Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Craig Podmore's The Origin of Manias by David McLean (Book Review)

This book by Craig Podmore is a novel that charts the career in perversion of a man called Anton. As in the novella that preceded it called The Symmetries of Pain, life here is a sort of sexual cannibalism and the book acquires its effect and natural tone where it lists the epitomes of human depravity. Eating, fucking, torturing, raping and killing are all basically the same thing, the same function, the expression of the self.

Anton is brought up as an orphan in a religious environment which he naturally rejects and he instead embraces what he perceives as the opposite of the religious, sadomasochism and “evil”, the latter being seen as something very generalized. Of course, if evil is very general and widespread it stops being meaningful to categorize it as evil.

As with the novella, which is the conclusion here, the cruelty of Anton is “resolved” by standard romantic love. However, love in the Sartrean analysis is just as much as the sadistic solution a victim of the inevitable dialectic of the relationship with the other. But love is just to want to be loved, to want to be loved is to have them want you to love them, ad nauseam. The only love that Sartre seems to agree to was love as an enterprise, part of a concrete project towards my own ends, not involved completely in loving the other. That gets to be basically like Anton’s project, but without so much fun. As the victim of torture winds up as just meat, looking at you, so the lover is just another body there to challenge your place as master of your world. There is nothing to save you and make you whole in any of it.

Maybe the solution is no more than the primitive Hobbesian contract: “Kill all these victims and the state will probably come, sooner or later, and fuck you up." Or the solution may be desire as multiplicity, not desire as courtly love, even though in courtly love one may only have been, as Deleuze and Guattari suggest, playing Taoism and masochism and scampering after the BwO. (Though they explicitly state that the equation of courtly love with those things is meaningless). If there is desire everywhere, not power, then getting the desiring machines working right is (part of) the answer.
As said, the text here is at its best when it is engaged in grossing the reader out, challenging his/her boring conventions and moral debility:

Some are eaten, some are fucked, an intestine nailed into a wall,

“Sieg Heil for vagina”, a madman protests, the crucifix now severed into parts, the feel of violence is tactile, it’s beginning to exist as a, “something”, a being, it’s growing like a living organism, it’s there, I see it, I feel it, inside the vulvas, inside the mouths, inside my own genitalia!

I can strongly recommend you read this, whether or not you think love is the answer, that there is an answer, that an answer is even needed. Get it here:


Author bio:

David McLean is from Wales but has lived in Sweden since 1987. He lives there with his dog, Oscar, & his computers. In addition to various chapbooks, McLean is the author of six full-length poetry collections: CADAVER’S DANCE (Whistling Shade Press, 2008), PUSHING LEMMINGS (Erbacce Press, 2009), LAUGHING AT FUNERALS (Epic Rites Press, 2010), NOBODY WANTS TO GO TO HEAVEN BUT EVERYBODY WANTS TO DIE (Oneiros Books, June 2013), THINGS THE DEAD SAY (Oneiros Books, Feb 2014), & OF DESIRE AND THE LESION THAT IS THE EGO (Oneiros Books, May 2014. A seventh full length poetry collection to be called ZARA & THE GHOST OF GERTRUDE/ ON A RAMPAGE, which is a selection of poems inspired by Gertrude Stein, is alos due from Oneiros. More information about McLean can be found at his blogs http://mourningabortion.blogspot.com/ & http://davidcmclean.wordpress.com/

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