By John Russell, 28 August 2012

In this text John Russell joins up the 'O's between the ecstatic mouth and the anus to create a tunnel connecting web porn, philosophy and revolutionary poetry



It may seem ridiculous to claim that the ecstatic scream of the Madonna, or saints on the cross, is connected to the ecstasy of shit and meat rather than the divine but that is exactly what will be claimed here. Not shit specifically, or anality, but 'O' as the opening (out) of a throat or tunnel. The shit and anus are still key however, in the way they are used in Bataille’s analyses of the ‘dazzling brilliance’ of apes’ anuses '… the enormous anal fruit of radial and shit-smeared raw pink meat' which he contrasts with the ‘blossoming of the human face’.i The animalistic, primitivity of the anus compared to the organising civilised functions of the face (faciality). As an o-pening up as a hole, or extruded as O-O-O-O-O into a tube or tunnel. Or 'O' as an opening out onto infinity as ZERO; or as a mouth splitting open the face, opening it backwards to ‘mammal meat’ and noise.


Image: JEXUS, Digital print on backlit vinyl, 500 x 400 cm


This is the representation of a crucifixion on an alien planet. Of a deep-space pilot who wakes to find herself nailed to a cross. The details of how this happened are unclear. She remembers she was lying on her bunk considering the nature of surplus value… now her ship is long gone, light years away. Two other people are crucified here but there is no audience. No witnesses of this enactment of a cliché… neither a sacrifice nor a prophecy.


Decca Aitkenhead, writing for The Observer in 2003, quotes a self-professed porn addict who describes his quest for the perfect porn image as being ‘really about looking for death’. She explains how ‘cybersex experts’ describe the internet as ‘the crack cocaine of pornography addiction’ and presents the mournful evidence of a woman whose partner constantly left semen on her office chair and pubic hair on her mouse. And the article ends by claiming that ‘innocent’ searches for ‘golden retriever’ finds you ‘photos of couples urinating on each other’ and that ‘black hole’ brings up ‘close-up shots of black women’s vaginas’.



Image: Spring flowers are fresh and new. They are representative of renewal


Nietzsche describes how the priest gives meaning to our suffering. The hardest thing about suffering is that it just happens. You suffer – why? ‘Because you are evil... because you are fallen’. And now suffering has meaning. Now you live to suffer. You will be rewarded in the next life. And so we seek out suffering provided we are given a reason. This is what the ascetic ideal gives us – we would rather will nothing than not will at all.


Schopenhauer tries to escape from the suffering of the will. Where Christianity offers reward-to-come, Schopenhauer asks us to withdraw, to pull back from this endless, pointless, promiscuous ‘will to life’. The pumping pain of desire, surging and reproducing, everywhere, always... animals, humans... or run your finger over that table top over there with countless millions of bacteria and SUB-ATOMIC LIFE FUCKING meaninglessly and endlessly on the NON-STICK surfaces of things.


Image: Micky Mouse's blood


Marx explains how the structures of power wank off the proletariat who in exchange wank off the structures of power. There is always pleasure involved, as well as oppression and misery. But no one said this was an equal relationship. There are a wide range of categories and sub-categories of ‘wanking’ and ‘being wanked off’, just as there are different categories of ‘proletariat’ and ‘power’. To briefly sketch this out, in Capital, Marx describes how the skills of craftsmen are at first facilitated by tools which are refined to further extend the potentials of their skilled labour. These are organised through the division of labour to create more ‘productive’ collectives. These collectives (if we look down from above) provide a map/diagram of the skills, movements and mechanics that inform the machines, groups of machines and finally factories which replace the skilled worker (transformed into a deskilled fleshy appendage). The ‘machine’ is cranked up not only to extract the maximum amount of surplus value but also to police and control a now expendable workforce. The factory is laid out both as a diagram of stolen combinations of skills and processes, as echoes of the movement of limbs and hands subsumed within the dynamics of industrial production, and as a mapping of the contemporary rhythms of control that police how arms, limbs and bodies are allowed to move.


Image: Sacrifice as contemporary Internet porn


Contemporary internet porn sites diagram a burgeoning coral reef of acceptable and unacceptable desires, assisting their audience by organising and sub-dividing the pornography available into a long list of precise categories of sexual interest and preference. Directing us in our consumer choices and the movement of our bodies.

