Tuesday, December 5, 2006



Our notes from discussions on sensual pleasure
in response to an enquiry from the Paris group
the surrealist group in Stockholm 2005
(delivered long past deadline - as usual - and yet unacknowledged by the Paris group)

1° Comment décririez-vous la volupté ?

First of all, we ask ourselves: What is the point in analyzing sensual pleasure? The experience tend to dissolve in its bodily sensation. The difference between sexual gratification and pleasure is that in the course of gratification you are aware of
the need that you are satisfying so that you are ready to rationalise your experience, but in sensual experience - like vomiting - the experience is not rational.

We agree, however, that the sphere of sensuality is the privileged area for reconcilement of dual concepts. Some of us take the same pleasure in taking a shower as in having human relations. The hypnotizing effect of sensual pleasure can be an experience of fascination and openness to the senses, a bodily joy. Neither reflecting state, nor self-reflecting. A possible dissolving of the limits between self and other natural (unnatural?) processes in the world, a partaking in the weather. Shared sensual pleasure also temporarily making the contradiction between communication and non-communication disfunction. Silence. Sensual pleasure is in that sense a magical act, wherein the dichotomy subject-object disappears. Eating exemplifies this: Eating disgusting things but still feeling that it tastes good. Or the sensual pleasure in
humiliation, in vomiting: vertigo. Shared sensual pleasure: disappointments and the faith in the contradiction that exists between love and sexuality.

Some of us emphasize that sexuality (in acto) is a magnetic field, involving intuitive communication, a further increase of sexual desire, exhaustion, paralysis.

Some of us stress the imaginary aspects of physical contact. The seemingly intensified experiences of psycho-physical sensations within oneiric states; incubi/succubi, developing and exploring pseudo-corporeal states, "touching from a distance", hexed
glances, word magic.

Some of us stress also the undesired aspects of sensual pleasure: the restlessness and laziness that can be one of the trappings of a narrow hedonism. The attitude of (although not the typical behaviour of) consumerism. We don´t think that well-being has a given place as a normal state in our mental topography. General well-being is an old repressive myth that haunts us in the mechanisms of control of social democratic state versus its citizens, and of parents versus children. Wherever well-being is held up as a superordinate goal, justice, truth, passion and curiosity are sacrificed. Hedonistic pleasure and common-sense well-being may have appeared as conflicting forces before; but since the breakthrough of the market mechanisms regarding our physical bodies in the early 80s (exercise, fitness, skin-grills, spas, sadomasochism, hygiene) they≠ve successfully joined forces almost everywhere.

Some of us hold that labour can be sensual pleasure. Not labour in its dead, wage-dictated form, but the living labour of producing both mental and material objects. Depersonalization appears during sensual pleasure as well as during labour, where
the primary actor resides not necessarily in the consciousness, but in some bodily function.

Some of us entertain the idea of the experience of non-contradiction between the body parts inside the body.

Some of us call to mind the states where sensual pleasure fails to trigger a corresponding motion (emotion) in the mind and becomes some irrelevant or an absurd background, establishing a duality between mind and body of another order than the usual disengaged alienation.

Some of us stress the metaphysical aspects of sensual pleasure; as concrete experience of Heideggerean "outholdedness" in "being" and of the irrelevance of good and evil.

(Love and sensual pleasure are not the same thing. It's stupid to talk about psychology.)

2° Pensez-vous que, par delà le plaisir, l'orgasme et sa jouissance, il y a des conditions particulières pour que l'acte sexuel engendre la volupté ? Lesquels ?

We are interested in the dynamic relationship between desire and sensual pleasure, in the romantic sense. It's a form of desire where the actual movements towards the object of desire is more important than the object itself. This specific dynamic can be said to be essential when answering this question. The object of desire is unreachable. A stress on sensual pleasure often connects with a depreciation of the dynamic forces of desire. We
may crudely summarise the romantic method as postponing the fulfillment of desire, not in the Freudian sense of derouting libido for socially useful means, but in order to savour it fully and reenchant reality by impregnating every aspect of it with obsessive imagery (and paranoiac-criticism, mythologisation and objective chance). Some of us see this as a fundamental surrealist and personal strategy. But then again, only inasmuch
as it doesn‚t totally refrain from the dynamics of transgressive behavior!

