what kinds of sex queer theory can readily accommodate and in how the politics of disgust works to police the borders of queer analysis. I'm particularly interested in sexual practices that are relatively popular among gay men - watersports, barebacking, semen-ingestion, scat, blood-sports - and that provoke the disgust response. I plan to tackle this issue by discussing the erotic cultivation of fluid-exchange, focusing especially on urine, semen, and blood. The different valences of these fluids - semen and blood associated with life and thus subject to taboo, urine associated with waste and therefore more unequivocally abjected - will enable me to consider the differential implications of exchanging fluids in sex play. The point will be less to underscore the desiring body's leakiness than to assess what it means to actively eroticise that leakiness.
Tears of Reign: Weeping over the State of Exception
At stake in contemporary theories of sovereignty (from Carl Schmitt to Walter Benjamin to Samuel Weber and Giorgio Agamben) is the embodiment of homo sacer
(the one who can be killed without taint of homicide, but who may not be sacrificed). Understood thus, homo sacer
renders undecidable both the theological and political. Such excruciating undecidability is the feeding ground of sovereignty. Sovereignty performs the crucial decision to decide on the theological and the political.
This paper invokes a leaky history of premodern tears to question how contemporary theorists imagine their history of sovereignty and how they temporalise it. My essay argues that the performance of tears in key premodern texts suggests a queer temporality of sovereignty in need of affectionate attention. This paper conjures both a history of the flesh and the flesh of history to investigate how bodily fluids play in the theo-politcal performance of undecidability. The paper focuses on key pre-modern moments in the construction of sovereignty. When a cadre of Christian clerics forge a fictional law (Leges Edwardi
c 1138 CE) in order to produce the category of the "Jew” as the state of exception, I explore how a contemporary text, the History of the Kings of Britain
marks that undecidable moment by a fluid breakdown: Merlin weeps before his prophecy. What are the tracks of his tears? How might we think them?
I further trace the genealogy of fluid breakdowns of defended sovereignty by reading Dante's encounter with the Inferno's weeping sovereign. What are the tracks of the tears of Satan as these drops fill the lake of traitors at the heart of hell?
The paper engages a third breakdown of sovereignty and its undecidabilty in a reading of William Shakespeare's tragedy, King Richard II
. Why does Shakespeare render Richard II as a crying machine and what do his seemingly robotic royal tears tell us about the traumatic fissures of sovereignty and decision?
These cameo studies enable me to engage a larger question: How are bodily fluids channeled by sovereignty and how does the excess of bodily fluids at historical moments break sovereign channels? In the ways that tears question temporality and power, how might we think of tears as liquid fluids that queer the fantasy of sovereign decision?
Fixated on Fluidity: Rhetorics of Mobility in Contemporary Queer Studies
The ideas of fluidity and contingency occupy a privileged role in contemporary queer studies, celebrated as inherently disruptive of the dominant cultural logic that Luce Irigaray has identified as "the mechanics of solids”. For Irigaray, the cultural association of femininity with fluidity is a potentially productive site of feminist appropriation, because fluids "disconcert any attempt at static identification”.
This idea of fluidity as resistant has been widely taken up within queer studies, in a way that often overlooks Irigaray's own very qualified and cautious account of fluidity. This paper will examine the widely-held critical assumption that fluidity is an inherently resistant or progressive characteristic by drawing on critical disability studies' recent critiques of the rhetorics of mobility at work in much contemporary critical theory. In so doing, it aims to take better account of the rhetorical function of fluidity in queer studies, and particularly its paradoxical role as the defining characteristic of a scholarly and cultural field explicitly defined against such fixed and stable terms.
