Totalitarian Sexuality

(this blog is right after the previous entry of the “Disordering Rimbaud” category. These are extra text essays written after I read the whole book 1 or 2 times. Some passages more than twice. For details from the book, refer to category “No Text is Innocent”, or even better, ask me personally!)

1 Oct 14.  11:58am.

In “Singularity of Lacan”, Mari Ruti says Total belief systems lead to Totalitarianism.  Amazingly true because when an idea develops from being abstract to concrete, a material idea – it no longer is disputable or so people believe.  The oppression of totalitarian societies is the lack of the other accepted or tolerated idea systems.  To claim One is all means all must conform to One. Without this conformity, the One loses its credibility – when it claims to be all.  If it claimed to be many, then there’s no harm.  Many can and are represented by One.  In Totalitarian systems, that margin of error  (the minority) are oppressed.

Totality is finite.  It is a self-referential loop that defines itself by itself.  It looks upon a universe of variations, forms, and unform, and says, “This is me.  These are variations of me, forms of me, and nebulous matter that can be formed and defined in relation to me.”

1 Oct 14 16:56

What makes Rimbaud’s book interesting is how he links state repression with sexual repression.  He does this by showing the corrupting influence of religious and political dogma that is both rigid and totalizing.

The Diamond Signature’s cynicism on the brink of despondency is the product of this totalizing process. He writes of an extreme fatalism which is founded on our linear logic – line of sight worldview.  He writes, “we’re doomed by our perspective.” Ordered houses become ordered graves.  Interestingly, the outcropping that produced these graves isn’t ordered.  Time and again, he refers to mass graves, genocide of World War Two, and post-colonial wars of the 1960’s.  These mass killings are not ordered in themselves.  They’re hysterical breaks in the order.  Yes, they might have started or been conceived as a systematic or scientific response to an ethnic or political problem, but somehow in the acting out, dogma got involved, and the task was carried out in a frenzied disordered way.  I.E. An irrational pleasure in carrying an inhuman mass murder to its final and bloody conclusion.  The methodology could have been rational, but the abandonment of human values required to complete the task was irrational.

This fanatic zeal (and self delusion) for organized violence on inter-state levels could, I believe, be called Fascist or proto fascist behavior.

This is where Rimbaud brings in sexual repression or Totalitarian Sexuality. Sexuality for him, is repressed by social values that are Church of England – moralistically inspired.  C of E might have started his discontent, but 1960’s New Age Buddhism and Hippy eastern philosophies didn’t bring any new or real change.  If anything, they just made change less likely because drugs and commune (peace avoidance) neutralized the discontented’s will to fight and work.  And when they did, they produced new fascist or violent behavior.

This is where Rimbaud returns to Totalitarian Sexuality by way of Freud’s Sex-Death drive.  In one of Rimbaud’s colleague’s songs, (A-Soma’s “Vortex of Blades”), there’s the exceedingly appropriate chorus, “If we can’t find peace, then we’ll embrace the chaos.”  It’s appropriate because the narrator of Rimbaud’s “Diamond Signature” tries to find his physical body and sexuality out of socially repressed sexual norms.  He finds it in moments of “vertical” time, which contrast to “horizontal” time.  Respectively, the Here and Now versus the continuity of history, collective will, and perspective.  Once he finds his body in vertical time and feels kindred spirit with Nature, he tries to experience vertical time with lovemaking, passionate lovemaking.

(Note: He also associates horizontal time with his ego and self image.  At some points he tries to reconcile the childhood photo of himself with who he feels to be at present.  But he can’t.  His memory of self and how he identifies himself are irreconcilable.  Hence, his “vertical” self is an unstable composite of desires, drives, fragmentary memories and aspirations.  All bound up in the immediate.  They’re unstable because it takes time to build continuity or if not time, then a radical or superhuman kinetic act. In Mari Ruti’s terms or Lacan’s terms, this act could be called a Singularity or encounter with the real, or a significant event.

By definition, they’re unsustainable because they’re always pushing identity and normative limits.  They destroy and create in the same moment, but if done too often, they destroy what they just created and there’s nothing to build from.  What’s left is physical exhaustion, spiritual ruin, and quite possibly social loneliness and alienation with few deep relationships.)

In Diamond Signature, the narrator’s lovemaking acts seem to always be with women of social archetypes. Maybe that’s the problem.  They’re not real women. They’re symbolic and the narrator seems to reduce women to whores or virginal saints.  They meet, they fuck, they penetrate each other and share body fluids in an effort of achieving some depersonalized non-subjective unity.

