Void Manufacturing

“Turning and turning in a cell, like a fly that doesn’t know where to die.”

Necrosexuality by Patricia MacCormack: A delightful essay about the pleasures of watching dead things get fucked in movies

Posted by voidmanufacturing on November 30, 2008



Patricia MacCormack

[1] Transgressive sexuality has frequently been defined through the dominant paradigms which it transgresses. This means transgressive sexuality is often seen as either affirming these paradigms by being oriented in dialectic opposition to them, or politically challenging in reference to them. Perversion is, however, the multiplicity at the very heart of desire that dissipates and redistributes the body’s intensities. ‘Normal’ sexuality is one reiteration of these corporeal libidinal cartographies – reiterative because reliability in repetition is a key feature of normal sexuality’s nature and power. Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari’s claim that all desire affords a becoming means that transgression [1]is already within all forms of desire. Theirs is a project of queering desire, rather than reifying any one form of sexuality as queer. This article will explore the queerness of one seemingly heterosexual desire – male/female sexual situations – as it is incarnated in necrophilia. Deleuze and Guattari, together and separately, as well as Foucault, all critique the term ‘transgression’. Transgression is unable to exist independently as a haecceity. It can only be measured against and in reference to, while a Deleuzio-Guattarian reading is an interrogation of the different parameters, paradigms and plateaus within rather than against systems, an alteration of trajectories and velocities. Perhaps a more correct term would be ‘lines of flight’, however I use the term transgression here because necrophilic trajectories have been truncated and reified through a variety of institutions and thus have a particular relationship with these institutions. The use of the term is, however, brief and tactical, and is only relevant while necrophilia’s relationship with these institutions is being discussed and reactive rather than active affect is maintained in the analyses.


[2] Non-aggressive examples of necrophilia in three films, Beyond the Darkness(Aristede Massaccesi, Italy, 1979), Macabre (Lamberto Bava, Italy, 1981) andFlesh for Frankenstein (Antonio Margheriti, Italy, 1973), which include both male and female corpses, emphasise the ways in which necrophilic desire requires a destratification of the body into a Body without Organs. Accidentally but nonetheless relevant, these three films have all been banned, thus conflating the transgressive nature of their content and the act of viewing them – another point at which the residue of the problematic notion of transgression arises. Forensics describes the ruptured body in death as ‘dishevelled’. Organs become genital, surgery sexual and the striation of the gendered body is dishevelled through the planes of pleasure [2] offered by the corpse. Necrophilia is configured into dialectic and onanistic practice, confusing subject and object, desire and disgust. These corpses are physically bodies with organs, but entirely reorganised, as is the desire of the necrophiles. When Deleuze and Guattari ask us to sing with our rectum, here we see those who fuck with their entrails, launching on becoming-viscera. Reading the body through gender signifiers of genitals is no longer relevant in these ‘heterosexual’ relationships. The larger structure of necrophilia in society will not form a major part of the essay. However recent changes to the laws in the US punish necrophilia as ‘immoral’ while vindicating institutionalised homophobia and misogyny seen in laws such as the homosexual panic law, and the low incidence of prosecution for rape. ‘Perverse’ sexualities, from homosexuality and necrophilia to celibacy and lust-murder are morally maligned as equivalent based on the ways all challenge ‘proper’ object choice. But non-violent perverse sexualities pose challenges to issues of corporeal volition and desire beyond traditional oppositional and hierarchical libidinal configurations.

[3] In September 2004 Governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger created California’s first law forbidding necrophilia as a criminal act. The felony is punishable by up to 8 years incarceration. In March 2005 the media went into a frenzy over the 2001 study in which natural science documented the first observation of necrophilia in Mallard ducks – homosexual necrophilia at that. (see Moeliker) In 1973 Baron Frankenstein announced ‘to know death, you have to fuck life in the gall bladder.’

[4] Perhaps it is difficult to define necrophilia as a dividuated sexual act at all. Primarily one must select the paradigm by which the corpse is defined. Item of respect? Fetish item? Forensic text? Victim of aggression in order to procure a corpse for a sex act? Object of nostalgia? Past tense person, present tense property? Meat? Flesh? What can one do with a corpse? Is traditional sex with a corpse queer? If, according to Monique Wittig, sexuality creates gender through opposition, is necrophilia still either heterosexual or homosexual? Is a corpse gendered if it is no longer a person? Is visceral necrophilia, using the entrails for pleasure, different to ‘straight’ necrophilic sex acts? Is this kind of necrophilia a form of surgical fetishism? What gender is a gall bladder? Guattari sees the repressive regime of signification as perpetrating a massacre of desire and the body. Can massacring the body – opening it out, cutting it up post mortem and achieving pleasure from it – end the massacre of the body? He states:

We can no longer sit idly by as others steal our mouths, our anuses, our genitals, our nerves, our guts, our arteries. In order to fashion parts and works in an ignoble mechanism of production which links capital, exploitation and the family. We can no longer allow others to turn our mucous membranes, our skin, all our sensitive areas into occupied territory – territory controlled and regimented by others, to which we are forbidden access… We can no longer allow others to repress our fucking, control our shit, our saliva, our energies, all in conformity with the prescriptions of the law and its carefully defined little transgressions. We want to see frigid, imprisoned, mortified bodies exploded to bits, even if capitalism continues to demand that they be kept in check at the expense of our living bodies. (Guattari, 1996: 32)

In this article I am going to explore de-signified corporeally massacred bodies, in relation to the sealed, facialised and genitalled body which is complicit with the massacre that capitalist and Oedipal systems perform on the body and desire. The reason I have selected necrophilia in particular is not because it offers a privileged version of queer but because in death the body can be actually, physically reorganised – massacre not as murder but as physical eruption. The first part of this article will contextualise the ways in which necrophilia is a form of sexuality emergent through legal and medical discourse rather than volitional desire. The second part offers an exploration, through three Italian horror films which exemplify necrophilia in different ways as reorganising the flesh and desire. The torn apart corpse as object of desire and the relation between two enfleshed entities are open systems of connexion rather than dialectics between two organised bodies. The fleshes open out toward each other, one actually, the other in libidinal planes which disorganise the body Guattari points out is massacred through systems of signifying the body and desire relations.

Necrophilia and Discursive Massacres

‘I shall not even take into consideration those [perverts] who are condemned by a judge to choose between prison or psychiatric treatment’ – François Péraldi: 170

[5] Before I elaborate my arguments lauding the pleasures and perversions of necrophilia in certain films as examples of Deleuze and Guattari’s Body without Organs, of Deleuze’s Leibnizian fold and of Guattari’s massacred body, I want to dispel any association of the forms of necrophilia upon which I will focus with traditional associations of necrophilia with (often violent) criminality. This section is, tediously but I think necessarily, about what this essay is not. At the very least, what the need for the following shows is that the ‘sexuality’ of necrophilia is, like all sexualities, not a singular, predictable or repeatable form of sexuality.

