poetry

An Ichthyarchy

Goyafish

Blessed be the wrath of me

my fervor an aeipathy

febrile and sweet sweat

a cotton cloth well met

high mound of dead flagblenny

remains of ichthyarchy

down nepenthe, drown regret

So much I must forget

on down upon bleeding knee

I intone the rosary

Drag on glass by teeth wet

blood Sherry I pay my debt

want and wish and mourn for slavery

instead of man mart bibliopoly

qat on tongue blemish bet

I know it is niff a loo debt

witch watt in the right race cavity

deposit something else white gravity

they fool themselves and fear the Tet

align themselves with the hellbound set

they decry their wholesome scaevity

at mount mass Abraham’s thysiastery

blessed be the wretch who let

the space where her grapes Zion blet

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poetry

Tete de Poulet

schiele2

Edo equal onslaught sequel affront

Menage a deux never imbroglio

Do new the thing is odd sui encunt

He sings, “alack, please heed Benvolio!”

 

Fabrique du mal, wrenched upwards blessed red

Blaise Pascal holds it releases winter

Chaise bestride agape invites lonesome head

Plenum pensees, critic, a dissenter

 

Mum of words and yet ample of mumbles

Leche la chatte, I work in trade of kind

Your maw, a treat, and so soft it humbles  

A vessel for my milk is thus defined

 

I quibble with my thoughts of dark remorse

Supine with my prick hard-pressed to deflate

Warm dew speckled lips pout around the source

Pleased with my renown as a reprobate

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Atheism, Criticism, Erotic, essay, Fiction, Liberty, Literature

Book Analysis: 120 Days of Sodom [Conclusion]

sadsade

Albert Camus in his classic study of the death penalty “Reflections on the Guillotine” noted how true and seemingly irredeemable evil individuals offer “impenetrable exteriors”. Like the stone walls of the castle into which they retreat the four men use the inherent positive societal prejudices about their social stations, status and wealth. Such attributes equate to an assumption of good moral behavior and standing in the mind of a society built upon the recognition and almost worship of privilege. Sade takes this supposition and takes it to its logical extreme; if  power equates to an assumption of public moral uprightness then the private attributes of the successful man are often quite the opposite. And if their means to power are unsavory then their cravings and passions must be equally if not even more wicked. All of the story telling serves to arouse and inspire the assembled men to sexual action and to illuminate for us the reader their inner most desires and debauches. Ayn Rand, often compared to Sade in her adherence to an extreme libertarian vision of morality, said

 

Achievement of your happiness is the only moral purpose of your life, and that happiness, not pain or mindless self-indulgence, is the proof of your moral integrity, since it is the proof and the result of your loyalty to the achievement of your values.”

 

One senses a bit of self-congratulation in these remarks, and Sade’s personal ethos turns this proposition on its head. By rejecting any sort of social contract Sade is able to have his characters justify their depravity and existential greed through a sort of fatalistic atomism taken to its extreme, a system he describes in his short story Dialogue Between a Priest and a Dying Man

           

            “Nothing perishes in the world, my friend, nothing is lost; man today, worm tomorrow […] can [God] have wished to create me in order to reap pleasure from punishing me, and that solely on account of a choice he does not leave me free to determine?”

 

Sade uses the inevitable decay and an eternal reemergence of life and matter as an excuse, for lack of a better term, for the indulgence of the grossest abuses in the name of hedonism. Life is an eternal process of indulgence and destruction wherein those who are in the best position to satiate their desires are morally right in taking any measures to do so. This looks at first glance like the sort of nihilism that Christian apologists point to as proof of the inherent iniquity of atheism and a secular morality. This could not be further from the truth of course. What Sade is rejecting is not a religious ethos (though I believe he thinks he is) but a secular one; he neglects to realize that the real arbiter of moral sanctity and order is not theocratic but human and civil. We are only accountable to our fellow human beings for our behavior and it is a human morality that is either put in place or rejected. What Sade is rejecting is not a Christian morality but a civic morality; he is embracing libertarianism in its most pure and pragmatic form. Sade’s greatest failing is not his atheism, which is actually quite reasoned and sober if divorced from the moral conclusions he erroneously uses it to justify, but his rejection of accountability to his fellow man. The answer to Sadean “morality” is not Christian morality but secular ethics and civil law. Sade himself came to understand this better during the cataclysm that was the later stages of the French Revolution.

