(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!)
Voices from the Silence by John White is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.