Issue 002 February 2014
SONDER TEXT / IMAGE / FILM / THEORY 1
Weâ€™d love to know what you think of our magazine please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your feedback and submissions.
Special thanks to Lindenberg Munroe (self portrait above), our featured artist, whose work runs throughout the entirety of this issue. If youâ€™d like to see more have a look at his Flickr: www.flickr.com/bergmunroe
Special thanks to the Manchester Art Group who collaborate with the Manchester Literature Society to produce these magazines. Check out their Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/ manchesterartgroup/
First off, a look ahead: we’re very excited to announce our launch party, which will be held on March 20th at Kraak - the finest creative hub in Manchester’s northern quarter. The event is free, and will feature live music, poetry, fun interactive arts installations and a very special guest DJ spinning the finest funky and groovy house into the early hours. We’ll see you there. For now, welcome to Issue 002 - Desire. An immensely important concept in much creative, critical and cultural thought since its taxonomy in the sexological discourse of the late nineteenth century, desire, in all its slippery multiplicity and notoriously amorphous plurality receives in the following pages a range of creative and critical responses. Amber De La Haye (p.6) examines the supposedly essential origin of those desires which seem constitute our very identities, questioning the transparency of scientific studies of sexuality and foregrounding the need to recognise culture as a playing an important role in the formation of desire. In ‘Visual Culture and the Female’ (p.10), Bethany Lester probes the ways in which representations of gender inexorably effect the formation of desire and identity in contemporary western culture. Josh Mcloughlin gets to grips with the origins of unconscious desire (p.13), examining the work of the famously tricky French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan, who remains a hugely influential figure in much contemporary theory concerned with desire and identity – and yes, it is all about your (m)other. Critical theory is brought to be bear on the apparently innocuous phenomenon of the ‘Friend Zone’ (p.14), as the Everyday Analysis Collective reveals the political and ideological make-up of the murky waters between platonic and erotic relationships This issue’s Creative feature (p.34), sees the amorphous contours of desire re-drawn, as poets Eilis Hall and Claudia Carvell and short story writer Nadine Mirza each give their unique take on the subject. We also have a great selection of critical analysis, including articles on Post-colonial discourse in the Manchester Museum, Literary Modernism, Humanism, Film, translation studies and Materialism.
D E S I R E 6/ Desire: is it all in the brain? - Amber De La Haye 10/ Visual Culture and the Female - Bethany Lester 13/ Who do you think you are? Lacan and Desire - Josh Mcloughlin 14/ The politics of ‘Friend Zone’ - Everyday Analysis
I N T E R V I E W 16/ Lindenberg Munroe, The concept of Modern Art Bethany Lester
C A B I N E T O F C U R I O S I T I E S 19/ Bethany Lester
F E M I N I S M 20/ Humanism v Feminism - Sophie Nicholas
P O S T - C O L O N I A L I S M 22/ What are you [not] Saying? - Michelle Kenner
M A T E R I A L I S M 24/ Reading the Signs - Josh Mcloughlin
L I T E R A R Y M O D E R N I S M 28/ Forgotten Classic: F.M Mayor & Modernism - Robert Firth
T R A N S L A T I O N 30/ Victor Hugo’s ‘Demain, dès l'aube’ - Sadie Maher
F I L M 32/ Pure Cinema: J.C Chandor’s ‘All is Lost’ - Sophie Oates Black
C R E A T I V E 34/ Creative Editorial: Desire -Claudia Carvell 36/ Cafuné by Eilis Hall 37/ From Your Doorway by Claudia Carvell 38/ The Beast by Nadine Mirza
DESIRE: all in the brain? Is our sexuality innate and inscribed in our DNA from birth or is it more complicated than this?
s our sexual desire innate, is there
tolerance; after all, magnanimity is always a
such a thing as a ‘gay brain’, created by hor-
luxury of power, and the act of tolerating
mone fluctuation in the womb or even in-
identifies the object of tolerance as essential-
scribed in our fundamental genetic makeup?
ly different from the tolerating subject. We
Arguing that sexuality is innate is a corner-
can certainly see this in the suggestion that
stone of many gay rights campaigns, quelling
there is a ‘gay brain’, and ideas of biological
religious calls to ‘pray for a cure’ or offers of
determinism can also have a negative impact
sinister corrective treatments. It is true that
on gender politics. Further to this, the very
popularising the belief that sexuality is not a
questions being asked perpetuate the norms
choice has encouraged tolerance, and played
of heterosexuality and patriarchy - my open-
a major part in the arguments leading to
ing sentence immediately links the question
England’s legalisation of sexual acts between
of innate sexuality with homosexuality - why
consenting adult males in 1967. However, is
aren’t we asking whether people are born
this belief really beneficial? Wendy Brown
straight? And why are lesbians and bisexuals
points out in Regulating Aversion that ideas
all but invisible in this debate? We must
of hierarchy are bound up with the calls for
question the accuracy of a science that can’t,
Desire - All in the brain?
even in the very questions it poses, escape a
involves attraction to women and vice ver-
sa. However, gender constructs do not al-
There is an overwhelming body of biologically determinist research suggesting (homo) sexual desire is innate. Research and theories, some more spurious than others, are regularly disseminated through the collective consciousness by semi-accurate eye grabbing headlines. You may have heard, for example, Anthony Bogaert’s theory that sexuality is decided prenatally, through hormonal changes in the womb caused by bearing a
ways align with desire, a fact many ‘masculine’ straight women and ‘feminine’ straight men will attest to. Science tackling this topic cannot disentangle itself from misconceptions surrounding the difference between gender (socially constructed) and sex (biological). It is framed from within a discourse of heteronormativity and patriarchy,
The very notion of the homosexual is recently constructed
skewing its conclusions. Further to this, the very notion of a ‘homosexual’ or ‘heterosexual’ is a narrow,
high number of previous male foetuses. An
recently constructed, western-centric set of
immediately obvious exception to this rule is
divisions. Foucault discusses the invention of
the 48% of cases in which twin brothers are
the homosexual in The History of Sexuality,
not both homosexual.
discussing the development from sodomy -
More dangerous, however, is the scientific research that uses socially constructed notions of gender to assert facts about sexuality. For example, a study at UC Berkeley discovered that lesbians were more likely to have a ‘masculine’ hand structure – that is, a longer ring finger than index finger, which most men have. The conclusion was that lesbianism is caused by foetuses being exposed to greater levels of ‘masculine’ hormones, which, they theorised, influence hand structure and attraction to women. However, this study conflates socially constructed gender -notions of masculinity and femininityand sexual orientation. It works from the premise that masculinity naturally always
considered a ‘temporary aberration’ - to the homosexual, now ‘a species’, to insist sexuality is generated by the social. The notion of sexuality as key to subjectivity is a recent one. In Ancient Greece, for example, sex between men was normal, and a respected form of sexual behaviour. Freud, in Three Essays on Sexuality, suggests our conception of the sexual object being the crucial trigger for desire is culturally constructed, and, as the example of Ancient Greece suggests, it is actually sexual instinct that is key. Our rigid, modern categorisation also gives rise to defining what constitutes a homosexual: regular sex with a member of the same sex? Sexual desire for a member of the same sex? A sin7
Desire - All in the brain?
gular sexual encounter? Rugby initiations?