But it seems every time the narrator is reminded of his horizontal self. He is mocked by the virginal saint as still a boy – maybe the one from the picture – and he reacts by fucking more intensely, almost fanatically or fascistically.  The book is divided into 4 parts.  Parts 1, 2, and 3 all start with the mythical encounter.  In the first, she’s wearing white because she’s “the bride of his hopes”.  The second, “because she’s the virgin of his dreams”, the third, she’s wearing white because she’s the whore of his consciousness.  The fourth part develops differently.  Although the book is lyrical and thematically repetitive and complex, it does have a general consistent development.

The narrator’s fascism in sex is that when he’s at the moment of depersonalization and is reminded of the self he’s ashamed of. He reacts with violence and aggression and a desire to dominate or subjugate her completely to his will, his pleasure, his compulsions.  Her view and preferences are never really brought up, except when provoked in dialog.  But most of the time, the Ideal Saint becomes the debased whore he uses. When there’s a woman that starts as a whore, she’s vulgar, stupid, and low class.  She’s lumped into the category of oppressed masses.  Then, out of rage or amused anarchy, he oppresses them violently by mutilating their breasts and face with his knife.  His knife metaphorically is a lobotomist’s  scalpel that’s turned to a piercing blade of consciousness.  This sharpness of intellect in turn protects him from being oppressed.  Okay, so he uses the tool of the state against the state.  But he does so by forcing anarchy and body disfiguring violence onto ordinary people.  His despair of state’s politics and social control is acted out like the state, only with less methodology and disinterested bureaucracy.  He rallies against Social Fascism by adopting a micro fascist attitude.  Most of the time.  This is a developmental work and characters develop or learn or at least change.  The main change is learning that we’re social beings, and to act for change in the public social realm is almost doomed from the start.  Almost, but not quite.  Real change is fraught with peril at being destroyed by the system or becoming  it.  But one still has themselves and their consciousness, and their choice to speak out or join, “the silent, violent, majority.” This choice is also an expression of freedom. Sartre said that during the Nazi Occupation of France, members of the underground resistance were the most free.  They were free because every time they left their homes and see the occupying soldiers on the street, the fact of their choice was most obvious. They had to deliberately choose to resist the overt political system under penalty of death, or they consciously chose appeasement or silence.

There is a fourth type of woman that shows up, and she is called Maya – the silver War Machine. She seems to represent the marginalized social groups or working classes that have been brought back into the fold, the social waves of grain. But she doesn’t seem to represent those who never resisted or achieved consciousness.  She represents generally Socialist-Marxist inspired workers’ rights groups of England and other western countries.  These disenfranchised proletariats followed Marx and worked the factory floors, dreaming, scheming for a social revolution “that will never happen.”

Rimbaud despised ideologies like Marxism because they function like Christianity and New Age Buddhism.  They appease the followers with dreams while Power figures continually take away their rights.  In short, these martyrs Christ and Buddha silence the marginal classes.  As they’re silenced, defeated, or bought off, their factory expertise is used against them to build bombs and tanks to fight them or establish and reaffirm a political system that keeps them down.

Between the Virgin and the Whore, Rimbaud hates Maya the most because Maya is conscious, calculating, and consuming.  She consumes the lives and when there’s a critical mass, war breaks out and the depersonalized “collective will” becomes a focused, sharpened, weapon.

(Stay tuned for more, Kiddos!)


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Do It Yourself, Spring. You are Judged.

(continuing from the Summer 2013 analysis…)

“Book One, Part Two:  No, And Then, Yes.”  In the play Death… at the end, two of the three main voices are No and Yes. The other being Maybe.   Taking the separation as a choice of No and Yes, it makes the conflict an affirming or denying one.  So it attempts to suggest that by personally wanting change, one can enact it.  Although this idea seems consistent with the DIY spirit in which the book was written, but how does the DIY spirit reconcile with the perspective and memory dooming the individual prior to the individual themselves?


“The huge poplar trees in my garden are curtains on the city pavements…a vertical judgment.” (pg 12). Here, the gardens are an illusion of nature. Although it is a peaceful place, it’s still in the city.  Notice the distinction between vertical landscape and horizontal.
“Maya can suck cock, but she can’t stop time.  She clutches the seeds of futures in her throat. The soil is barren…” (pg 12)

The narrator has left the city and wandering through pasture meadows. “You see, the landscapes are horizontal again. The planet is metered in lines, A to B for as far as I can see. A to B and back again.  Fair enough, but show me the books and I’ll burn every one of them. On the fire.”  (pg 13).  Again, the contrast between vertical and horizontal. First reference to the linear perspective, “A to B and back again”.  And first reference to burning the books.  But it’s willful. It’s the narrator’s threat.  Why?  Why does the narrator threaten to burn the books? It’s a foreshadow of what’s to come.

“You sneak a look around the corner, take a look and hop along.  It’s the first time that you’ve seen me naked…The sad memory of ancient Springtime surges through our veins.” (pg 13).  Naturalist description of bodiness. Animalistic, even. But this ancient innocent memory contrasts with everything that the 20th century has dumped upon them.  One of the books themes is how to reconcile the possibilities of innocent or life affirming love and body almost without identity, with the desecration of body in the light of identity, history and heavy handed cultural ideology.