[6] The case which resulted in Schwarzenegger outlawing necrophilia was initially charged as a break and enter into the morgue, because the law did not know how to prosecute necrophilia and had to charge the perpetrator with something (the moral outrage toward the act was intensified by what was perceived to be paedophilic necrophilia – the ‘victim’ was 4 years old.) Corpse defilement is frequently charged as wilful destruction of property. This conforms with a Kantian perspective, which would position the corpse as property and thus the violation of which is an ethical consideration between a person and the property rather than the subjectivity of another. Does this new law invest the cadaver with volition, thus in necrophilia the corpse is a victim of rape against its ‘will’? If so the perverse (but not necessarily aggressive) sexuality of necrophilia and violent crime become mutually exclusive. Many films and clinical texts associate necrophilia with a precluding violent act perpetrated in order to procure the corpse. The criminal and the pervert are closely aligned, both share a relationship with clinical epistemology – the criminologist, the psychologist and in the case of the corpse itself the forensic pathologist. The modern serial killer is often made more interesting by focussing on their necrophiliac tendencies – Ed Gein, Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer and Dennis Nielsen. The role of psychiatrist and criminologist coalesce in the seminal 1906 work of Krafft-Ebing, the Psychopathia Sexualis. Lustmurder sits side by side with necrophilia. Case 24: Ardisson, is not simply a necrophiliac, in spite of being classified under this heading. He also drinks urine, eats rats and cats, as well as his own sperm, is paedophilic and apparently olfactorily retarded – the fact he finds the stench of putrefaction inoffensive seems galling to Ebing. Happily Ebing tells us Ardisson was ‘pleased with prison life.’ (40) Ebing’s other case of necrophilia, Case 23: Sergeant Bertrand, despite being of ‘delicate physical constitution’ (37), killed animals to procure entrails. His necrophilia did not focus on sex with corpses but onanistic activity with entrails, thus he was named a monomaniac. While all monomania is based on the demarcation of a single-minded, obsessive and dividuated libidinal practice, and thus necrophilia itself is technically a monomania, Bertrand’s focus on viscera, which is not a single object nor subjectivised, rather than a past-tense person-corpse, seems to change the inflection of the monomania beyond a perverse dialectic of subject/object. In spite of bestiality necrophilia, Bertrand’s perversion with human bodies was entirely heterosexual as sex with male corpses ‘was always attended with a feeling of disgust.’ (38) It is not mentioned whether the animals were male or female. Unlike Ardisson he was sentenced to one year court-marshal. Ebing ends this case with the observation: ‘The actual motive for exhuming the bodies however, was then, as before, to cut them up; and the enjoyment in doing so was greater than in using the bodies sexually. The latter act had always been nothing more than an episode of the principal one, and had never quieted his desires; for which reason he had later on always mutilated the body.’ (39) This last comment could as easily describe a forensic pathologist as a viscera-focussed necrophiliac. The relationship is contingent with the use-function of the corpse in relation to ‘pleasure’. The sexual psychopath ‘uses’ the corpse differently to the scientist. The former is a necrophiliac, the latter perhaps an epistophiliac.

[7] The corpse is territorialized by forensic medicine and religious ideology. Capitalism allows the corpse to be ‘used’ by forensic pathology, making the ultimate object of uselessness work, while making invisible the scientist who uses it. Pfohl and Gordon’s description of criminology makes an interesting connection with the forensic pathologist. They describe the clinical formation of the criminal subject: ‘Erect before the bar he sees her as grave matter to be ordered knowledgeably. His deadly nature and her law he rights, he writes, he rites – three rights and nothing left: the right of man, the writings of a science and the ritual construction of an empirical order… the pleasure of criminology is to displace the other’s unfixed pleasure’ (230) Various incarnations of psychology exert a similar power in their creation of the pathological pervert. But both perform a textual practice equivalent to the making-textual the matter of the corpse. Pfohl and Gordon’s cadaverial euphemisms are apt. The criminologist is deadly to pleasure by righting and writing it, seeing unbound pleasure as grave and placing it in its grave by classifying it within existing taxonomies of perversion. Pfohl and Gordon continue their forensic euphemisms in describing the practices of the taxonomist of pathologies:

The second pleasure of criminology involves his gaze. To keep an eye on her, to classify, count and cut her up; to make her visible as a certain thing; to dissect that visibility into rates and measure her incidents; to map her determined figure and to analyze her probable path; to uncover everything about her and to lay her bare; to arrest her so that he may operate upon her and see what happens. (230)

Massacring the self by expressing desire with a massacred body leads to a concept prevalent in psychological and medical theories of perversion, which is the supposed intrinsic inclusion of aggression and hatred towards the perverse object choice. In his book Perversion: The Erotic Form of Hatred Robert J. Stoller posits the argument that all perversion is borne of hatred towards the object choice, or what the object choice represents. By taking it as a sexual ‘partner’ the object which is hated is mastered in order to surpass a moment of trauma from the past. The perverse act is given an origin and thus a reason. He states:

In order to begin to judge these ideas, draw on your own experience. Think of perversions with which you are familiar… In each is found – in gross form or hidden but essential in fantasy – hostility, revenge, triumph, and a dehumanized object. Before even scratching the surface we can see that someone harming someone else is a main feature in most of these conditions. (9)

Before annihilation of a human, dehumanisation must ask the question ‘What is human?’ and inevitably deconstruct the relationship between what is human and the subject. What is human is not opposed to what is not human but what is not a being at all, what is not an integrated object is placed in opposition to the human or a subject. Wholeness is implicit in what is human, and the crisis of transforming, shattering or changing subjectivity is adamantly indicative of something not whole and not one. For this reason dehumanisation should not be taken in a derogatory context. Only when the aim of de-humanisation is to affirm and reify the perpetrator’s own humanity does the act of dehumanisation raise issues of hierarchy and power. Through perversion the condition of being human, with the limits and boundaries of perception of self and object this entails, is negotiated so that the self can no longer look at itself and its partner and say ‘I am human’. Rather, at a loss for language, the self shifts towards a depth beneath the (or one) surface, with a different ‘feeling of self’ and hence, ‘feeling of object’. [3] Stoller quotes 1930s perversion theorist E. Straus, ‘ “the delight in perversions is caused by… the destruction, humiliation, desecration, the deformation of the perverse individual himself and of his partner.”(Straus’s italics).’ (Quoted in Stoller, 8) These ambiguities are further problematised when the object is itself a frontier between humanity (is a corpse human?), temporality (it was, what is it now?), ideologies of respect and disgust. Stoller chooses this quote despite the tacking on at its end of ‘and of his partner’. Beyond the question as to whether a corpse counts as a partner, as a ‘someone’, the destruction of the self rather than the partner is more pertinent to my discussion though less so for Stoller. Stoller says nothing of the italicizing by Straus of ‘deformation’. ‘Desecration’ (so frequently suffixed by ‘of the grave’) and ‘destruction’ are words that evoke the massacre of body and self. But destroy and deform are ideal words to describe becoming otherwise; here, to elucidate the ‘something different’ the necrosexually changing body is becoming, the massacred, destroyed, deformed body(ies) and intensities of proximity and connexion with an actually massacred body.