however surely then we should be research-
Kissing a girl at a party? And liking it? The
ing the confounding popularity of masturba-
issue of bisexuality is also problematized
tion and oral sex? Freud brilliantly points out
through these strict binaries of homo/hetero, that the heterosexual kiss, the peak of roand therefore the bisexual is marginalised:
mantic heterosexual desire as depicted by
no explanation can be found and many scien- the media, should logically be an aberration tific studies claim they do not even exist. If
and considered as distasteful as sharing a
the very category and definition of homosex-
toothbrush. As we move toward a culture
uality is discursively constructed, then, how
liberated from the hangovers of a society in
can it be innate?
which the lack of birth control made monog-
Our history of science shows it to be clearly influenced by the dominant culture of the day; for example, in the 18th century a dissatisfied or disobedient woman would be treated for hysteria, which research papers and many scientific books had proved to be caused by a wandering womb. Sexologists like Havelock Ellis published research on homosexuals, suggesting they were â€˜degenerateâ€™ â€“ literally a step backwards in
amous, heterosexual relationships almost a necessity, we need to rethink our relationship to sexuality. It is not irrelevant that the heterosexual family unit provides the perfect base for capitalism; a productive ideological state apparatus that pays for the privilege to create, raise and condition subjects. Gay men and women, childless women and bisexuals are all marginalised, and all constitute a potential threat to the current system.
evolution. In 1952 war hero and enigma code Science cannot escape discourse, and scienbreaker Alan Turing underwent the scientific
tific research often perpetuates norms of
procedure of chemical castration in order to
gender and sexuality. The very questions the
cure his homosexuality. Science can, and
scientific establishment are asking are prob-
often is, wrong, and can never be considered
lematic, proceeding as they do from a recent-
objectively outside of discourse.
ly constructed assumption of static desire
The very questions we are asking also point to an inherent bias; why is the focus on what causes homosexuality? Until we can examine the causes of sexuality in general the debate will always be couched in a heteronormative bias. A common counter-argument suggests heterosexuality is normal, therefore not in need of research, because it is reproductive, 8
and binary sexualities. Fluid desire, however, has potentially liberating, revolutionary effects, and attempts to constrict our sexuality further by defining it as innate deny these possibilities. We need to move away from the idea of being gay as inscribed at birth, indeed, we need to move away from the very rigid ideas of being gay or straight altogether.
Visual Culture and Bethany Lester
odern life is seen on-screen. We live in such a visual culture that we have become accustomed to and subsequently trust enough to be subjugated by the images it depicts and the messages it conveys. Whilst being exposed to exaggerated phantasmagorias on a regular basis we become desensitised to the absurdity of what we are looking at, by means of acculturation and – perhaps more simply – getting used to it. We should not accept these depictions for gospel truths, just like the old saying that tells us not to believe everything that we hear or read (perhaps you shouldn't believe what I am saying, either); our receipt of the visual media affects our perception of everyday aspects of life, perhaps most importantly ourselves and one another.
There’s a convolution of the understanding of the (biological) sex and (cultural) gender boundaries between the male and the female, the masculine and the feminine. These ‘blurred lines’ are stigmatic in their own right and subsequently has a further negative effect on the sexism that is evident in society. How does society depict the woman? How do 10 you view the woman? A goddess? A muse? A mother? A lover? A housewife?
A nag? A whore? Or none of the above? I can’t tell you what to think of a person, I can’t tell you what to think about anything, but I can try to unpick some distortions in the understanding of the modern, western female. John Berger had it said that ‘Men dream of women. Women dream of themselves being dreamed of. Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at. And behind every glance there is a judgement.’ Now, I believe this implication of the woman as a narcissist is absolutely true, but why is she so? I hasten to add here, before any offence is taken, that this claim should not be understood as a spiteful taunting of women and instead appreciated as a ridiculing of male dominance and its crippling effects; it is as much a declaration of female narcissism as it is of male obsession. It is wrong to suggest that the female is innately self -conscious to the point of extreme vanity, much the same as it is wrong to suggest that this is applicable to only females, however in order to understand the complexities in the gender barriers we must appreciate and accept that the woman in society has currently, as has done throughout much of history, had to adopt the role as the subject (who then gets objectified, but that's another tale
for another time.) We are taught from day one that we are to impress others and this can be pursued through a variety of methods, for the male it is often displayed through dominant acts of control and for the female often by a superiority of beauty. And so from early on the boy has a desire to desire and the girl has a desire to be desired, and that coincides quite well, don’t you think? By allowing yourself to be judged upon your rate of attractiveness, you allow another to make such superficial judgements and subsequently both you and the other are allowed to care for little else.
not the metaphorical female who we have been speculating and exampling, but a real woman of the world. Let’s adopt these discussed social and cultural traits onto her, let’s imagine it is she that is to decide between a life of social exile or not; it’s not too much to ask of anyone, these are real women in the real world, of all ages and backgrounds, challenged with this decision every day. I write with the hope of empathy, not of shame or pity, with the hope that as we can collectively begin to unpick and understand the role of the female in our society we can appreciate what it is that she does and what had led her to do so. As Cady Heron once said, ‘It’s better to This has created the woman as we may be in The Plastics hating life than to not view her today. Vain, self-interested, self be in The Plastics at all.’ -conscious, dieting, made-up… because if she isn't these things, what else would If the spectrum of aesthetic judgement she be? There’s a man-trap that has runs from absolute beauty to absolutely manifested itself in society which subugly, for these are not feelings, what we jects women who do not adhere to the evoke is subsequent inadequacy. And if stereotype of a ‘female’ to a life of being the antithesis to inadequacy is adequastereotypically not-‘female’; she who cy, she who is absolutely beautiful is does not become overly conscious with absolutely satisfactory and cannot exher appearance refrains from the subceed the limits of judgement and yet she jection of any of the understood femican so easily fall behind them. And pernine personas, and through fear of the haps this is why a woman does what she unknown and the ease of it, she is outdoes. Women are not narcissistic by 11 casted. choice but rather more by a marriage of instinct and acculturation. A modern And so here we have the real woman, (wo)man’s survival of the ‘fittest’.
Who do you think you are? Not sure? Haven’t found yourself yet? Save yourself the horror of fund-crippling trip to a Thai beach filled with British ‘travellers’ and I’ll tell you...
n short, you’re just an illusion of subjectivity on a fetishistic quest for a sense of unity which was actually a grand misrecognition in the first place, and you roam about the world investing this wayward desire in people, food, cars, jobs, shoes, saving the children of various south-east Asian countries during your break between college and university, starbars, feet – basically objects which metonymically stand in for but never quite match up to your desire for your dear old mother. I know what you’re thinking, ‘but I don’t even like my mother’. Well, you do, and here’s how.