10+ Inch Cock
18 Year Old
19 Year Old
9 Months Pregnant
All Holes


Image: 'All things'-->'Porn'/'Non-porn'--> 'Porn' ['Form'/'Content']


These include obvious categories (male hetero-centric) such as ‘big tits’, ‘small tits’, ‘big cock’, ‘3some’, ‘oral’, ‘cumshot’, as well as more obscure/specialised interests such as ‘sofa, ‘nylon’, ‘piss-drinking’, ‘castration’, ‘amputee’, ‘cock-mock’. And also categories relating to ethnicity/nationality, such as ‘Italian’, ‘Asian’, ‘African’, ‘Danish’; or specific locations - ‘office’, ‘kitchen’, ‘gym’, ‘public’, ‘bus’; or occupations - ‘teacher’, ‘doctor’, ‘fireman’, 'soldier'; or family relations - ‘mummy’, ‘mother’, ‘father’, ‘aunt’, grandmother’. A detailed catalogue of Freudian and post-Freudian sexual tendency, laid out flat in alphabetical order, a bizarre taxonomy reminiscent of the list quoted in the preface to The Order of Things by Foucault where


animals are divided into (a) those that belong to the emperor; (b) embalmed ones; (c) those that are trained; (d) suckling pigs; (e) mermaids; (f) fabulous ones; (g) stray dogs; (h) those that are included in this classification; (i) those that tremble as if they were mad; (j) innumerable ones; (k) those drawn with a very fine camel's-hair brush; (l) etcetera; (m) those that have just broken the flower vase; (n) those that at a distance resemble flies.


Image: Please note a version of this text laid out in the format of a pizza menu/flyer is available at


This pizza menu text (above) is a kind of subterfuge/camouflage. That is, one thing (one category) being adopted by another – as a form of mimicry. This is a common strategy in the context of nature and art. Like orchids imitating wasps. Or Jeremy Deller’s Acid Brass where a British colliery brass band plays acid house music. Or religious organisations such as The Lords Work Trust who distribute leaflets mimicking the style and branding of the band Nine Inch Nails as a disguise for a religious text warning against the evils of rock music [see]. The tract emphasises ‘the fact that God can save anyone, no matter who they are or what they have done’. And is ‘especially suited to groups that are caught up in heavy rock music – a perfect tract to hand out at music concerts’. This is also a retrieval of 'stolen' religious iconography.


Image: Nine Inch Nails


The academic consideration of pornography has blossomed into a burgeoning coral reef of consumer desire, with categories catering for every nuance of scholarship: ‘sociological’, ‘hermeneutical’, ‘queer theory’, ‘feminism’, psycho-linguistic’, ‘mass cultural’, ‘film studies’. Spanning anti-pornography discourse such as Catherine MacKinnon and Andrea Dworkin, through pro-sex feminism, performativity and queer theory to the ‘porn study’ phenomenon of Lynda Williams and Laura Kipnis, where pornography although often trading in stereotypical and misogynist images of femininity, presents the potential for social change.


Image: there used to be a website called ‘’ – a standard archive porn website – which disappeared from the world wide web in 2009. It was replaced recently by ‘Jesus loves porn stars’ a Christian website which now swamps ‘Jesus porn’ and ‘jesus loves porn’ google searches


Eugene Thacker correctly identifies the less liberatory dimensions of web porn. The construction of a ‘net economy of consumer sex’, where the ‘organisation and categorization’ of sexualised bodies certainly produces an ‘…incredibly variant and diverse zone where every possible body and gesture is accommodated by a category and/or website dedicated to it.’ But this is only a ‘superficial heterogeneity of sexual choice’ as a set of ‘constructed, categorical pleasures and bodies.’ An epistemology – or ‘political economy of sexualized bodies’ that is only possible because it is built upon a hierarchical, asymmetrical norm: that of the 'average' heterosexual, male consumer.ii


