Sunday, November 28, 2010
there is so much i miss in books on the first read. for instance, in lady chatterley’s lover, d.h. lawrence describes the clitoris as a bird’s beak waiting to attack: “....she got harder and harder to bring off, and she’d sort of tear at me down there, as if it was a beak tearing at me. By God, you think a woman’s soft down there, like a fig. But I tell you [they] have beaks between their legs, and they tear at you with it till you’re sick. Self! Self! all self! tearing and shouting!...And it came back on her like a raving necessity, she had to let herself go, tear tear tear as if she had no sensation in her except at the very top of her beak, the very outside top tip, that rubbed and tore. ”
Monday, November 8, 2010
in literature male genitals are often described in detail while female genitals are either eschewed entirely or presented in vague terms, almost never mentioning the clitoris. not so in the writings of marquise de sade. as angela carter argues in the sadeian woman (1974), he is a “moral pornographer” who “made space for woman.” Sade was very much aware of the clitoris as a site of pleasure. In 120 days of sodom (1789), the priest shows Dulcos how to pleasure herself: “what you behold down here…is called a cunt, and this is what you do in order to awaken very felicitous sensations in it. With one finger [...] rub this little protrubence you feel here. It, by the way, is called the clitoris.” in this text, as well as Juliette and Justine, there are countless scenes in which women show their partners how to stimulate their clitoris and vice versa. in Justine, Madame De Sainte-Ange instructs Dolmance: “frigging, my pet, giving oneself pleasure [...] examine my cunt...thus is named the temple of venus. this elevation you notice above it called the mound, which is garnished with hair [...] here above is a little tongue-shaped thing—that is the clitoris, and there lies all a woman’s power of sensation. it is the center of all of mine.”
throughout the majority of sade’s boring, monstrous orgies, the clit is present; however, it is not simply any clit, but following the focus on size, a big clit. In 120 days of sodom, the Four Whores are, in carter’s words “more virile than the libertines.” Madame Champville, for instance, is a tall, fifty-year old woman with a clit that “protrudes three inches when well warmed” and is a self-proclaimed “devotee of Sappho.” sade writes, “her mouth was lovely, still fresh, missing no teeth as yet, she was flat-chested but had a belly which was good…her mound was rather prominent.” Volmar, an inhabitant of the convent where Juliette is educated, is equipped with a three inch long clitoris that enables her to penetrate men and women both vaginally and anally. then, there is Durand, the most fantastic libertine of all. she is utterly luscious, with beautiful breasts, a huge clit, and an obstruction of the vagina and womb, which has prevented her from fucking in the standard heterosexual way her entire life. carter describes Durand as “[...] a virile non-productive mother, who chooses her own children, and seduces them, too. the dead goddess resurrects herself in the form of her antithesis, not as cherishing and nourishment but absence and hunger.” ultimately, Durand can “fuck even nature itself.”
refuting angela carter's feminist analysis—“the women fuck as much as they are fucked”—critic john phillips argues that the aggressive women in sade’s texts are not quite “woman-like,” but rather, “phallic” and “masculinized.” of juliette he writes, “though physically possessing all the usual sadean attributes of feminine beauty, her reproductive potential is underplayed. there is a single reference, for example, to her menstrual periods, and although, she does give birth to a daughter, we are given no details whatever of this event. moreover, she is completely bereft of motherly instincts...” its true sade's libertines glorify non-reproductive sex, often preferring, in phillips words, “the transsexual posterior infinitely preferable to the uniquely feminine vagina.” Juliette is furthermore not “female” because she likes to fuck fuck fuck, sometimes donning a dildo, penetrating both men and women with equal abandon. phillips continues, “in a more general sense, Juliette displays attitudes and characteristics more recognizably male than female: she is promiscuous, goal-oriented, and prioritizes reason over emotion.” more recognizably male. no doubt that Juliette, like all of sade’s women, are products of male fantasy, as manifested in sade, but in phillips interpretation, the symbolic Juliette is stripped of her possible wants and desires; such acts cannot be her fantasies for that might imply that some women enjoy the act of penetration, perhaps preferring it to being penetrated.
the attempt to masculinize women with big clits is not new. the term tribad was often used to refer to women with large clitorises though it could also mean women who actively seek sex with other women, or are mentally ill. large clitorises were perceived as posing a very specific threat: a woman who possesses the physical means by which to penetrate another person in unacceptable in a culture that conceives of the sexually active role as properly restricted to males.