your infantile proto-self. This rather vain infant self of yours, not content with identifying an all-powerful specular super-self as constituting it’s ‘I’, as well as being rather confused, adds stupidity into the mix and conflates your desires with your mother’s. Oh dear. But of course, this is a painful fiction, and soon this mis-recognition is brutally shattered when you realise that your dear old mother’s desires were not of and for you alone. Realising that this desire is bad, very bad, you bury this verboten longing deep in your unconscious. From there, it drives the ego on a doomed quest for a lost wholeness which never was, and never will be. This For Jacques Lacan, the famously obtuse search is conducted through the constant French psychoanalyst, phallus enthusiast and (and necessary, there being no actual original style icon who, along with a band of ruffians wholeness) metonymic substitution of things including Lytoard, Baudrillard, Derrida, and for this imaginary lost wholeness, the ever Žižek, is one of the leading causes of burst elusive ‘objet a’ - the perfect marriage, Nike blood vessels, cold sweats and night terrors trainers, facial hair, a collection of football in theoriaphobic analytics working Philososhirts from the nineties, a car with a spoiler, phy departments everywhere, you are not the fierce, fanciful daydream you have of who you think you are. The ego is not a yourself as a latter-day flâneur of the 1st source of salvation, of rational consciousness, arrondissement, as you sit outside a Café but an image, a projection. Your idea of self- Rouge in Slough waiting for the last bus hood – that which you articulate as ‘I’ - is home to your parents’ house, the 23 year old actually nestled uncomfortably between a proud owner of a degree in the humanities. paranoid ego and the raging, irrational id, all the while battered by the tyrannical demands But alas, those dreams you think you have, of a social super-ego – ultimately, Lacan arthose desires you’re certain make you who gues, constituted as a lack in relation to the you are, are in fact nothing more than a set omnipotent imago with which you mistaken- of variously disguised and grossly misguided ly identify. What a self-centred piece of work longings for a maternal unity that was rudely you really are. It all began when you were a severed with your bloody, selfishly slow logconfused, vain and selfish little student. No flume down the birth canal, and the secondwait, infant. In what Lacan calls the ‘mirror ary infantile sulk at the separation from a stage’, the misrecognition of and identificabreast whose milk you gorged on at will for tion with a gestalt – the image of a reflected the first 18 months of your life. That’s who and all powerful unity taken to be the self, you are. found in the mirror/(m)other – forms the ego, the ‘I’ and unifies the heterogeneous experiences and disorganized sensations of 13
Desire - The friend zone
The Politics of ‘Friend Z The Everyday Analysis Collective is group of writers based in Manchester who draw on cultural and critical theory, producing inspired reappraisals of seemingly innocuous cultural phenomenon. The collective’s first book, Why Are Animals Funny: Everyday Analysis Volume 1 couples a masterful deployment of a range of theorists including Lacan, Badiou and Žižek with an idiosyncratic enthusiasm which sees a critical eye cast on everything from Angry Birds and Justin Bieber to racism and The Daily Mail. Reproduced with kind permission, the following article, ‘The Politics of ‘Friend Zone’’ appears in Why Are Animals Funny: Everyday Analysis Volume 1 which is available to pre-order at http://www.zero-books.net/books/why-animals-funny Follow the Everyday Analysis blog: http://www.everydayanalysis.com/ or twitter
term originating in the American sitcom Friends has undertaken a new popularity in dating culture in the past few years. The ‘friend zone’ is the imagined space where a man (invariably) who does not initiate sexual contact with a female acquaintance within a certain time frame is obliged to go. The phrase has a peculiar metaphorical loading. It assumes an idea of relationships as linear processes with various inevitable stop-off points. As the acquaintance between the prospective partners charges forward, failure to decisively redirect it along sexual lines will result in it reaching a point of development where it no can no longer allow for sexuality. At the same time, the metaphor is topological, spatial. There is a specific place demarcated to hold the men who failed to act. Furthermore, whereas the poets of the twelfth-century courtly love tradition constructed their identity on the basis of an irrecoverable separation from the loved object, this iteration of the trope of unrequited love is slightly more complex. No mere separation, the friend zone is constituted by intimacy. The ‘friend14
zoned’ man complains that he performs all the companionate functions of a lover, but without sexuality, in a kind of banishmentwithout-banishment. Friendship, in other words, is figured as a mutant version of sexual love: an impoverished parody retaining the architecture of the love-relationship but with the single reigning property removed. The emergence of the verb ‘to friend zone’ – as in ‘I took her out three times, then she totally friend-zoned me’ – reveals another dimension of the term. It relates to what a number of feminists have pointed out is its misogyny: its tendency to be used as a corollary of the cliché that women don’t like ‘nice guys,’ and are kept most keen by the ‘assholes’ who treat them mean. This starts by figuring the woman’s ability to ‘friendzone’ the man as a form of tyrannical arbitrary power, leaving men with the choice between retaining their ingenuous niceness, or adopting more Machiavellian strategies in order to avoid the nice guy’s dreadful fate. But the woman here is also a slave, attaching all her desire to that cruel master, the ‘asshole.’ What appears to be an elevation of
the power of the woman in the first part of this formulation is obviously spurious. It is rather a violence against her, the violence of imposing responsibility, which in the philosopher Jacques Derrida’s sense of the term means the obligation to provide a response. The ‘woman who friend-zones’ is under obligation to provide a response to a male desire which, if the ‘nice guy’ himself is to be believed, has not even been articulated in the first place.
Christianity) assenting to the enemy within your friend: the part of him or her that scandalises everything you think you stand for. In contemplating friendship as a sorry substitute for love with a woman who is thought of as both tyrant and slave, the ‘nice guy’ has failed to grasp Nietzsche’s point that such power-inflected thinking is incompatible with friendship. Whatever one can find in the ‘friend zone,’ one cannot find that. In Derrida’s words, friendship means being ‘generous enough (to) know how to give In The Politics of Friendship, Derrida considenough to the other. To attain to this infinite ers Nietzsche’s ostensibly sexist remark that gift, failing which there is no friendship, one a woman as ‘a tyrant and a slave… is not yet must know how to give to the enemy.’ Until capable of true friendship: she knows only he is generous enough to approach the womlove.’ For Nietzsche, friendship is destructivean not as a tyrant and slave, but in the true ly democratising, equalising. It means capituNietzschean sense as an enemy, the nice guy lating to the most heterogeneous disavowed would do well to remember Nietzsche’s other recesses of oneself and of one’s friend, and solicitation (itself a rejoinder to the charge of (in a move Derrida points out is unexpectedly his sexism): ‘tell me, you men, which of you is reminiscent of the more radical edges of yet capable of friendship? 15
The Concept of Modern Art. We meet with our featured artist of the issue and he
with Lindenberg Munroe
talks to us about his work, providing a refreshing response to questions about modern art and its often assumed conceptualism and how he lends himself to modern styles. Firstly, without running the risk of sounding too cliché, could you tell us a little bit more about yourself as an artist? How long have you been practising for? Did anything in particular inspire you to start out? I started at a very early age. I’m from Fortazela, in the north-east of Brazil, and came to live in the UK at the age of 5. I remember in primary school that I used to love anything related to art and it was through Disney comics that I started to draw; I would copy as many characters as I could. Eventually I felt that just copying wouldn’t do and so begun to create my own illustrations with my own characters. I have never had any formal training, although once I started with a painting teacher but I gave this up after a few lessons. In my younger years I became really interested in music, studying classical piano and eventually studied this at university. This period flagged a 13 year hiatus for my art practice however this is now fully flowing again. You are quite a mixed-media artist, is there a practice that you like to focus on most? Does the subject of an artwork influence which medium you depict it through? (Or vice-versa?) There is no favourite practice, really. I understand these as artistic languages that give me the potential to express myself and so I kind-of work my way through it. Recently I started to study programming using a software called Processing; it’s from the guys from MIT. Basically, it was created for the inbetween people, so visual artists can take advantage from programming and the programmer has an artistic vain. It’s a visual programme where you write codes and create tools to produce images, 3D and interactive art. The subject certainly influences the medium. It reminds me of the multiplicity of electronic music that 16