No=city, staring up, vertical perspective, garden walls.

Yes=birds, fields, sea, the beginning of body freedom.

If the world around the narrator wasn’t so categorically denied, and the innocent time so idealized, the books wouldn’t need to burn.  Burning the books won’t bring ancient Springtime, but this narrator is restless.


Social Repression and Maya’s War Machine

(Continuing analysis from Summer 2013) Here also, the first reference to mass graves or mass death, the gaping grave, like folding oceans, edges its way both into time and space so that I might measure some concept of myself by it.” (pg 9). Here the bleakness of the theme.  The narrator has trouble defining himself with terms that haven’t been stained by 20th century atrocities in Europe and across the Balkans, SE Asia, and the rest of the developing world.  Of particular importance is the holocaust and mass graves in the way he associates bodies and defilement by regimes of history.  The narrator wants to shout out his love, but is overwhelmed by the previously mentioned atrocities.  If identity is formed from memory and memory has been tainted or corrupted by atrocities or suppressive Judeo-Christian ethics, the story develops as an examination of self or an identity crisis in the fullest meaning.   The stain of this past is a driving force in Diamond Signature. It is part of the Social that the narrator is trying to absolve himself from.   “Where now? Where but the despondency of memory, the dullness of past, the poison of reason and the darkness of my histories?” (pg 9).   This part reminds me of intro to Marquis de Sade’s Prison Letters. He viciously describes the role of the social in constraining, repressing, and shaping the individual so that they fit into society like puzzle piece. Pg 9, first reference to Pierrot, “Pierrot dances his dance of sorrow, scattering logic in his mental paper chase. We’ll hear more of Pierrot, after all he’s no angel.” (pg 9-10) pg 10, first reference to Maya. “Here and there I’ll collide with boulders of the past, energetic fragments of an illusion named Maya.  She, for Maya is said to be a woman, pursues upon her silver war-machine. her satin robes have run across my whole being, caught my mind and sought my body.” (pg 10).  Why Maya?  What symbolism comes from the name Maya?  Notice, “Her name, her name, a thousand times her name. Floating, pulsing shapes that are ships in grey docklands.”  (pg 10).  He wanted to shout his name across grey rooftops but was somehow denied. Yet for Maya, her name becomes synonymous with the grey battle ships and freight liners. Pg 11, first reference to Enola. The Enola Gay was the plane that carried the Hiroshima bomb. Still, I don’t get the Maya vs Enola theme. “By Christ how emptily I lie.” (pg 11). Narrator is actually saying the offer of Christ is an empty offer. The narrator may be empty too, but so is Christ. “my presence is confirmed by the body on the couch.” (Pg 11). Existential pun. “I struggle to say her name, panic in my inability to form words.  Order dissipates and I become part of a greater order in which there are no names.  What remains of my identity is diffused by the light.” (Pg 11). “Maya is a crusty girl who shovels her love onto me, a wanton girl: harridan” (pg 11). Maya is both a promiscuous woman and a strict, bossy old woman. In this way she seems to have contempt for him.  Offering her body for the price of his soul. (2 July 13 7:15am.  Notions of selling the body or soul for pleasure, but the landscape described isn’t pleasureful. It’s London Industrial drear.)

A break in the wheel of history with Life lifing life

11 September 2014 8:12am.

During this work, there’s a contrast between Horizontal and Vertical.  Horizontal is all time, memory, linear perspective, social conformity, and dreary city landscapes.

Vertical moments defy time, are separate and singular acts of nature and defiance against the order.  In Mari Ruti’s “Singularity of Being” (looking into Lacan and others), Diachrony of history is opposition to synchrony of breaks and rebellion. She writes, “A vertical spoke in the wheel of history…Rather than oiling the squeaky wheel of history, [Antigone] inserts a spoke through it, momentarily halting its process.” (4hrs, 6 minutes into Audio Reading. Chapter 5 of 11). Antigone’s aim is ethical and both she and narrator challenge and confront the established law, without offering a model way of life.

Does this book offer a way of life? Is violence against the system ethical or mimicking the system’s methods?  An act of rebelling against fascism of government with microfaschism of self conduct.

18 September 2014 7:34am

Reading slowly Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass” – how it compares to Rimbaud’s Diamond Signature. Whitman’s hopefulness and optimism. The big theme of continuity of life – contrasts to Rimbaud’s continuity or horizontal time as vastly negative.  Ordered death. But that could be his disillusionment. He wants to celebrate life, “Life lifing life”, but it’s expressed as vertical time, a break from the horizontal and anonymity, and silent, surpressed.  Whitman’s vision is episodic – micro vignettes – which isn’t entirely different from Rimbaud’s desired vision.  8:02am

26 September 8am

(A poetic distilling of what I’ve been thinking and reading)

When these inky castles quiver,

Springs mold kingdoms

forming for an architect or archeologist,

What will you become?

