I have been reading various texts lately that have been causing me to think about things in ways that seem important, and I’m trying to overcome my usual habits of just merely thinking these things and then moving on (even though these things often coalesce into whatever writing projects I’m working on). One could say that I’m trying to develop some sort of discipline to hold myself accountable to the ideas that are inspiring me.
But, there’s a level where I cannot play the part of even pseudo-academic; everytime I’ve tried to write something slightly more formalized with citations I get obsessive or I haven’t properly marked the quotations I write down and I can’t find them again. Or I try to follow that route and get, more or less, bored with what I’m writing before I even get to the point. My brain does not inherently gravitate towards “making a point,” and when I have to write at that direction I tend to get lost along the way.
Luckily much of this just fits with Bataille’s concept of non-knowledge and continuity, which is fantastic. So much of my engagement with Bataille has been more of an encounter with something that has already felt true to me without me being able to articulate it; by reading Bataille’s articulations (and then sometimes secondary articulations by scholars who are reading Bataille) I can confront something that I have held to be true and understand it in a way that strengthens it.
I’m not sure if this is a process that could be met with anyone other than Bataille, as Bataille’s entire corpus was in some ways a push to articulate the inarticulable (despite their crossover and friendship, most often even Blanchot’s project feels too literary– I love Blanchot and his thoughts but I do not always love reading Blanchot).
One of the initial things that attracted me to Bataille was his transgressive fiction: there was a level where I just wanted something obscene as an adolescent, of course, but the intensity and sensation that carried the obscene felt so much more important to me, in a way I had no capability to articulate. Regularly encountering Bataille’s thoughts on transgression have clarified many things to me over the years, but there is what route I want to approach here.
I have noticed and been particularly distressed by a continuing effort by individuals (while they are mostly People On The Internet, it is not exclusively On The Internet) to normalize perversion, transgression. 18 year old gay twinks who have probably never had a unique thought in their lives talk about wanting to “look breedable” as if the entire vocabularly of breeding didn’t grow out of an extremely transgressive (and most often literally banned and shunned, called unethical) zone of gay culture that I have only ever encountered via second hand commentary from when Antonio (RIP) was enmeshed withing whatever it was he was enmeshed within or (with more regularity) via post-HIV pre-PReP bareback pornography. In fact this is perhaps the biggest change I have seen in my lifetime (condomless sex going from completely taboo to normalized thanks to Daddy Big Pharma) that distresses me on a conceptual level… the outlaw culture level of actively choosing to have bareback sex (or make bareback porn) in that post-HIV pre-PReP window was a wildly transgressive act and I would be lying if that level of transgression were not one of the things that charges the media produced in that subculture with the very specific energy (I want to say desperation but I feel like that is always considered with a negative slant) that makes it exciting.
One could even zoom out to gay culture in general: it was literally illegal to be gay barely 70 years ago and now all that remains of the gay agenda is a push to be thought of as no different (in terms of fucking use-value of all things) as a heterosexual! My point is that I feel like this push to normalize formerly aberrant behaviour pulls it out of the realm of transgression and does little other than make it palatable to the landscape of whatever we’re calling the current iteration of capitalism. If fact “queerness” as an umbrella has been pushed to such levels of normalization that to consider a full spectrum acronym (LGBTQQIAAP) a full third of the endless smear of letters is devoted to identities ascribed to individuals who are not actually having sex itself. There is, of course, absolutely nothing wrong with it, but trying to homogenize queerness into “everything that is not explicity normative heterosexuality” (but maybe meaning always differential?) manages to erase the idea of difference at all. The last time a set of identities and races were categorized as a group by exclusion (i.e., “everything that is not [this]”) was in Nazi Germany, where there was the non-Deviant Aryan, and then there was everyone else. So pardon me if I don’t think that trying to convince the Christian right that wealthy white sodomites hold the same core values as they do seems like something to pour energy into in 2022.
But, zooming slightly back out, another recurrent gong of irritation comes by ways of people feigning frustrating with the fact that Instagram’s algorithms and bots don’t like explicit gay material… well no shit??? It’s a monolithic social media platform owned by Facebook, which went through a stage where you had to literally scan and upload your driver’s license to match your internet identity to the name on your account if it seemed like it was potentially pseudonymous. It’s literally a platform used to sell advertising. If you want to upload porn on the internet make your own god damn website! In fact I wish you would, it’d be a lot easier to access this kinda shit in a more sustainable way. There has never been a point where Instagram has professed to be a venue for free speech (in fact I’m sure half the homos who are mad their explicity content is getting deleted are people who get outraged when MAGA or QANON nonsense gets spread and the powers that be do nothing to stop it)…insisting that explicit gay content should be allowed on a platform like Facebook is insisting that explicit gay content is normal, and not actually explicit. I can’t even imagine wanting to feel like the things that sexually excite you should be thought of as warm and safe by any potential random person on the internet. There’s a difference between the capacity for any content to exist in the world at large (and yes, as long as it doesn’t involved any non-consenual exploitation of one individual over another it does have a right to exist) and not being able to post literally any of the content that exists on a monolithic platform like Instagram. The white & wealthy gays who are trying to convince southern socialite White Women that they “share the same values when it comes down to it” are the people who don’t want perverse filth on instagram. It has nothing to do with homophobia and everything to do with how money trafficks in the world.
Anyway, I started this post by talking about Bataille, so let’s try to bring it back to him: for Bataille, the importance of transgression is that it does go beyond taboos, that it is something that isn’t normalized or accepted socially. Erotism is by no means the greatest of Bataille’s work, but god damn is he ever right about the necessity of certain perversions to retain their taboo if they’re going to maintain their power (and by power we mean energy, capacity to pull us out of the discontinuity of the utilitarian world and shock us into continuity, a dissolution of self where we become a full pull of energy) to help us touch the impossible.
I’m sure I had a better point to make somewhere, but again, this blog is not for making points, it’s for actually just using writing to hold myself accountable to thinking through ideas. So here we are.