In his two part treatise on gynecology, soranus (1st/2nd century), a physician from Ephesus, advocated the surgical removal (selective clitoridectomy) of a part of the woman’s clitoris if it is “overly large,” a behavior soranus associated with unrestrained sexual behavior. in on acute and chronic diseases, soranus introduces influential idea that tribades were incurable because their problem is rooted in the soul, not the body; he recommends clitoridectomies for women who “behave like men.” aetius of amida, a christian physician writing in greek in the early 6th century, wrote about women with big clits, using philoumenos, a 2nd century medical writer, as his source. He describes three main reasons for clitoridectomy: an “overly large” clitoris and to relieve clitoral adhesions as well as release fluid built up within a diseased or cancerous clitoris. like those before him, aetius asserts that an enlarged clitoris will inevitably lead to licentious behavior due to the constant rubbing of the clitoris against one’s undergarments which “stimulates the desire for intercourse.” sinistrari, a roman inquisitor of the early sixteenth century, claimed that women with elongated clitorises could and might rape men, or engage in “sodomy” with other women. in france at around the same time, anatomist claude duval saved a “man” from being burned to death at the stake after he was caught having sex with another woman, a serious crime. After examining the woman’s clitoris, duval rubbed it back and forth until it produced a white substance. Since the clitoris could ejaculate, it was decided that she possessed a penis, was a man, and therefore, no criminal behavior had occurred. In the popular pleasures of the marriage bed (1687) nicholas venette writes: “the lesbian Sappho would never have acquired so wicked a reputation if this part [the clitoris] had been smaller.” Until the late eighteenth century, when clitordectomies were discussed in the West, they were associated with the size of the clitoris. more specifically, an “overly large” or “extended” clitoris believed to be associated with “lasciviousness.” that is—a physical condition (“large clitoris”) associated with a culturally problematic sexual behavior.
consider the female spotted hyena, known for its “enlarged clitoris,” extending, during childbirth, up to seven inches from her body. The spotted hyenas live in clans and are a matriarchy. they have sex, urinate, and give birth through their clitoris. in order to attract a female hyena in heat, males adopt submissive behavior. hyena sex isn’t easy: it takes careful positioning for the male to point his penis up and backwards to enter the female’s clitoris; often males must practice for several months before getting it right. most of the medical literature, as well as websites like wikipedia, refer to their clitoris as a “pseudo-penis” with most dominant behavior described as “male-like.” such aggressive behavior is thought to result from an influx of androgen, an “androgen bath,” during the last phases of gestation. the hyena's transgressive nature, however, was known to pre-Islamic Arabic poets. in such texts, hyenas are routinely depicted as breaching a vast array of social woes: killing and feasting upon gracious hosts, menstruating out in the open, laughing all the while; when a pack of hyenas wander upon a dead warrior, they pleasure themselves with his still stiff cock. in the physiologus—written in egypt around 200-400 C.E., translated into greek and latin and widely available throughout the west—the hyena is portrayed as an “alternating male-female...unclean because it has two natures.”
at UCLA, a research team, BHP, led by dr. lawrence frank, has received ample funding to trace the role of androgens in the development of the spotted hyena’s “female phallus.” early in their studies, BHP concluded: “it has become clear that the spotted hyena’s genitals are a result of a prenatal exposure to androgens.” instead of viewing this “androgen bath” as an evolutionary beneficial aspect of the hyenas, BHP tends to interpret it as an evolutionary oops. however, a team of german researchers argue that the erectile clitoris was selected for and that it functions to restrain male control of reproduction: forced copulations are impossible because the spotted hyena has sex via penetration of the clitoris, which requires much patience and precision. females thus gain control over the mechanism of copulation and male mating success becomes dependant on the relationships they develop with females.
this counterargument however, has been largely ignored largely ignored or scoffed at by the medical community as well as popular consciousness. dr. frank refers to it as the “chastity belt theory.” in 1987 Psychology Today ran an article about BHP and the female spotted hyena, referring to the hyena’s clit as a “psuedo penis.” The name of the article was “Boys will be Boys, Girls will be...Female Spotted Hyena look and act like males.” Google search the hyena today and difficult it is to find articles that go beyond “the female spotted hyena has really weird genitals” (livewire, 2006). In actuality, clitoral variation proves the norm, not the aberration. African elephants, moles (except during mating season), and the new world monkey, all appear “superficially similar” to the opposite sex. In the gibbon monkey, the clitoris is longer than the penis. Rabbits also have a “large clitoris” with a length of about 3 cm as compared. a urogenital canal is present in the clitorises of the spotted hyena, many rodents, moles, and the elephant, and some primates. however, as researcher anna wilson has aptly noted, much like women themselves, “the hyena has moved from being the dangerous, unknowable other into a position of that which can be known, studied, and dissected but that is still other.”