[8] To stay with the subject-object dialectic for a moment, the necrophiliac is positioned toward a deeply confounding ‘object’. Devoid of will, what is a corpse? Is it symbolic of a purely abstract memory, or an actual memorial object? What if the corpse is that of a dead lover? Does this mean that the necrophiliac is expressing a form of fidelity beyond the call of duty? When the sealed corpse becomes dishevelled flesh through opening up, is it a different kind of object of desire? Does Bertrand’s adamant heterosexuality show that the corpse always remained gendered? If so how are the entrails gendered? I evoke these questions not to answer them, and certainly neither to vindicate nor derogate necrophilia, but to offer the corpse as a materialised version of a conceptual as well as actually massacred body. I am however adamantly not going to analyse cinematic representation of necrophilia when it is associated with crime because I wish to focus on necrophilia as part of a non-aggressive, non-violent massacre of the body. Criminal aggressive necrophilia reiterates traditional power paradigms of perpetrator/victim, often in murder incarnated as male/female. The compulsion to read necrophilia within this dynamic occurs before the instance of necrophilia. The corpse is, etymologically the most immediate definition of the expression ‘a body’. But what it is in relation to humanity and materiality is volatile and dynamic before the necrophiliac is positioned in relation to it. I have used the expressions ‘conceptually’ and ‘materially’ neither as opposed nor as extricable. Guattari and Deleuze and Guattari’s Bodies without Organs and becomings show the materiality of thought and the structuration of desire and flesh as epistemic. The materiality of the corpse is emphasised here because the corpse is so material – stinkingly, rottingly, traumatically and viscerally so, actualising new layers of the flesh when thorax is opened and fluid extravasated. The corpse is subjectivity as only matter and the ultimate symbol of humanity as nothing more than flesh, but flesh which is unknowable, whose pleasures evoke infinite possibility not available in a living body. The body represents both the most mundane and most frightening point of ideals and anxieties of the indivisibility of subjectivity, flesh, discourse, desire and pleasure.

[9] In connecting epistemic with aesthetic systems (or symptoms), the following section will introduce a selected range of studies of necrophilia in academia, popular culture and film to introduce established structures of necrophilia which I will not deal with. These are selective simply to offer a range of examples, as this essay is not a study of representations of necrophilia, but uses specific texts to explore necrophilia differently. Primarily, and at this stage rudimentarily, three ubiquitous aspects of these examples of necrophilia are challenged and alternatives offered through the work of Deleuze and Guattari. These are: the retention of a dialectic structure between object and subject, associated with fetishism, and particularly psychoanalysis; the maintenance of subjectivity within the corpse through the striated body, where the organs (particularly the genitals) retain their biological and metaphoric signification: the necessary association of necrophilia with criminality and explicitly (usually misogynistic) violence and aggression. Elisabeth Bronfen’s Over Her Dead Bodydeals with the objectification of the dead woman in art, poetry and literature. By affirming the gender of the corpse the title suggests the non-consensual aspect of necrophilia. Lisa Downing’s Desiring the Dead, a psychoanalytic study of French literature, critiques studies which ‘focus somewhat erroneously on what the necrophile does, and are obsessed with the acts that appear most obvious – sexual intercourse.’ (3) Against this, Downing emphasises ‘the choice of the corpse as subject matter.’ (30) Downing and Bronfen both retain the sexual dialectic as positioning subject and object, and sexuality as predetermined act. For me, the materially de-subjectified corpse emphasises the affective space between the two – ‘Between the two there is threshold’ (Deleuze and Guattari: 250)

[10] Aggressive violence, necrophilia as violation and frequently misogynistic act is perhaps the most prevalent representation of the desire. Contradictorily however, while gory necrophilia is met with outrage (including gory lyrics) violent but clean deaths seem to conform with stereotypes of necrophilia and are responded to with less verve. Films such as NekRomantik (Jorg Buttgereit, West Germany, 1987), The Necro-Files (Matt Jaissle, US, 1997), August Underground (Fred Vogel, US, 2001) and Lucker the Necrophagous (Johan Vandewoestijne, Belgium, 1986) offer cinematic representations of clinical associations between criminality, murder and necrophilia, with greater or lesser degrees of complexity. In death metal Slayer’s 213 emphasises the control the necrophiliac can exert over the most docile subject-object: Complete control of a prize possession, and the relationship between memory and necrophilia:Memories keep love alive/ Memories will never die. Less nuanced, explicitly aggressive lyrics can be seen in Cannibal Corpse’s Necropedophile, where paedophilia, necrophilia and naughty swear words emphasise the act extravasated from desire at all, simply offered as something to shock by hitting sanctified lines of social values. Like The Necro-Files the songs of Cannibal Corpse are more infantile and affirm the paradigms they cross rather than exemplify new forms of subjectivity, pleasure and desire. Without the maintenance of the subjectivity of the corpse and society’s systems of morality the pleasure and point of these acts cease to exist. They seem to respond to the predicted reaction, so that the act itself seems at best purely symbolic and at its extreme completely circumnavigated. What is important is not what is done, but what is seen (or heard) to be done. [4]

[11] Nacho Cerdà’s Aftermath (Spain, 1994) and I’ll Bury You Tomorrow (Alan Rowe-Kelly, US, 2002) continue traditional urban apocrypha of the sexual habits of morgue workers, which, strangely, never seem to be associated with forensic pathologists, only their discursive (and presumably economic) inferiors.Kissed (Lynne Stopkewich, Canada, 1996) is a more mainstream example of necrophilia in film. Kissed needed to be branded ‘art’ in order to vindicate the practice of the female necrophile, affirming two stereotypes – that women’s sexuality is more delicate and less violent, and that only when necrophilia is filmed in an arty way can it offer anything more than offensive aggression to planes of desire. Even in popular understandings of cultural ‘phenomena’, such as AIDS, necrophilia is evoked. Tim Dean’s Beyond Sexuality associates necrophilia with the death drive but also, fascinatingly, as a safe sex option. Where there is no longer a risk of AIDS from a person – traditionally minoritarians such as homosexual men and drug addicts but increasingly third world populations – the corpse as ‘waste’ threatens disease from its unsanitary condition and its seduction of the mentally invaded psychopath. Dean states: ‘Think of the symbolic order as a net settling over the corporeal form… the process does not happen in a uniform way because there is no single symbolic order that we all inhabit’. (197) Through a variety of epistemic structures necrophilia is foxed at every turn, a virus of psychiatry or nosology or even addiction as 213 expresses: Physical pleasures an addictive thrill/ An object of perverted reality.

