Pumped

In the perspective of an admitted “catharsis addict”.

Dirt is liquid. And writing and reading are a conduit for bodily fluids.

A book, like a TV, drains me of my wishes and fears. I hook myself up to the book — the book I’m reading, the book I’m writing — and out pour the fluids. I no longer want. Afterward, I feel sickened by my release, but also relieved; the toxins are gone, flushed out of my bloodstream. A book, for catharsis addicts, is a ritual chamber wherein we acknowledge that we are dirty and that we are capable of becoming clean.

This is section 3 of the “Catheter” fugue in Wayne Koestenbaum’s Humiliation. The whole mechanism depends on a “becoming clean” and raises the question of purity. Can we ever become toxin free? What of a metaphorics that views reading as ingestion? We can view cultural artefacts as osmotic membranes. They permit two-way traffic. Koestenbaum’s “I” acts out a theatre of humiliation in which he attempts to drag along the reader. But what if the reader believes that a pure state is impossible and that the reader is attuned to foreign bodies dancing in a dialogic soup of antibodies? Germ phobia is not universal. And so the dynamics of humiliation may have a more limited reach than observed by Koestenbaum’s “I”. And for anyone tempted to “go meta”, please note that it is not the case that exposure of faulty plumbing is humiliation; a catharsis addict and their ritual chamber may spring leaks; it is in the order of language and the physics of liquids for flows to disrupt machines.

And so for day 1085
02.12.2009

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