Tomasz Sikora & Tomasz Kaliściak
Soma Rhei, or the New Vision of Porn
[Including a statement from SUKA OFF]
The format of the essay is meant to be more "fluid” than a traditional academic article. It will revolve around the (post)pornographic experimental movie Carnal Fluidity
(part of the Inside Flesh
project - more details at http://insideflesh.blogspot.com
) by the Polish artistic group SUKA OFF. Synthetic and organic fluids (does the distinction matter, after all?) are at the very centre of the film's imaginary, this "new vision of porn”, pointing perhaps towards a "leaky ontology” that the editors of this issue are calling for. The contribution will be a collage of the artists' statement/commentary (which they agreed to write specifically for the "Bodily Fluids” issue), a series of images, and Sikora/Kaliściak's logorrheic discharges. The permeable boundaries between and among authors, ideas, theories, imageries, and textual modes will enable molecular undercurrents impossible to foresee.
John Paul Ricco
Drool: Liquid Fore-speech of the Fore-scene
It is a preverbal stream that deposits on the pillow a barely visible trace,
as if a little saliva had leaked out of that sleeping mouth.
In a chapter titled "Self from Absence to Self” of his recent essay, The Fall of Sleep
, Jean-Luc Nancy draws upon the image of a little saliva leaking out of a sleeper's mouth in order to analogise the withdrawal of self from I, into self. A fall into self that is not so much the enunciative "I am” of either a waking consciousness or dreaming unconsciousness, but the excessive and residual trace of the fall into self that is the fall - or what we might call, the drool - of speech.
Taking its cue from Nancy's essay, and specifically his image of the barely visible trace deposited on the pillow, my paper will theorise drool as the liquid fore-speech of what I have come to call the fore-scene. The latter, in its own right, draws upon Nancy's readings of Freud on Vorlust
(Fore-lust) as the stage/scene of exposure and the spacing of the sense of existence as shared-separated. For drool is, as we know, a common liquid metaphor for uncontainable desire. An excessivity that, as formless force and form of the ground, is nothing but the unintelligibility of the fore, "upon” which anything like erotic pleasure (including as its own kind of intelligence) might be possible. In speaking in such terms, I of course also have in mind the base materialism of George Bataille's definition of the formless and its analogy of the universe to spit.
In this paper I continue my ongoing theoretical meditations on photographic images of the unmade (but not necessarily "empty”) bed (i.e. Felix Gonzalez-Torres' Untitled Billboard photograph, 1992) as fore-scene of co-existence/co-exposure. Based upon Nancy's text these images are understood to be images of the impossibility of perceiving, let alone representing, sleep. For if, as Nancy states, sleep "shows itself to itself as this appearance that appears only as non-appearing, as returning all appearing on itself and in itself,” then the image of the unmade bed lies extended there in the aesthetics of retreat, "allowing the waking phenomenologist [the one that we inevitably become in the drive to satisfy our experiential/epistemological curiosity] approaching the bed to perceive nothing but the appearance of its disappearance, the attestation of its retreat” (Fall, 13).
Drool is to the verbal what the empty bed is to the visual, yet as the fall of speech, drool is not a matter of the verbal or the oral but of the "buccal,” as this has been theorised by Nancy and further articulated by Michael O'Rourke. As the liquid fore-speech of the fore-scene/fore-lust, we might say that drool is the pre-cum of a buccal murmur and groan. With the lightest of touches, as though with the tap of a finger, this spit is extended, and in its extension traces the tenuous yet resiliently tensile line of the "with” of our shared existence. As though at that sleeping mouth a salvific path was somehow opened up, and in that fall of speech one hears the "with,” the "substance” of which is something like ex-gested spit, or drool.
