The first time I tried to go down on a boy in high school,
we were scared.
The rain hit the hood of the car, and I remember not knowing who should go first.
Or what to grab
or not to grab or how to ask for what I wanted, but I kept trying
and finally found a good rhythm.
PJ Harvey has a lot to say about rubbing it until it bleeds,
and I wanted desperately to follow her
advice on this.
That’s my notion of an object-oriented ontology
Godmother of queer theory Gayle Rubin
began with The time has come to think about sex.
About sex and tying the legs and wrists,
where cuffs enable and bind arousal:
Reckless and in control, but communicative and out of boxed bodies.
A transcendent feeling that recedes the closer I get.
Told I was crazy for desiring the ropes around my wrist
culpable for reinforcing patriarchal thinking
we were in college, though, and I thought we should be open to new feelings
Rubin and Dorothy Allison tried to make that painful pleasure public in 1982
but Catharine MacKinnon and Andrea Dworkin prohibited it
I can kind of see why
Mackinnon and Dworkin may have sided with Republicans
to get porn outlawed,
but sex isn’t always pleasurable. Even Rubin said, the realm
of sexuality has its own internal politics, inequities, and modes of oppression.
Allison said once in Trash
that she has been attracted to violence
so have I
and not straight white men’s violence,
something else controlled and consensual
Is it violence then?
Is this orientation a direction I go
because of the trapping of my social body?
I feel like the ankles of Nietzsche’s model I’ve resisted it
but Amanda Palmer keeps repeating it runs in the family.
My farm family keeps sharp objects everywhere and I just want a prick
On my finger
Through my skin
And I can’t contain it but for so long —
a typical return of repressed
running away in new directions and always material, but maybe it needs new material because
essentialism is dead
Even though sexual desire is usually oriented toward an aim and object other than
itself, it is much more malleable in its aims and objects than are the other drives, and also,
like positive affects, has the potential of being autotelic.
R. Crumb illustrated pleasure
questionably in the 70s, but I still like him. I think I like him most when
Aline Kominsky-Crumb shoves his face
in a pie and tells him he’s a little twerp
in his high-rise jeans
and plaid shirt to which he gurgles something unintelligible and gets erect.
Memory is always a pain.
A reality left laden and crafted with subtle scars
marking the forearm
I can remember Maggie Gyllenhaal burning her leg with the steaming kettle.
I wanted my leg
to sear with the same pleasurable pain
Why do we orient ourselves
in directions toward whom we love, we hate, we crave? An object ontology is a feeling
in the skin, in the mind
directing courses toward who and what we desire. Who controls this if
anyone or anything?
In Vibrant Matter,
Jane Bennett says agency is, I believe, distributed across a mosaic, but it is also possible
to say something about the kind of striving that may be exercised by a
human within the assemblage.
Particles are pieced together,
but I don’t know what they say. A hot microcosm, an unknowable drive.
But toward death or life?
I’ll strive toward the pinching vibrancy of pain.
taught me how to love and laugh and orgasm. Not like When Harry Met Sally,
but more likely how Passolini probably enjoyed sex. Objects taught me lessons on how to
love oddly. Joyelle McSweeney
showed me about Art as desire,
as breaking restraint in The Necropastoral, something that huffs itself,
changing, molding, its willing to be servile (S & M) and thus without mastery, yet it persists, it has its own
overweening rhetorical force (S & M),
its properties. I’ll disorient and be restrained. The filthiest people alive shoot
straight forward into my bed.
The people I love are willful subjects
When referring to Augustine’s Confessions
Bennett suggests the will wills even as another part of the will fights that willing.
This insatiable conflict
started when I was young. A horse crying out ride me, sir.
A saddle course
with pitching performance. Is there a leash lassoed around me? A neat necktie
in phallic formation.
What can I do if I can’t come?
The swampy stains marked my knees in one memory.
and sitting on benchmarked stumps while a textile mill stares through the trees
smokestacks climbing up and marking the sky
We’re apart of our own environment, our own ecologies
autonomy and strong responsibility seem to me to be empirically false,
and thus their invocation seems tinged with injustice.
We’re not determined by who we are
but then what material
are we left to cling to? Maybe letting go is what we need to do
but remember that these objects
in emphasizing the ensemble of nature of action and interconnections between persons and things
a theory of vibrant matter
presents individuals as simply incapable of bearing full responsibility for their effects. I don’t know
if I fully agree
with Bennett here
because I know instances when screaming riot grrrl bands told the boys
to go back
to get the fuck away from the stage. Kathleen Hanna threw her shoe
at one dick’s head
(that’s one kind of object-oriented ontology)
and yelled girls to the front circa 1992, then Rebecca Walker coined the third-wave
not that it wasn’t already there.
Before Walker, Dorothy Allison described grabbing a sexual hook hanging from the rafters in a barn
with one hand
and got off from painful memories forgotten
I wanted to find my own hook and line
like PJ Harvey’s best song stuck in my head
but I’m still coming up man-size
and remember the serene and sparse fields of hay
wishing for my hook.
Harvey mentioned there are horses in my dreams
I can’t remember my dreams very much anymore
I don’t know if I even will myself to remember
Those willful desires keep me up at night anyway, so who has time
It rescinds the closer it gets like a white picket fence
and that’s one fetish I don’t want. I’ll just
dream of the hot kettle or having the saddle on with a carrot in my mouth
like Gyllenhaal and James Spader.
Why do directions always seem so unidirectional?
Why not backwards, polyvocal, and always political? An entrainment of enjambment.
The proximity between me and anyone
repeats the same pattern of distance and longing
but when I can not longer see the site
it becomes unimportant. Hunx and his Punx simply told me if you’re not here, I
don’t know who you are.
Jeremy Cornelius is a first-year English PhD student at Louisiana State University. He currently works in queer theory, affect studies, and poetry. His short story “In Eden” was recently published in Meniscus. He has one forthcoming collaborative article in the Community Literacies Journal, and he will be researching zines in the residency program at the Queer Zine Archive Project in Milwaukee this summer.