Image: political economy of sexualised bodies


Web porn has been constructed as a ‘moral economy’ derived from a western, modern, moralising paradigm inherited from turn-of-the-century sexology and psycho-pathology (where the perspective is that of the white, heterosexual, male), whereby bodies and actions are sexualised according to a hierarchy of pleasures (from the central norm of heterosexuality to the marginalised but accommodated perversions of different fetishes). According to Thacker, the resultant picture is that of 'a seemingly permissive, diverse, and liberatory pornography-entertainment industry, that is really about the great levelling effects of a technology of mediation (the Web), and the flexible accommodation of media consumerism'.iii As Slavoj Zizek puts it, 'in the social conditions of late capitalism, the very materiality of cyberspace automatically generates the illusory abstract space of friction-free exchange in which the particularity of the participants social position is obliterated'.iv



(Above) Floating free in cyberspace, like a deserted space ship, this is the hollowed out husk of a porn site. As a monument or public artwork celebrating the linguistic structuring of desire and its uncontrollable and constantly changing spirit... and the past-future potential of human-desires-still-to-come.


Image: Pizza


Pizza is now ‘local’ to everywhere in Europe and America at least. Pizza-menu-junk-mail is pushed through letter boxesfrom New York to Berlin to Belgrade emblazoned with the same images of ‘Italian-ness': tomatoes, cheese, green and red etc., catering to a range of tastes – the salty tang of anchovies and capers, the sweetness of tomato and the savoury flavours of ham and olives. The pizza menu organises these taste-desires as a mouth-watering prophecy. You are already salivating at the thought! But, the experience makes us feel a kind of self-hatred and self-disgust. What is missing? We fill our stomachs with the salty, cheesy material but there is a tragic emptiness... we don’t feel full! We realise in hindsight that our desire for pizza was a desperate desire for self-fulfillment. But what can fill this VOID? This hole in our lives, this absence. And this is where the religious-text-pretending-to-be-a-pizza-menu explains to us how we should turn to religion and art because these desires for pizza and porn are false. They are not real, but hide a ‘real world’ away from us etc. The Devil is manifested is in these things, creating false desires. That separate us from our real feelings, genuine emotions and our authentic lives as human beings.


Image: Storehouse of ‘human’ potential

(See above): Envisaged in line with sci-fi fantasies of ‘future ruins’ as a blackened wreckage this architecture houses still fully functioning and complex bio-technology. A vast storehouse of ‘human’ potential. Including endless banks of computer hardware and vast corridors of techno-cages containing computo-genetically transforming bodies and acts linked/derived from the transforming performances on Earth-bound porn websites. Porn identified as a new avant garde, taking on radical experimentation with the morphology of forms – a role given up long ago by contemporary art (homogenised and slowed down by Capital).


Image: 0-)-)-)-)-)-)-)-)-)-)-)


Image: 0-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O-O


When these organised faces bliss out in standard money-shot paroxysm – eyes shut, mouth open – they are not connecting up to the sensual-genital-religious-aesthetic paradises of outward-facing eternity – that is, shattered into shards of white crystal and blasted across the firmament like stars – but rather opening backwards into the fleshy experience of intestinal (cloacal) joy and vermicular excess. This is not a call for 1980/90s abjection – for child-shit and dirty protest  (as a parody of Kristeva /Kelley). Not primarily that anyway but the simple opening up of a tunnel from mouth to anus. And for the connecting up to other holes and tubes. To thinking through becoming a tube through which matter passes. To being ‘tubed-out’. Like a worm or an extruded 'O’. A journey into 'O' – either the 'O' of PORN or some other word like 'freedom' or 'revolution' – or as the connection to other 'O's – and through these to still further examples.



Image: crucifixion re-enactments


[Above] The ideology of porn replayed as/in American ideology in Abu Ghraib images. Images of stacks of naked men, prisoners cowering in front of guard dogs, pantomiming sexual acts and standing as a crucifix with wires attached to hands, while guards do thumbs-up to the camera. 'They are images even the most zealous anti-war cartoonist would feel uneasy imagining, let alone sketching. And there are hundreds of unreleased photos said to be much worse, scenes of rape and even murder'.v


Some commentators – mostly conservatives, such as Robert Knight of The Culture and Family Institute, but also left-wing writer Susan Sontag point to society's addiction to hard-core pornography to explain these images: 'inspired by the vast repertory of pornographic images available on the internet.'vi Why else would the abuse have included so much nudity, sex, sadomasochism – and exhibitionism – in the form of extensive photo and video documentation? In their view 'the prison was an outpost of our debased, porn-soaked culture'vii



