You might, for instance, look up Spending and find the following citations:my first
on writing paper
on a silk dress
on silk stockings
against a looking glass
against a door
in a woman’s hand
baudy ejaculations when
is the most ecstatic moment of life
happiness of dying whilst
And so on.…
LI, last week, proposed that the pre-history of the money shot in visual and written pornography hasn’t, really, been written, even as IT has been busy finding traces of its invisible ink in pornography of the twenties and thirties, the evanescent signature of the ill paid Stakhanovite dick, moonlighting the extra night, the bleary dawn, scurrying home to catch a little rest. Our perhaps crooked opinion is that it is the sheer accident of filmic form, the imposition of a narrative structure on a sequence of images to give them some kind of spurious spectatorial order, which elevated spending into its present uneasy prominence. It was not in response to some voyeuristic mandate, but – like so many narrative solutions to technical problems – was actually a double solution in the double register of pornographer and viewer, with a different sense and context in each register This, of course, begs many questions about narratives themselves. Most notably, are we going to just give it up and allow that tiresome notion of a narrative imposing itself on some wild tabula rasa of images to subtend an argument without taking a proper Derridean potshot at it?
Our readers, we hope, don’t think LI is capable of that level of stupidity. However, we simply want to leave a mark here, a sort of editorial mark, against simple dualism and move on to …
Last week we mentioned the dilettanti club, which was ostensibly founded to foster a feeling for antiquity – or at least that antiquity that the proper English gentleman would come upon in the Grand Tour of Italy. The interest in antiquity, however, was not, at this point, a mild and scholarly pursuit. It was the meeting place for a number of radical currents in English – and in European – life: the idea of non-European civilizations as actual civilizations, for instance, which comes out in William Jones’ work; the idea that Christianity suppressed the ‘healthy life’ of paganism, which has alchemical and deist roots; the development of the modern Epicurean ideal of volupte, which gradually embougeoised into the pain-pleasure calculus (with the dire consequence, from LI’s point of view, of giving rise to Happiness Triumphant, which currently bestrides the world like the Goddess Dullness in the Dunciad:
Whate’er the talents or howe’er designed
We hang one jingling padlock on the mind.