was created entirely through drum machines with a range of pre-set beats; those presets gave birth to a variety of electronic genres known today. Would you consider yourself a conceptual artist? Do you have reasons for this? I don’t consider myself a conceptual artist however this doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t use conceptual aesthetics in my work . If it is appropriate for whatever I am creating I will utilise perceived symbolism with the understanding of it as just a tool that will serve my work. I don’t try to convey any social ideas per se; I am not against it however, I have no concern in convincing people of anything through my work. How do you feel about art and artistic practices as a platform for addressing cultural concerns? Does this relate to your own work in any way? Art in its many forms is a human activity that reflects and manifests the concern of a particular period in time as any other cultural product. Whatever is created by us can always say something about ourselves and the culture that we live in. I have cultural concerns but they don’t necessarily manifest in my artworks. I read Aldous Huxley’s The Doors of Perception recently and at some Munroe’s work is featured throughout point he observes that the paintings that most captures the magazine and will be exhibited at the our sense of profundity are those where the characters Sonder 002 launch party. An extensive portrayed are doing nothing in particular. They are not collection of his work can be found online telling a story, nor they want to convey any particular at: www.flickr.com/bergmunroe message, but they have that deep look that seems to 17
Cabinet of Curiosities
cut through everything. They are not addressing any concern about a particular culture, but seem to go beyond any of those particularities and therefore manifest a more direct contact with a deeper realm. There are a lot of nonsensical impulses in the creation of art and their impact comes from not having to make sense or address anything in particular. This is something that I do relate to when creating my work. Your photography documents portrait and landscape and often beckons towards NeoSurrealism; is there (a) particular subject/s you like to capture? Is there a particular artistic style you idolise and/or seek inspiration from? I always believed that nature can teach us all and in arts, it has been teaching us for thousands of years. There is a lot of feedback that one can get by just observing and there is one particular aspect that I find fascinating and that is the relationship between simplicity and complexity, more precisely how simple rules can bring to live complex forms and how the sense of beauty emerges from those two aspects. It is so often that we assume many things in nature as normal and take things for granted, and yet things can extrapolate and be extravagant and weird. All that gradient seems to happen through the observer’s mind regarding the observed, therefore it is how one looks and observe, how one focus their attention. If the extra can be seen in the ordinary, nature will reveal itself to you in a new way. I love complexity but always when it starts from simplicity at its bases. I usually start from simple lines, dots and intersections, building up towards more complex patterns, whatever the subject of my work is. I have been lately drawing figures and “beings” where the form usually starts simple and end up in more complex patterns. I like surrealism because it seems to manifest the antipodes of what we understand as “normal”. Abnormality in my understanding is not other worldly, it is not a meta-world, a art. separate reality, but just an extension from what we call normality, a continuum and the intersection can be quite blurred. I think that many forms of art plays with that idea. Are there any key ideas about 'desire' that you would seek inspiration from? I understand that most of the problems that we have come from desire, to have or possess things or to crave towards certain feelings. In recent years I have come to realise that many of my goals and desires were set within a story that tells that you have to achieve, reach, go to the top and conquer. This is all wrapped on what most of us understand what life is all about. Control is a must to achieve anything, but with it, you create fear, and there is no control without fear.
CABINET OF CURIOSITIES The world’s full of little pleasantries; sometimes you come across a creation of the world, an object of which you’re unsure and are intrigued by. An object of curiosity, you could say. What does one do with a found object of this kind? It seems against instinctive morals to leave it uncategorised, unaddressed and unknown. Through habit of understanding, It seems only fair to allocate it somewhere, it’s the beauty of miscellany. The compelling obsession to comprehend becomes a compelling obsession to label and by extension of the compulsion to define do we find ourselves manifesting a category of the uncategorisable?
A Cabinet of Curiosities is an emporium of cultural variety. As a product of culture itself, it stands as an exhibiting space for wondrous worldly artefacts and a platform for documentation, representation and depiction of humanity. It is what you make of it. It could be little else than a wooden-and-glass house for otherwise un-belonging items of the world, it could be a wonder and a marvel, or it could be a pioneer of consumer culture. But I think, above all, it is a statement, because that’s what all of these are, aren’t they? The Curiosity Cabinet plays host to all of the wonders of the world in its entirety, an anthropological study of what is and what has been of humanity.
CABINET OF CURIOSITY SUBMISSIONS If you have an object of wonder, it could be imagined, found, handed down or a deep dark secret, let it be known. Have your artefact documented in our catalogue of curiosity and knows what you, and we, may find out...
FEMINISM VS HUMANISM O
Sophie Nicholas debates whether we should we should identify as humanists instead of feminists….
ften, upon seeing the debate between two such controversial topics, people will assume it’s going to be a one-sided feminist rant, or an impassioned protest about how equal everybody already is, without calling for any political and social change. To avoid this and begin my article as neutrally as possible, I looked for an honest human reaction to the question: why not be a humanist instead of a feminist? The strictly scientific approach of asking my mates yielded these results: 20
“Why not be a humanist instead of a feminist?” “I used to think that feminism meant being angry towards men and not shaving yourself, but now I understand the point of feminism.” “There are still a lot of situations where women are not treated equally, violence against women, emotional, physical and sexual, it just happens…” “On the street, I shouldn't have to feel scared;
no person should have fear for their safety and produce gender roles, norms and stereregardless of who they are.” otypes. The feminist also fights for the men who don’t want to be criticized if they are “So, why not call yourself a humanist or an emotional and for the men who fight equalist?” for custody of their children, as well as for the women who don’t want to be pressured “Humanist is just too grey, and too impar- into an ideal of beauty and for the women tial, feminist at least creates debate and who fear walking home alone at night. Femprovokes a reaction. Besides, feminism is inism is not only concerned with equality for not just about women, but other issues of women, but in breaking sexuality and gender, a man should not feel down "judgmental walls” and reveallike less of a man if he is gay, feminism just ing gender as a social construct. breaks down those judgmental walls”. Focusing on everybody When one refers to themselves as a helps nobody Clearly, this issue needs unhumanist, this may packing as there is no sure actually take attenanswer. This topic regularly comes up, par- tion away from the issue at hand, as it ticularly in comments sections under online is an all-encompassing and neutral term. posts relating to gender, sexism and femi- Humanism doesn't have a rich political hisnism. Such discussion opens us up to heated tory attributed to it unlike feminism, debate where controversial and often offen- which honours the suffragettes who fought sive opinions are expressed. One recur- for women's rights, and using its historical ring critique of feminism (usually expressed prestige, sparks political debate and generby men) is that it excludes men. Often, peo- ates an active force committed to further ple believe that feminism is solely con- change. Hence, it could be argued that Hucerned with creating a world in which wom- manism (or Equalism) actually lacks the en assert dominance over men, rather than focus and historical status necessary for one of equality. Another cri- determined and constructive changes. In tique of feminism that constantly circulates other words, in focusing on everybody, it is that it draws attention to women as a helps nobody. marginalized group, in the sense that, it reaffirms, reproduces and therefore, nor- The very question I have posed – why not malizes women's unequal status - shining a be a humanist instead of a feminist – is negative spotlight on them. problematic, as is the title of this article. It implies that we can only call ourselves However, many people argue that this is a humanist or a feminist. Why must we just not the case. Feminism is often hyper- classify ourselves as one or the other? Rastigmatized i.e. “I used to think that femi- ther than creating more harmful segreganism meant being angry towards men and tion, we should stand together. Why not not shaving yourself”, but this is not what fight for overall equality in the context of feminism is defined as, nor is it what the individuality, as well as breaking down majority of feminists want. Feminism is hurtful gender roles and stereotypes in the concerned with breaking context of women's inequality? In other down epistemological, ideological, social, words, to fight the fight for equality, why political and semantic barriers that facilitate not combine forces to win the war? 21
What are you not saying? Michelle Kenner
ocated in the heart of the University of Manchester’s campus, the Manchester Museum is a conglomerate of natural history, ancient history, local history, ethnography, and mummies. The first exhibit one enters is at the top of a turning marble staircase, and it’s all about Manchester’s place in the wider context of world history, industry, and trade. Central to the room, surrounded along the perimeter by Victorian style glass cases, is the towering behemoth of an elephant skeleton.