Jejune and repetitive as some of the dialogue and plotting can the book taken as a whole is invigorating, stimulating and intellectually challenging. The characters, if not particularly deep or original, do have their own sort of utilitarian charm. But to read the 120 Days for pleasure is really to miss the point; this book is a personal mission statement, a philosophical thought experiment in the form of a novel. Sade attempted to create a moral system that transcended any then in existence. That he failed in no way detracts from the genius of the work and its relevance as a cautionary tale showing the true potential of libertarian hedonism if unleashed in a realm without the protections of the social contract. In his own perverse way Sade is as vital to the enlightenment exploration of civil rights and social law theory as is Rousseau, Ficthe or Locke. For what is the value of morality and law if we do not understand the havoc that would be wrought under the auspices of their antithesis?

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books, Free Thought, Freedom, Liberty, Literature, Sexuality

Book Analysis: 120 Days of Sodom [Part II]

imaginary_portrait_of_the_marquis_de_sade_XX_private_collection

The characters in the book seem almost an afterthought but they are more remarkable and believable for their wealth and privilege. These men who hold positions of power and moral authority in society are the very men who are the most debauched and the most violent towards that conventional morality that defines the border between humanity and animal urge. As Santayana famously said, power corrupts, and Sade understands this as a (relatively) rich and powerful figure in his own right. He knows that the outmost limits of human potential and morality, for ill in this case, are best expressed by those who have the power and the authority to push these limits and to legitimize through their power and authority the very debauchery that they are supposed to be a hedge against. With the 120 Days Sade admits what we all suspected to be true: it takes wealth and power to be able to push the limits of consumption, morality, and convention beyond the pale. The more power we have the more potential for abuse we have within our reach. Again though, this is admitted, but there is no apology for this fact. The manuscript is better for this fact. Evil does not need an apology, it begs for comprehension, even if this is not possible.

Sade introduces his characters with brief biological sketches. Each featured player is described, but there is no deep analysis of disposition nor is there any real explanation for why these people have gathered together. The only explanation given is that they are men seeking to gratify their personal fantasies and are content to use each other and their victims in order to achieve this aim. Character is in fact all but irrelevant in this story beyond what is useful to advancing a philosophical point, and otherwise Sade gives us no more information about these people than is absolutely necessary for the advancement of the narrative. They are archetypes, stand-ins for men. They are merely the instruments in a grand experiment in inflicting agony for the sake of pleasure. It is no surprise that each of these men represents a facet of society: civil government, the Church, the law, and finance. These are the temples devoted to debauchery and to torment; these are the bastions of iniquity within society. Sade sneers at these revered institutions that are supposed to represent the civilizing impulse of society. He exposes the truth: those who rise to the heights of power and influence are not the best of our world, but the very often the worst. It is a pessimistic view but the view of a man who is cruel and cynical enough to know hypocrisy when he sees it. These men, and the equally cruel albeit poor women who entertain them and aid them in their hideous plans, are nothing but id. Sade is pure superego, a role this man who loved to torment and to in turn to be tormented by others only ever played when taking the form of narrator in his various books. He is a passive conscience, a pragmatic conscience even, but a conscience that guides us through this reverse-morality play just the same.

“Feeble, enfettered creatures destined solely for our pleasures, I trust you have not deluded yourselves into supposing that the equally absolute and ridiculous ascendancy given you in the outside world would be accorded you in this place [.]”

 

            Sade puts this speech, which seem to be an accurate representation of his own sentiments when it came to how he understood society, into the mouth of his creation the Duc, the aristocrat mentioned earlier. This man is marginally the leader of this den of villains, and he outlines the rules agreed upon by all of the empowered parties. By that I mean all of those who are meant to derive pleasure from the arrangements they have painstakingly made and carried out. In a delicious bit of irony these men, and their creator, who in real life have no scruples when it comes to ignoring and flouting the laws of “civilized” society, have decided to establish an almost comically arbitrary set of rules governing the protagonists’ sexual conquests. There are to be no vaginal “de-flowerings” or anal penetration until pre-set dates. These dates are marked by the pairing of one of the young men with one of the young women in a “marriage” ceremony. This ceremony is a rather hilarious lampoon of the morality of sexual conquest in “normal” society: the man may not have his sexual desserts until he has satisfied the laws and customs set down by his peers.

