La Perversita: Introduction


Phallus fears division. Vulnerability is contradictory to its wholesome being. Every division is a reminder of its own nonexistence and it shrieks and growls in fury at every indication that it too is not whole. It grows bigger and more erect; it straightens asymmetry and calls it morals; it spreads morals and names it culture;  it builds bridges and inscribes sciences; it claims knowledge and it invents a tie; it finds a solution and purpose; it creates the concept of child; it constructs more wholes for wholeness and it becomes a member of them; it counts and multiplies; no tradition is traditional enough for the phallus; it invents a condition and prescribes it an antidote; it completes, commands, and determines; it prioritizes wholes by their density, vitality, and stability and calls it a society; it builds schools and invents an altar; it educates and trains weaker wholes to respect the stronger wholes; it invents an individual and it grants it privacy; it designs a home and finds a place for an animal in it; it names an animal; it partitions repetition and calls it time; it extends repetition and calls it history; it steals more wholes to make bigger, better wholes and calls it a nation; it forgets the impossibility of itself; it celebrates and rejoices; it grows bigger and bigger; it spackles, gags, and plugs and calls it sexual experience; it falls into deeper forgetfulness; it grows stiff and huge; it covers the sun; if it sees an unstuffed hole it aims to fill it; it stuffs the hole and forces it to smile; it makes it wear a festive white dress; it marries a hole and calls it a Woman.

A deviation spreads. The gaze shifts towards antiquity. The traces of neighborhoods deepen. Maps of the void. Road twists and turns. From door to door, scraping in ancestral basements. Inherited relics. Dusty picture frames. White gowns of lace. Smell of blood and iron. Mary had a child. Ruins collapse ruins. Imprinted in marble, hole once captured. Memories to last, to outlast; meant to fade the shadow, but deepened the hole. What is this story once told. They spoke of {   } beauty that would glow and save the day. The voice that poured from {   } rose lips twinkled like a clear spring. The space as light and fair as an unfurnished chamber. It was named fragile, incomplete, incomprehensible. Transparent walls, too thin, too many holes. They spackled and fixed, built a house. Trapped between the bricks. Heavy bronze gates shut. Columns and sculptures to remind of what was not yet. They dug a cellar deep and dark and said what was in it, they said what to dream.

Deviation widens. Looking deeper. Artifacts traced, blindness grows. Brushing off the earth. Lines sharpen, silhouettes identified, names recovered. Clay pots and jugs, painted with meaning. They speak of other “correct” names once used. But {   } name is not here. It must have faded. Crickets and citrus trees rage with the sound of lack. Listen.

Deviation expands, envelopes the whole. There is no more gaze but the eternity of the wholeness once preserved. Relics stacked on relics cover the flat earth. The (anti) human as the historian of atrocity. But there is a deeper shadow. Longing for/from the lack. The cat has faded, but the smile still hangs heavy over the horizon. Nothing is certain. Again.

Calloused predicate to naming. A set that claims to belong to itself, claims to be correct, perfectly straight and total. But being can never form a totality. The set of One can only but function under the brutal enforcement of its impossibility. This enforcement, masked under various seductions, is what constructs the elaborate monument that is the phallus. In this archaic/phallic ontology, woman can only be but excluded. Patriarchy is a claim to the whole of being, while there is none.




Hole is the errant subset included in all sets, to the count that claims the whole. This subset is the immanent and impredicative/indiscernible errant mark. In the phallic count she is not what constitutes the known and the named, not what is legible to the phallic, but all that is an exception to it, everything that the succession of phallic order misses and is in turn the force that is constitutive of the metonymy of the phallus.

There are two women: the woman of phallic marking and the woman that contradicts the phallic marking. They are one and the same insofar as One that is is the one of two. There is the woman of One: marked, framed, othered, and inverted into its enforced essence. Woman of two: divided, split, resistant, and perverse. These two compose the one-in-the-same paradoxicality of the name woman, revealing the impossibility of the wholeness of the name, thus making transparent the violence of phallic operations. The Woman we will speak of is a subject that has come to realize its interior unity with the hole. Her subject is defined by shedding the determination applied onto her by the phallus, she projects herself into the destructive battle against the patriarchal operation. Othered by the phallic symbolic order she acts as a force, subtracting from and recomposing the logic of the world that carved her body, trapped her mind and named her Other. She determines herself from herself, against the internal form of her former cage. She is only a woman insofar as she is an obstacle to the phallus, simultaneously, she is not a woman: she is the hole.

We will speak of the historical Woman/hole (the force) and the structural Woman/whole (the name). The new name forbids the new name, and presupposes it. We insist that the isolated analysis of either history or structure sews the ground for essentialism or structural determinism, both of which lock the subjective suture of the hole to the vacuum of the phallic ideology. There is no essential woman, no woman that is named correctly or incorrectly. Hole is not a sulky subject mourning the misplaced essence. Hole is a perverse force that acts against the imposed essence that is the foreclosure in the phallic name. Looking at the relationship of the structural and historical will help us to leave aside the empirical approximations applied on biological determinants of the name Woman, and construct a political subject that is as much defined by its act and force as its structural marking and name.

To choose the study of force paired with the name is not to claim the priority of the structural dialectic over the historical dialectic, or to somehow claim that we can ever rid the subject of its structural inscription, rather it is an effort to shift the bracket of the feminist/communist subject to the brink of a collision of history and the subtractive suture of its void.