In the Folds of the Flesh

[12] By way of connection, all of the following films I will discuss have been banned by Film and Literature Classification Boards around the world, in spite of not being aggressively violent. The viewer is then positioned as part of the taxonomy of criminals, a pervert for procuring illegal films, for enjoying these films and in the most simplistic argument, repeating what they watch in the real world. I wish to suggest that in order for the necrophile (this term is now used tactically, not to refer to a pathologised pervert ‘type’) to enter into a desiring intensity with the corpse, the subject/ object opposition must shift. The corpse neither fails to nor fulfils entering into the spaces between subject and object. The corpse isn’t a symbol of the abject because the corpse – not spoken of, but immanently encountered – is the event which cannot be deferred to a second order signification. The corpse opens out self, flesh, desire and pleasure as it is opened out. Foucault states: ‘One sees how in certain instances… the misuse of sexual pleasure might lead to death.’ (133) Death of what? Does misusing the corpse offer a way out of subjectivity, apetite mort not through orgasm but de-subjectification? Necrophilia’s visceral pleasure is not subject and object in opposition, but pleasure in folding with the planes of flesh of the object – beyond metaphors of flesh and fold necrophilia signifies every part of the flesh, every nerve (no longer nerve because no longer perceptive), every tissue mass, every artery, every organ, the unfolded skin as libidinally provocative. In the event of necrophilia skin may be peeled, entrails fondled, parts removed or moved around, corporeal minutia explored and every plane of the body reorganized into a new configuration with new function and meaning. The films I will discuss offer three forms of corporeal massacre. In Macabre the female necrophile has only a head lover, in Beyond the Darkness the dead lover is enjoyed through tender acts of taxidermy, and the entrails are used as libidinal objects, sorrowful reminders and ecstasy inducing aspects of the lover. The exploitation of entrails only available in necrophilia reaches its zenith in Flesh for Frankenstein where the viscera are the primary site of sexual obsession. The corpse is at once all sexual and signifying of nothing in particular. Because its rearrangement is limitless the corpse asks its lover not why, but what can it do and what can be done with it. What the corpse can ‘do’ refers to affect rather than action. This means the possibilities of affect fold the corpse as active entity with the necrophile in her/his open-ness to being affected and create new affective possibilities within the corpse through experimentation with the limitlessness of the corpse. The necrophiliac must be passive, as they forsake activity based on significations of sexual narratives and signified flesh. The necrophiliac is passive in the face of the vertiginous loss of self that occurs with loss of opposition and signification. No longer ‘I am, it is, hence I will desire it in accordance with the sexuality appropriate to object and subject’ but ‘how can I desire, how is this matter before me desirable, what can I do with it, what does it do to me, what connexions do we enter into?’ The corpse is all at once past-tense person, infinitely experimental matter, flesh which both resonates with living flesh and is a fleshy something else altogether unique to the corpse. The films I have chosen to look at in the following sections are horror films, however none are particularly violent beyond the ‘violence’ or violation of the corpse. The protagonists are not driven by aggressive impulses and the points of intensification in the films occur not in procuring death, with which many horror films are concerned, but with what affects can be elicited post-mortem. Each film is different in terms of its necrophilia, in conformance with my point above that the only constant of necrophilia is the presence of a corpse – sexuality, the use of the body and the relations of phantasy and memory with it are not guaranteed. While some horror films dealing with necrophilia are described as gothic – films of Edgar Allen Poe stories for example – because they deal with memory and the uncanny resonances between the corpse and a lover, the films I will look at I describe as baroque. These films are all made by Roman directors. They come from a genealogy beginning with Gian Lorenzo Bernini rather than the British history of the gothic novel or the uncanny nostalgia of Poe. Thus geographically, historically and visually like baroque sculpture they continue artistic and philosophical expressions based on the flesh, unfolded and refolded, what Deleuze calls the ‘pleats of matter’. While ghosts and memories haunt the suggested necrophilia of British gothic, baroque necrophilia does not mourn the dead subject. It exploits the present materialisation of the lover, indulging in the new possibilities the flesh offers. The new flesh is explored rather than the old flesh memorialised. It exchanges mourning for ecstasy. Deleuze states of the baroque:

Why is the requirement of having a body sometimes based on the principle of passivity, in obscurity and confusion, but at others on our activity, on clarity and distinction … Microperceptions or representatives of the world are those little folds that unravel in every direction, folds in folds, over folds, following folds… and these are minute, obscure, confused perceptions that make up our macroperceptions. (86)

Through Leibniz, Deleuze sees the body as a necessary limit, both the site of passive possibility and required resistance. The body, a body, one’s body, is according to Deleuze, the deduction of affects and microperceptions, self as coalescent active acted upon expression rather than induction of subjectified body into world. Traditionally we are inducted into systems of pre-signified bodies and sexualities. There is no necessary opposition between the macro-self and the self as unfolding and folded in upon series of microperceptions. The necrophiliac exploits the actually unravelled and limitlessly unravell-able flesh, but requires the macroperceptive self to open up, to become passive in the presence of an object of desire that demands imagination, possibility and a relinquishment of the macroperception of ‘lover’ as an organised distinct entity which acts upon the self. The affective qualities of the corpse come not from its will but through folding with the necrophiliac. Desire, viscerality, possibility of act and dissipation of pleasures are pleats which configure the fold of subject and object differently at every turn. Self is fuelled by obscured desire in front of an obscure-able object. Through each act and wave of intensity another fold of self is pleated – ‘a fearsome involution calling us toward unheard of becomings.’ (Deleuze and Guattari: 240)

