[-empyre-] week four: Pain, Suffering, and Death in the Virtual

Alan Sondheim sondheim at panix.com
Wed Oct 24 15:04:56 EST 2012

Thank you, Maria!

I wonder, remembering Amanda Todd's video, if remose in the sense of 
biting might also be connected to cutting? I remember teaching a class at 
an artschool at one point; the course was about contemporary art, the 
body, etc. - and almost everyone in the class was a cutter. It was 
incredibly sad; it seems the ultimate risk/control of the body by the 
self, the ultimate collapse. And I remember also Acconci's biting piece, 
mapping his body with his teeth - but more abject than that, an uncanny 
surplus of meaning -

On Tue, 23 Oct 2012, Maria Damon wrote:

> Dear all,

> I've been very moved by the range, quality, and seriousness of the 
> inquiries and revelations here in these past weeks. The intensity of the 
> participants' commitment to exploring these questions posed by Sandy, 
> Alan and us guests has left me wondering what I can add. I keep 
> returning to the experience of remorse, which I first mentioned some 
> time ago. The bitingly anguished regret that often has no basis in 
> wrongdoing, that is, no precedent (but that doesn't mean no cause) for 
> which remorse is the appropriate response, is one of those existential 
> enveloping conditions that swoop down like a weather system but that 
> feels personal. Remorse is connected to death, it is a wanting to follow 
> someone into the grave, a form of survivor guilt. Remorse, 
> etymologically to "bite again," or "re" in the sense of emphasis, 
> redoubled self-biting, only one letter (mord) away from death (mort), 
> and a very close letter at that. Biting oneself as a symptom of mourning 
> or grief. Somehow remorse is connected to abjection, to "bare life," to 
> stripping away the comforts of denial, creature comforts that enable a 
> turning-away from the basic unease and suffering that characterizes our 
> experience of life. As if we were to blame. Are we? Remorse is a hangup, 
> a habit, a deceitful friend that tears your flesh at the first 
> opportunity, just so s/he can comfort you afterwards.
> On a different but related note, I read an account of Brian Kim Stefans's 
> talk at one of the EPoetry conferences, in which he exhorted epoetry and 
> digital arts to "embrace the dark side." Yes, yes, and yes. Fewer slick 
> surfaces, more abrasions, more acknowledgment of wounds.

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