BY Jake Chapman in Frieze | 09 AUG 95
Featured in
Issue 24

Eden, Eden, Eden

Christopher Knight, Creation Press, London

BY Jake Chapman in Frieze | 09 AUG 95

Mainline Digitalis and flutter along the cardiovascular axis of Pierre Guyotat's Eden, Eden, Eden (1995) a sentence lasting 6762 lines and 163 pages undisturbed by the closure of a single full stop. Heart stimulants are recommended because the rhythmic pulse of words droning through Eden's lettered vein-structure perfectly synthesises, balances and regulates the monotony of the reader's metabolic rate as they pass through the text's homeostasised violence. During this exposure to elaborate rape, child murder, bestiality, paraphilia and death, a dangerous harmony is struck between text and reader: any MORE boring and the reader would fall into coma or die. Like Foucault's disposition to sociologise Guyotat's Eden... (celebrating its prodigal return after its eleven year censorship ­ like he couldn't get a copy?), the logic of rational commentary is equally likely to assume the didactic responsibility in placing transgression within moral limits, despite the intention being quite the opposite. According to Pierre Klossowski 'a transgression must engender another transgression... its image is each time represented as though it had never been carried out'. To redeem the eruptive discharge of Eden... by attaching use-value to its excesses is to demonstrate the obfuscative and discrete process typified by the prostitutional contract: perversion commodified, a process of exchange where each diabolical act stands (ironically) to serve the moral hypersensitisation of Society. Evil is 'put to work', to serve 'The Good' in the terminal display morality squeezes from the deified bodies of Eden's slaughtered subjects (witness the redemptive pleasure in light of the Bulgerisation of childhood). In our moral code, the spectre of atrocity, of gratuitous and profitless sacrifice, is always recuperated back into an economy of responsibility; in the same way that pornography industrialises the process of erogenous looking in order to locate and secure the field of eroticisation, which is thereby disarmed and regulated in repetition. Each obscenity must be tethered to yield utility (plane crashes, motiveless bombings, car crashes and stabbings are all useful), and it is exactly within the privileged margins of (in this case) radical literature that such an economy is placated; that is, if commentary goes looking for 'cause' or even 'meaning'. The problem for Eden... is the extent to which it can slip the moral noose that it sets out to use gratuitously and thereby disavow; the degree to which it can annihilate language's axiomatic 'idealistic proposal' and facilitate the desire to construct a random ejaculative-machine where the 'text is a motor', without then enslaving the erratic drive capacity to a moral gearing-down ­ without converting the likes of 'soldier pulling ejaculating penis out of whore-master's arse' into an 'abreactive' code, where it begins to signify something like 'Thou must not pull ejaculating penises out of whore-masters' arses...'. The structural disfigurement of the text's one-dimensional volume catches us in an awkward attempt to situate at least a modicum of desire (whether it is the desire simply to consume a narrative plot or to spectate atrocity with the minimum cost to our conscience) ­ a frozen moment caught in the glare of self-conscious moral propriety ­ and the text surgically dis-invests the body, snipping off moral abjection as if it were merely the effects of a hypertrophied gland. Guyotat opens up the voyeur without guaranteeing to sew their embarrassment back together. In this sense the visceral anatomy of the skinless text is flayed of the comfort of personal pronouns, devoid of the relief of descriptive nuance. Sexual mutilation, spilled liquids and glistening organs become dreary, boring and undifferentiated; stripped of the hierarchies of appropriate emotion. Asked how the act of writing destroys, Guyotat commented: 'by breaking down idealisms. I bring everything to the material level. Active verbs; present participles and the past perfects of these active verbs; these kinds of adjectives or the redoubled prefixes of verbs rather than adverbs; commas and dashes instead of full stops. The abolition of all psychological, humanistic, and metaphysical terms'. Like Kafka's Penal Colony, the perfection of the enterprise arises at the point of its auto-destruction, where Guyotat takes on the role of Kafka's fanatical juridical officer who straps himself into his own punitive machine to have 'Be just!' repeatedly inscribed into his flesh by a harrow of needles until his death. Similarly inscribed into a fundamentalist Eden... is the demand that language be forced by means of various structural deviances to submit to its own asphyxiation; where the impossibility of the text becomes an approximation of the unrepresentable or contradictory nature of its subject or 'the subject' in general. In Penal Colony, this is the point of consummate purity when the machine's executional scribe would cut into flesh 'Thou shalt not kill!'; inscribing the absolute symbiosis of 'sin' and 'commandment' working in inextricable communion. We are informed that writing almost cost Guyotat his life, neglecting to eat, lapsing into coma and being rushed to hospital. For all of Guyotat's furiously emissive verbiage, the nihilistic elevation seems almost in danger of taking on the vista of missionary-bound hard work rather than jouissance (although this is not to suggest that 'moral masochism' does not give rise to, or is not originated from, a profound sense of pleasure. Liberal protectionist rackets are no less pleasurable: grazing his knees as he is flung to the nylon-carpeted Amnesty International floor, Guyotat the sacrificial lamb is called to recite crimes-against-humanity while his attentive audience weep and sigh. But from Guyotat's base perspective he notices hands working hard beneath the conference table...). Masturbating in Eden..., the Messianic author appears in spent onanist repose after achieving the second-thousandth-cumming. But when his climax is deified by the commentary of disciples, Eden... becomes a Mills and Boon novel for RELATIVELY SANE psychotics. And in this sense the 'secondary text' already erodes Eden's furious resistance to language; which leaves us to presume that reading it should have much the same effect that reading a romantic novel would have in severely testing the 'unpleasure' appetites of the sadist.