Who Will Write a Queer Somatechnics of Tears?*
In late 2011, three weeks after having a heart attack, my mother died. During that timeless time of dying that I spent with her, the economics of the everyday (of the proper) receded into nothingness, the (assumed) boundaries between us, between I and you, now and then, here and there, bled like the ink on a tear-stained letter. Tears. So many tears. Since then I have hungrily devoured every book about tears that I could lay my hands on: The Language of Tears
; Holy Tears
; Crying: The Mystery of Tears
; Crying: The Natural and Cultural History of Tears
. So many tears, so many books, and yet all so dry, all so bereft of affect, so ... "unqueer”. I can't help thinking, pace
Irigaray, that as ironic as it might seem, these writings on tears display a "systematics that re-marks a historical 'inattention' to fluids ... a complicity of longstanding between rationality and a mechanics of solids” (Irigaray 1985, 107). In their various attempts to explain tears in functionalist and/or instrumentalist terms, these writings (as technologies, in the Heideggerian sense, that orient and are oriented by a particular mode of "revealing”, of "bringing-forth” or engendering) ensnare, appropriate, tears, desiccate and vacuum-pack them such that they "disappear into the objectlessness of standing-reserve (Bestand
1977, 19). For the most part, then, these writings about tears constitute, I argue, an expediting (Fördern
) orientation that classifies, regulates, exploits, stores-up, distributes and exhausts the (queer) potentialities for (un)becoming-with. If this is the case, then one is faced with the question of how to write otherwise, how to write in tears**, to performatively affect a queer somatechnics of tears. Drawing on the work of Heidegger, Nietzsche, Irigaray, Barthes, Lingis, Mark C. Taylor and Jeanette Winterson, this paper takes up that challenge.
The paper will be structured around a number of questions that appear repeatedly in "straight” writings on tears. These will include: Why do we cry?; What do tears mean?; Are there different types of tears?; How often do normal people cry?; Is crying good (or bad) for you? In response to each of these questions I will alternate and/or integrate functionalist accounts of tears, and my own attempt to write the timeless time of dying in tears.
* This title is a response to and a play on the rhetorical question that Roland Barthes posits in A Lover's Discourse
, "who will write the history of tears?”.
** This is a reference to Nietzsche's call for a "writing in blood” as visceral, performative act focused on affect rather than simply on cognition.
The Breast Milk Taboo: Queering Motherhood
Taking up Vicki Kirby's reading of Nature as systemic morphogenesis, suggesting "an involved meditation, mediation, and reproduction of itself that is essentially queer in character” (2011, 92), in this paper I reconsider both the "natural” and abject interpretations of breast milk and breast-feeding and their construal of the feminine/maternal body, to argue for the already queering of motherhood; reconceiving the maternal body in terms of a generalised and (re)productive materiality, fecund and shameful in a milky effluence that cannot be wholly located to, or confined by, the female body as a privileged site of maternity.
Dividuals, Confluences, and Cross-Contaminations
My paper offers a thought experiment in search of an affirmative ontology of bodily fluids that would perhaps open up a lateral perspective on the liquidated subjectivity by refiguring the Deleuzian concept of becoming through the existing conceptual instrumentarium of the pre-subjective merger. The idea is to probe the Deleuzian notion against the metaphorical constructions of the pre-modern "fluid merger with the humoural world” and the pre-symbolic flux of the psychoanalytical discourse, and at the same time to make it more tactile by examining how the experience of specific bodily fluids (sweat, saliva, amniotic fluid, mucous, plasma) affects the subject position by seeping into / being infiltrated by the Other. By focusing on the notion of "dividuality” as the embodiment of the spilling mode of existence (and the opposite of the self-contained individuality associated with the propre
), I will be looking at various cross-contaminations happening on several levels:
- as the Deleuzian notion of becomings, temporary arrangements, assemblages, coming together (rather than being), and temporary infiltrations which reconfigure and liquidate subjectivity;
- as a conceptual construct of the pre-Cartesian self immersed in the "humoural world”;
- as a conceptual construct of the protoplasmatic pre-Oedipal flow of jouissance;
- * as a possible confluence of these three discourses, with a particular emphasis on re-corporealising the material experience of specific bodily fluids by focusing on the different potentialities of assemblages they offer.