[13] The decision to act is not borne of the act being pre-signified. Signification in medico-legal discourse comes from a resistance to discursive passivity, where we synthesise into being our acts as a series of linguistic habitus which ‘constitutes our habit of living, [which ensures us as an] ‘it’ will continue…thereby assuring the perpetuation of our case.’ (1994: 74). Pre-signification massacres libidinal expression through inducing the necrophiliac into a defined form of sexuality – before the act – rather than a deduction, after the act(s), ablating each aspect or element of each example of necrophilia as a unique folding of living with dead flesh. Necrosexuality is a form of sexuality not ‘as a process of filiation transmitting the original sin. But… as a power of alliance inspiring illicit unions or abdominal lovers. This differs significantly from the first in that it tends to prevent procreation.’ (Deleuze and Guattari: 346) Epistemology is transmitted; we come into being as a transmission, procreated through discourse. Folds of necrophilic perceptions with the abominable lover include but are in no way reducible to: The tactility of entrails; memory of lost love; confrontation with limitless possibilities of the flesh unavailable (without harm) in a living body; a body devoid of former signification but significantly desirable; and as I will discuss below, the massacre of gender and sexual narratives borne of sexuality as a pre-ordained induction. Opening new folds in the body creating new folds of perception ‘opens a rhizomatic realm of possibility effecting the potentialisation of the possible, as opposed to arborescent possibility, which marks a closure, an impotence.’ (Deleuze and Guattari: 190) Being respected, thus saved from defilement, makes the flesh of the corpse impotent. Potentialising the possible comes from a certain passivity by the necrophile to different folds, which effectuate new aspects of each face of the fold, just as each peeling away of a part of the corpse reorganises it into different planes of possible sexual ‘fun’. Necro-folding and unfolding proliferates the pleats of Deleuze’s contemplation: ‘We speak of our “self” only in virtue of those thousand little witnesses which contemplate within us; it is always a third party who says “me”.’ (Deleuze, 1994: 75) Each aspect of self is a contemplation, its own independent element, connected to every other element in contraction, dilation, force, non-corresponding receptive and perceptive elements. Contemplation is a turning in of self as not what it does but through its active and passive synthesis with its own elemental aspects and those of all others, resonant with Lyotard’s libidinal band. Self is neither made up of ‘bits’ nor of post-acting contemplation of self as object of study. Contemplation is immanent, self as before and within its own relational affects, ‘contractile contemplation which constitutes the organism itself before it constitutes the sensation. (Deleuze: 1994, 79) Contemplation is therefore not perception through deferral nor repetition as sameness, but act as always different within itself through the specificity of the changes in expectation and contraction at each repetition which necessarily changes the elements. Necrosexual acts (actually and contemplatively) de-part bodies and sexual acts iterated through perception as reification. The corpse, and the acts of the necrophile are intensified examples of passive syntheses because their acts are not laid out as traditional sexual acts are, because the body has already been made particles and relations destablilised. But then how can we speak of the necrosexual at all? Does this example suggest a deferral once again to causality, both saying there is difference in even the most asinine sexual acts, and that using necrosexuality as exemplary re-fetishises and reifies it as ‘different’? I suggest that necrosexuality as representing a social and cultural limit forms an assemblage, a fold, a passive synthesis (all different but all ways of the necrophile’s contemplation) as an abstract line of flight, belonging to the realm of the imperceptible: ‘There is no doubt that an assemblage never contains a causal infrastructure. It does have, however, and to the highest degree, an abstract line of creative or specific causality… this line can be effectuated only in connection with general causalities of another nature, but is in no way explained by them.’ (Deleuze: 1994, 79)

[14] Necrosexuality, the bodies involuted and undone, create a larval sexuality – immature and transformed at every synthesis, which acts not toward a thing but toward its metamorphosis, toward perceiving itself which cannot be perceived, toward the imperceptibility within repetition where all elements within syntheses are dissipated, disoriented and reoriented with each turn, each folding and each alteration in the aspects of involution. (Deleuze and Guattari: 283); ‘The self does not undergo a modification, the self is a modification.’ (Deleuze, 1994: 79)

Preliminary Dishevellment – Getting Head

[15] Lamberto Bava’s Macabre (Italy, 1980) is the story of Jane Baker (Bernice Stegers) who, as a result of a car accident in which her lover is decapitated, keeps his head in the freezer (it is never made clear if the keeping of the head only is due to the pragmatics of having a small freezer). The revelation of Jane’s cranio-necrophilia comes at the end of the film, after ninety minutes of hearing Jane talking to the head, screaming in passion during their sexual encounters and generally acting as if she is living with her (rather silent) lover. This is all perceived through her blind lodger Robert (Stanko Molnar), and like he, we remain blind to the actual relationship until the films final scenes. Jane’s necrophilia is an interesting starting point in my discussion as it offers an example of the female necrophile with a male corpse (or part thereof). Stereotypically the corpse is usually female and the necrophiliac male, be he scientist, poet (such as Poe) or artist. Jane’s necrophilia does conform to a certain type of necrophilia, that of nostalgia for a lost love. What is emphasised is that this love is not a substitute for the hope of an imminent new lover, nor a tragic memorial fetish. Jane seems authentically happy with her head lover. We do not know what she does with it, but, extricated from genitals, its gender becomes rather confounding. What is the relationship between a head and gender? Is Jane still hetero, even if we read the possible sexual acts she can perform traditionally – cunnilingus, kissing? How is her body signified without genital alterity? For Deleuze and Guattari the face is the primary site of signifiance of subjectivity, the place where the organised body quickens all significations into one intensified point of textual transcribability. The face will tell us what race, gender, age and even class the rest of the body is without the need to see its entire form. ‘It is precisely because the face depends on an abstract machine that it is not content to cover the head, but touches all other parts of the body… The question then becomes what circumstances trigger the machine that produces the face and facialisation.’ (Deleuze and Guattari: 170) Through being territorialised by the face, the whole body becomes face. The flesh conforms to the face and the gender of the face will establish patterns of possible sexual paradigms for the body – female face equals female genitals. Against another female face the female face is lesbian, against a male face heterosexual. Gender is found in the face and assures the genitals, which in these paradigms are taken as the primary and ‘appropriate’ site of sex.

