Narcissus isn’t the only god in town: check the pictures

December 7, 2003 at 8:04 pm | In yulelogStories | 6 Comments

I’ve been thinking about the blog as an existential problem, and can’t quite decide if I’m just in a really bad mood, or whether there is something more important happening here. Sartre said that we have the choice to stop existing: that’s what differentiates us from things, which do not have that existential freedom. The paper I initially scribbled this on — while sitting anonymously in a cafe, exuding an air of bad mood, nursing my writer’s block and mulling over my mundane condition of feeling as though I will never ever again manage a sustained piece of work, or ever again have an income (for those of you who don’t know, I gave up a brilliant dead-end career as an underpaid adjunct to be willfully unemployed and at loose ends: I have not made any money since January 1999, and even though I would love to figure out how to have at least a semblance of a professional existence, I cannot think of a single person or organisation that would hire me for anything at all) — anyway, mulling this over, I began scribbling away on paper. So the paper has no choice in being paper, but I have a choice in being who I am, and in deciding to do this versus that. See?

And that was the context in which I was thinking of the blog as an existential problem. Is it a piece of paper, or is it a part of you? I want to quit, to end. I wonder to what extent a blog is a living piece of a person. Unlike a book, a blog is continually updated, refreshed, submitted to (…who is master, who is servant here?). My book, my contributions to the other book, my articles are pieces of paper that someone may or may not get something from, and I have no problem being detached from these things: they are not a part of me in the sense that the blog is, in the sense that the blog demands attention. Can a blog choose to stop being a blog? Is online writing artificial intelligence, or just real-life stupidity? I would probably have to have a canny knack for dissociating if I wanted to peel this thing off me, to shed it like a snake skin, …or to flay it away. In that sense, blogs seem like virtual amputated existences, prostheses of the compulsive. Do all the blogs out there add up to a body? That would be telling. However, while there are apparently quite a few assholes in this virtual body, as well as some eyes and ears, a couple of brain cells, quite a bit of skin, many many mouths, arms and legs grabbing and running, too, the whole thing still doesn’t add up to a real body.

Endymion (the chap “sleeping” so voluptuously in the picture at top left) was an object of desire. He was in fact the moon goddess Selene’s object of lust. She put him into perpetual sleep so that she could visit him whenever she wanted. Other versions of the myth say that Endymion asked to be put to eternal sleep so that he would become immortal and remain young and gorgeous forever, as well as willingly available to Selene. At any rate, he is passive (asleep), an object of the gaze (Selene’s, but of course yours, too), and — this is important — he is the object not of an active force’s desire, but of the otherwise “passive,” female, reflective moon, that cold body without heat and light of its own. [Don’t you love how myths make all this misogyny explicit? Did you know, however, that in German (and probably one or two other languages associated with weird nations) the sun is female and the moon is male?]

But I digress.

I’m wondering what kind of body the blogging “conversation” makes. It’s got an awful lot of American muscle in it, but there’s so much more. Of course, lots can happen to a body. Marsyas, for example, was flayed — and who hasn’t felt that? He was flayed by Apollo — who did it with terrible calm: Apollo is all head, all light, all cerebrum; his lusts are discursive, the stuff of legends (which are told): such a contained version of torture is the rational Apollo’s domain. Remember that Apollo was Selene-Diana’s brother. Selene never flayed anyone; with any luck, she didn’t have the head for it. Just remember she and Apollo were twins, though. And click, by the way, on the Ribera illustration of The Flaying of Marsyas on the right there. It links to an exquisite poem from 1957, by Zbigniew Herbert.

We really have little idea how our bodies traverse these spaces.

This entry with apologies also to Jonathan Delacour who writes about being overloaded. Just came across that, and his bit of heart of things emboldened me to post this. Thanks also to Maria Benet of Alembic who circumscribed her state of mind as a kind of blogger’s ADD: yup, I’ve got that too, and don’t even think of trying to prescribe any meds for me!

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