Extravagant Abjection: Blackness, Power, and Sexuality in the African American Literary Imagination

By Darieck Scott | Go to book overview

5
Porn and the N-Word
Lust, Samuel Delany’s The Mad Man, and a
Derangement of Body and Sense(s)

The ability to regard as an honor and a joy what society has declared to
be an insult and a defilement bespeaks an agile mind—often one that
loves learning for its own sake.

—Samuel Delany, Phallos1


Porn and Praxis

I have been attempting to develop an understanding of the qualities and abilities that become available through (or which themselves partially constitute) blackness-in/as-abjection. Yet the relation between blackness and abjection, while effected historically and in the present primarily by economic, military, and political means, is experientially lived, as a psychic reality and as a material reality, especially for the inheritors of the events that bring blackness into being, at that site and product of culture which is the nexus between psyche and body. We have been able to see this nexus and access to both it and its powers, represented textually in the metaphor of muscle tension, in a lynching scene and in narrative scenes of the sexual violation of black men. Courtesy of the French existential phenomenology on which Fanon relies, I have referred to at least one aspect of this nexus as anonymous or amorphous existence, and I have argued that it is accessible through existentially defined states of vertigo or anguish. This body-psyche nexus wherein the relation between blackness and abjection is experientially lived, and the various qualities it might be said to possess, enter representation, as I noted in the introduction, vexed by particular challenges: they do not so much defy or resist narrative as simply pose a problem for narrative machinery, because the marvelous fictions of I, self, linear temporality, or the coherent perspective on which narrative usually depends are in the state of abjection awash in those fictions’ opposites,

-204-

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