When he was alive, Maharajah was gainfully employed in a traveling circus. In retirement, Maharajah lived at the Belle Vue zoo. The transition from work to retirement was perhaps more difficult for the elephant than for most humans; Maharajah’s advanced age prevented his travelling by train, so he and his trainer trekked–on foot–200 miles from Edinburgh to Belle Vue. It took them ten days.
The Manchester Museum’s acquisition of Maharajah’s remains followed much the same pattern as its acquisition of the majority of the objects in the exhibit, which were gifted or donated by scholars, explorers, and archaeologists–predominantly white men from the Western world. Along with Maharajah are exhibited objects from Africa, Japan, the Pacific Islands, and South America. These objects, which at face-value seem to have to relevant connection to Manchester, are linked to the history of the Manchester Museum via explanatory text labels.
When referencing an object’s provenance, these text labels took a strikingly nonconfrontational tone, remarking how a particular scholar ‘collected’ items from Egypt, or ‘acquired’ many artifacts like those displayed. This language, I believe, can be misleading. It implies mutual consent on behalf of both the acquirer and the donor of objects that cultural objects should be moved thousands of miles away and displayed in a building where the originating culture may never visit. Objects are decontextualized, stripped of cultural identity, and displayed alongside similar finds from other parts of the world. Instead of ‘collect’ and ‘acquire’, words such as ‘looted’ and ‘forcibly removed’ seem more apt. Why are these descriptors scrapped for more benign counterparts? Could it be argued that museums are leading their visitors to believe a whitewashed history of its collections? What would be the ultimate consequence of frank openness of a museum to its audience?
The debate of repatriation of museum objects is ongoing and vacillating, but the larger issue in the Manchester Museum—and in other museums throughout the world—is not how objects were acquired in past centuries, but why the darker, controversial, contentious object histories are not illuminated for publics to internalize, analyze, and perhaps even critique. Visitors must be conscious of a museum’s cultural history as much as its objects’ cultural histories, because sometimes a museum tells you more in its silence than in its exposition.
Reading the Signs: Formal & Material Analysis
ariously described as ‘a billboard which advertises nothing’ or ‘an anti-billboard’, such descriptions of Seattle Lead Pencil Studio’s Non-sign II ignore the text’s interrogative attitude toward notions of the social, the semiotic and the textual .I attempt to produce here a reading sensitive to each of these issues, not in isolation, but to a greater or lesser degree as contributing factors to the way in which the relationship between text and world is conceived.
In a sense, we can borrow from Michael Foucault, who suggests that the panoptic schema works to produce and consolidate power at ‘an intensified and perfect extreme’: the giant advertisement which interpellates the individual as both subject and consumer produces, in a single function, the double effect of capitalist ideology.
The individual is interpellated as the subject in a narrative of satisfying consumption (not dissimilar to the rhetorical satisfaction of the Catherine Belsey conceives of the disruptive Classic or Expressive realist literary form) in or interrogative text as ‘ordered in such a way which the impossibility of satisfaction and the that the discursive sequence fails to fulfil the concomitant infinite circularity of the funcexpectations it generates’ (Critical Practice). tion and effect of capital is effaced. A sort of Situated as it is on the Canadian-US border, amnesia takes place whereby each new ideoand acting as a foil, in a double sense, to a logical apparatus promises an essentially vast horizon of multi-national advertising identical – though packaged , of course, in a billboards, the text disrupts the discursive different mythological language - fulfilment of sequence of the landscape, and of the narra- various wishes and desires, yet the effects of tivity of a stream of billboards which stand as previous occasion or consumption which silent, smiling obelisks of semantic and ideo- served only to ‘reinforce […] [the] circular logical interpellation through advertisement. process’ of consumption and subjection are 24
Seattle Lead Pencil Studio—Non-Sign II oddly absent in the mind of the subject. It is this circular process, involving at every juncture the effacement of its effects, which resists dialectical processes. Non-Sign II refuses to interpellate the spectator as subject, and as a text it foregrounds ideology as a semiotic ,semantic and narrative process in a gesture of refusal which rebukes the continuity of a narrative of consumption in which the would-be subject is arch-actor-consumer.
But a moment here, for it would be worth remembering that signification here, and the specific, representative organization of its process, revolving as it does around certain specific motivations, must be considered in terms of its function in relation to its interpretant. It is in this sense that we move closer to Peirce, and further from Saussure; that is, towards a notion of signification sensitive to the ideological implications of sign analysis – it’s specific effects on the (production of) the We have here, too briefly, considered the subject. If processes of signification are implivery outer edges of the function of the text as cated or appropriated in subject production disruptive of a sequence of aggressive semanand interpellation (the subject-in narrative, tic interpellation: spatially, through its geothe subject-in-the-sign), and the processes, graphical liminality, and conceptually, both of sign production and analysis, cannot through the disruption of a narrative which is function effectively without reference to an produced to circularly attract and frustrate interpretant – without the agent of the dethe individual-as-subject within its repetitive coding, so to speak – then it must be concedamnesias. We will now move on to a more ed that the sign becomes ideological, ideologeneral discussion of text’s concern with siggy a process of signification and the subject nification more generally. as a site of both. Perhaps both ideology – it’s effects on individual - and the mechanisms of 25
signification ‘reinforce each other in a circular process’. It was Volosinov who first argued for a ‘concern with the […] sign as the product of particular and differing sociolinguistic relationships’ (Formalism and Marxism) and a full understanding of the relationship between text and world would be sensitive to both formal and material effects.