Thursday, October 21, 2010
Les Figues Press: 4th Annual Auction
Sunday OCTOBER 17, 2010 @ LACE (Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions)
Emcees: Anna Joy Springer and Matias Viegener
Performers: Tisa Bryant, Martin Glaz Serup, Vanessa Place & Killsonic Women's Chorus
Food by Saehee Cho of The Sprout and The Bean Catering
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
In a Boat Shed
I waited too long
I waited for you forever and ever
the changing unchanging restlessness
of the signs they didn't put up
or down; the boxes of oranges,
rat poisons, barns, a sled with no runners
snow, refreshments, pineapples
the odor of burnt wood, cigarettes
neither of us should smoke,
I waited for you.
Monday, October 4, 2010
after reading masters of sex, i am totally charmed by virgina johnson. for whatever reason, i always thought she was a stiff old doc like bill masters. but i was wrong. some notes:
--a celebrated obstetrician and fertility specialist with a tenured position at washington university, bill masters began his sex research in 1955. during the next twenty-one months, he interviewed 118 female and 28 male sex workers in st. louis and other cities, meticulously recording their sexual and medical histories. he soon began observing the prostitutes with their clients. he stared on, stunned. by 1956 masters had moved his studies into the controlled settings of a laboratory. however, the course of his research changed radically when a female participant asked him "what if I fake it?" masters blinked, said flatly, “i don’t know what you mean.” the woman tried explain: “that’s what I do for a living, i fake orgasms to hurry up and get the man to come...” bill remained dumbfounded, "i couldn't understand her. i'm not sure i ever did."
--within weeks masters hired virginia johnson, a twice divorced mother of two, to be his secretary. at the time, johnson had little insterest in medicine or a college degree. four months later, he promoted her to research assistant. although classically untrained, johnson's ability to gain the trust of a wide variety of male and female volunteers truly made the Human Sexual Response possible. as one female participant explained, "she made me feel that i was not only getting paid but helping my gender."
--less than a year into their partnership, masters made johnson a proposition: by engaging in sex with each other, they could extend their experiments into actual experience; rather than replying on photographic documentation, they could observe the so-called sex flush themselves, allowing them greater insight into the sexual response cycle. although a forced arrangement, according to the their biographer, masters saw it as consensual where as johnson interpreted it as a job requirement. “bill did it all—i didn’t want him,” she later remarked, “i had a job and i wanted it.”
--the overall effect of human sexual response was that it demanded that the clitoris be studied, described, written about. in fact, the study was so alarming precisely because it was so specific, so full of immutable details. although much of their ‘revelatory findings,’ such as the primacy of the clitoral orgasm, had been established by kinsey, masters and johnson were seen as proving these otherwise speculative assumption via "facts," i.e. hard science and technology.
--after observing over 600 men and women, Masters and Johnson devised their four-phase description of orgasm: (1) excitement, (2) plateau, (3) orgasm, and (4) resolution. they found that men responded in terms of basic physiological changes along the same lines as women; in both sexes, there was an increase in heart rate, blood pressure, muscle tension, and in the majority, a “sex flush.” by measuring nearly every aspect of the sexual response imaginable, they uncovered such phenomenon of “vaginal tenting” as well as the source of vaginal lubrication, which is plasma, not glandular secretions, seeping through the vaginal walls.
--echoing kinsey, masters and johnson found that due to the clitoris’s small size, little blood is needed for the clitoris to become erect, and after orgasm, blood quickly floods out, allowing many women to have multiple orgasms. they stressed the clit’s singular, unmatched qualities: “the clitoris is a unique organ in the total of human anatomy,” they wrote. “no such organ exists within the anatomic structure of the human male.”
--the first instance of the word clitoris in playboy in during the 1968 interview with masters and johnson whose research hugh hefner helped fund.
Sunday, October 3, 2010
i wake late. walk thirty-six blocks just trying to feel tired again. joggers in too-tight red sweats rush up, dart around, turn back to face me huff huff huff. housewives with babies. housewives without babies. doctors and nurses who smoke; they sit legs-crossed on a sagging wooden bench, discuss colon cancer a tumor large enough to fill the entire lumen. street vendors begin their pitch: potato tacos, chopped pineapples, two dozen coconuts with pink straws shoved deep into their meat, the reddest of roses. nothing depends on season. every kind of luxury vehicle, parked in every two hour metered slot. the impossible wealth of the city never ceases to leave me slack-jawed. i walk until i somehow end up at the apartment again.