[16] When it comes to established sexuality, getting head is getting face. Non-intercourse sex relies on the affirmation of the presumed genitals of the lover even if they are not naked. All non-genital sex is risky because it shows the body as divested of gender. (I do not include the anus as a genital here because it is not necessarily gendered unless its especially privileged proximity to the genitals is seen or felt.) A mouth is a mouth, but a straight person probably won’t want a same-sex mouth near their body. Genitals are territorialised and territorialising of the body when emergent through a binary machine. When the head is extricated from the torso does the face maintain its territorialisation of the entire body – ‘the head is included in the body but the face is not’ (Deleuze and Guattari: 170)? The de-facialised head alone cannot signify genitals – is a genital free body still a gendered body? If so in the same way? The abstraction of signifiance as pre-formed rather than formed at the encounter of each body as unique event is both arbitrary and redundant when a head is all there is. Jane’s head-lover can be taken as an example of Deleuze and Guattari’s body-head system, liberated from the facialising machine… and the body. Jane’s head lover is not a partial body object however. When the head is extricated from the facial territorialisation of the body, any single part no longer defers meaning to the whole. Each part can maintain its signification only to a certain extent. While a disembodied genital may still signify gender and thus sexuality, an arm or heart has only limited potential to do so. They may signify something else, but libidinally their meaning is unclear. Each part has a unique relationship to its former full body organism signification, but remains signified nonetheless. So how can a part deterritorialise subjectification and thus sexual paradigms, including gender, act and desire? ‘The question of the body is not one of partial objects but differential speeds.’ (Deleuze and Guattari: 172). Whether or not Jane thinks she is heterosexual, the fact remains she can’t be heterosexual in any way familiar to her former sexuality. This isn’t ‘me and my head’, because the proximity between Jane and her head is what causes others to eventually ship her off to the asylum. For each relation and connection between her lover and herself there must be a compensation or exploration to negotiate the new structure. Even if her sexuality is memorial heterosexual, sexual acts with her head-lover are rhizomatic – ‘short term memory or anti-memory. The rhizome operates by variation, expansion, conquest, capture, offshoots…a map that is always detachable, connectable, reversible, modifiable and has multiple entryways and exists and its own lines of flight.’ (Deleuze and Guattari: 21) The memory of heterosexual intercourse cannot help Jane as it is no longer an option. That she doesn’t seem particularly perturbed by the failure of this memory suggests hers is a happy rhizomatic sexuality(ies).

Beyond the Darkness, into the Body of Light

[17] ‘At each stage of the problem what needs to be done is not to compare two organs but to place elements or materials in a relation that uproots the organ from its specificity, making it become “with” the other organ.’ (Deleuze and Guattari: 259) Francesco (Kieran Canter) is a taxidermist. His girlfriend Anna (Cinzia Monreale) dies after Francesco’s housekeeper Iris (Franca Stoppi) places a curse upon her. Francesco is not particularly saddened by his loss, he does not cry, instead he disinters Anna, preserves her and places her at his side in his bed. Aristede Massaccesi’s Beyond the Darkness (Italy, 1979) has been criticised as offensively gory for the scene of Francesco preserving Anna. The scene plays in loving close up unflinchingly and includes extraction of entrails and eyes, and body fluid extravasation and preservation. While I find the scene fascinating rather than offensive or shocking, I will presume that upon first viewing there is an element of surprise and perhaps squeamishness evoked in the viewer. When Francesco removes Anna’s heart, he bites into it ecstatically. Clearly the traditional signification of the heart as site of love is evident here. Does eating the heart of a corpse maintain this signification? When we take a metaphor as an actual, does the metaphoric signification stand, or is it colonised by the actual? If the metaphoric without the actual were present, there would be no disgust at the scene. This scene offers an interesting involution of the organisation of the organs of the organism. Francesco clearly indulges his appetite for the love of his girlfriend by eating her heart (if I were to stretch the act into a transcribable sex act I would say cunnilingually). He is also eating a heart in a situation of love. The scene is extreme and gory because the heart fails to remain a metaphor only. Emphasising Deleuze and Guattari’s notion that the Body without Organs is not a body devoid of organs but organisation, I would argue that internal organs, in their resistance to use for pleasure and evocation of disgust, create Bodies without Organs by their very being as organ. By using an actual organ a desiring connexion ‘with’ other organs is created. The inside of the body, the internal organs, lose their metaphoric signification when the thorax is opened, in autopsy or medical imaging, because they become the property of medicine not desire. Is the organ the same organ when it is a physiological, anatomical organ, not a metaphoric organ? The organised body is organised differently depending on which system of signification it emerges through. This is emphasised when entrails are presented, as they belong predominantly if not exclusively to medical rather than sexual systems. The signification of genitals resonates with their metaphoric signification – the ‘passive’ egg, the ‘active’ sperm, the ’empty’ vulva, the ‘rigid, forceful’ penis are also adjectives relatively appropriate for metaphoric ways of feminising or masculinising other attributes, qualities or objects. This is why Deleuze and Guattari resist tails in becoming-dog because they are phallic. Entrails fail to translate their conceptual into their physiological attributes so readily. The same organ – the heart – is two different organs, in two incarnations, with two functions in the two systems of medicine and poetic metaphor. Incommensurable double signification leads to the massacre of this heart. The heart is therefore not ‘the’ heart but ‘this’ heart, a heart that confounds and conflates the visceral with the metaphoric. The heart which Francesco bites into may represent Anna’s heart to him, but it does not to the viewer or there would be no sense of horror. Is a heart ‘feminine’? Perhaps, but he shows no interest in her breasts or genitals, he doesn’t even have sex with her later in the film, so what precisely this heart evokes libidinally in Francesco is volatile. His mouth is site of ingestion and outward projected expression through kissing. To ‘kiss’ a heart would be more acceptable, albeit relatively gruesome. The relation Francesco makes between ingesting mouth and no-longer-metaphoric organ creates the new line of desire, the line of viewer and the line of flight.