of the mechanisms of textual signification more generally. The text is ostensibly unfinished and incomplete – its own narrativity resisting the tropes of classic realist rhetorical signification. As a textual object, it puns on Derrida’s ‘there is nothing outside the text’ by having its textuality be constituted solely by exteriority, those blackened steel rods. Here, content is lack. The non-sign Constituted as it is by a kind of narrativetakes up life as a signifier only because of the negativity, Non-Sign II signifies only by and framing function performed by the steel rods through its very difference to that which it exterior to it. And yet, although it is technifunctions to challenge – that other sign in cally, physically only made up of those steel whose form it masquerades in silhouette; but rods, it is the empty space in the middle – this act of repudiation which inhabits the space which, we must remember, has been form of that which it would subvert is protransmuted from its anterior form of nothductive in a way quite apart from a mere ingness, and the two are therefore different reversal of the ‘discursive sequence’. The – which performs the duties and subversions text’s function within this sequence is knowof the sign. ingly disruptive, this we have already touched upon, but it is also creative, playful But what of this interiority which is manifest with signification: it is both reflexive of its through exteriority? Building on the sprawlown specific life as a sign, and interrogative ing exterior otherness which constitutes, if
Seattle Lead Pencil Studio—Non-Sign II
you like, the ‘self’ of the sign – it would be nothing without that which is outside of it this not-sign whispers at an endless semeiosis. Ostensibly the text communicates the sky, but what is the make-up of its signification? If signs communicate something other than that which they resemble to the mind – a STOP sign resembles a red octagon, but signifies the command to halt – then the sky is the sign par excellence. The vicissitudes of the sky become framed; transformed from the processes of nature and appropriated to the function of an endlessly variable semeiosis. The sky-sign is constant, in flux. The very form of the text – its billboard dimension demands that we read what is framed as signifying process, given that advertising is the elaboration of the power and potential of semiology and semantics – that is, ideology. So, the red sky at dusk becomes a fluid signifier: an intertextual reference to a folk-rhyme;
a portent for sea merchants; an expression of the liminality of day and night. As the sky changes, the sign changes and the process of signification is foregrounded as the arbitrary function of de-coding. For example, the sky as rain-filled grey forms an omen, an extraverbal literary pathetic fallacy. The sign is in every sense a scene; Non-sign II is the staging of a natural process, and in this very gesture makes a mockery of the distinction between text and world by implicating the one in the other. Non-Sign II is a text which disrupts a veneer of seamless discursivity, challenges the interpellation and narrativity of a specific ideological sign, and disturbs the notion of a ogocentric relationship between signifier and signified through the playing out of fluid and unstable signification.
Forgotten Classic: F.M Mayor & Modernism
M. Mayor’s The Rector’s Daughter was published in 1924, during a period characterised by massive change in society. The ruinous consequences of the first World War had radically destabilised established ideas and traditions: belief in the monolithic historical narratives of the nineteenth century which had situated the modern subject as the telos of an irresistible march toward progress was all but eradicated. Modernist literature of the period responded to what was a profound epistemological break: F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby (1925) and Ernest Hemmingway’s The Sun Also Rises (1926) interrogate society, the rise of individualism and the ideology in and of materialism. New forms and styles of writing also emerged in 1920’s literature,
most notably the stream of consciousness narratives employed in James Joyce’s Ulysses (1922) and Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway (1925). Like the novel’s protagonist Mary, Mayor (b.1872) was the daughter of a vicar. Educated at Newnham College, Cambridge, she never married after her fiancé died of Typhoid in India. She lived with her sister Alice for the rest of her life. Alice, who never left home or attended university, seems to have been an inspiration for the character of Mary, who, awaiting a Romeo, resides at the crumbling, antiquated rectory in the village of Dedmayne. The novel provides an alternative perspective on the Lost Generation (those who grew up
during and immediately after WWI). Mary’s between the ostensibly Modernist content life is presented as empty, her outlook bleak and an outmoded style which combine in the and pessimistic – she rebukes a friend for form of a symptomatic reluctance to a full calling her “wonderful”, replying “no there’s realisation of the post-war age in which the nothing wonderful about me”. Like the lives characters find themselves. The incongruity of the characters in Hemmingway’s The Sun and discontinuity which informs much ModAlso Rises, her life lacks a fulfilling purpose ernist writing is expertly played out: set in a behind the trivial duties of everyday village period of growing religious skepticism there life. However, Mary belongs to another kind are “Bibles in every room in the house”. of lost generation: still guided by outmoded Granted, her Father is a priest, but there is a Victorian expectations, Mary’s quest, like the contrived insistence in the abundance of the Jane Austen’s Elizabeth Bennet, is love and bibles: there are “nine” in the study and “six” marriage– yet this is rendered unobtainable in the drawing room. Mayor is a master of in a post-WWI society. The novel enacts the nuance: the occasional focus on such esfault line between the monolithic 19th centu- tranging, archaic elements creates an omniry – it’s grand narrativipresent atmosphere of ty and subjectivity – ‘Modernist discontinuity disillusionment. and the Modernist crisis The Rector’s Daughter of meaning through the is expertly played out’ deserves to be considcharacter of Mary . The ered a classic because way in which love is held in reach of her beit provides a distinct perspective upon the fore being cruelly withdrawn at the final prevailing subjects of concern within Postmoment forever, is as much a testament to WWI society and literature. The novel redethe doubt and pessimism in Post-WWI socie- fines the ‘Lost Generation’: the subtly craftty, and as gorgeous and heartbreaking a ed Modernisms of isolation, doubt and disilmonument to loss as Gatsby’s tragic love for lusionment are rendered through both charDaisy in Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, pubacter and narrative form by situating both at lished a year after Mayor’s novel. a subjective and historical fault line of disThe exploration of the gulf between Victorian and early 20th Century society, then, is a prime concern of the novel. This gulf also reveals itself in the tension between the novel’s formal style and content. Present are the characteristic themes of post-WWI literature: isolation, separation, the position of women conveyed to the reader by the omniscient, though effaced narrative voice of the 19th century novel, and there is a strain
continuity and Classic Realist denouement, closure and unity in the form of marriage and unrequited love haunt the text, but remain fleeting and evasive in a post-WWI society.
TRANSLATION: VICT Demain, dès l'aube, à l'heure où blanchit la campagne, Tomorrow, at dawn, in the hour when the countryside becomes white, Je partirai. Vois-tu, je sais que tu m'attends. I will leave. You see, I know that you are waiting for me. J'irai par la forêt, j'irai par la montagne. I will go by the forest, I will go by the mountains. Je ne puis demeurer loin de toi plus longtemps. I cannot stay far from you any longer. Je marcherai les yeux fixés sur mes pensées, I will walk the eyes fixed on my thoughts, Sans rien voir au dehors, sans entendre aucun bruit, Without seeing anything outside, nor hearing any noise, Seul, inconnu, le dos courbé, les mains croisées, Alone, unknown, the back curved, the hands crossed, Triste, et le jour pour moi sera comme la nuit. Sad, and the day for me will be like the night. Je ne regarderai ni l'or du soir qui tombe, I will not look at the gold of the evening which falls, Ni les voiles au loin descendant vers Harfleur, Nor the faraway sails descending towards Harfleur. Et quand j'arriverai, je mettrai sur ta tombe And when I arrive, I will put on your tomb Un bouquet de houx vert et de bruyère en fleur A green bouquet of holly and flowering heather.
It would be my guess that upon hearing the name ‘Victor Hugo’, many people would instantly recall the stunningly beautiful but tragic tale set in post-revolution France, ‘Les Misérables’. In spite of this, the French audience hold him in high esteem for his poetry, alongside his impressive array of novels. Here is just one example of his poetic brilliance, ‘Demain, dès l'aube’ from the 1865 collection ‘Les Contemplations’. Many believe the poem was written about Victor Hugo’s regular solitary visits to his daughter’s tomb, who died in a boating incident.