Image: Hegel depicted as a worm tube


In contrast to Freud’s analysis (and for instance Breton's aesthetic bias) towards assimilation, Bataille's anti-aesthetic operates under the sign of the unassimilable or what he himself terms the heterogeneous. EXCRETION (violent expulsion) as opposed to APPROPRIATION characterised by homogeneity (static equilibrium/identity) between the subject and object. And it is this principle that governs systems of production, accumulation and exchange, against which Bataille pitches the excremental, revolutionary forces of the heterogeneous. The homogeneous here corresponds to the everyday world of utility and rationality. Therefore Bataille's writing/performance of deformation, infection, torture, pain moves as the rhythm of the forces that deform the human figure – violent forces that Bataille equates with forces of entropy and decomposition, such as those that attack the corpse, emphasising the organic, instinctual aspects of the body that defy and subvert the humanity of the civilised body: ' the painful frenzy of bloody palpitations'. The unruly organs as well as the flesh's surrender to sensation betraying any idealistic endeavour. Bringing us back to our 'base' animality and rooting us in the painful reality of sensation. This is the carnivalesque body as 'an unruly becoming-body, mobile and hybrid, outgrowing itself and transgressing its own limits' – obscene – its openings and orifices emphasised (mouth, vagina, anus, nostrils) and the lower parts of the body privileged (belly, buttocks, phallus, feet). Orifices and limits of the body: the mouth, the anus and the pineal eye. Cavities and holes symbolically charged – ambivalent – associated with desire, anxiety, disgust; like the phallus. And here the mouth is configured as a question of the limits, beginnings and endings of the body. In Bataille, the mouth 'becomes an obscure and ambiguous cavity where all organs begin and end. It signifies hunger, desire, but also aggression'.viii



Image: Brooklyn's pizza


For instance, in his 1930 essay ‘Jesuve’, Bataille lays out a counter-fable to the story Freud describes in Civilisation and its Discontents, as an evolutionary trajectory in/through the bending upwards of the human body towards a vertical posture as synchronised with the move to ‘civilisation’, where the body is straightened over the millennia; vision is elevated and there is a concomitant devaluation of other sensory modalities, notably olfaction; the genitalia, previously hidden beneath the body, are now exposed and visible, giving rise to feelings of shame and repugnance; and a wholesale organic repression of the sexual function occurs, forcing the instinct away from its immediate aim into culturally prescribed sublimations. A move away from dirt, filth and excreta, the 'worthless, disgusting, abhorrent and abominable'.ix In the same way that modernist high rise living in the 20th century proposed a move away from the filth and depravity of slums. A horror of dirt and dream of the hygienic, organised body, as an allegory of western civilisation, and the quest for transcendence and purity.





Food opens you up like a tunnel back into yourself. Into your own meat. To imagine yourself as a tube while you are reading this is to feel the words moving through you. As foreign matter, as in Bataille’s idea of a foreign body (corps étranger). The foreign body as heterogeneity in the body, in one's own body (corps propre); the self contaminated by non-self; the inside by outside; boundaries breached, traduced, transgressed. A shit-tube. But not just shit. For instance 'a wooden splinter which, in order to reach its present site, has of necessity to violate the integrity of the body's surface'. This concerns boundaries of the self and whatever poses a real threat – a threat from both the Real and Fantasy; to the borders or limits of a body which 'we can only ever imagine as self-contained and whole'. x To fears of dirt and defilement. As Bataille describes it, the foreign body as a focus for an eruption of excremental forces which exceed their function of simply expelling the object in order to reestablish a state of homogeneity, and put the whole of ‘oneself’ into a state of abjection: 'a more or less violent state of expulsion (of projection).'xi And the potential of all this.