[18] In death as in life, the interiors of the body seem more ‘organ’ than external organs such as the genitals, the nose or the skin. His mouth-to-heart act forms what Deleuze and Guattari call an unnatural participation. Against traditional metaphors of organs of love, Francesco removes Anna’s eyes because eyes rot. Eyes are often associated with love, with a connection to the soul, with an interface between mind and world. We gaze into our lover’s eyes; they express emotions associated with love – joy, sadness, and in pupil dilation sexual excitement. In death the soul supposedly leaves the body. So presumably the eyes can leave the body also. Yet there is something especially harrowing about eye extraction. Taking Anna’s eyes seems to be the last frontier in acknowledging that her ‘self’ is no longer present in this flesh. Because of the associations between eyes and love(rs) this scene seems incommensurable with Francesco’s interest in the heart as purely symbolic of love. If it were such, surely the eyes would also be privileged for their equivalent metaphoric status? Like Macabre‘s Jane, Francesco is not delusional in that he is not unaware of the necessary practicalities of having such a lover, prone as they are to decomposition. In spite of their functional purpose, the use of surgical tools in the scene, and tools of embalming, adds a surgical fetishism to the connection between Anna and Francesco. While I do not have room here to go into the particulars of surgical fetishism it is another form of ‘perverse’ sexuality which would be interesting to analyze in a Deleuzio-Guattarian context. Surgical ‘fetishism’ is somewhat of a misnomer, as it does not deal with psychoanalytic fetishism but with forming new and different connections between bodies, organs and tools. Surgical fetishism is more like Deleuze and Guattari’s masochism in that it is understood psychoanalytically and clinically in a different way to reading it as a becoming Body without Organs. While the films of Cronenberg, particularly Dead Ringers (Canada, 1988) would seem appropriate examples, the uncanny doubling and particularly the use of investigative and explicitly gender specific surgical tools in the film to interrogate the female interior prevents the film from really challenging psychoanalytic relations of desire. The Mantle twins are compelled to reveal an (albeit deformed) plane in the body of women rather than create new folds. Linda Ruth William’s celebrates Cronenberg because he unfolds the flesh to reveal. She speaks of Cronenbergian narratives and even ‘Cronenbergian identity’ (33). These terms replace ‘normal’ narratives and subjects with ‘weird’ ones, but singular and structured ones nonetheless. A more interesting example of surgical fetishism comes from another Antonio Margheriti film, The Virgin of Nuremberg (Italy, 1963). Deformed servant Eric (Christopher Lee), former acolyte of a General known only as ‘The Punisher’ (Mirko Valentin), polishes daily the surgical tool set belonging to his General. The use of the tools is not specified. The relationship between Eric and The Punisher is similarly not structured but is adamantly libidinal. The conflation of sex and surgery as practical in Beyond the Darkness becomes purely libidinal in my next film for analysis, Flesh for Frankenstein.

Flesh, Fold, Film

[19] Flesh for Frankenstein (Antonio Margheriti, 1974) is a particularly baroque take on the Frankenstein tale. Baron Frankenstein (Udo Kier) creates a master race of ‘zombies’ so he can repopulate the world with his perfect and obedient children. Meglomaniacal undeniably, but the real interest in the film lies with the incidental propensity of the Baron’s extracurricular activities. The Baron is repulsed by copulative sex, but relishes the opportunities he is afforded as an anatomist. He fondles the entrails of his female zombie (Dalila Delazzaro) until achieving climax, and literally fucks her gall bladder, espousing to his Igor-esque servant Otto (Arno Juerging), ‘to know death… you have to fuck life… in the gall bladder.’ The Baron’s adept performance raises questions regarding the pleasure science affords as an episteme, especially due to its more-intimate-than-intimate relationship with the various dishevelled plateaus of the flesh. The act of groping organs in particular can be nomenclatured as perverse – masturbatory and necrophilic – or it can express a reconfiguration of flesh and sexual dialectics. While the female zombie is opened up, the Baron opens up as well, exposing his perversion and, exploiting cinematic technique, his climaxing face in extreme close-up. The zombie opens her eyes during the act, awakened perhaps by the extraordinary experience, confounding the stereotypical aestheticised dead female that populates many Poe-esque horror films. Most emphatically, the viewer is opened up, presented sensorially with the force of the body unwound like a great visceral ribbon and intelligibly with desire that exceeds hetero, homo or pathological.

[20] The Baron breathlessly coos ‘spleen, liver, kidneys, gall bladder…’ It may be argued that this is a version of the phallologic desire to name and know the female body in order to control it. But entrails are not gendered. This scene is as far from predictable praise in sexual scenes for ‘breasts, legs, ass, mouth’– organs that have gendered resonance – as it is from a heterosexual act. The Baron exclaims ‘beautiful!’ when he first approaches the body, but suffixes this with ‘the incision is superb’, so his concept of corporeal beauty is immediately deterritorialising, aesthetic perfection found in a non-contusive suture. There is, however, a tension here between the Baron’s naming of the organs and the act’s revolutionary potential. Naming risks structuring the pleasure, ‘since instead of being passages of abundant intensity, these metamorphoses become metaphors of an impossible coupling.’ (Lyotard: 23) The entrails are not metaphors. The Baron presents an impossible coupling as possible, and indeed as immanent.

[21] Why is this apparently confounding and strange scene pleasurable to view? If we cannot describe the on-screen pleasure within established sexual systems, how can we describe our pleasure at viewing them? Watching the act and the pleasure experienced from viewing adamantly continues to resist being reified as a repeatable dialectic of pleasure. Thought traditionally, where on-screen flesh and pleasure sets up a demand for a similar or simulated version in the viewing flesh, in what ways does our pleasure reflect these on-screen bodies and pleasures? As the pleasures of the necrophile involve becoming passive to designification, so our pleasure as viewers requires an opening up to the images and their intermingled repulsive pleasures and extraordinary bodies. Lyotard’s elaboration of Deleuze and Guattari’s Body without Organs inLibidinal Economy emphasises the unraveling of signified flesh with the unraveling evoked in desire. To take Lyotard’s definition of the flesh literally, the ‘body is undone and its pieces are projected across libidinal space, mingling with other pieces in an inextricable patchwork.’ (Lyotard: 60)

[22] Our viewing bodies must be thought differently, stratified in a different pattern, undone and re-patched so that we are no longer dependent on genitals and gazing eyes as gendering and desiring organs. Viscera and confusion, even repulsion, enter into our pleasured viewing bodies. Thus definitions of pleasurable scenarios, bodies and what is desirable at all become re-configured. It could be argued, of course, that this reconfiguration occurs at every libidinal situation. This scene’s unusual representations of desire and flesh perhaps make thinking the reconfigurations all desiring bodies go through more immediately accessible, even compulsory. In this instance our relation to cinema is an example of Lyotard’s libidinal band, where we ‘open the so-called body and spread out all its surfaces’ (1) which, he continues, is made up of the ‘not only…’ where nothing, organic, inorganic, minutely refined and dishevelled, grossly baunastic, forms desire as pleated, twisting membrane, one great ephemeral skin. The particular desiring membrane of screen and viewer I call the cinesexual – the unique desiring relation between film and spectator. ‘Cinesexuality is the launch upon a line of desire where the outcome cannot be known – desire for a shadow, an inflection of light, quality of frame or contrast. The layers of expectation, pleasure and satisfaction are redistributed in the act of watching and so our desire must also redistribute. [Horror film], eliciting a turbulence of visceral reaction, a rhythmic refrain between viewing flesh and the speed of the film, may be an intersection where our attraction and corporeal dispersion connect with the viewed.’ (MacCormack, 2001) There is a risk in passivity to cinema, emphasized at the visceral response to which horror film is met. The viewer, like the cadaver on the table, is eviscerated into splanchnic proliferations. ‘Cinesexuality requires all viewers to come to cinema with an openness to the pure possible. Spectators ‘gift’ themselves to the indeterminability of affects and breaks in signifying systems. Submitting oneself to film is submitting to affects that indulge in the breaking down of logic and the flesh itself… Cinesexuality is expressed not in what one watches but how one is altered.’ (MacCormack 2005: 351, 352)

