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Showing posts from February 22, 2009

Is there a Minotaur in Eden?

Ah, how often she watched a cow with spite in her face and said, “why does that one please my lord? Look how she frisks before him in the delicate grass; no doubt the fool thinks it suits her!” – Ovid, Amores The Greeks had a golden age, but no Garden of Eden. No initial shock at nakedness. Although there were, of course, the prohibitions. Artemis, bathing, is seen by Acteon, who is punished for his vision. But here it is the goddess who is naked, not the human. No Eden, then, but a labyrinth. Pliny, in the Natural History, claims that labyrinths are “the most stupendous works, perhaps, on which mankind has expended its labors; and not for chimerical purposes, merely, as might possibly be supposed.” The Egyptians, in Pliny’s account, got there first. Daedalus was a copier. The Nome of Heracleopolites was the first. “…that Daedalus took this for the model of the Labyrinth which he constructed in Crete is beyond doubt; though he only reproduced the 100th part of it, that portion, namely,

Transgression as innocence

Having tried to get into Paradise through the back door, we have found, instead, a curious gap in the reading of Sade: the fact that Sade’s libertines use a very un-libertine ethnography. Far from extending his hand, so to speak, to his predecessors like Foigny and Lahontan, Sade picks up on the most extreme descriptions of cruelty amassed by the biased witness of priests intent on subduing the savage. Is this irony? Or is this a necessity generated by Sade’s game – the rules of which, as Klossowski points out, depend on a perpetually renewed outrage. In the Sadeian system, the notion of universal perversion – counter-generality – comes into conflict with the ludic necessity for outrage. In a sense, then, Sade’s system of transgression cancels itself out. It turns out to be the path of pins going forward to the wolf in grandma’s clothing. Counter-generality dissolves in the submission to the iron law that forwards is equal to backwards – the paths are the same. So saith the white magi