The body is a constellation of pleasures and pains. Its movements are determined by desires, instincts, and appetites. The Literature of Transgression brings language to the level of this constellation by following the perpetually arcing trajectories of sensation and then investing... [more]
The body is a constellation of pleasures and pains. Its movements are determined by desires, instincts, and appetites. The Literature of Transgression brings language to the level of this constellation by following the perpetually arcing trajectories of sensation and then investing these trajectories with the energy of words.
Literature in its entirety might be perverse. Words already deviate from things at the same time they tangle together with them; but the Literature of Transgression brings all these perverse entanglements to the surface, and revels in their ecstatic excretion.
Beginning with Sade and continuing with Bataille, Genet, Klossowski, and Artaud, language sings the glory and pain of the polymorphously perverse. The upright body of the language of the Enlightenment is penetrated from behind, and gives birth to all kinds of monstrous offspring. As language is invested with desires that make it swerve and render its unity fragile, the body is opened up to a new economy of sensation.
No longer an organic unity, the body becomes a set of erogenous zones between which pleasure and pain flash, transmitting impersonal affects and sensations. Language is no longer easily distinguishable from a scream or a cry; the power of the inarticulate inheres within it. All signs become duplicitous, marking at once a sensation and a meaning, an affect and an idea. What emerges is a language of the flesh, a language of the cut and the caress, a language that flows in streams of blood, urine, semen, and saliva.
From fiction to poetry to theory, the Literature of Transgression engenders entire orders of thought and sensation that challenge the limits of language. Artaud said that all writing is shit; and it's questionable to what extent he conceived himself as speaking metaphorically. Sade showed that the rational language of his day already harbored the potential for its own subversion; by blending together the discourse of the philosopher and the discourse of the criminal, he made reason itself seem like a closeted pervert. In each case it's a matter of making the words themselves cry out in pain and in pleasure, in making language shit and fuck, in transmitting signs that are no longer a transparent medium of communication, but visceral thresholds of sensation. [show less]