“I’m so bored. I hate my life.” - Britney Spears

Das Langweilige ist interessant geworden, weil das Interessante angefangen hat langweilig zu werden. – Thomas Mann

"Never for money/always for love" - The Talking Heads

Monday, November 12, 2012

traps

There’s an essay by Louis Marin, the French critic, which begins with him discovering a 16th century Venetian book with the marvelous title, Of traps, of their composition and use, which, in the fashion of the humanist epoch, took the metaphorical sense of trap as an argument to organize an investigation not only of those devises by which we catch mice and rabbits, among other varmints, but also by which we catch men, in courtrooms and in power plays, in art and in the street. 
However, I don’t think this book included the first and greatest of all traps: clothing. Just as we don’t really see ourselves as apes, which are an animal whose habitat is behind bars, or in front of a National Geographic film crew, contentedly shrieking and scratching their hairy hides, we don’t see our clothing as a way of trapping our ape’s bodies. Surely, however, they are. When I unbutton Adam to change him (showing a delight in the fact, if it happens, that this time, there is caca, that I would not have believed in myself a year ago – one so fears the mysteries of infant digestion!) and then diaper him up again and encase him in a thin undergarment, and then in his usual pjs, I notice, and he notices, that each snap is the closure of a trap – first his little legs, then the arms, then snap snap snap the stomach and chest. Depending on whether Saturn is in Virgo, or he’s hungry, or he’s not hungry, or he’s bothered by the light, he will kick against this indignity, the way a dog will try to escape from the grasp of a child determined to dress it up in human clothes. If the child is seen by an adult, he or she is scolded – dogs don’t wear clothes! But we, of course, do.
Snap snap. From the adult perspective, the trappiness of infant clothing really comes out in those pjs, which are all too common, which require snapping in the back. Sometimes these are the cutest clothes, but they require that you turn your child around, and this is not welcomed by any infant. So you pick him up, and you wrestle with the snaps as the protests get louder and the neighbors begin to wonder about your parenting skills. Oh well, let them. In fact, fuck them. And you briefly rehearse all the noxious noises that they have produced over time. This is displacing your frustration in a classically neurotic manner, yes, but you don’t care. 
Finally, though, I have all the snaps that I can reach snapped, and my little lapin is trapped, and sometimes we both have to acknowledge that that was, in a way, fun – fun the way a roller coaster is fun. The tears, the screams, the snaps are forgotten, and we are ready once again to live like human beings – the animal that traps itself.

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