Thursday, September 30, 2010
head throb. heatwave. temperature peaking at 113 degrees. i lay on the living room floor, beneath the white overhead fan with all the lights off, blinds snapped shut. tongue still stuck to my teeth: my migraine slows all reactions. like a pant—take two, three little blue pills; pain clears. the rest of the day is mine. spend six hours sitting in the wooden folding chair, typing up three months worth of “notes” for the clitoris project: the female spotted hyena’s six inch clit; henry miller’s “fucked out cunts”; gershon legman’s first brush with erotica: sitting on the floor of his mother’s closet, among a forest of dresses and panties, he reads through volumes of havelock ellis, which his mother kept hidden with all the other “forbidden” texts in the back of her closet.
when i am too tired to read or take walk or fall asleep, i do what i always do, stare out the window. bank tellers in subdued colors swish past, fan themselves with the palms of their hands. beneath the stucco awning to the left, on the 8x10 stucco platform, business men adjust their cuffs, wait for the metro. they wait and wait. the neighbor’s white window with little white shutters, white paint on the glass, even white curtains insofar as transparent gauze can be “white.” sometimes the white window is open, and other times, a small white hand tugs it shut.
first flush of evening traffic then steady accumulation. cars moving in a single mass up del mar, down arryo blvd. beyond this street, another: stiff palm fronds, clumps of green offset by 20ft streetlamps , the occasional weed spidering across the concrete. stink bug on the sill, its mad patience, trying to fly with half its body crushed by a black ashtray.
there are thirty-six single unit apartments in my building. three floors with long long brightly lit halls, like a hotel, with light red carpet, clung close to the floorboards. the number on each door is fake gold. #206. the walls: paper thin, white interrupted by more white or the occasional picture, poster, tattered tapestry. already the cacophony: four different tvs, two phone conversations, a lone dog scratching at the door of his apartment, howling every six, ten minutes. delivery men clutching plastic bags filled with every kind of food; they pound on the door or buzz the call box, punching whatever number into the ten digit key pad lit by a red motion sensor. more often than not, the wrong apartment is called. instead of eating my usual rice and beans, i fantasize about eating my neighbor’s curry or “southern style” wet bbq; my whole face smeared with its gaudy red sauce.
Monday, September 27, 2010
les figues press & co. at the west hollywood bookfair. readings by harold abramowitz, allison carter, and mathew timmons. love letters by jen hofer.
yesterday was so hot. hard to do anything but sit and stare with yr mouth open. when i got home from the bookfair, my pink dress was still sweat-stuck.
Saturday, September 25, 2010
SOMETHING BRIGHT, THEN HOLES
I used to do this, the self I was
used to do this
the selves I no longer am
Something bright, then holes
is how a girl, newly-sighted, once
described a hand. I reread
your letters, and remember
correctly: you wanted to eat
through me. Then fall asleep
with your tongue against
an organ, quiet enough
to hear it kick. Learn everything
there is to know
about loving someone
then walk away, coolly
I’m not ashamed
Love is large and monstrous
Never again will I be so blind, so ungenerous
O bright snatches of flesh, blue
and pink, then four dark furrows, four
funnels, leading into a infinite ditch
The heart, too, is porous;
I lost the water you poured into it
Monday, September 20, 2010
"What are the preconditions for the recognition for an obstacle? And the first assertion is: one can recognize an obstacle--which can mean construct something as an obstacle--only when it can be tolerated. Only through knowing what we think of as an obstacle can we understand our fantasies of continuity."
--Adam Phillips, Looking at Obstacles
from The Sexual Life of Catherine M.
“I was carried away by the conviction that I rejoiced in extraordinary freedom. To fuck above and beyond any sense of disgust was not just a way of lowering yourself, it was, in a diametrically opposite move, to raise yourself above all prejudice.”
“People also think that darkness protects them. But for some people, me included, it simultaneously opens the space around them up to infinity by making it limitless…In fact, you hardly ever find complete darkness, and people actually usually prefer the vagueness of half-light. I myself would like total blackout because I could then experience the pleasure of sinking into a sea of undifferentiated flesh. On the other hand, I know how to make the most of harsh light, too, because the initial blindness and inability to identity its source dissolve and blur the frontiers of the body. In other words, I am not afraid of being glimpsed unaware because my body is but a mingling part of the air around it and the continuum of other bodies connected to it. I therefore can’t even consider that anyone is looking in from the outside. "
“To establish a mercenary relationship, you have to navigate an exchange of words or at least signals, the sort of complicity that forms the basis for all conversations and which would have seemed, to me, closely related to the preliminaries of seduction that I avoided. In both cases, in order to keep your side of the deal, you have to take into account your partner’s attitudes and responses. Now, even at the first contact, I knew how to focus on the body. It is just when I have found my bearings with the body, as it were, when the grain of skin and its particularly pigmentation have become familiar to me, or I have learned to adjust my own body to it, that my attention could focus on the person himself, often to form a sincere and lasting friendship.
