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

Maria Damon damon001 at umn.edu
Thu Oct 25 13:34:36 EST 2012

Dear all,
Alan, Peter, thanks for your comments. I'm in a slightly awkward 
position of being in MLA-DAOC meetings through Friday, so my ability to 
really post with an appropriate fullness of attention is somewhat 
compromised right now. Peter, this is really powerful. Biting the hand 
that feeds one–that is, ones own hand–seems an angry rejection of a life 
that has betrayed one–an appropriate response to an overwhelming loss.
Alan can you say more about what you mean by the "ultimate collapse" in 
relation to the "ultimate risk/control of the body by the self"? there 
seems to be a tension between these two concepts, control and collapse.
The word "smart," btw, also is related to "mord," with the sharpness of 
intelligence apparently a very late development in the word's history 
compared to the sharpness of stinging or other pain.
Is intelligence a kind of suffering, pain and death?
"Si on sait tout, c'est la mort."

On 10/24/12 12:04 AM, Alan Sondheim wrote:
> 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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