Upon first reading the poem, one assumes the speaker is leaving to meet his lover, until a hard-hitting line kills the illusion with one fatal blow, ‘le jour pour moi sera comme la nuit’ (the day for me will be like the night), encompassing the speaker’s deep mourning; he can no longer distinguish between the day and night. It’s as if his whole existence has been covered in a blanket of black. ‘Tombe’ is the most significant word of all. Not only is it used as a verb conjugated from ‘tomber’ (to fall), but it is of course the place to which the speaker is headed, making a subtle link between the arrival of night and his mourning. Interestingly, positive connotations are utilised in the description of the night, ‘l’or du soir qui tombe’ (the gold of evening which falls). The repetition of the first person pronoun ‘je’ serves to emphasise his lonely existence. Perhaps the speaker, and thus the reader, is slightly comforted by the mention of the flowers he places at the tomb, ‘Un bouquet de houx vert et de bruyère en fleur’ (a green bouquet of holly and flowering heather); a sign that life continues despite all.
ALL IS LOST REVIEW
Sophie Oates Black explores why such a dramatic film is not totally compelling...
eteran Sundance Kid, Robert
ally left to the painful inevitability of life on a
Redford (77) stars in J.C
rubber dinghy. His pragmatic approach to
Chandor’s independent, solo-sea far-
absolute disaster undoubtedly compels us.
ing epic where, quite literally, all is
There is a devastating moment in which the
completely lost. In this heroic struggle
‘fresh water’ he salvaged from his yacht
between man and the elements, we
turns out to be un-drinkable sea water, how-
see Robert Redford, a nameless sea-
ever, with the plastic containers he carried
faring man, battling the fierce ocean
the water in, a clear cover, a tin can and the
as it strives to consume his yacht, his
sun, Redford manages to manufacture drink-
hope and his life.
ing water. From the very outset, the audi-
As the lights dimmed and the movie trailers started, I had time to consider some of the other cinematic, solo
struggles of recent years. Perhaps most memorable is Danny Boyle’s 127 Hours (2010), where James Franco gets stuck between two rocks and ends up gnawing his
own arm off… pretty much. Ultimately the aim of the director in such films is to keep the audience completely and utterly compelled, and while Boyle achieves this in Franco’s absolute despair, perhaps the cool,
ence is aware of the capabilities of this man, and his extensive knowledge of the sea. As the oceans are vastly unbeknownst to man, this absolute desire to survive and calm demeanour when faced with the unforgiving ocean means we root for Redford’s survival. Geoffrey Macnab (The Independent) says that part of the film’s appeal is the ‘what would you do’ aspect. This is certainly true; I was totally in awe and appreciation of the logical believability of the sea-man’s survival techniques.
pragmatic character Robert Redford portrays However, the film was not totally compeldoes not warrant our compulsion so much. The film starts with Redford 1,700 nautical miles from the Sumatra straits in the Indian Ocean. He is woken by water and children’s shoes pouring into his boat from the collision of a Chinese shipping container, and eventu32
ling: not because of Redford’s impeccable performance but because of the blank canvas of the ocean - an incredibly difficult background on which to base a film. The ‘two tones’ -the unpredictable blue/black of the sky and the blue of the water- means that the director has to ensure the action of the
film and a flawless plot will overpower its
critics and, of course, at the Sundance Film
difficult setting. The necessary difficulties of
Festival. However, the Oscars were not so
working with a sparse and demanding cine-
rewarding of Chandor’s most recent triumph;
matography cause All is Lost to lack some of
it was only nominated for one Academy
the compulsion promised by Redford’s per-
Award (sound editing). On missing out on a
best actor nomination, Redford has said he
Unusually, the film contains almost no dialogue, so we gain almost no knowledge of the sea man’s previous life, making the film both personal and impersonal. We know nothing of this man but become totally invested in his survival. Sound editor, Richard Hymns (Avatar, Fight Club) did a remarkably detailed job, meaning any tension that may be lost without dialogue is supplemented with the crashing waves or the crisp, deathly sea breeze. So, as the acting, sound editing, music (Alex Ebert) and directing were great, why was it not wholly gripping? Alongside the ‘two-tone’ background, maybe it is because it is too bleak. We know nothing of this lone, old man and, after many failed rescue attempts, perhaps we are too devastated to warrant absolute attention.
remains “very proud” of All Is Lost, “it was so stripped down of things you find in most other films, voice overs, dialogue, special effects… it was more or a pure cinematic experience”. He goes on to explain that “the film did not cross over into the mainstream” because they suffered from “little to no distribution”, meaning there was not enough money invested into the film to warrant the cross over into Hollywood. Gravity, with a similar lack of dialogue and small cast, had spectacular special effects and a huge Hollywood backing, meaning an advertising campaign that thrust it into our collective consciousness and made it a box-office hit. Nevertheless, Chandor brings hope, desolation and belief to our screens and our minds, offering a “pure” cinematic experience which, today, is nearly impossible to find.
All Is Lost got a great reception from many 33
DESIRE Claudia Carvell
hen thinking of desire, one often starts with the sexologists of the 1890’s, where studies by Richard Krafft von Ebing, then Havelock Ellis interpreted sexuality and desire into a labeling and categorising system, enabling them to construct certain desires as pathological abnormalities, deeming them perverted or degenerate. This normal/abnormal binary opposition however was later questioned by Sigmund Freud who suggested its constructed-ness by claiming they were in fact similar, as they were both behaviors that originate in the mind. He concluded that it is the overwhelming sexual instinct which is key, and that the sexual object as normal/abnormal is a construction in line with society’s ‘norms’. Freud also origi-
nated adult desires in the initial attachments and desires of the child to its caregivers, naming this the ‘Oedipus complex’. Feminism also contributes to our understanding of desire mostly by exposing the female as desiring as opposed to just desired. Theorists such as Judith Butler disrupted the sex – gender – desire continuum of heteronormative thinking to show desire as a site of instability and flexibility. The binary oppositional view of heterosexuality was queered in the 1990’s and beyond, subverting the authority of identity categories and introducing the practice of Queer Theory. theorist Lauren Berlant, in her text Desire/ Love, lists several modes of explanation, or
differing perspectives from which to view desire, which as well as psychoanalysis include aesthetics, religion, and the ‘fantasies of mass and popular culture’. These structures legitimate desire through an ideology of love, beauty and though the conventions of marriage and relationship formations, but desire exists both before, after, and in opposition to such ideas. The multiplicity of desire is not just focused on sexuality, but on desires we still deem perverted, such as incest and fetishism. Despite their ability to often create discomfort and disgust, like all desires, they are legitimated by their existence. To destabilise matters further, Berlant claims through her study of Freud that ‘Desire visits you as an impact from the outside, and yet,
inducing an encounter with your affects, makes you feel as though it comes from within you; this means that your objects are not objective, but things and scenes that you have converted into propping up your world, and so what seems objective and autonomous in them is partly what your desire has created and therefore is a mirage, a shaky anchor’ and thus your desire object enables you to ‘reencounter yourself’. This complex understanding of desire as fundamentally narcissistic usurps a belief that the ultimate goal of desire is ever love. Contradicting and varying perspectives on desire have therefore enabled for a range of interpretations on the theme that we hope you will enjoy.
when you lay on your back—
but on saturday mornings you lie
the sun glaring through your window,
on your side and the sun scrutinises
scolding your bare chest and
your shoulder blades and kisses hers—
penalising your rose-tip nipples
as though trying to take your place—
for their private arrogance—
and your hands brush nothing
you must think of something
but the haystack on her head
you run your cold hands
every mark on your bone palace
over your jagged bones and
can be referred to a sculptor tomorrow;
count each one and think
for now your hands dare not focus
'one day i will count more'.
on anything but the calm of
you play with your pubic hairs,
searching for needles that you know
and you hate them and you love them
will be unfound if they are even there at all.
you brush your own face down— for dust; for cracks; for mistakes— you dig your nails into each marking. you pull at knots in your mane, ripping so that your eyes water, smilng that the mirror is too far from the bed
From your doorway
Last time I was here you were naked,
Standing in your doorway now
so I was about to find out.
with churning guts, being asked to leave
Sprawled under the paisley covers,
please forgive me:
dreaming I guess,
that fuck is all I can see.
about someone else?