Thursday, September 2, 2010
i wake too early in the morning. so much sun, already. wide cuts of light on the kitchen tiles. light through the blinds where the cat has snapped off six panels with her little grey paws. a cup of tea. weak weak darjeeling, bought in bulk, two heaping sacks, from the bearded man in the corner store. its windows awash with overripe mangos perched on green plastic tiers next to flowers that look, no matter the color or variety, as if gathered from a wedding reception after all the guests have left. i place the flowers on top of the only bookcase in the apartment and watch the cat sniff at the stems.
fall semester has started. three classes: nonfiction (“travel writing” tho i don't travel), and pop criticism. school signals the end of personal quiet, of solitude. to steep: read, daydream all afternoon my face pressed to the window screen staring down at the street below which is lined with equal parts trash and still-ripe leaves. although, i know: this summer contained no solitude. RS tacks a note to my windshield: 2010 the year i fell in love with all caps and elizabeth hall. his backyard cleared off save two plastic lawn chairs and one weepy palm tree. we sit legs sticking to the plastic. i say no no no.
at night, in bed with M., i watch lee marvin play a hard-nosed chicago detective cruising the streets in his immaculate black ford. movies: the big heat. marvin as “vince” a high-ranking gangster. when he suspects ‘his girl’ of messing round on him he corners her by the fireplace, sets his drink down on the mantle, twists the girl’s arm behind her back. chest-puffed up he shouts oh yeah? does not believe her when she says she saw no one, twists her arms harder and harder oh yeah? in the next room, vince's lackeys sit around a small wooden table, just sitting, listening to the girl’s scream, as if waiting for the final scream, and when it comes, as it must come, it is somehow still a shock: vince throws a pot of boiling coffee on her face, disfiguring her forever. i cannot get enough of these gangster films. the stupid blunt brutality. none of this headache of trying to do right by feeling.
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Thursday, August 5, 2010
Thursday, July 29, 2010
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
early this spring, i asked california writer and editor christine wertheim to answer a few questions via email about herself as a poet, feminist, and editor. read the entire interview on the lemon hound blog.
EH: Have you always considered yourself to be a “feminist?” If so, has your definition of ‘feminism’ shifted over the years?
CW: Yes, I have always been a feminist. My mother had 6 children and no help, and was a founding member of second wave feminism in the 60s/70s in Australia, so I have always been aware that there was a need for a more equitable distribution of access, along gender, race and class lines, to social resources, including discursive space, and validation for one's contributions to life. That has always been my main definition of feminism/s. In the 90's, through my encounters with psychoanalysis I added an extra clause, that access to what the Lacanian's call "symbolic" resources is also crucial, and that if our current symbolic resources by definition exclude certain kinds of articulations, i.e., the perspectives of any specified social group, then those symbolic resources need transforming. This is one of the tasks for feminists, as it is of all social justice movements.
Thursday, July 22, 2010
Painted Over/Under: Part 2
Not Content is a series of text projects curated by Les Figues Press at Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE). Not Content investigates the ways in which language functions within public and private spheres and within the tenuous and transitory space between these real and imagined realms.
MORE PICTURES HERE
Saturday, July 17, 2010
Thursday, July 15, 2010
I, 3. Lichtenberg says that very few people have ever seen pure white. So do most people use the word wrong, then? And how did he learn the correct use? – He constructed an ideal use from the ordinary one. And that is not to say a better one, but one that has been refined along certain lines and in the process something has been carried to extremes.
I, 26. We would say, perhaps, of a green pane: it colours the things behind it green, above all the white behind it.
I, 72. One thing was irrefutably clear to Goethe: no lightness can come out of darkness – just as more and more shadows do not produce light. – This could be expressed as follows: we may call lilac a reddish-whitish-blue or brown a blackish-reddish-yellow but we cannot call a white a yellowish-reddish-greenish-blue, or the like. And that is something that experiments with the spectrum can neither confirm nor refute. It would, however, also be wrong to say, “Just look at the colours in nature and you will see that it is so.” For looking does not teach us anything about the concepts of colours.
I, 81. Can one describe to a blind person what it’s like for someone to see? –Certainly. The blind learn a great deal about the difference between the blind and the sighted. But the question was badly put; as though seeing were an activity and there were a description of it.
III, 102. When we’re asked “What do ‘red,’ ‘blue,’ ‘black,’ ‘white,’ mean?” we can, of course, immediately point to things which have these colours—but that’s all we can do: our ability to explain their meaning goes no further.
from Remarks on Colour, Wittgenstein
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
night so thick wade the moonlight. sweat stuck on the second step of the stoop. i do not want to go up, into the apartment with tea in its pantry, a clean litter box nor down to the streets. 4 am’s dry wind. only the garbage men. their trucks wheeze, weave between street sweepers, industrial green dumpsters perched on the edge of the sidewalk. sidewalk, a glut of smashed jacaranda blooms, rotted purple to white to brown. how the first flush of dawn appears as a white crust circling the sky, thinning out into the same weak grey light in which i learned to be alone.