The imperative is to strive to be perfectly visible.

Where distraction disappears. Peaks. That is, multiple peaks or general leverage instead of single peaks and linear regression. Pansexuality! Love, passion (confusion).

3°) Que nous dit-elle sur notre condition de vivants ?

The non-fourierian organisation of pleasure, the industry of simulation closely linked to the society of the spectacle, the scandalous physical laws of the universe as resembled by the market relation, social-democracy, the repressive sublimation, the repressive tolerance, the poverty of social relations, the organisation of misery and its rationalisation etc etc. And its dialectical transgression.

4°) Quel éclairage vous apporte-t-elle sur le sens de la vie, de la mort, et de leurs reproductions ?

The ephemary nature of sensual pleasure not only resembles, but is closely linked to the ephemary nature of life itself ˆ as exemplified by death.

5°) pensez-vous pouvoir la considérer comme un bien absolu ?

To accept the notion of sensual pleasure as "absolute good" we have to consider to what extent its "absolute" value would be intrinsical (demarcating for or against certain problematic forms of amoralism) or relative (as a part of a the whole of the human experience, which tend to be our general attitude). To reconcile these modes of the absolute is perhaps only possible by adopting an entirely practical point of view, being aware of the arbitrariness of the operation, as did, for example, Eckhart by splitting the absolute into God and Godhead. Are there any practical advantages in uniting a multitudinous field of esteemed experience under the monicker of "sensual pleasure"? Or would such an attitude become hopelessly entangled with the demoralizing atmosphere of logical formalism and celestial hierarchies? Our strategical answer to that question would be: yes. But in the realm of speculation, the idea that sensuality is the only fundamentally real and what characterizes reality actually raises a non-nonsensical onthological question, far from adhering to any onto-theological absolutism. Intuitively it´s hard to reject the hegelian notion that man could experience the absolute in sensual phenomena in line wih how he imagines it in art, conceptualizes it in religion and thinks it in philosophy. But isn't "good" mostly a secondary category which in specific historical contexts are ascribed to imaginations, inventions and initiatives; who needs it to make poetry and revolutions?

6°) Participerait-elle au centre d'une conscience et/ ou d'une inconscience approfondies, du point suprême de l'esprit tel que l'a exprimé André Breton.

On a philosophical level, we could agree to the proposition. But we are quite uncertain, and haven't discussed it enough.

7°) A-t-elle pu inspirer plus ou moins directement quelques civilisations, quelques traditions, quelques utopies ?

The political-economical organisation of keynesianism would probably constitute the most dialectical example of this. While reducing sensual pleasure to its consumistic, commercial base, it nontheless succeded in co-opting it to the incitament of increase of production and social peace. The model of the welfare-state and its organisation through socialdemocracy also implies this kind of structuring of sensual pleasure on a repressive basis for social peace. The current situation is however puzzling: while the industry of simulation have on its own basis succeeded in recuperating and producing the simulacra of pleasure as a means of diverting potential subversive desires into the world of commodification, it can nevertheless not withhold the standards of social peace that keynesianism so successfully could provide during the decades after WWII. Perhaps it doesn't have to. Perhaps the crisis itself is a productive aspect of capitalist recuperation. And thus, we might have to ask ourselves: on what terms is the crisis of pleasure today being founded? How is it used by the capitalist machinery as a means of not only producing commodities (and facilitating their circulation), but also of organising the libidinal desires of modern society. How might this be linked to the fact the sensual pleasure because of its direct, unreflected state of perception is a guarantee of authenticity, while at the same time being the most heavily guarded trophy of the industry of simulation? Can the contemporary crisis be written in the diverted, but yet authentic language of sensual pleasure?

8°) Pourrait-elle, sans pour autant être banalisé ou exploitée, être assumée par une société et à quelles fins ?

Every individual act is hostile to society. Therefore, the democratic organisation of sensual pleasure implies a banalisation of its potentials. True pleasure is undemocratic in
a simple sense. But again, the opposite might also be true. In the unrestricted operations of the pleasure principle during dreaming, a level of collectivity might be attained during waking-life that directly corresponds, or gets enhanced by this operation. By collectivity, we here mean a state of intersubjectivity, where the desires and extensivity of eachsubject is interlinked with others through channels that are not normally controlled by consciousness. However not under democratic control, the conditions for engendering or augmenting such a state might be improved by the collective and democratic efforts of society. In essence, you could say that democracy should be concerned with conditions rather than substance. The substance itself is a collective or individual adventure that could not be reduced to a democratic stature. In this respect, various utopian schemes often have very little to teach us in political terms, while on the other hand the attempts in the early soviet union (cf Reich: The sexual revolution) and in the practice of "radical psychiatrists" deserve to be further built upon.

