Eroticism opens the way to Death. Death opens the way to denial of our individual lives. Without doing violence to our inner selves, are we able to bear the negation that carries us to the farthest bounds of possibility. – Georges Bataille
That quote is from the book “Eroticism, Death and Sensuality” by Georges Bataille, a writer whose philosophical essays on Death and Sensuality in art and literature provide for a clarity never before achieved by any other writer, in my opinion, with regard to the duality of violence and tenderness ever-present in the human spirit.
Bataille also wrote: “The taboo is there in order to be violated. This proposition is not the wager it looks like at first but an accurate statement of an inevitable connection between conflicting emotions. When a negative emotion has the upper hand, we must obey the taboo. When a positive emotion is in the ascendant, we violate it. Such a violation will not deny or suppress the contrary emotion, but justify it and arouse it. […] Concern over a rule is sometimes at its most acute when that rule is being broken, for it is harder to limit a disturbance already begun.”
Those of us who write sex are familiar with this theory. Those of us who write sex as a metaphor thoroughly understand the implications, and those of us who write taboo have grasped hold of its subtle subconscious nuances and cast ourselves straight into the abyss.
The art this week is the cover from my own novella “The Thin Wall”, and while not graphic in its imagery, the sexual proclivities of the characters and the implications of said proclivities might be a bit disturbing for readers of a certain disposition. Nevertheless, as I have said in many posts regarding the issue of censorship, the implications were necessary. The metaphor was necessary. After all, the story is an exploration in self-abuse as it relates to the issue of co-dependence. However, I am a tried and true romantic, so for those who don’t mind taking a walk in the dark, you will be rewarded with an HEA. I just can’t write a romantic story without it, and yes, the thematic treatment of the subject matter might be a bit dark for most, but, self-awareness doesn’t generally come without a twilight struggle. An author should never be afraid to obliterate the boundaries in order to express the oftentimes ugly epiphanies that come with such a struggle.
That said, of late, I have been experimenting with flash fiction, and I have found that the form allows for much more experimentation when it comes to fringe subject matter. I mean, some of this stuff is best taken in small doses, for instance my abortion eating cannibal story "Doll Heads", or the body-image fixated "Margaritas and Razor Blades – After Five Porno for Skeptics", or even the sexual motivation for homicide in my most recent piece "The Shadow Factory". I want to exploit the experience as much as I can in a story; I want to deliver the dark and the disturbing, but I want to do it without bludgeoning the reader. Less is better, I've found. And by less, I mean less words, not less intense, so that the experience is still bludgeoning but brief. I've even started writing hard-core erotica -- under a pseudonym, obviously -- which has been published and well received. No, I am not going to link to it because that would defeat the purpose of the pseudonym, right? Anyway, the point I am trying to make here is that we can step into the dark very purposefully as did Artaud, Bataille, and deSade, and many others for that matter. Sure, anything we write has the potential to offend someone, but that doesn't mean we, as artists, shouldn't endeavor to "go there."
For further reading of Bataille, I might recommend some of his novellas: The Story of the Eye, L’abbe C, or My Mother, Madame Edwarda, and the Dead Man.
Cheryl Anne Gardner