Thursday, April 23, 2015

Survival of the Fittest?

Dwight Garner starts his Times review of the fourth volume Karl Ove Knausgaard’s My Struggle by citing Pynchon’s Crying of Lot 49 (“Review: Karl Ove Knausgaard’s: ‘My Struggle: Book Four’”, NYT, 4/20/15). My Struggle or Min Kamp is naturally an intentional and provocative allusion to Hitler’s infamous ars poetica. Garner remarks “ There’s a special kind of despair, Thomas Pynchon observed…that can arrive ‘when nobody around has any sexual relevance to you.'” Garner discountenances the kind of despair Pynchon is talking about in the case of the “quasi-autobiographical”18 year old character depicted in the novel. However, that sounds precisely what he's suffering from to the extent that he's a virgin and gifted with a mind that easily makes fictions out of everyday reality. In our day and age when varying sexual styles--transgender, transvestite, homosexual, lesbian, bisexual, pre-op transexual--are openly flaunted and politicized, it’s hard to imagine one finding the equivalent for the thrilling shame of a secret and transgressive obsession. The Crying of Lot 49 was published in the sixties, which while the heart of the Woodstock era, was still the dark ages for things like SRS, sexual reassignment surgery and hormone therapy Now, even soldiers in army brigs have the right to it (“Military Approves Hormone Therapy for Chelsea Manning," USA Today, 2/13/15). Yes, the interior of the mind is a separate place that doesn’t always participate in the ideological advancements of an age, at least as far as sexuality is concerned. But still the wonderful secretive thoughts that Pynchon and Knausgaard both allude to has been almost violently transfigured by amongst other things midday talk shows, on which sexual chimaeras are now free to air their once dirty laundry. It’s all kind of sad, since shame aided and abetted by institutions like the Catholic church, can be such a delicious turn on. Now people do whatever they like and it’s sometimes hard to tell if anything, well nigh anything momentous, is happening at all. Even movies like Louis Malle's Murmur of the Heart, which deals with incest, fail to make filmgoers bat an eye.The butter scene from Last Tango in Paris is looked at as normative sex and the almost clinically displayed fellatio of Marco Bellochio’s Devil in the Flesh fails to have the shock it did when it was released in l986. Thank God for Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Salo, Or the 120 Days of Sodom (1975) whose graphic depiction of coprophilia is still singular in its ability to elicit a gag reflex.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.