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Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Twilight Saga:Seduction and Seductive Writing

The Kiss (Twilight)
Seduction has virtually disappeared but Twilight has breathed new life into this practice, this ritual of sexual play. The pill put an end to it but Stephenie Meyer has brought it back. How did she do it? Her secret is very simple. She has followed Jean Baudrillard's strong suggestion. If you are going to write about seduction, then you must write even more seductively than what you are writing about. Twilight particularly the first book, and a great amount of New Moon, does exactly that.

This is what fanfic - thousands of them -  do not understand. They may borrow for awhile Stephenie Meyer's imaginary characters to create the illusion of seduction, but all of them deteriorate into pornography, that explicit hyperreal depiction of sex that leaves nothing to the imagination, no room for feelings, no time for contemplation, for illusion. Pornography is opposed to the Symbolic Order of Seduction. Pornography is within the Exchange Order of Production. Sex is produced. Orgasms are produced and required. Woman has lost her freedom by gaining liberation.

And has Stephenie Meyer described and elucidated seduction so perfectly because it has ended? Because it has disappeared? In Forget Foucault Baudrillard has said the same of Foucault's detailed and  excruciatingly perfect analysis of power in his spiraling powerful prose that leads you inexorably to the exposing of power and its finality, its disappearance.  

Cosmopolis by DeLillo continues beyond the end of history into simulation as does Meyer in Breaking Dawn.

Soft Porn Versus Hard Porn of Fanfic

Not much seduction here is there?
Stephenie Meyer did her best but the forces of production are aligned against her.

Seduction by Baudrillard Cover Photo Man Ray

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Baudrillard for Bella

There exists, between people in love, a kind of capital held by each. This is not just a stock of affects or pleasure, but also the possibility of playing double or quits with the share you hold in the other's heart  _ Jean Baudrillard

(Jean Baudrillard (b. 1929), French semiologist. Cool Memories, ch. 3 (1987, trans. 1990).) 
Read more quotations about / on: heartpeoplelove

And Bella in New Moon page 216:

Even more, I had never meant to love him. One thing I truly knew_ knew it in the pit of my stomach, in the center of my bones, knew it from the crown of my head to the soles of my feet, knew it deep in my empty chest_was how love gave someone the power to break you......I'd been broken beyond repair.

In Defense of Kristen Stewart On NOT Smiling

Smile and others will smile back. Smile to show how transparent, how candid you are. Smile if you have nothing to say. Most of all, do not hide the fact you have nothing to say nor your total indifference to others. Let this emptiness, this profound indifference shine out spontaneously in your smile. - Jean Baudrillard

Kristen Met gala 2011

What truth are our faces allowed to tell/show today? Think of how men instruct women to smile while they’re walking down the street. If Hollywood and mass media are any indication, nothing is faked and enacted more these days than a face, especially a woman’s. A woman’s face is something she has to fake almost all of the time—from the wearing of make-up to the surgical enhancement and modification of facial features, to the lightening of eyes and skin, to the concealment of age, to the facial expressions we make or don’t make. Faking is not only the modality par excellence of late modernity, the fake/r (not the real or original, as Abbas Kiarostami’s Certified Copy demonstrates) is the thing to imitate and strive for. And based on the 21st century fiction and artifice of celebrity consumer culture, there is no greater truth than a successful lie. Than a lie that functions and succeeds in public, even if and especially when it inevitably performs its disclosure-as-lie and breakdown-of-truth as just another show (Reality TV). The lie (or the secret of ideology) is no longer something to conceal, for, in the era of cynicism and instant commodification, dissemblance is the only truth worth telling (living). Truth, along with reality, is merely a performance, and vice versa, performance is reality.
Before we believed that a lie was the truth, we believed that what we were seeing was real, which means we believed what we were told. The fiction was not meant to be interpreted purely as fantasy or pure-fantasy, but as the ultimate-real. However, now that we know that the fiction is a lie, that the truth is a lie, we have learned to approach it as such. We live in the name of truth, even though, and because we know, the name of truth is fiction. We tell ourselves that it’s not that we have a more dishonest or corrupt relationship to truth, it’s that we have a different kind of relationship with the lie. That is, with the staging of truth.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Problematization of Sexuality and The Event of Twilight

The Twilight Saga breaks with the dominating prevailing literary Discourse in much the same way as Andy Warhol broke with art history theory with his Campbell Soup Cans and changed the Discourse of contemporary art. I see Twilight as a Foucaultian "cut" into contemporary views of sexuality. Perhaps Event as defined by Foucault would be the term of choice, although Baudrillard's term has been Irruption Into Simulation (encompassing all four books in the series) which I am choosing as it implies the leap into the abyss defined by Baudrillard in his Forget Foucault. For those who are still with me I suggest reading or rereading Baudrillard's Forget Foucault.

A worldwide resonance with the Twilight books cannot be explained away by teenage fanaticism nor the fact that the accompanying films  have generated over one billion dollars. We are in the presence of something extraordinary and the only words I have heard or read about it is phenomenon. It is not that but has crashed into our awareness because of a problematization of sexuality. Fifty years after the pill and widely available contraception, something has happened. In his novels after the Alexandria Quartet, Durrell has one of his male characters say (in Constance, I believe,): Woman has become a commodity like hay or corn. She is no longer an event. Foucault discusses sexual rituals and Baudrillard emphasizes them as crucial in any culture for sexual relations. We seem to have so liberated ourselves that we no longer have any sexual rituals, but have only ever increasing pornography. Women have gained liberation at the expense of their freedom. The two words mean different things and the present confabulation of them is leading to grave misunderstandings and unhappiness.

Young twihards have come to these novels just as they are getting ready to enter the meat market of sex. They see around them multiple marriages, multiple lovers, children of single moms with different fathers, boyfriends that move on after the third date if they won't put out, single career women still without a husband and children although they have had numerous lovers, fathers bringing up their children, shared custody, bi-families and they don't see anything out there that they really want. Girls have lost the freedom to say no because it is expected that they will say yes since they have been told they are liberated from sexual repression.

Twilight addresses this state of affairs. And PC feminists don't like what it is modeling for young women at all. Just what is it really saying?