As these laws are totally arbitrary and meant only to delay sexual gratification, it seems we are meant to reflect upon the meaning of such rules of sexual morality in polite society. If the world is a place of evil mitigated only on occasion by good, then why must we subject ourselves to rules that govern our urges and appetites? Surely some experiencing pleasure, even at the expense of others, must be better than no one experiencing it at all? The masses will suffer needlessly, so why not let them suffer for the pleasure of those daring enough to try to achieve some measure of pleasure? Sade believes in hedonism as a right for those willing to reach out and experience it and his philosophy of human morality is at its most coherent when understood through this point of view. He sets down the facts, the realpolitik of moral life on earth, and he comes to the conclusion that something must be done with this fickle thing we call “existence”.         He truly believes he is correct about the nature of things. Yet he does not seem to be content with this fact, or satisfied with his own diagnosis; there is a real undercurrent of disappointment, or, boredom with the world

One grows tired of the commonplace, the imagination becomes vexed, and the slenderness of our means, the weakness of our faculties, the corruption of our souls lead us to these abominations.”

These words, but into the mouth of the pasty little banker Durcet, speak volumes about the predisposition of the most debauched of all artists. These are the words of a human being disgusted and humiliated by the fact that he is, in fact, only human and not capable of experiencing the unhindered heights of elation and pleasure that his imagination is able to conjure up. We are limited, mortal creatures inhabiting this all to imperfect world,  a world that is so obviously what it is (“nasty, brutish and short” to quote  Hobbes). Something, anything must be done in order for it to remain interesting and worth living for. It seems such a simple, even facile reason for such delicious villainy, but it is in fact a thoroughly human reason. The heart (and mind and loins and senses) wants what it wants. The creature may always be frustrated in the pursuit of eternal pleasure, but that does not mean it will stop pursuing that pleasure. As the Banker, Durcet, puts it: “I must declare that my imagination has always outdistanced my faculties[.]

Perhaps because of this fact there is a real current of frustration that flows throughout the book; frustration at the world as it is, frustration with those who would stymie or stifle the impulse towards unlimited hedonism, and above all frustration with oneself for being born into a world where unlimited elation and pleasure is not possible. At the same time the ability to fully conceive of the possibility of such pleasure and power is entirely possible, and it is this dichotomy that fuels the violent frustrations of these men. Sometimes this frustration erupts forth from the protagonists in appalling acts of cruelty perpetrated against those whom they have power over, as I will discuss soon enough, but at other times this frustration takes the form of rants and declarations that are quite exquisite for their pure unrestrained and exultant fury:

“’There are’, said [the Judge] Curval, ‘but two or three crimes to perform in this world, and they, once done, there’s no more to be said; all the rest is inferior, you cease any longer to feel. Ah, how many times, by God, have I not longed to be able to assail the sun, snatch it out of the universe, make a general darkness, or use that start to burn the world! Oh, that would be a crime, oh yes, and not a little misdemeanor such as are all the ones we perform who are limited in a whole year’s time to metamorphosing a dozen creatures into lumps of clay.’

The impulse towards pleasuring ones’ self thus goes so far as to suborn the wholesale destruction of the Universe itself. Annihilation becomes the only real outlet for this unyielding passion the libertine always has inside of him/herself. But is it really the world that this apocalyptic minded libertine aches to destroy? Simone de Beauvoir in her classic essay on Sade’s morality “Must We Burn Sade?” quotes another Sadean “Monster”, the Count of Bressac:

The man who can become callous to the pains of others becomes insensitive to his own.

So does that make The 120 Days a work of extreme catharsis or pure escapism? Is the cruelty contained within its pages meant to be taken as guide for libertines, a warning, or as a sly joke at our expense? The answer, of course, to all of these questions is “yes”. But where does that leave Sade’s morality? If there is no one limit to the moral message of the book does that mean that there is no moral meaning to the work at all? Is this then an irrelevant exercise in pure pornographic frivolity?

Well of course not. No matter how much Sade wants to confuse or frustrate our attempts at a moral analysis of his work, the moral message is there, but not as a guide to action or as plan for an ideal society. Sade is simply showing us what it is within the capabilities of human to do to another human , in this case in the pursuit of pleasure. Just because Sade or any other man may want to achieve ecstasy through universal destruction, such power is, mercifully, outside of the ability of any one man. So we must look beyond the declarations and the rants and on towards the acts and impulses Sade chooses to illustrate and explore in the text. And while not burning the world to a crisp, these crimes are no less heinous for their feasibility or their horrifying ease of execution.