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
can i lay in bed all day listening to doug sahm don’t turn around, something’s gaining? the cat curled between my legs. i have closed all the windows though it is nearly eighty degrees. to sweat myself out. the unbelievable heat of two pm. on the sidewalk, a man with a long pointed beard, dressed in all blue, picks through the trash for beer bottles and pickle jars to recycle; ten cents a piece. the downstairs neighbor wails into a receiver well, i wasn’t asking the whole world, why did you let me leave? or so it seemed she was speaking into a phone as no one answered her. tell me: what are the purple blooms that grow only in california? pushing up against the window screens, turning the whole room, not like a bruise, but the same strange yellow-purple?
September 18, 1996
"I don’t think Wendy’s coffee has such a good taste. This is not to say I don’t like it. I like it very much. Its poor taste keeps my intentions clear; I drink coffee for the enthusiasm-prod, not for the taste. The taste, then, when it is too pleasant, can distract one from what matters most — the deep writhing jolt. Of course, some taste is necessary so that the jolt seems, at bottom, inadvertent."
from Letters to Wendy's, Joe Wenderoth
Saturday, June 12, 2010
Friday, May 28, 2010
Failed to satisfy: frigid? No, Marie knew how to come. Understood the anatomy of the female orgasm better than most early 20th century sexologists: the clitoris. But orgasm, and orgasm alone, was not It. Marie wanted to come during penetration, from penetration, for whatever reason. With her lover inside her.
More important, still: she had the courage to admit I don't. How little sympathy exists for women who Can’t. Not only "cold" but also somehow stupid: Why the preoccupation with penetration? Why did she not assert herself with her lovers? Why did she not show them how? As if desire were an activity and one could identify a Why.
Marie tried. The attempt to know a thing, understand it’s every element, is to kill it. Well, precisely the point. By the time Marie began her analysis with Freud, she had already conducted her radical clitoral research and developed her own theory of female frigidity, emphasizing a biological root. Although not formally trained as a physician, her knowledge of the body, and impeccable research skills, surpassed many professionals. Resisting Freud’s accepted ‘myth of the vaginal orgasm,’ Marie focused instead on the connection between the clitoris and the vagina, their proximity, intricate kinesis.
After measuring the distance between the clitoris and the vagina in 243 women during routine gynecology examinations, Marie published her results under pseudonym. In Considerations on the Anatomical Causes of Frigidity in Women (1924), she concluded that women with short distances (the “paraclitoridiennes’) achieved orgasm easily during intercourse while women with a distance of more than 2½ centimeters (the "téleclitoridiennes") did not. Marie considered herself téleclitoridiennes. She wrote, “Even if [an] attentive lover is found and his caresses ‘before and after, or even during’ lead to orgasm, these women will never be fully satisfied. Because it isn’t these ‘eratz’ of voluptas that Nature demands of love. And though these women may well sometimes want to convince themselves of their perfect happiness, perfect it isn’t: they remain, despite all the caresses, all the tenderness of love, eternally unsated in their bodies.”
Two years later she agreed to undergo a procedure performed by Dr. Josef Halban to move her clitoris closer to her vagina. Like many pioneers of sex research, Marie experimented on herself first. The procedure was unsuccessful. Halban performed another. And another. Each surgery proved as ineffective as the last yet Marie continued to champion the procedure among colleges and friends as well as in published reports.
Marie first consulted Freud in 1925. He was sixty-nine, referred to her always as Princess. In a matter of weeks, they began meeting every day. Eleven am to one pm. All formalities dissolved. Marie confided in Freud, Freud confided in Marie. After three weeks, he confessed, “Look...I’m telling you more than to other people after two years...I must also add that I am not a connoisseur of human beings.” Marie described her deepening involvement in analysis as “...the most gripping thing I have ever done. Ich bin, as the say in German, gepackt! aber vollstandig!”
Although Freud knew of Marie’s surgeries, he disapproved, instructed her to “turn her focus inward.” Following Freud’s advice, Marie scoured her childhood for a clue, any clue. Born in 1882, Marie’s childhood was cut-off, spent (minute by minute) holed-up in a stone mansion with her widowed grandmother and father, Prince Roland. Aside from seaside “holidays”—as isolated as her own home—Marie attended no social gatherings of any sort until her early twenties. Excluding governesses, had no companions. How does one overcome the death of a mother? Marie's mother died of consumption, cradled in her husband’s arms, a month after giving birth. The housemaid's whispered poison! Even the stable boys were suspicious: just days before a new will had been drafted in Prince Roland's favor. The rumors persisted.