Image: splinters/thorns in Jesus's flesh. Not the calm slit '-' or ;-) expressing ‘the majestic beauty of Greek and Latin faces’ whose calm vocalisation is established through the linear route of the airstream from lungs to lips. That is, not the 'Oh' vowel sound that is produced by ‘the cold efficiency of the lips’ (pulmonic eggressive). (Negaretani, Cyclonpaedia, pp.150-153)


'O' therefore might indicate ‘expulsion’ and ‘expenditure’. The 'O' of either mouth or anus and/or scream or expulsion O-O-O-O-O – or perhaps O))). Or it might move in the opposite direction: O-O-O-O as the trajectory of circumferences moving down the throat or colon. As an internal succession of 'O's. That is either 'expulsion' and the move outwards, towards the immaterial; or ‘tubing’ as the meaty, corporeal, bodily and material. Whereas ideas of 'expenditure' and 'release' replay familiar and conservative experiences/notions of escape and transcendence, and the escape from temporality and materiality. The same conventional, acceptable, romantic-religious dreams of ecstatic release with which we are so familiar (heaven, le petit-mort, art). The tube cuts against these associations of 'freedom' with 'space' and expansion. As a turning inwards as the tubing between ecstatic mouth and anus O-O-O-O-O (and other holes: nose, mouth, ear, nipples, vagina, penis hole etc). The tubes that physically and metaphorically connect them and the things that move through them. The body as a 'tube with two orifices, anal and buccal: the nostrils, the eyes, the ears, the brain represent the complications of the buccal orifice; the penis, testicles, or the female organs that correspond to them, are the complications of the anal'.xii The tube is (ontologically, philosophically) prior to the aestheticisation of the ecstatic and/or excremental discharges of the body. Prior to: spitting, coughing, yawning, belching, sneezing and crying. And to the ecstasy of shitting out of the top of your head. 'at the summit of the skull […] a horrible erupting volcano, with exactly the murky and comic character associated with the rear and its excretions’.xiii


Image: Gean Moreno: 'I once read a text in which the theorist decided that the proliferation of O's in the first paragraph of a Julio Cortazar story was like a secret message revealing the absence of anyone behind the narrator – the O as placeholder of a vanished self or author'


Tubing us back to the extreme expressionism of undifferentiated meat. And the ongoing peristalsis of muscle. The squeezing of matter. To previous tubes, previous O-O-O-Os – to the condition of our distant ancestors. As rehearsed and re-rehearsed by ringed worms (Annelids) burrowing in the soft muddy substrate below prehistoric oceans six million years ago. The joy of opening up into a tube as the matter of history moves through us. So we are unchanged by its flow. Like a sand worm.


Image: ???????????????????


Dennis Cooper writes about heterosexual sex, through the character of Ziggy in his novel Try: 'the girl experience is almost, like oppositional to the man experience …’ sex seems


planned in advance, not by him obviously, but by history or whatever. So no matter how wild sex gets, he’s still following this preset, like, outline, point by point, and when an experience is over, such as now with Nicole, it sort of gradually dilutes into a zillion other people’s identical experiences, until Ziggy feels … used in a way?xiv


A kind of telescoping/tubing backwards through repeated ‘biologically-culturally’ pre-programmed and choreographed examples and performances of human flesh, of flesh-in-and-out – fucking our way back to our biological, flesh ancestors. As Ballard describes the character Stangman’s journey in Drowned World towards the prehistoric heat of the equator, tracking a move back through geophysical time – down the spinal column:


as we move back through geophysical time so we re-enter the amniotic corridor and move back through spinal and archaeopsychic time, recollecting in our unconscious minds the landscapes of each epoch". And again as Cooper writes: ‘what is an ass if not the world’s best designed, most inviting blank space, on the one hand, and, on the other, a grungy peephole into humans’ ordinariness, to put it mildly?’xv


A corporeality also expressed in religious mysognist outburst: 'Women are a gate through which the Devil enters – woman was the cause of the Fall and therefore ultimately to blame for the death of the Son of God.' Or Saint Augustine’s famous observation that we are born between faeces and urine (inter faeces et urinam nascimur). Corporeality expressed as the stripping back to the ‘heterocentric, fetishistic, simultaneously desiring and hating paeans to female body parts, which run the gamut from medieval courtly love lyrics to […] nineteenth-century novelization of transgressive femininity [….]’ and beyond.xvi As Bataille writes in Eroticism: 'There is nothing so profane to a man as an ugly woman. Eroticism is to do with destroying and defiling beauty and if the woman is ugly the man cannot contrast the beauty of her face with the ugliness of her genitals.' The same hate/love, polymorphism rampant in hetero-patriarchal society, which simultaneous to the ‘glorification and privileging of heterosexual, male supremacy’ is also ‘permeable to and/or obsessed with the very anality and homoeroticism that [it] would stigmatise and decry.’ A heterosexist inscription onto body parts as a corporeal mapping and demarcation of ‘the repressed psychocultural mechanisms of holiness and blasphemy, culture and carnality, creativity and primordial sludge, “normative” genital eroticism and “aberrant” anal or nonreproductive eroticism’xvii


