Porn and the N-Word
Porn and the N-Word
Lust, Samuel Delany’s The Mad Man, and a Derangement of Body and Sense(s)
This chapter attempts to traverse the difficulties that narrative machinery encounters in blackness-in/as-abjection by visiting a kind of text that generically aims to work with (and to work) psychic/body responses: pornographic writing. In Samuel Delany's The Mad Man (1994), a literary pornographic work, the protagonist John Marr is a black gay male character who feverishly seeks out the pleasure of sexual acts that involve some form of apparent humiliation or degradation. It is argued that what is represented in The Mad Man is something in the nature of a rough model of working with the legacies of a history of conquest and enslavement (which is to say, with blackness, with having-been-blackened) through the transformation provided by erotic/sexual fantasies. Delany imagines a position that takes on board race without having at the same time to take up its fellow traveler, so often mistaken for the thing itself, ego. Is it possible to have race without ego, without defensive postures, without boundaries to police and ramparts on which to stand watch? The character of John Marr tries to model for us this position. Delany imagines him living his black body in its collective, sociogenic dimension, in which the demand to self-protection of that seductive individual I is refused in favor of one's becoming immersed in, lost in what it is to be the race, precisely as to be black means to have-been-blackened, to have been rendered abject.
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