Brief moments of bliss: in a room with a shut door, Marie filled five copybooks between the ages of seven and ten with stories of flowers bent in the breeze, white-tailed dogs, a woman who swallowed five houses whole. Also, poems: if I am so sad / I am sad / I want to say it. Stealing herself away, Marie learned German and English, skipped ahead to mathematics, anthropology. When Prince Roland gave her a book by the French astronomer Flammarion, she read it cover to cover, spent night after night face turned towards the sky, recording her observations in sprawling script. To get away, out: she devoured the Greek myths, studied Latin, sat back-straight on a bench two hours a day learning to play the piano with grace. Her constant comfort: to investigate, uncover, get to the root. When Marie is sixteen, she meets a man with black hair, blue eyes, and a pointed beard. Almost twice her age, he coquettes with finesse—walks through the dim-lit garden, kisses behind the curtains, gushy letters that, upon his urgent request, are ‘to be burned’ after reading. One afternoon he is so bold as to ask Marie for a lock of her hair; dutifully, she hands him a swath of brown curls. Proof in hand—he blackmailed her for 200,000.
Marie’s childhood—and marriage—the hope (however short-lived) that there will be a way out.
Her husband, Prince George of Greece, was a ‘handsome giant.’ Certain implications, however, were clear to almost everyone but her: George was only happy if Uncle Waldemar was near. In her diaries, Marie described the loss of her virginity: “You took me that night in a short, brutal gesture, as if forcing yourself and apologized, “I hate it as much as you do. But we must do it if we want children.”
Throughout her life’s work, Marie echoed Freud in that she believed that vaginal sexuality was somehow superior to the clitoral. But a ‘product of her time’ she was not. Marie remained restless: "The analysis has brought me peace of mind, of heart, and the possibility of working, but from a physiological point of view nothing...Must I give up sex? Work, write, analyze? But absolute chastity frightens me." Marie’s lifelong search for the vaginal orgasm is in a sense not at all related to the orgasm itself, but rather the desire to feel it, in the same instant, with another. That’s the terror: when you don’t.
Thursday, May 27, 2010
Monday, May 10, 2010
Thursday, April 29, 2010
Thursday, April 22, 2010
Join us for a night of glamor, destruction, coquetry, activism, the autobiographical impulse, sinkholes, and all things lovely and gross.
May 23, 7:00 pm at Book Soup in West Hollywood.
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
her panties smelled so intoxicatingly placed her on a pedestal, spread her legs, and sniffed without a rubber ate her examined my hard-on, stared up at the ceiling she comes back the next tits graze my face (like a puppy) every conceivable VD in the hospital, nun takes my temperature her pussy: thick first time i kissed a twat, i was seven (awfully alone) girl acted as if nothing had happened later, touched my mouth nuts heavy feel my own painful orgasms all the way slacked
Saturday, February 13, 2010
“Me—and my fur coat who is with me—my skin gets all tense with the desire that someone finds me attractive in my fur, and I find him attractive as well. I’m sitting in a cafe—violins are playing, sending a waft of weepy clouds into my head—something’s crying in me—I want to bury my face in my hands to make it less sad. It has to work so hard, because I’m trying to be a star. And there are women all over the place whose faces are also trying hard.”
--Irmgard Keun from Artificial Silk Girl
Friday, February 12, 2010
“As a rule, a work is considered to touch on the theme of feminism when its leading characters are women and are repressed or in rebellion, but as far as I am concerned, a work is feminist insofar as it attempts to explain the mechanics of cruelty, oppression, and violence through a story that is developed in a world in which men and women exist.”
--Griselda Gambaro, "Feminism or Femininity?"
Sunday, January 31, 2010
“It sometimes does not matter what you do in actual space. You just go on writing. I find that we exist in language and we exist on the city street, and that it is possible to believe you are doing one without knowing you are doing the other.
When I say “we exist,” I mean to be making a statement about urban living, how it goes on without one’s full participation, how it insinuates itself in one’s sentences. While I had been long aware that I was city living, I had not yet grasped that I was city writing too.”
--Renee Gladman, To After That
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Thursday night. Half-peeled moon. Don walked into the living room she’ll be home late. And in almost the same breath: want to smoke a little before bed? I nodded, followed him down the hall, into the bathroom. Along the bottom of the door, he placed a wet, rolled-up towel. Opened the window. With no room to turn or sit, we leaned against the back wall, shoulder to shoulder, almost touching but not. With the utmost care, he lit the joint, rolling it between his lips. No breeze. Sweat through our jeans. The frank scent of his body. 6’6 and thick—not fat—big. When he leaned over, ashed out the window, I backed away without knowing why. Knocking his elbow against the sill, he laughed; leaned closer and closer still: you make me nervous.