Image: The film Centipede II presents the creative potential of imagining yourself as the middle section of a tube – as a branch of shit pushes through your toothless mouth like canned meat – in the way canned meat sets to the shape of the can. A perfect circle-tube, mouth to anus, mouth to anus, mouth to anus


And so given the interplay between the cosmic, galactic universal surge against articulation, locatedness, interpellation or territorialisation; and given the desperate conservative performance and re-performance of perverse ‘unnatural’ scriptedness as an attempted freezing of multi-millenial, biological genetic ‘queering’ – is there a way of thinking of the Event as a tube (tubing) or as meat rather than as a form of transcendence or ecstatic deferment of salvation to some other time and place? For example, the 'religious' stain of Deleuze's vitalism or Badiou's scintillation of the event. Is Jean-Luc Nancy correct when he suggests that the time has come to break the hold that the figure of sacrifice has over the western philosophical imagination (and over the political practices it analyses and legitimates)? In this respect Bataille's own practice – through his tireless interrogation of sacrifice – is symptomatic of the problem, as a bloody 'fascination with an ecstasy turned towards an absolute Other or toward an absolute Outside'.xviii


Or does Bataille's grotesque parody drag sacrifice away from the abysmal recuperations of dialectical form: the aporia/regress of the ‘impossible sacrifice’ and the performance of non-meaning as the revelation of absent Truth? For instance, the more real Truth of death; or the ontotheological logistics of transcendence where sacrifice (finite) predicts resurrection (infinite) even as the ‘will-to-nothingness’ (Nietzsche). Beyond the conventional poetic paradox of ‘the literal affirmation of impossibility’, that is, the writing of the unwritable (which is in fact writable), and the mournful symmetry of negation. Bataille’s ‘divinatory model of pineal writing’ – as a ‘further extreme of that force of self-expenditure and self-destruction which is poetic speech’ offers us an excess of imitation (of sacrifice) played out as the ecstatic pyrotechnics of his degraded mythopoetic dramas.


Connecting up words, in the violence of semiosis, with the clucking and howling (‘howls-breaths’) of the body where ‘speaking will be fashioned out of eating and shitting [and] language and its univocity will be sculpted out of shit […].’xix Writing disappears into the non-human as surface marks, scratches and signs of 'nature,' slipping on the topocosmic surfaces of sky and body.’xx This is the ‘pure’ contingency not of interpretation but of the structure or shape of prophecy (as the prophecy of prophesy). As a call to reading of page/screen/history, in the sense of augury and haruspicy, as the reading 'of the ‘pattern of bird-flight across the sky’ or the inverted inner surface of ‘freshly killed or still-dying animal bodies.’ Or more precisely ‘the outer surfaces of the violently-extracted inner parts of these bodies-NOW-without-organs.'xxi Or perhaps not the entrails of goats and sheep but in the meat tubes of processed offal/meat.



Image: Filipino penitents are nailed to wooden crosses as a reenactment of the crucifixion on Good Friday. in the northern city of San Fernando and nearby Paombong town, despite opposition from the Catholic church. Real nails driven through their hands and feet with villagers dressed as Roman centurions. The event draws hundreds of tourists.'The church’s position is there’s no need to go through this physical and literal pain on the body because Christ already did that for us,' explained Rev. Melvin Castro of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines . A similar event takes place in Iztapalapa outside Mexico every year


And finally as Head Gallery write: ‘This is a charnel house/porn site where ‘rows of busted-up bodies are arranged as a precise, living catalogue of oppression and misery: torture victims with the weals of electrical burns across their faces and backs; factory workers with skin rotting from phosphorus burns; starving children with chiselled ribs protruding and tears cutting a path down dusty skull-cheekbones; machete’d women with half their faces peeling off; abandoned dysentery patients nesting in their own diarrhea; skeletal HIV victims with sucked in eyes and constellations of lesions on their face; choking and coughing choleravictims; refugee camp diabetics with open ulcers decorating their legs; nub-limbed lepers with milk-white pupils; rape victims lying on the floor crying – bruised and bleeding; white phosphorous and napalm bombing survivors with gestural abstraction acid splashes all over their torsos and faces; ebola and flesh-eating virus sufferers; sodomized little boys with their Catholic school cardigans still on and their ass holes bleeding and throbbing; shackled Vietnamese orphans, blind from being kept locked in containers and dungeons since birth; low paid workers with respiratory disease, including emphysema, bronchitis and lung cancer. Coloured lighting […] tints the figures red and orange. Artificial perfume smell of shit and sweat are circulated in the air-con. […] one of starving children is masturbating.xxii