To prioritize the structural dialectic would be to fully deploy our arguments through the phallic symbolic. Structural dialectic only reads the side of the whole. This side claims: a hole as disappearance, whose effect is the whole/place from which it has disappeared. Thus force/hole is only registered as a lack from this side of the dialectic. Nothing has taken place, but the place/whole. “To think sexual difference starting from the male universal is to think it as already thought, that is, to think it through the categories of a thought that is supported by the non-thinking of difference itself.”1 Within the patriarchal universal, woman is placed in the position of eternal lack. Her marking pre-defines her position within this world. If she resists from this predetermined place of marking she can only acquire rights within the same world that marked her to begin with. Thus she will still remain the woman marked as lacking, but perhaps with a cosmetic resurfacing of her former cage.

To prioritize the historical dialectic away from the structural would be to assume the position of an outside in relation to the structural dialectic, which assumes the possibility of total purification from the structural placement of the name. Structure here is assumed as pure oppression. Hence no name can ever be affirmed from this side, since the name in itself is seen only as a foreclosed wholeness. By assuming the outplace to a structure, it directly antagonizes with the oppressive structures and in turn only affirms them. Valorizing the force over and in separation from the structure implies that every name is a totalitarian threat to a force. Since her participation in the construction of the name is only seen as her submission to the phallic order, any struggle seems a priori lost from this position. Lack is eternally privileged and thus woman can only but continue leaking.

We aren’t satisfied with isolation of either of these positions, since each of them only offers nothing but another submission to the phallic definition. We do not want to inhabit a comfier cage within which we must bring forth more phalluses. We insist on the total shattering of this order; this is why we must aim to utter the impossible. The pitch that we evoke must split the matter from its atomist stupor. We must start from the beginning while at the same time looking backwards to the historical movement of power.  But we do not want to prioritize the historical dialectic over and in separation from the structural; that is a dead end in itself. We understand the difficulty and impossibility of this project, but as we feel the totality of our situation, we must remind ourselves of the composite of bricks that constructs this psychic foreclosure. There is nothing domination thrives more on than the consensus of the compliant. To see the name as always already doomed would be to submit to the current dominant conception of the name. Not all names are the same. Some name the Void. Thus we must utter the impossible and throw the dice. We must tread in the impossible, between structure and history where we carve the new. But to do so there must first be a We.

What is this foggy concept woman which binds us as it partitions us? Can we unite under the name that alienates us in its inherent logic? A symptomatic reading of the phallic operation reveals that Woman/lack is that which the phallus puts outside itself as unsayable. Thus can we simply unite under the mark of this phallic definition? Doing so poses a danger of reproducing the structure of the same mark even if we insist on affirming its historical positivity. On the other hand it is dangerous to denounce the mark which is assigned to us by an unexpected othering, as to do so would be dismissive of the material carvings and the historical trace of phallic oppression. We must unite under the identity of Hole, the contradiction to the wholeness, the perversion of the phallic totality. The project of Hole must focus on developing a feminism which will abandon and destroy the phallic measuring stick. For this project we must take apart dominant ontologies as these are the precursors to phallic universals. We must take over the means of production by asking ourselves: what counts as being? Is difference a property and can it have an effect on triggering a material existence? How do properties of difference effect being in itself? What is an object? What constitutes the identity of an object? If form is a necessary quality of an actualized existence to the phallic logic, will matter fall into an eternal, potential becoming, thus always inscribed as lack? What constitutes matter and form? If we agree that ontology is an ideological space like any other form of thought, then we must agree that it too is sexed and is constructed of layers of meaning, ontology upon ontology. Phallus has constructed a world based on a biased measure of being. We must take this world and split it in two.

Hole is not simply the victim and receiver of this name (with all its assumed biological and cultural particulars), but is what constitutes the paradoxical forcing of the very thing that is illegal to the phallic order: limit, interruption, castration. We must force the perversion. What constitutes a political subject is our alliance under the name of Hole. It is the naming of the impossible. There is no sexual relationship between polarized genders as there is no class relation between the bourgeoisie and proletariat. This is the impossibility that hole must name. Hole names a destruction of that which did not exist. Does that mean that Hole does not exist as well? On the contrary, all that exists is the marking of the Hole, the revolution that is the collective marking of the of the impossible, the scission of force and structure. If lack is marked as eternally nonexistent, Hole marks the impossibility of the lack. Nothing has taken place except the Hole. Hole is an impossible event, like all true events. What constitutes the Hole? It is a historical process of perversion of the logic that marks it. Hole exists everywhere where the political outplace is marked, as a proof of this contradiction. It exists by re-carving itself. What about the phallus? Does phallus exist as a subject? Phallus is a name for a historical being that has not been a subject for a long time. Phallus only makes a place for itself, the name of which is patriarchy. That is why we are not satisfied by mere subtraction from this place, since this place is already constructed by our absence from it. We must impose our perversion to the concept of a place as such, and be the violent appearance of the empty signifier in this phallic kingdom, the piercing gaze of the sphinx. Through this spectrum of greys we must force a new color. There is nowhere to flee. Lack qua Hole must become a destruction.

Patriarchy is a grey tomb painted with blue sky and fluffy clouds. We gazed at this sky for decades, rejoicing in its presence over our heads. But we found a crack in the paint, it grew into an aperture and now the whole dome has fallen.

We are perverse.

1. Adriana Cavarero et al., Diotima: Il pensiero della differenza sesualle (Milan: La Tartaruga, 1987), quoted from Sexual Difference, The Milan’s Bookstore collective.

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