[23] What is the Baron’s desire? Why do we watch it with such an intermingling of disgust, confusion and pleasure? Traditional desire, her body and our intelligible viewing flesh that attempts to make meaning of the image are all undone, coming together in a constellation of pleasure, perversion and openness, breaking down the material and discursive fissure between viewer and viewed. Remaining in a simple binary of ordinary/extraordinary or normal pleasure/perversion positions relies most often on the subjugated terms – extraordinary, perversion – being defined not by what they are, but by the ways in which they fail the regimental and specific criteria of the dominant terms. For example, the opposite of heterosexual is not only homosexual, but also any failure at heterosexuality, from bisexuality and heterosexuality that includes effeminate masculinity, to small fetishes and grand panic narratives such as paedophilia. But between the cracks and fissures of these epistemological pathologies are found an infinite amount of minor and major transgressions of the rigid parameters of normalcy.

[24] The more confounding the perversion, the greater the resistance to it being reduced into a conceptual list of symptoms and reasons for these. Our pleasure at the Baron’s perversion is difficult to fix into an established perversion that includes the perversions on-screen and our pleasure at watching them, as well as our horror at our pleasure, and at what the Baron is doing and an endless list of further intensities difficult to demarcate and name. That we cannot comprehend the Baron’s perversion is essential to the scene’s powers of differentiating the spectator from a traditional viewing dialectic. Jacques Rancière points out that ‘the response to the false question “Do you understand?” implies the constitution of a specific speech scene in which it is a matter of constructing another relationship by making the position of the enunciator explicit. The utterance thereby completed then finds itself extracted from the speech situation in which it functioned naturally.’ (47) To contend that we do not understand without answering that claim resists interrupting the visceral pleasure of the scene for a simulacrum of that scene which replaces the material and transformative with the discursive and repeatable, where pleasure reflects the already-thought instead of relishing the unknowable.

[25] Attempting to explain why we take pleasure in the scene inserts us into a taxonomy of perversion. The parameters of the perversion then induct our pleasure instead of deducing the pleasure of the images, exchanging pleasure for external reasons for enjoying the images. The risks and needs to reduce confounding perversions to a series of symptoms and reasons preclude knowledge of them. The Baron’s pleasure at the perverse – his taste also ranges over consensual incest, anatomo-epistophilia and autoeroticism (as he enjoys both the masturbatory pleasure the female zombie affords him, but also his ecstasy at dying with a barge pole through his gall bladder) – contrasts with an investigative purpose of the audience setting up of specific questions that must be answered, closing off rather than splaying the pleasures in the film. ‘Perversion neither defines nor demarcates itself. It is the purity of the something-otherwise, available through the most radical or the quietest of acts. However act does not guarantee perversion. Nor does will. What perversion resonates is the redistribution of self through sensation and perception, a transformation of subjectification and signification. Perversion describes a project of risk and of hope. It is not a safe or predictable experiment. One of film’s great promises is impossible worlds, worlds unrealisable in the everyday, which fold us within the unperceivable cinema allows us to perceive.’ (MacCormack, 2004)

Necrophilic Lines of Flight

[26] In this article I have attempted, using a rather contentious form of sexuality, to explore the relationship between bodies and signification based on the taking of an object of desire which problematises the relationship between the body and being human. The immobile corpse can mobilise desire through forging new connexions which exploit the ways in which the flesh can be excavated in death. I have purposefully shifted my argument from the epistemology of social necrophilia to necrophilia in films because films, like bodies, offer uses and activities with the flesh unavailable in the ‘real’ world with ‘real’ bodies. Nonetheless these films are explicitly able to affect the viewer into thinking – or unthinking – the body differently and the reorientations or challenges in reference to gender and sexual act afforded in necrophilia. As the relationship between the necrophiliac and the corpse creates a line of flight, so these often harrowing, fascinating and baroque images fold with the viewer to affect them and form new trajectories of pleasure, both in viewing images and experiencing the body. The representations show us a different sexuality not with which we can replace ours, but which affects us and our understanding of the purposes and functions of bodies as they relate to and are regulated by the massacre signification perpetrates upon flesh and desire.




[1] Deleuze and Guattari, together and separately, as well as Foucault, all critique the term ‘transgression’. Transgression is unable to exist independently as a haecceity. It can only be measured against and in reference to, while a Deleuzio-Guattarian reading is an interrogation of the different parameters, paradigms and plateaus within rather than against systems, an alteration of trajectories and velocities. Perhaps a more correct term would be ‘lines of flight’, however I use the term transgression here because Guattari explicitly uses it

[2] My use of the word ‘pleasure’ here is tactical. In response to Foucault’s disdain at the word ‘desire’ because it evokes a desire ‘for’ (and thus a lack of) Deleuze refuses the word ‘pleasure’. Deleuze claims pleasure ‘seems to interrupt the immanent process of desire… the only means for persons or subjects to orient themselves in a process that exceeds them.’ (2000: 255) However, if Deleuze can posit a desire which lacks nothing, then my use of the term pleasure comes because it evokes a ‘within’ rather than a ‘toward’, a pure spatial – and hence immanent – form of ecstasy, outside of temporal narratives. Both have issues which I do not have time to elaborate here.

[3] Such a feeling of post-humanism has ethical implications for those who were never given the luxury of being considered as truly human, the marginal and the minoritarian, including women. This is dealt with in Judith Butler’sUndoing Gender and the work of Donna Haraway, particularly Primate Visionsand Simians, Cyborgs and Women.

[4] This should not be taken as symptomatic of metal music or culture in general. For every Cannibal Corpse there is a creative, and indeed Deleuzio-Guattarian, example of metal music (seen for example in doom metal band Halo’s 1998 album Guattari: From the West Flows Grey Ash and Pestilence). The author also published an article on necrophilia with the same ideas and explications as this piece in British metal magazine Terrorizer #133 (May 2005).


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Stoller, Robert J. (1975) Perversion: The Erotic Form of Hatred. New York: Pantheon Books.

Williams, Linda Ruth. (1999) ‘The Inside Out of Masculinity: David Cronenberg’s Visceral Pleasures.’ In Aaron, Michele. The Body’s Perilous Pleasures: Dangerous Desires and Contemporary Culture. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.


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