[Note: I changed the picture because so many people got pissed off about it. Here is a nicer photo to look at.]
Dear HTML Giant Universe,
Have you heard of René’s Flesh by Virgilio Piñera? If you haven’t, don’t feel bad. I only heard about it a few days ago. Then, I read it. And I am obsessed. Piñera was a huge Cuban writer, among the likes of Reinaldo Arenas, Jose Lézama Lima, and Alejo Carpentier. And yet, I’d never heard of Piñera. If I had an iron memory, I’d know that he was a character in Before Night Falls, but I don’t have an iron memory.
A few days ago, a friend of mine put René’s Flesh in my hands, an exchange because I’d told him about 2666. He said, If you like Bolaño, you’ll love this book. Despite having my ever-growing stack of books-to-read-and-review, I put my trust in this friend. I read the book in 24 hours. I took five baths, snuggling in the warmth of water and the titillation of this book.
This book: a fairy tale without magic. There is no magic, but in its absence: pain. Lots of it. The pleasure of pain, the torture of pain, it gave me nightmares from which I hoped to never wake.
April 25th, 2011 / 12:59 pm
A lot that’s happening on this site right now, in posts and in comments, has somehow coalesced around a few themes and texts that I first explored seriously in a college course I took, called Excess, that focused on, well, the literature of excess, or transgression: Sade, Bataille, Sacher-Masoch, and films like Irreversible. It was taught by Paul Mann, poet and author of Masocriticism, which, as its title suggests, radically exposes the viscera gaping from the act of reading and interpreting texts. He writes,
The text never recognizes us. It neither assents to nor dissents from our reading, our desire. Whatever validations we establish, it remains silent throughout our reading.
At the end of each reading, it returns as a Greek.
At the end of each masocritical scene, one is abandoned to the absolutely otherness of the other. One suffers an utter loss of agency, out of and against which a new scene or new reading must be projected.
This formulation of the text recalls Bataille’s vision of the sun burning itself up with no consideration for the life that its combustion nurtures, a concept that is central to much of Bataille’s work (including the essay whose title I stole for the reading series I run w/ Blake and Jamie Iredell in Atlanta, Solar Anus). The way Mann equates the sun with the text deepens this idea of reading as hyper-sensory experience. READ MORE >