Saturday, April 22, 2006

Automatic Writing

All because of my friend TheChisa and his elegant fetish, I am now fixated on mannequin porn. Well not the porn part nor even strictly only mannequins so much as the erotics of semblance.

I don't want to do a plastic (it’s fantastic!) girl or watch anybody do . Real Dolls, for instance, creep me out. It's too literal, the artificial gapage. I just want to stare at them, mesmerized and uncomfortable and mesmerized by my discomfort.

Like this Japanese doll dancer from
She’s pretty and she’s also kind of annoying, the way the whole automata thing is. My first response is feminist annoyance at yet another objectified women. But that’s too obvious to be interesting, and the appropriate political reaction masks the peculiar, disturbing buzzing of my senses. I’m all turned on and off. She arrests my attention, because her beauty is all about arrested motion. She arrests me.

In Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, James Joyce’s altar-ego Stephen Dedalus goes on and on about "aesthetic arrest" after the sight of a young girl in the water gave him an involuntary epiphany and he was too damn Catholic to just go and get a hard-on like everybody else. When Roland Barthes similarly talks about arrest in The Pleasure of the Text though, he means exactly an aesthetic hard-on so intense you get erotic brain-lock. The French word is jouissance, the point where erotic pleasure/pain intensifies so much that your brain thinks you're dying. It’s the place in a really good story where your mind stops for a minute. Thoughts stop. Maybe you get an amazing mental picture, maybe you just really like the sound of the words and don’t care about the sense of them. Words stop. Barthes calls it a break or a seam or a rupture.

It's the same with the automaton girl. She's human then she stops. She's human then she stops. Or with a naked mannequin. She's human--ish, but she has those maddening obviously visible joints. The mind wants to do--human woman, mmm. Pretty object, mmmm, and my perception sort of snaps between the two—erotic dislocation, instant fetish.

Or, as Matt says: “It's not the motions but the segmentation between the motions….It's a sort of reality loophole. You get to tread a fence between what a thing is and what you need it to be.I'm a big fan of loopholes. In fact, one could argue that I collect them"

Or else, he causes them, crossing the lines, of erotic imagination but also with representation, as with this photo of a robot/girl. Something happens when my eyes go back and forth between the inhuman cooling vent between her fake/real breasts and the too-human dappled sunlit stubble on her thigh and those delicate cuffs and nodes on the fragile hollows of her elbows and points of her wristbones. I want and I am appalled by what it is I want.

Another friend says. "the little tiny hairs on her thighs reflecting the sunlight…emphasizes how, if she were actually constructed, the artificial looking pieces (numeric display, tits, etc) were completely intentional, as her builders were clearly capable of something as organic as convincing looking hairs on her thighs. But her feet are like, a size one thousand to support her impressive cooling system or something."

“Yes,” says Matt. “Aesthetics.”


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