In doing so, I will concentrate on the following questions: In what way does embracing the material experience of bodily fluids enrich the experience of "becoming in different subject positions”? Can the seemingly fossilised and limiting set of metaphors constructing the so called "pre-subjective experience” be used to open up a new perspective on the experience of becoming as confluence? Or should this imagery remain rhetorically confined to the deepest recesses of the pre-Cartesian and the pre-Oedipal, forever lost to those who have entered symbolisation? And, if we decide to play with this imaginary instrumentarium, how can we draw from it without the risk of essentialising/ontologising such notions as "nature,” "body,” "self,” etc., and without stepping into the nostalgic utopia of the "re-enchanted world”? The experiment does not, in fact, go beyond immersing the notion of "becoming” in different nomenclatures, but I believe that this simple rhetorical device will open new perspectives both on the re-defined concept of subject positions and the under-thematised role the bodily fluids in question play in this redefinition.
Menstrual War-Machines and Economies of Fear
This article will explore menstruation and Psi
in horror cinema as Deleuzo-Guattarian war-machines. The war-machine does not have war as its primary object but as its second order; instead it is nomadic, molecular and rhizomic. It is precisely because war is not its primary objective that it is 'determined in such a way as to destroy the State-form and city-form with which it collides' (Deleuze and Guattari). The war-machine also threatens the Oedipal State-model which dictates desire by reducing 'the forms that desire takes - and thus the connections desire makes - to those that sustain the social formation of capitalism' (Tamsin Lorraine). Or, as Deleuze and Guattari state: 'in short it is at one and the same time that the State apparatus appropriates a war machine, that the war machine takes war as its object, and that war becomes subordinated to the aims of the State' (Deleuze and Guattari). By drawing a link between menstruation and Psi
(parapsychology) before its state military appropriation it will be argued that menstrual, Psi
practices are initially types of anoedipal, nomadic war machines which threaten neo-liberal, pro-capitalist agendas.
Thus, this article will explore military or covert appropriations of the pubertal, menstrual war-machine through an exploration of its representation in horror, beginning with an examination of John Farris' The Fury
published in 1976 and its film adaptation, directed by Brian de Palma in 1978.Farris' novel and its film adaptation exploit fears of communism, nuclear war and anoedipal desire. Moreover, the Cold War history of Psi
research demonstrates State appropriation of the 'illegitimate knowledge(s)' of the paranormal and its recoding of anoedipal threats. This can be traced to the leaking of disinformation by the Russians on their research into remote viewing in the 1950s to the U.S. government's establishment of the Stanford Research Institute in 1972 which only ceased operations in the late 1990s. Also evident in Psi
research is the propensity of pubescent teenagers to paranormal experiences. Here a link can be drawn between broader cultural anxieties and the limits or thresholds of menstruation which have been both culturally and historically overlaid with pathologising discourses of pollution, hygiene and concealment. Menstruation as Kristeva states is a semantic crossroads; it is ambiguous, composite, and defies borders, positions, and rules. More recently, Pacale Laugier's film Martyrs
(2008) takes the premise of Psi
experimentation to a decidedly more disturbing level by linking covert experimentation to the tortured martyr. Both The Fury
demonstrate how Oedipalised desire is sustained through economies of fear which appropriate effluvial war-machines for programs of neo-liberal capitalism and the promotion of ideological neo-imperialism.
Creative Aproduction: Mucous and the Blank
This article will be catalysed by mucous in order to conceptualise a form of abstracted, queer, ahuman "heterosexuality”. As mucous is neither gendered nor emitted from a specific corporeal site, it is effulgent and viscous emergence without finitude. My article will further suggest that a hitherto fluidic symbol of finitude - male ejaculate - can be liberated from the conceptual apprehension of its nomenclature through the figure of the vasectomied male body. The comingling of abstract feminine fluid and male fluid which has also been abstracted by having being evacuated from its need for spermatozoa content is a creative act which avoids the foils of heterosexuality's resonance with both the act of and human reproduction. As a radical anti-breeder project seeking to liberate ecosophical chaos from the parasite of the human and its continuation, in a broader sense, the vasectomied ejaculate affirms an ahuman sexuality which demands confrontation with the horror of the non- or anti-breeder male and the act of love for the chaosium
, a mucosal plane formed of feminine fluid and shooting potent blanks.