When the window slammed shut, we propped it open again with a jumbo roll of toilet paper. Don re-lit the joint, said you remind me of Susan except. It wasn’t that I disliked him. When he entered a room, I simply tensed; however, I could understand his appeal. You’re not like Anthony either, in that—. It didn’t matter what was said in-between, he ended with I understand.
The window slammed shut. Handing me the withered joint, Don said she’ll be home any minute. I took the last ashy hit then flushed it down the toilet. Already past midnight, I laid down on the brown couch, listened to Susan park her car, shuffle across the front porch, unlock the door. Without so much as a glance towards the couch, she headed to the bedroom. Through the walls: Don asked how was--? Their voices lowered. The whole house stilled. To sleep is to reach an abrupt ending, without looking back. But there was something inevitable about the sleep that followed smoking where rest was no longer a great and painful finite but the inevitable act of the body slowing like dust settling.
Catawba Falls: campsite 124. A sign nailed to a pine read many rare plants. Do not trample. Susan asked ready to unpack? Although the river was tame enough to swim, we boated. Don insisted on building a fire, sent Anthony trotting off into the woods for kindling. At the picnic table, Susan chopped an onion for chili. I boiled a pot of water on a Bunsen burner. Dinner dishes finished, Don laced his hiking boots be back in a minute. Susan opened her mouth then shut it again; dealt a game of conquian. When Don returned, he was not alone. Three boys, two girls. Site 136. The girl with braids lit a cigarette: he said you had a bon-fire. One by one, the boys hugged my shoulders, grabbed a beer from the cooler we’re from Cali-for-nia.
Gathered around the fire, we peeled tangerines, talked about the Grand Canyon. Don’s shadow stretched to the edge of the woods: you never? Astonished, he stared out at me aw honey. The girl in the leather vest stretched her arms wider and wider like this. The boys nodded in agreement. Four beers later, the girl in the leather vest detailed her first acid trip. Don laughed kitten, when I did—. She blinked in the moonlight what’s that? Before answering, he eyed Anthony: like acid but a little more intense. Don ploughed on: when I was with the Melon Group. One of the boys asked how much land? Pulling her hair into a ponytail, Susan said enough. The girl in the leather vest asked: were you wild in love? Susan flushed. As always Don remained ad libitum: monogamy is inherently a matter of mine. Everyone leaned closer. We believe in sharing. He lit another joint; eyes already threaded with blood: am I right or am I right? The boys shook their head yes. Susan nodded, almost mockingly at first, then, sincerely—continued to nod even after the others had stopped; her head bobbing above the smoke.
Saturday, January 16, 2010
At dusk Anthony called come watch the magnolias drop. Sprawled on the floor of his living room, we stared out at the trees, ordered take-in. Four chimichangas, a burrito the size of my head. With our mouths full of salt and grease, we talked about Anais Nin and Henry Miller. I loved Anais most of all because she had a husband on each coast. Two. Anthony said could never get past the abortion. I took a sip of water, folded a tostada wrapper into a triangle, smaller and smaller. Not that she had an abortion but how she wrote about it. When the song on the record ended, another one began; it was not the same song, but I could not tell the difference. Anthony handed me a cigarette, already lit: in the diaries like she was a goddess, something about a purity ritual. I exhaled towards the ceiling; box fan blowing it all back in my face. When I unfolded the tostada wrapper, fifteen tiny triangles. I said think it’s more complicated than that. Anthony rolled another cigarette, paper sticking to his fingertips: what do you mean? Interrupted himself again and again: she didn’t even tell him. I let the silence widen. Anthony ate the last of the burrito: that’s just like you. True, I simply lacked the energy to continue. I stretched out my legs, leaned over, into him. That nothing is anything but itself is almost enough.
There was little Anthony could do to truly annoy me. My loyalty to him was simple: we were occasional lovers. The first night I slept at his apartment, we ate sunflower seeds in bed. He said promise you won’t be creeped if I play my nature sounds CD. I need it to sleep. We listened to Weeping Willow #3. I knew if he turned the light off, I was going to be touched. His eagerness startled. I realized then that he hadn’t touched a naked girl in months; that I could be any naked body belonging to any naked girl, and he would remain this eager, relieved me. When I fucked him, or anyone, is was as if my body emptied itself out. I was not attracted to Anthony, but I knew that what you did with someone superseded Who They Are.