20 September 2011

Cannibal delicacy

Some coincidences on cannibalism.

First, I read Georges Bataille's text Eye (tr. Allan Stoekl), written 1929, where he says:

"Cannibal delicacy. It is known that civilized man is characterized by an often inexplicable acuity for horror. The fear of insects is no doubt one of the most singular and most developed of these horrors as is, one is surprised to note, the fear of the eye. It seems impossible, in fact, to judge the eye using any word other than seductive, since nothing is more attractive in the bodies of animals and men. But extreme seductiveness is probably the boundary of horror.

In this respect, the eye could be related to the cutting edge, whose appearance provokes both bitter and contradictory reactions; this is what the makers of the Andalusian Dog must have hideously and obscurely experienced when, among the first images of the film, they determined the bloody loves of these two beings. That a razor would cut open the dazzling eye of a young and charming woman - this is precisely what a young man would have admired to the point of madness, a young man watched by a small cat, a young man who by chance holding in his hand a coffee spoon, suddenly wanted to take an eye in that spoon.

Obviously a singular desire on the part of a white, from whom the eyes of the cows, sheep, and pigs that he eats have always been hidden. For the eye - as Stevenson exquisitely puts it, a cannibal delicacy - is, on our part, the object of such anxiety that we will never bite into it. The eye is even ranked high in horror, since it is, among other things, the eye of conscience. [...]"

Second, I stumble across Planningtorock's I Wanna Bite Ya (released 2006) on YouTube. Horribly à propos ...

Third, I wonder: If extreme seduction exists at the boundary of horror, and if cannibalism is understood as extreme horror, are the cannibal and the seductive analogous?

If then the eye is the most attractive part of the body, does it ('the window to the soul') point to a certain cannibalistic drive through its inherent seduction? Is it horror or beauty that we see when we look into someone's eyes?

We obsess about, protect, and revere the eye - that most elusive of organs - while simultaneously we fear and feel disgust for its invisible roundness, its sliminess, its revelation ('scary eyes'); it is uncomfortable to think of dead eyes, and we eat animals most easily without having to see or think that they once saw (and thought). Does the eye (the delicacy at which we retch) thus exemplify the seductive horror that is humanity in all its glorification and abjection?

Finally, does this cannibal instinct reveal itself equally in our desire for the seductive (to consume/be consumed, to penetrate/be penetrated - vitality) and in our dread of the horrific (to destruct/be destructed - mortality)? To the point where both that desire and that dread become part of exactly the same movement?

I think you know the answer to this. And in the words of Planningtorock: "What happens if we get close to each other?"

"I want to bite you."


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