When walls become doors,

What do doors become?

An unveiled precipice opening

into the real.

Ordering Ideas into Ideology

(Continuing the extra-text essay)

Hume did acknowledge nature and patterns of life. He merely argued against reason and rationality. I.E. For Hume, life was too great to contain, despite Man’s efforts of explanation, Life overcame.  This idea has resonance on Diamond Signature. Hume also says that it’s habit that future resembles the past, but it doesn’t make it true. It’s not a fact.  Rimbaud, in this work, builds the linear nature of order as a straw man in which to respond to.  But is it the fallacy of logic Rimbaud is so against? If logic is flawed, because man itself it illogical, why does mankind produce “’a universe of order’, ‘the predictability of the tides’” which sounds a lot like habit.  Hume saw natural order or human nature as largely habit, not an absolute and unquestionable certainty. The failure of social revolutions isn’t inevitable like the tide.  They fail because habit.  Those with no power speak purple prose about liberty, then when they get power, they become megalomaniacs to keep it.  This “order” is different than natural order. Natural order doesn’t follow analytical or scientific logic.  Nature is organized, but a priori, with a logic internal to itself.

17 August 2014 8:35pm.

In taking queue from Hume, all knowledge is from experience. Hume is an empiricist. Knowledge is in impressions and ideas.  Ideas are weaker, more distilled, forms of knowledge, and impressions are immediate. The audio lecturer uses example of a hand clap.  The impression is an immediate hand clapping. The idea is a memory of it, which gets more removed from the clap itself.  The more distant the impression, the more the idea and ideology grows.

This book enquires into the nature of memory, how ideas become ideology.  The inquiry is unsystematic, but it’s there.  It’s lack of narrative coherence is because it tries to present the debate, the fears and feelings, and some historical examples. Present instead of represent. For Hume, matters of fact – relative truth, are created by impressions. But then, if impressions can be falsified, then that last straw of attainable truth can be denied. Matters of fact are contingently true, not what must be true.

How we remember the past doesn’t change the past

(continuing the page-by-page analysis from summer 2013)

He then goes from questioning personal self to cultural histories, “These cultures come and go with a boundless enthusiasm for histories that might never have existed.” (Pg 9).  The Post-modern question sliding from personal to macro-political.  Body and soul. Form and content. Turn from form into content.   [Here’s where I rejected part of the books premise and I still do.  For me, the past existed.  What we know of it now might be shaped through interpretation of history or revising the past to suit and justify the present.  But the past as a material reality existed.  Then it had its own cultural cloud and now it has a different one.  But there’s so much evidence supporting that life existed in the past, that to deny the material reality completely because the explanation or rationalization has been altered, seems to me a logical fallacy that deconstruction falls into with separating the author from what they write on purely philosophical grounds. The separation which leads to being irresponsible for what happened in the past.  Chief example, “Paul DeMann” and the Death of the Author being related to his separating himself from his incriminating Nazi sympathizing articles he wrote during World War Two ]  The narrator responds to this threat of Void, “If there is nothing, I too am nothing. So how can I describe for what this means to me? Easy, I do not dream alone. I’ll borrow words and the pasts that they describe.” (pg 9). 

Deny our memories but you can’t deny our touch impressions

16 August 2014 11:53pm.

All along I’ve been comparing this work to post-modernist philosophy.  But as I listen to an audio lecture on modern thought, this work relates well to David Hume’s skepticism and empiricism.   Hume reduces experience to perceptions, which he distinguishes impressions from ideas.  In his “An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding” (1748) he writes, “By the term impression, then, I mean all our more lively perceptions, when we hear, or see, or feel, or love, or hate or desire or will. And impressions are distinguished from ideas, which are less lively perceptions, of which we are conscious, when we reflect on any of those sensations or movements above mentioned…All our ideas or more feeble perceptions are copies of our impressions or more lively ones.”  In short, an experience degrades into a memory or idea. Memory or ideas can be doubted, altered by the mind over time. The memory of a clap is less than the initial sensation.  Thus, Hume questions the authority of ideas and privileges experience and immediacy.

If perceptions are questionable, then experience can be doubted.  He wrote from a time when atoms were a belief, a corpuscular reality that infinitely small “invisible” particles made up material reality. Because he doubted the invisible and science theory, he doubted matter.  He gets away with these abstract claims by the concept of probability. It’s not always  100 percent certain that an event will happen in the future, thus physics is questionable to the nth degree, and therefore reality and subjectivity is doubtable.  This is known as pure phenomenalism.