It’s the same space
except you’re crying,
I don’t want to
sobbing in fact, begging me
retrospectively invade that memory now,
two weeks late.
to leave you in a heap on the floor because we’re over this time,
Last time I was here I crept into bed
for the last time.
and spooned my 5 ft 3 body
Black tears sinking into
around your 5 ft 9 shape.
the pores around your nose
I think you woke then,
leaving tracks down your face
or that might be a mistake.
like a path parting snow.
I don’t know,
And your bloodshot eyes are now stinging mine
but what I do know
and the snot sits on your lips
is that at least once
like it’s waiting to be kissed.
it had all been a lie: you weren’t asleep
Our pictures are still on your wall,
and as I put my hands around your breasts
my dead skin is under that paisley cover,
you turned to face me
still in your bed
and put your hands around my neck…
so please forgive me: it might be over, but I’m not leaving yet.
THE BEAST Silky smooth against my lips. That’s how it feels. Just silky smooth. And so sweet. So delectably sweet. So sweet that I’ll take my time with this one. As I part my lips around it and give in to a slight suck a soft moan escapes from me. It just tastes so exquisite. “Darling…” I stop sucking and my cheeks colour ferociously. I gaze up, aware that my lips are coated and messy and wipe them against the back of my arm. He’s standing before me, gazing at me distressed, distant agony apparent in his dim eyes. “…let’s go back to bed sweetheart…come on…” He offers me a hand, his body hunched over, exhaustion quaking in every muscle. As I gaze at his fingers something inside me aches to entwine my own with them but I don’t move. I resume my greedy sucking, breaking eye contact. “Baby no…no more…” He bends down and tries to clasp me by the shoulders, to turn me to him, to pull me into him but I shun him away, shaking him off, crawling away on the marble floor of the kitchen. I can hear his pleas for me to come away to bed with him but I simply curl up against the fridge, clutching my little treasure to me, licking my fingers in between heavy breathing. “No…no. No more” I feel him grab my wrists and I clench my palms into a fist, defensive, tugging, trying to pull away. But his grip only tightens, shackles of flesh, pulling me to him as he tries to pry my fingers apart. “Give it to me…” I wrench away harder, nearly falling back but he retaliates, grunting with effort as I struggle and resist, letting out sounds of my own, screams and cries and desperate pleas. “Give it to me. Now” I’m kicking him, growling fiercely, a wild mess, my fingernails digging in to my palms so hard I could draw blood, but he overpowers me, pins me down, and as I gasp from air he pries my fingers open and empties my palm. He throws the little half eaten chocolate in the trashcan by our feet. 38
I scream when he does and get up to tackle the rubbish, to find that tiny sugary piece of heaven and finish it off but he pulls me in his arms and crushes me to him. He holds me close. All of me. Each and every layer of my being he clutches so tightly and I find all energy draining from me. The effort of resistance reducing my body to a giant immovable mass, devoid of life. He’s speaking soft gentle words now, rubbing my back, and as he does, I’m aware of one fact. He’s too tiny to hold me. I can hear the effort in his voice as he catches his breathe and I realize I’m crushing him. I lean back slightly and I can almost hear the movement of the hanging fat, slapping against each other. I see my reflection in his glasses. My lips are clean but around them are the melted remnants of my midnight snack. I wipe away with the back of my arm again and see it clearly. Sagging skin looking every part the napkin. “Let’s get you to bed now…” He tucks a strand of hair behind my ear and strokes my pudgy cheek before helping me get to my feet. The effort is monumental. The most exercise I’ve had in longer than I can remember. As I balance myself I gaze down. I cannot see my feet but before me I can see the torn open box, sister chocolates still tucked away, untouched. I salivate. “No…no…don’t look at them. You’re not eating them baby. You’re not. Come on. No.” If I lean down I could have one. Or two. Or ten. Oh they’d taste so delightful. They would titillate my taste buds, arouse my stomach, pleasure my tongue and relieve my lips. Oh I crave them. I long for them. I desire them. I try to bend down but it just won’t happen. I extend my arm to reach for them but I am an obstacle for myself, a barrier. The giant immovable mass. Devoid of life. I feel tears prickle my eyes. I don’t want them. Except I do. I’m not hungry but I’m greedy for them. I’m not hungry but I’m starved from them. I’m not hungry at all. I simply desire them. As I clutch the counter to steady myself he leans down and gets a hold of the box. My heart skips a beat and I am hopeful. I
will be satiated tonight. He tosses the box in the trashcan. Cold sweat breaks out and I can feel my heart beat grow fast, intense, pounding against my heavy chest, drumming away in my ears. I feel my skin crawl and a sudden panic break out. I need to look through that trash can. I need to have my chocolate. I need to eat them. I need to eat. He gently begins guiding me away. To bed he’s saying. But I feel the panic grow and begin gazing back, over my shoulder, desperation growing. I need to eat them. I need to eat. I begin pulling away again and his grip grows tight once more. We’re heading into the bedroom and he’s tugging on me like his very life is in the balance. But I cannot focus on him. Even as he forces me into bed I cannot focus. Even as he keeps me held down I cannot focus. I am no longer me. The me that I was is buried away. Buried away deep under pile and pile of muscle and fat, an endless growing pile of piles, possessed by an unsatisfied beast of glutton. The tears escape and the me that is buried begs the beast to stop. Just this once stop she
screams. I don’t want to eat it she says. I don’t want to eat. I don’t. I don’t. The beast roars. The beast owns her, controls her. Her body, my body, belongs to the beast. He keeps me bound down by the sheer will and power of his meek form. The beast may tower over him but he holds me down relentlessly, urging me to fight. Urging to me to resist. “You don’t want it baby. Come on. Focus on me. Just me. You don’t want it” This is his mantra. Every day. Every night. Over and over again. He begs me to focus, to focus on only him. And every time I promise to do so. And then fail. Over and over again. An insatiable lust consumes me, the beast is in heat and I lunge and flay all over the bed, fighting back. My husband holds down his 400 pounds wife, for the third time that day, reminding himself that he loves me. He must remind himself of this fact at every waking moment of his life or he will forget and that is when he’ll release me and walk away. He would leave if he forgets. Anyone would. But if he leaves me, it will just be the me that is buried with the beast. Just us. And the desire. 39
Editors - Amber De La Haye & Josh Mcloughlin Arts Editor - Beth Lester
Artist - Lindenberg Munroe
Creative Editor - Claudia Carvell
If youâ€™re interested in writing for us get in touch at email@example.com
Published on Feb 23, 2014
Published on Feb 23, 2014
An interdisciplinary magazine for the arts & humanities curated by students of the University of Manchester exploring the concept of desire....