Tuesday, 25 December 2007

From "Poetry Without Organs"

By Craig Dworkin.

[...] "sixpack's relationship to Peter André's abdomen is metaphoric; to mine is metonymic" [...] Even with foods, the body in Adjunct only ever seems to drink. With little need for chewing, the foods mentioned are almost always liquid (soup, puree, yoghurt, fondue, "meat extract or homemade meat tea"), melted (butter and chocolate), or softened (enzymatic and mouldering cheeses, a banana forgotten in a coat pocket for three days until "it's black and soft") [...] Many are already "partly digested" (pap, minces, rissoles, patés) [...] The bodies in Adjunct not only take in all this liquid, but they excrete fluids at an equally impressive pace [...] The body as it appears in this book is a site of "hemorrage," "excrement," "discharge," and "excavations" of all kinds [...] If one of the sentences seems to accuse Manson by rebuking "you don't surface expressively in your poems," the poem itself is quite literally "expressive": "weeping," "leaking" and "expectrating" [...] Indeed, Adjunct details not only the expected "blood" "sweat" and "tears" (including the blood of bruises and slit wrists, spontateous hemorrhaging and nosebleeds, blisters and poisoning and donations), but the full spectrum of fluid bodily products: "urine," "pus," "phlegm" (both "snot" and "spit"), "bile," "gall," "mucous," "milk," "sperm" and "semen" [...] Characters are constantly "sick on" their surroundings ("We are such stuff as pukes are made on," one entry riffs). Another confesses that "it would be great to vomit," and after discovering a "strange burp in vomit," a "burp turns into vomit," escalating to "projectile vomiting at the dinner table" and ultimately "faecal vomiting" -- "an undigest" that links regurgitation to the many mentions of "waste" and "sewage": "shit" and "crap," "caca" and "merde," "guano," "manure," "droppings," "dung," and all tending to the extreme ("bowel too long"), the softened ("laxatives," whipped excrement), and the liquefied: infant soiling and "diarrhoea."

[...] Manson includes all manner of unhealthy retentions and emissions. The body is repeatedly subject to fluid swellings, and it further endures a wart and a wen, "watery cysts," a blister as big as a matchbox and another that bursts, the suppuration of several boils (one "persistent" and another that "bursts all over distant ;"), and a particularly gruesome "explosive pustule." [...]

Filling, swelling, leaking, bursting -- the body in Adjunct liquefies and overflows. Subcutaneous reservoirs of blood expand alarmingly, fluid spouts from unexpected sites, and the entire self, if not necessarily the actual body, is reduced to blood or excrement: "that man of blood"; "I am shit at my job"; "Dear Sir I'm shit, Love Peter" [...] However figural those expressions might be, the focus on the emollient pulps and spongy parts of the body are quite literal; Adjunct pointedly specifies the reservoirs of the spleen, bladder, kidney, liver, adenoids, as well as the lipids of "suet" and "lard," and the ominous trio of "gelatine, tallow, and semen." [...] Leaving only "grease and dead skin," the body in Adjunct continually sloughs off solid tissues [...] One finds a surprising number of depilations and exfoliations; hair balds prematurely or is shorn, nails are clipped, skin peels and flakes off with alarming insistence: "skin loosens on face"; "pieces of skin keep flaking off my leg"; "back of leg rips"; "two years later and bits of skin still keep flaking off my leg and not healing"; "Four years later and the leg is no better." [...] Or worse: "your skin goes hard and you die." [...] Or worse still: "reconstruct a Victorian shcoolgirl from fragments of skin"; "unfortunately the ears were attached to the hair"; "a band of human hair and skin was left 1.5 metres up the wall. Other human body parts, such as eye-balls, were scattered on the floor" [...] My point is not that the text can be morbid, but that the solid body in Adjunct is relentlessly disarticulated, repeatedly "broken," "irretrievably shattered," and even threatening to dematerialise completely [...] "Earless" and "headless," castrated or having "no genitals," the body's skeletal structure and extremities are unfailingly failing: brittle, disarticulated, or removed [...] Lungs collapse and are lost entirely; sections of the liver are "cut out"; legs and arms break or are amputated, leaving people "crutched" and "crippled"; toes "bruise or break"; spines are broken; digits are cut, cut off, and replaced with prosthetics; elbows are fractured, knees capped, other joints grow arthritic or become dislocated, limbs are "dismembered" or "dead" [...] Teeth are similarly at risk in Adjunct; missing, removable, decaying, toxic, blocked, no longer fitting together, artificial, and so essentially unstable that they actually define "insecurity" and "precarious" [...] And although the motivation for the sentence is comically paranomastic, even the hard encrustation of plaque is figured as soft, swollen and tender: "bubonic plaque" [...]

With its structures dissolving and its anatomy remade, the liquefying body in Adjunct resembles Antonin Artaud's "body without organs" [...]

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