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In front of 'a South American diamond mine scene. There, men, women and children, malnourished and coated in mud and soot, plead with sadistic guards, who drag out one man and cave in his head with pick-axe handles. It’s live action to provide some entertainment.


There are also rag-trade workers with gnarled-up hands and fucked up eyesight, burning to death – a reconstruction of a fire in a Lower Eastside sweatshop. Crackheads, smackheads, junkies and all varieties of addict lying around in their own faeces and blood, writhing on the floor due to withdrawal syndromes that have been artificially exacerbated and made perpetual. Underage lathe operators with ripped off arms begging in the street. Underage prostitutes cowering in shabby motel rooms. War casualties jittering on the floor, legs and arms blown off, internal organs vomited out in front of them. Hobbling land-mine children cut off at knees.xxiii


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John Russell <john.a.russell AT> is an artist living and working in London,



This piece was written to accompany the exhibition JEXUS at the MOTInternational Brussels, 18 May to 23 June, 2012. An earlier version of this text can be found at





i Georges Bataille, ‘The Jesuve,’ in Georges Bataille, Visions of Excess: Selected Writings, 1927-1939, Manchester University Press, 1985, pp.77-78.


ii Eugene Thacker, 'Can the Digital become Excremental?: Bataille, Expenditure, and Web Pornography', 1998,


iii Ibid.


iv Slavoj Zizek, 'Looking Awry', October 50, 1989.


v David Griffith, A Good War is Hard to Find: The Art of Violence in America, Soft Skull Press, February 2006, p.30.


vi Susan Sontag, 'Regarding The Torture Of Others', New York Times, 23 May 2004.


vii David Griffith, op. cit., p.30.


viii Olivier Chow, 'Idols/Ordures: Inter-Repulsion in Documents’ Big Toes', Drain Mag, Desire: Issue 7, 2006,


ix Sigmund Freud, Civilisation and Its Discontents, (1930), Penguin 2002, p.78.


x David Lomas, The Haunted Self: Surrealism, Psychoanalysis, Subjectivity, Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2000, pp.144-5.


xiBataille, 'The Use Value of D.A.F. de Sade', in op. cit. p.94


xii Bataille, 'Pineal Eye' in op. cit., p.88-9.


xiii Bataille, Jesuve, in op. cit., p.74.


xiv Dennis Cooper, Try, Grove Press, 1994.


xv J.G. Ballard, The Drowned World, 2008.


xvi Leora Lev, ‘Sacred Disorder of the Mind: Sublimity, Desire Police, and Dennis Cooper’s Hallucination of Words’, in (ed.) L. Lev., Enter At Your Own Risk: The Dangerous Art of Dennis Cooper, Madison, New Jersey: FDU Press, 2006, p.214.


xvii Ibid., p.213.


xviii Jean-Luc Nancy and Richard Livingston, 'The Unsacrificeable', Yale French Studies , No. 79, 'Literature and the Ethical Question', 1991, pp. 20-38.


xix Gilles Deleuze, Logic of Sense, London: Continuum, p.220.


xx Frank W. Stevenson, 'Inverted Surfaces: Bataille’s “Pineal Eye” and the Mythopoetics of Augury', Concentric: Studies in English Literature and Linguistics 29.1, January 2003, pp.67-94.


xxi Ibid.


xxii Head Gallery, 'Orbitecture – OPEN UP THIS IS A PUSSY PUSSY – smash the representations of class domination before you bother with re-orienting the heavy metal of material culture,


xxiii Head Gallery, as above.


And special thanks to Roger Cook for his notes on shit and his essay 'Stools of conviviality. 'A man's best friend is his Wurst', Miser & Now, 2005.