11.27.2008

A problem of the species, not politics

A Thanksgiving thought:

My problem, my issue, with Marcuse is that he thinks of this issue in political terms. Perhaps we can organize the body politic differently and, voila, we'll have pleasure once again.

But the problem is not political or economic or social: the problem is the species. It is incorrect to say that capitalism rids people of their pleasure, as if capitalism were some alien force turning people into zombies and vampires. People—these people, what Burroughs calls the White Man Virus—are zombies and vampires, ergo, capitalism. Capitalism doesn't make zombies and vampires; zombies and vampires are capitalism.

And zombies and vampires are, by nature, more voracious, more imperial, more dictatorial. After all, he would have pleasure is having pleasure, not fucking over the planet, his friends, his family. The weak—those missing souls of their own and who must therefore suck the vitality from others—won, as they will always win. They are the mob and will hence always outnumber the individual, the Johnson, who wants only to be left the fuck alone.

Capitalism is not an economic engine. It is the term for the breeding of zombies and vampires. It is the mechanism with which vampires blanch the world of pleasure seeking individuals. Capitalism is the name of this virulent virus, this strain of human being, that is bleeding the world.

11.15.2008

Body of Pleasure, Body of Labor

"'Polymorphous sexuality' was the term I used to indicate that the new direction of progress would depend completely on the opportunity to activate repressed or arrested organic, biological needs: to make the human body an instrument of pleasure rather than labor." --Herbert Marcuse, from Eros and Civilization.

OK, OK, so I am only just beginning to understand what Marcuse wrote over 40 years ago. You see, I thought I was immune from things like capitalism, that I could frolic and play, turn the world to my own liking. But one—or, perhaps, I—reached an impasse: the demands of the life I lead ask me to be rid of pleasure and become a foil of capitalism.

The work world is transforming the body, ridding it of its desire to enjoy the world. After all, the horny body, the sumptuous body, does not want to sit at a fucking computer all day, every day, banging out Power Point presentations. The sumptuous body wants to linger over a meal; the sumptuous body wants to make very slow, deliberate love; the sumptuous body wants to eat acid and stake a long stroll.

And so capitalism is breeding enjoyment out of us, making us impotent with Prozac and Ambien, with computer screen generated migraines and depression. Of course, capitalism still needs its labor force and so it must give us a way to reproduce; ergo, Viagra. But once cloning is in full swing, there'll be no need for hard ons.

Hard ons get in the way of productivity. Why do you think sex is barred from the workplace? We're afraid to express any desire whatsoever for someone who shares our workplace. It's insane. It seems the struggle to rid the workplace of so-called sexual harassment became another foil of capitalism, an opportunity to flush the work world of all desire.

And then they ramp up the work week—40, 50, 60, 70, 80 hours a fucking week! And, no, you can't touch anyone at work! You can't even look at anyone with the slightest sexual intention. So where the fuck are we supposed to find our pleasure? Nowhere. We're not supposed to be sexual beings; we're supposed to be productive beings.

What's so insidious, of course, about capitalism is that it makes us think we're enjoying life. It co-opts the pleasure principle, turns it to its own use. So you think you're enjoying life when you buy another stupid fucking useless phone or shoes or get a haircut—or even when you buy sex. It fills the airwaves with the hint of sex—but it won't actually allow you the opportunity to have it. And so we feel like we're being pleasured when all we're doing is buying more shit.

Because none of this is enjoyment: it's consumption. Enjoyment is slow, deliberate, considered, decadent. Enjoyment is a body enjoying itself; it is the biological, organic drive for pleasure, the organism finding pleasure in its own experience.

Consumption is allopoetic: it is based in contingency. So when I buy the new 42 inch plasma tv or get a lapdance or buy a bottle of Cristal, I'm not enjoying my body's experience of these things: I am enjoying my consumption of them. My pleasure is not in and of my body; my pleasure melds with the object—the lapdance, the shoe, the tv. I therefore come to think that the expression of my pleasure must come from these things—not from my own body.

Again, it all seems so obvious—now. The question is: What the fuck do I do about it?