Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Middle Th-[rough/]-ou[g]ht

Disclaimer: the following post may seem explicitly sexual, and hence offensive to some. Read at your own risk.

Thought - thinking through, thinking out [of the box]; what do these registers of heuristic "penetration" afford us? Historical "rimming" - I find unfocussed, unsettled thoughts tackling Cary Howie's outstanding philo-medieval project "Claustrophilia," or "the love of enclosures." Taking its starting point the attempt to think 'beside' historiography which, as Zizek rightly pronounces, is a metaphysical placeholder for authentic scholarship, Howie investigates the paradox of the enclosure - enclosive, while also orbiting around a disclosive gesture; the disclosure which emerges at the boundaries of enclosure. While I enjoy Howie's theorizing and its fantastic joy (jouissance?), has the disclosive enclosure walked so far ahead beyond penetrative modes? I'm not seeking an appraisal of penetrative violence, of strongly heterosexist models of domination and subordination, especially in an emergent field of Medieval studies creatively fuelled with the libido of enclosive phenomenology and the potency (albeit metonymic shiftiness) of a non-denotative queer, I want to return to one portion of Howie's formulation of "thinking-out-of" [the box] while - here he "enfolds" the Chinese notion of the "box," its paradoxical, in/egested other, that of thinking-through warrants some address.

Certain psychoanalytic directions in the Philosophy of History has sought to query the analysts' propensity to "act-out"  an inherited, textual encounter rather than to "work-through" the material, dis- and re-connecting circuits of meaning and their psychic flows vis-a-vis the libido. Acting-out: mimesis, reproduction of power-cycles which leans against a death-wish, a repetitive drive of the self-same, versus "working-through," the possibility of obliteration and reformulation, though flirting with the possibility of violence, of domination. The "binary-star-system" complex may be fantasy, two moments held in perpetual sublative motion without the full destruction of the other (also maintained in current political "translation theory"), but is there a moebius-strip like topology which can fully engage the two? 

Thinking-through and thinking-out, perhaps, returns to the ego of the phallus but, like Howie's temeprate ass-licking/rimming version of the historical and ahistorical, social and asocial, may father a non-reproductive (a-futurist, in Edelman-speak) method of ex-egesis. That is, the act of enclosure which preserves the resistiveness of the "historical" resembles more an act of masturbation than it does a clerkly violent rape of the "robed" text. Thinking through-out is a historical handjob, but the formulation begs the question: who gives whom pleasure? Is it text that invigorates the jouissance of the enclosed, or is it the jouissance of never approaching the text's own foreclosed desires? This way, the "wrapping" of the medieval is partial; as easily as it wraps, it unwraps, the penetrator is himself "penetrated," but penetration is never absolute, since the "hole" in question resists cartesian space. Meaning through disclosive-enclosure of the historical hand-job is literally at the limits of "wrapping": the phallus is never dominant, stoked to non-reproductive joy by that which it penetrates, and is enclosed-by. By speaking the medieval, is one's throat choked, or does it wrap? By singing the medieval, does one spit, or does it ingest? A primer for claustrophillic middle-ages music-making might then consider the metonymic relation between reading and listening, except that listening is a sort of a "double-fuck," to extend Madhavi Menon's reflections - the mouth and ears participate in... in what? Can the ear be penetrated, or does it enforce an aural form of "rimming," where sound [from the mouth, the lips] orbits the functional pinnae (the ear's outer bone structure), filtering it into a vor-textual abyss? Then there is the narcissistic mouth, (gagging? spitting?) which flows through the ears and back to the mouth again in a circuitous loop. Where is the enclosure here, then? Through-out. At the threshold of a handjob's joyous friction.

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