In my personal experience Italian Catholicism (my last girlfriend was Catholic, God bless her!) is a strange breed of cynicism, fatalism and transgression. I must say, it has a certain aesthetic, if not erotic charm....
All of which // reminds me of Georges Bataille….
Georges Bataille’ whole thought-sensibility is Catholic, in form and content: marriage, church, sin, guilt and “god” are all there, mirrored in negative form. Bataille’s very meaning of eroticism is Catholic - the essence of eroticism is transgression - echoing Kierkegaard’s aesthetic reflections in “either/or” that it was Christianity that brought Eros into the world, not the pagans of antiquity.
More aptly put, eroticism is a verb not a substantive - it is what “happens” to a homogeneity or body. It is transgression not in the dialectical sense, but in the irreversible form of something that “happens” and disrupts, but never appears as such.
Eroticism is “opposed” to sex or pornography and the so called sexual revolution: the order of the “restrictive economy”, repressing eroticism’s “general economy” within.
For Bataille religion, marriage, taboos etc (homogenous orders) are immanently necessary; they give values to an otherwise neutral universe. And likewise, the transgression of those particular values “founds” the values of those values...When a “woman” succumbs to eroticism, it is marriage or personal/social integrity (the fear of loss of control, degradation, “good/bad girl”, etc…) that is the ”foundation” that “founds” the subsequent sacred excitement of eroticism.
Bataille’s eroticism is always feminine in attitude, feminine “access” for the male: as Levinas’ Eros/femininity, it is a moment of otherness/alterity in the masculine/ego economy of the same. Bataille is well aware of the Feminists of the future, and posits Femininity (as Levinas does) in terms of gender, hence applicable in principle (but not in present actuality) to both man and woman – which may have the paradoxical effect of destroying eroticism for both man and woman, if it is economized into “equitable equality”…
Eroticism’ sacred vertigo is due to a double-bind situation: the “im/possibility” of succumbing to the animal within and yet not quite being human either - an angst suspended state of grace between two impossible polarities - this is definitely not California’ symmetric porn… or the asymmetric Gonzo Gymnastics of Porn Machine “Rocco Siffredi”.
The aporia is, that while porn is “exciting”, it is not: it is a boring void in the midst of physiological excitement, because it lacks the transgressive quality that only eroticism can bring (although it cannot help b../t to feed on it) which is neither visible nor genital.
Of course, pornography is the ultimate in visibility and genital hyperbole. Porn is the suppression by any means necessary of eroticism’ in/visible “general economy”….and sometimes like all “restrictive economies” of matter, it fails to completely repress the spirit within, erotic moments in porn movies sometimes happen… one inadvertent vulnerability gushes forth amongst the grinding physics…
The irony being that it is porn and sex that represses eroticism (and love?) not the other way around.
In our age of the hedonistic imperative it is sentimentality and love that are shocking and obscene…as Roland Barthes’ “A Lover's Discourse” " puts it: “a touch of sentimentality," would be "the ultimate transgression . . . the transgression of transgression itself . . . the return of love in another place”
Georges Bataille where he alive today, would no doubt be on the censor boards (and would make a good marriage counsellor) whilst writing such classics as:
“The Sacrifice of the Gibbon”
“In order to renew this tender pact between belly and nature, a rotting forest offers its deceptive latrines, swarming with animals, colored or venomous insects, worms, and little birds. Solar light decomposes in the high branches. An Englishwoman, transfigured by a halo of blond hair, abandons her splendid body to the lubricity and the imagination (driven to the point of ecstasy by the stunning odor of decay) of a number of nude men.
Her humid lips open to kisses like a sweet swamp, like a noiseless flowing river, and her eyes, drowned in pleasure, are as immensely lost as her mouth. Above the entwined human beasts who embrace and handle her, she raises her marvelous head, so heavy with dazzlement, and her eyes open on a scene of madness.
Near a round pit, freshly dug in the midst of exuberant vegetation, a giant female gibbon struggles with three men, who tie her with long cords: her face is even more stupid than it is ignoble, and she lets out unbelievable screams of fear, screams answered by the various cries of small monkeys in the high branches. Once she is trussed up like a chicken-with her legs folded back against her body-the three men tie her upside down to a stake planted in the middle of the pit. Attached in this way, her bestially howling mouth swallows dirt while, on the other end, her huge screaming pink anal protrusion stares at the sky like a flower (the end of the stake runs between her belly and her bound paws): only the part whose obscenity stupefies emerges above the top level of the pit.
Once these preparations are finished, all the men and women present (there are, in fact, several other women, no less taken with debauchery) surround the pit: at this moment they are all equally nude, all equally deranged by the avidity of pleasure (exhausted by voluptuousness), breathless, at wits' end . . .
They are all armed with shovels, except the Englishwoman: the earth destined to fill the pit is spread evenly around it. The ignoble gibbon, in an ignoble posture, continues her terrifying howl, but, on a signal from the Englishwoman, everyone busies himself shoveling dirt into the pit, and then quickly stamps it down: thus, in the blink of an eye, the horrible beast is buried alive.
A relative silence settles: all the stupefied glances are fixed on the filthy, beautifully blood-colored solar prominence, sticking out of the earth and ridiculously shuddering with convulsions of agony. Then the Englishwoman with her charming rear end stretches her long nude body on the filled pit: the mucous-flesh of this bald false skull, a little soiled with shit at the radiate flower of its summit, is even more upsetting to see when touched by pretty white fingers. All those around hold back their cries and wipe their sweat; teeth bite lips; a light foam even flows from overly troubled mouths: contracted by strangulation, and even by death, the beautiful boil of red flesh is set ablaze with stinking brown flames....................................
Like a storm that erupts and, after several minutes of intolerable delay, ravishes in semidarkness an entire countryside with insane cataracts of water and blasts of thunder, in the same disturbed and profoundly overwhelming way (albeit with signs infinitely more difficult to perceive), existence itself shudders and attains a level where there is nothing more than a hallucinatory void, an odor of death that sticks in the throat.
In reality, when this puerile little vomiting took place, it was not on a mere carcass that the mouth of the Englishwoman crushed her most burning, her sweetest kisses, but on the nauseating JESUVE: the bizarre noise of kisses, prolonged on flesh, clattered across the disgusting noise of entrails. But these unheard-of circumstances had set off orgasms, each more suffocating and spasmodic than its predecessor, in the circle of unfortunate observers; all throats were strangled by raucous cries, by impossible sighs, and, from all sides, eyes humid with the brilliant tears of vertigo”.
Well done George…