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Erotic, short fiction

Smoke

There is something about those little flaming protuberances that look so alluring in a woman’s mouth. Simple, so much potential violence. Burn a cross onto your flesh and it is agony, but it creates a story worth wasting ink on. Action is just literature not written down. Scratch and moan and burn all you want… give me a passage on it. Give me a character. Show me not how a woman screams for the pain but what screams from inside her despite the pain or even, god forbid, because of it. Because I know she is screaming. From across the bar, the café, the bordello, wherever we are whatever we are doing I still see her and she is still a woman. And I still see her smoking, and sucking in the ashes that would otherwise disfigure the wooden floor. Oh let me extinguish those little fires on my tongue. They’ll hurt so very little and so very briefly, but the memory of the pain will never abate and will grow ever stronger as I grow ever more in need of pleasure. Breath them out, those ashes, onto me. I weep for them. I cry.

Smoke. Drink. Dry alcohol and even more desiccated conversation. So many businessmen and so little business. Oh every time you ignore them they grow ever more attached to you. Like a grasping, leaching weed that thrives on those dripping from your eyes, and your armpits, and from the crumbs that fall from your teeth. They cling to you without touching, and send out their invisible but inescapable vines and shoots into every crevice that they cannot touch but through their thoughts and eyes and nose. I am not enough of a Narcissist to delude myself into believing I am not one of these men sending out his roots to search and possess you. I am just not a businessman.

One of said businessmen, one with a mustache, he whispers something in your ear. I somehow know what it is he said. You should slap him for that. Not how you talk to a lady. But you don’t slap him. God forgive me I am disappointed for the man. I had wanted to vicariously experience his rejection. I know I will not be rejected. I can’t be rejected. You already accepted me in oh so many ways. Remember? You do remember… You smile and you flick your cigarette into the trash. You light another one. Not three seconds pass between the last puff and the first drag. Oh damn. I want to smoke, but it is so very, very filthy. I enjoy filth, don’t misunderstand me, but I wish to experience such grime through the lips and spittle of a beautiful woman. No man needs to smoke who has a woman who smokes. The taste, the sick, the retched addiction. All the existential sensation without the cancer, the yellowing teeth or the wheezing cough. It is sweet irony: The partaking in such an insignificant ill leads to such an unparalleled cure for wanton ardency.

Yawn! Yawn! I do see you yawn woman. Your mouth open, braving the moths that float about the fluorescent lights, beckoning the tongues that will not have you, but will lick the very blood from your bones in their dreams. Is it such a painful bore to be a woman? Is it such an ordeal to stand and attract the attention of men and boys and dogs? Let them all sniff your scent. Push them to frenzy. Order a cosmopolitan and dump it on the floor. Watch as they order you another one.

It is a cruel truth that all sensation leads to sin. I can lust for you through my ears woman. I hear the breath feed the fire that burns the weed behind the filter on your cigarette. If the world were quiet enough that breath would bellow through the ether like the raging furnaces that belch for the fires of hell. Your breath would burn bodies, consume souls, roast the hopes and dreams of a billion hearts, including mine. For I listened to that breath, and was transported to the deepest, the darkest realm of Sheol. I want to go to hell darling. Send me to the pit. I would gladly burn in the fires of your miasmic exhalations. What about your habit moves me to such dark profundities I spew? I just enjoy the smell of tar mixed with a lady’s sweat, the rest is just my artistic nature. I told you I was no businessman. But… No I have not told you that yet. But I will. When we talk again for the first time.

I finally catch your jaded eye. You smile that smile, that smile that lies like a fornicating politician. I scowl because I do not feel like lying to you. But I do take a deep breath, and you see that I do, and you breathe some smoke in my direction. I cough, and grow ever more aroused. You can tell and I think, I think it disgusts you just a little bit. I walk towards you, finally ready to receive what was always mine. You bite your lip in such a post-ironic way. It almost turns me off… If I had wanted the truth from you I would have taken you against your will in the alley earlier that night. I want to be lied to. I want the only truth that matters: the truth I choose to believe. You extinguish this, your second cigarette in 20 minutes. I reach into my pocket and give you another one, a different brand, but still a cigarette. You ask one of the businessmen to light it for you. Of course they do. You inhale. I ejaculate. The businessman gives you his card.

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