Saturday, September 10, 2011

Get with My Friends: Extra-Personal Erogenous Zones

"If you wanna be my lover, 
you've gotta get with my friends"

The Spice Girls

The Scene

You sit across the table from Posh Spice and Ginger Spice in a window-side booth of a neighborhood Chicago diner. Posh and you have been going out for a few weeks now (depending on when you count from) but this is the first time you've met one of her really good friends.

The conversation lags in the beginning as your shyness competes with Ginger's strangeness and Post's inexplicable reticence. Then Posh offers that Ginger and you both hate the Packers and things pick up; via a shared interest in teasing Posh on her clumsy social skills. 
From there, Posh watches and smiles over her food until the conversation turns to how you and her met, then it becomes a duet of storytelling with each partner sharing the many little details that the other drops out, now from an established stock of previous tellings, while Ginger takes her turn as the bemused audience.

Then suddenly you are alone as Posh and Ginger both got up and went to the bathroom together. You absentmindedly eat some more of your fries and stare at a text from a friend asking if you think things are going well.

I. The Extra Personal Body

"What does it mean to love somebody?  It is always to seize that person in a mass,  extract him or her from a group... then to find that person's own packs,  the multiplicities he or she encloses within himself or herself  which may be of an entirely different nature.  To join them to mine, to make them penetrate mine, and for me to penetrate the other person's."

Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, 
A Thousand Plateaus

An integral concept in the trans / inter-personal body is that its composition is molecular, ecological and ever changing.A body is molecular, made up of diverse bodies, identifying as a single (molar) thing but with these constituting bodies working together, wandering loosely and conflicting. Likewise this body which is identifying as a molar thing, itself is identifying with other various bodies to constitute another body, often different ones at the same time (such as siblings in a family or in a work place; water molecules in a saline solution active in the veins or as blood). 

A body is also ecological, not a closed circuit but a form of network through identification into which bodies enter and exit, or vibrate between such states likewise ecologies are  necessarily  over-lapping,  forming larger ecologies or split at times as different sub-bodies or co-ecologies share the same things which move between several networks, at times returning to some but not all (such as money in a bank, in a business, in a consumers hands and in the stock-market).

A body is ever-changing, made up not only of static things which simply combine and move around but which change in qualities, no longer identifying as the same thing it was previously, or as a new version. Likewise as bodies change, so does the make-up of the molecules and ecologies of which they are constituted and which they constitute. A key act in (trans)forming bodies is then identification and dis-identification (which I will from here on call "alienation") which occur constantly, maintain queer perimeters and queer tensions.

Queer Perimeters occur where bodies come together or move apart, or as what is being regarded shifts, the outline of what is considered the body moves but can never be considered set (for molecular, ecological and ever-changing reasons). These perimeters are often multiple. Speaking in terms of "human" community, a person can be at the same time your lover, friend, and family member but not always in the same way at all times and along with a changing set of definitions of those bodies; and likewise who they identify with under those categories may add or distort your identified perimeters. 

Queer Tension is then the force of the shifting perimeters as a result of, along with and bringing about the effects of its status as molecule, ecology and changing things. Thus in the scene above we have the bodies (always already molecular, ecological and changing) of Posh, Ginger and You. Importantly this is also a meeting of different bodies, considering these persons together internally and externally.

Internally, Posh and Ginger identify as "close" friends which function together as single thing; as noted before they may come together, wander loosely together or even conflict but none the less at times function as a unit which interacts with the "outer" world as one entity. Posh and You identify as romantic partners, lovers, prospective lovers, friends or other imaginable bodies in regards to Ginger and the "outer" world which is alienated in respect to you. Thus PS&GS and PS&Y constitute two bodies meeting, while at the same time somehow hybrid or molecular (this happens more times than not in different points whenever meetings occur). Ginger and You identify as strangers and can be considered such a unit in a way which alienates Posh from the body due to her over-familiarity with both parties. She cannot participate in the experience of the queer tension of their meeting, although she might empathize or react to it.

Externally, Posh, Ginger and You identify as a body, perhaps to the interrupting stranger (another body we could consider) via the tacit or explicit statement (" 'WE' are having a private conversation here"). You and your friend on text constitute another body which is identifying together but which perhaps is momentarily existing with a greater degree of queer tension (alienation) until the free moment in which it may be engaged upon and brought into a heightened stated of activity and identification.

Throughout all these illustrations the number of listed bodies (or potential bodies) are mapped in a limited way to illustrate a point, but are none the less present and actively transforming. 

