A friend of mine recently recited a poem by Anne Carson which prompted me to return to the volume he drew from, wherein I found another poem I was pleased I’d underscored when I first read it. In this poem Carson poses a question–“What really connects words and things?”–but the question is both a rift in the unfolding of the poem, and a bridge that tenuously connects one stanza to the next.
Perhaps this is as fitting–hand in glove, like–an introduction as any.
But then, maybe the question itself is loaded, packing, carrying underneath the folds of appearance a hidden intention. What is to say words and things are not coextensive–hand in glove, like? What does Carson want from us? Why does she open this abyss while seemingly promising to repair the schism she has just effected? Who are we, as readers, if we are both bridge and abyss?
Perhaps, like OJ, the glove doesn’t fit, like.
But then, which is the glove and which the hand? Is the thing the hand which our words envelop in a fabric(ated) [of] meaning? Or is it words which animate our motility, dexterous, limber, fleshing-out the empty shell of the thing? It was assumed that the sculptor “unlocked” the statue from the slab of marble, as if there were no question about a difference between matter (phusis)/idea (eidos), as if the rift Carson opens and cares-to does not exist.
Perhaps, unwittingly, I am speaking of (Lacanian) sexual difference, of activity//passivity, masculine//feminine, hand//glove.
Foucault once remarked that S/M allows for a plasticity in the “gendered” roles of top/bottom, and for precisely this reason he was attracted to that scene. In this thoroughly Freudian moment (I refer my kind readers to the First of “Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality”) Foucault speaks to, from another angle, the very problematic contained in Carson’s question: “What really connects things and words?” Like Foucault, Carson is confronting a distinctly Western (Aristotlean-Hegelian) metaphysics of activity/passivity. For Foucault S/M was a means of resisting this hierarchical dualism, to be, in the act of sexual pleasure, both abyss and bridge. That is, just as Foucault “queers” the scene of sex by subverting the very (gendered) meaning of top/bottom, Carson queers her text: to read this poem, to move within it, one becomes the nihilistic (w)hole of meaninglessness (words and things are irreconcilable) _and_ the bridge that “traverses the fantasy” of this meaninglessness giving it meaning; meaning, the connection between words and things, can only ever be affirmed if, she suggests, there is always already this threat of meaninglessness.
Perhaps, when thinking of sex one must think poetically, to incorporealize the paradoxical position of Carson’s reader.
Not a poet? No fears! Tulip offers all you need to explore the plasticity of gender roles through S/M by providing quality whips and crops, collars and cuffs, paddles, tape and ropes, and–for the uninitiated–multiple reader-friendly introductory texts to the wonderful world of S/M.