9°) De l'infiniment petit à l'infiniment grand, concerne-t-elle les phénomènes cosmiques, dont nous appréhendons que la mécanique mais dont les mouvements forcent à l'analogie ?

Possible: However interested we may be in cosmic correspondences, we have nothing substantial to say about it apart from speculation and ephemeral poetic discoveries. The difficulty seems to be one of contexts, and of admitting real differences between separate disciplines of thought. Some of us tend to delve into the context of natural science. Others aremore inclined to intuitive epistemology. The accumulated "expertise" in each field represents of course not only complementary starting-points, but also partly overlap each other, and will do so even more after further research. Thus, we have yet to come up with a mythical scheme that neither vulgarizes scientific methodology nor discredits the scope of poetic sense. To begin with, both a Bataillian "general excess economy" and a model of cosmic passionate attraction (whether in its hermetical or Newtonian form) may be elaborated in both terminologies . Would the concept of sensual pleasure perhaps add something inbetween? Not at first glance, but perhaps we shouldn‚t rule out the possibility entirely.

left unsigned, but elaborated by Christian Andersson, Johannes Bergmark, Kalle Eklund, Jacob Emery, Jonas Enander, Mattias Forshage, Emma Lundenmark, Niklas Nenzén.

1 comment:

Pearl Handel said...

One of the things that reading this discussion has made me think about (although I was already thinking a bit about it anyway) is the tension/contradiction/dynamic not just between desire and sensual pleasure which you speak about under question 2 of the enquiry, but between eroticism and love which you also touch on throughout the discussion. Eroticism tends to dissolve and de-centre the subject: as you say, the primary actor does not reside in consciousness, in fact in certain erotic states there is no primary actor at all, but merely multiple processes, activities, sensations and transformations. But romantic love in its most conservative and socially acceptable sense -- love within the self-sufficient couple, with all of the attributes you don't need me to enumerate -- tends not to dissolve the subject, but on the contrary to constitute it: X loves Y because Y is a "wonderful person". Of course, it is socially sanctioned to a certain extent for the couple to fuse their subjectivity into a kind of dyad, so that they become, precisely, "a couple", but that's only allowed within certain limits -- on the one hand it's not allowed to include any third parties but must be restricted to the couple, and on the other hand it's not allowed to go "too far" which would be regarded as a kind of pathological co-dependency or personality disorder (mad love indeed) ... So there is a tension/dynamic there between conventional romantic love on the one had, which constitutes individual subjects to which personal and social characteristics must be ascribed in order to turn the subject into a loveable person, and eroticism on the other hand, which has the potential at least to annihilate that loveable person by dissolving both subject and object into flesh-in-motion. And in this connexion I would want to qualify your statement (under question 7) that "sensual pleasure because of its direct, unreflected state of peception is a guarantee of authenticity", because I think that under the current regime of sexuality there is an increasing trend towards the mediation even of pleasure -- especially for women, who are all encouraged to worry about whether they have actually managed to find their G-spot yet and was that a proper vaginal orgasm or wasn't it and how come it didn't last as long as it's supposed to, but probably also for men too (hence viagra); not to mention the fact that sex itself is compulsory, and that lack of desire is, literally, a medically treatable sexual dysfunction. All of which arguably means that the decentring/annihilating/anti-subjectivising tendencies of eroticism are under attack from the mediation of pleasure itself which turns sexual "fuctionality" into an attribute of individual subjects or couples, and of course a commodity too. In the face of all this I pin my hopes once again on the notion of intersubjectivity which you talk about under question 8 but which, if what I am arguing here makes any sense at all, must actively not be limited to the sexual-romantic couple, or at least not in the form that the latter is conventionally permitted to exist.
It's in that context that I would like to try to formulate/experiment with some of those new perspectives on love which you call for at the end of the Hellchoir text.