II. Calling on Others 
to Be Our Erogenous Zones

"The distinction to be made is not at all between exterior and interior, which is always relative, changing, and reversible, but between different types of multiplicities that coexist, interpenetrate, and change places"

Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, 
A Thousand Plateaus

The activation of erogenous zones on a body may require looking at each component tentatively as thing to itself (although all are admittedly queered and transformed together).

The Act: The body or bodies networking on the body which will experience the pleasure, arousal, intensification, transformation; noting that this act will have a nonreciprocating act through the contact but which may not be of the same force or kind. These effects are often hard to expect, qualify or quantify, such as in speech acts.

The Erogenous Zone: the body which is identified with, as or constituted by the body which is experiencing the pleasure; the erogenous zone may have connections or bodily perimeters which may extend beyond the body which experience the pleasure, and may be "a body which experiences pleasure" of its own; the transferring, connecting of the act to the body may or may not be transformed or changed in substance at this point.

The Body: the body which experiences the pleasure and intensification but as it is constituted as a molecule, ecology of changing bodies this sensation itself is made cognizable for the body via a network of reactions between internal bodies (which may also change the composition of these internal and the body experiencing the pleasure in regards to the other bodies; i.e. the erogenous zone or the act(or), or beyond such as in the case of a voyeur).

Here these things were regarded as separate (alien) but as mentioned may be identifying together in the forms of partners participating in a swingers group, two lovers exchanging touches, a single person pleasuring themselves, etc. What is important is that because of the bodies with(in) other bodies, these all occur the multiple no matter how molar we regard them. Thus even masturbation can be considered a kind of mass orgy.

Thus we are brought to consider how the above scene can function as an example of inter-personal erogenous zones. Looking at the scene in regards to Posh's pleasure we can see the break-down such as this:

The Act(or): You

Your interjection into AND reception of Posh's body of friends serves to excite through the various acts performed: the exchange of words, the visual cues of enjoyment or discomfort, the release of pheromones, the touch or shaking of bodies. For the purposes of this example we will in fact concentrate on these acts effects on Ginger, although they will no doubt provide their own direct pleasure on Posh's other erogenous zones.

The Erogenous Zone: Ginger Spice

Receiving, prompting, holding and changing the act and the effects of your acts Ginger emits her own visual, audio, aromatic (etc) cues to Posh who receives these signals via her moments of actively observing, passively noticing and her latent realizations or later messages from Ginger (such as in the escape to the bathroom together) that provide her with feed-back on the act(or); i.e. you. As noted, Ginger may likewise be considered a body that experiences pleasure independent or in connection with Posh; or be considered an act(or) on Posh in her own right.

The Body : Posh Spice

As pleasure is a difficult and complex concept in itself which go far beyond the scope of this argument, it may be enough to say now that having received a variety of signals from Ginger there may be a variety of pleasures and a variety of justifications, causes, associations on how this pleasure is produced. She may enjoy that Ginger and you are getting along and thus integrating as one body with Posh smoothly, she may enjoy the conflict, friction or anxiety both Ginger and you experiences, she may enjoy that Ginger is experiencing pleasure from you in her own right (as an alienated AND/OR identified body to hers), she may enjoy Ginger's injury (or lack of intensification) or the transmission of Your injury (or pacifying) during the others enjoyment.

Approaching the scene in this way illustrates it as a sexual intercourse in its own right and as part of the process of the shifting perimeters and tensions. Certainly when the scene is focused at Ginger, yourself or other bodies in particular the scene complicates further.

In some ways this terminology is metaphorical, insofar as it refers to erogenous zones which are normatively described as on / in the skin of the body, but as had been determined the molecularity, ecology and changing of the body forces ALL definitions to become queerly metaphoric (perhaps metonymic, as they always already refer to a whole field of signifiers).

Put another way, in regards to bodies which are understood as transforming, it is useful TO BROADEN, SHIFT, CHANGE, SURPRISE or in another word QUEER how we understand the body's erogenous zones. If we are to take seriously that a body consists of diverse organic, inorganic, personal, interpersonal, human, nonhuman bodies such as prosthetics, electronics, apparel, or our good friend Ginger, then we need to consider how they function like, with or as parts of the body as it has been traditionally conceived; and how it changes and undermines them.

We might also consider what happens when these connections fail, change, become extremely alienated or transform radically at the level of the erogenous zones which are then unable to transfer the act to the body to experience the pleasure (or not); which may be explored in another post.

More on Rhizomatic Ontology


No comments:

Post a Comment