IX

The Young-Girl against herself: The Young-Girl as impossibility


It's only on the surface that the Spectacle has finally made real the absurd metaphysical concept according to which everything arises from its Idea and not the other way around.  In the Young-Girl we see clearly how PEOPLE get a reality that appears to be but the materialization of a concept of reality: THEY cut it off from everything that makes it singular, to where it's similar in indigence to a mere idea.


It is the human foreignness to the world of the commodity that pursues the Young-Girl endlessly and comprises the supreme threat to her, a "threat which, factively, is not at all incompatible with total security and the total absence of need in terms of everyday worry." (Heidegger) This anguish which is the the fundamental mode of existence for those who can no longer really inhabit their world, is the central universal hidden truth of the era of the Young-Girl, and of the Young-Girl herself; hidden because it is most often shut away at home, far from all gazing eyes, that she does her endless sobbing.  As she chews away at her nothingness, this anguish is just another word for the solitude, silence, and dissimulation which comprise the Young-Girl's metaphysical condition, which she has such a hard time coming to grips with.   


The raging hunger for amusement that the Young-Girl and all other Blooms have is rooted in anguish.


One second the Young-Girl is naked/bare life, and the next she's dressed-up death.  In fact, the Young-Girl is what holds them both together constantly.


The Young-Girl is closed in on herself; at first this is fascinating, and then it starts to rot. 


Anorexia is interpreted as a fanaticism of detachment which, faced with the impossibility of all metaphysical participation in the world of the commodity, seeks to physically participate in it, and which of course fails to.


"SPIRITUALITY: OUR NEW NEED?  Is there an unknown mystique to every one of us?"


Interest is only the apparent motive for the Young-Girl's behavior.  When the Young-Girl sells herself she's trying to be rid of herself, or at least to feel she's been squared away.  But that never happens.


Anorexia among women expresses the same aporia that men show in their pursuit of power: the will to mastery.  But because of a patriarchal cultural codification that is more severely applied to women, the anorexic applies to her own body the will to mastery that she cannot apply to the world.  A pandemic similar to the one we are seeing today among Young-Girls happened in the heart of the Middle Ages, among the female saints.  To the world which would like to reduce her to her body, the anorexic Young-Girl opposes her sovereign power over the latter; for the female saint, to the patriarchal mediation of the clergy was opposed her own direct communication with God, and to the dependence that PEOPLE wanted to keep her in, her radical independence relative to the world.  In saintly anorexia, "the elimination of physical demands and vital sensations - fatigue, sexual impulses, hunger, pain - allow the body to perform heroic deeds, and the soul to communicate with God." (Rudolph Bell, Saintly Anorexia).  Today, when the medical establishment has replaced the clergy both in the patriarchal order and at the anorexic Young-Girl's bedside, the recovery rates for what PEOPLE quickly call "mental anorexia" are still exceptionally low, in spite of quite significant therapeutic efforts here and elsewhere; and the mortality rate has fallen to under 15% only in very few countries.  The death of an anorexic whether saintly or "mental," only sanctions the final victory of the anorexic over her body, over the world.  As if in the drunkenness of a hunger strike that's gone as far as possible, the Young-Girl finds in death the ultimate affirmation of her detachment and purity.  "Anorexics fight against the fact of their having been reduced to slavery, exploited, and not being able to lead their lives as they choose.  They prefer to deprive themselves of food rather than go on in a compromised life.  In this blind search for identity and a feeling of self, they will accept nothing that their parents or the people around them can offer them.... [in] authentic or typical mental anorexia, what sufferers want above all is to struggle to acquire mastery of themselves, their identity, and to become competent and efficient." (Bruch, The Eyes and the Stomach) "In Fact," concludes the afterword to Saintly Anorexia, "the anorexic could sketch a tragic caricature of woman; liberated, autonomous, yet incapable of intimacy, driven by ideas of power and domination."


There is indeed a certain objectivity to the Young-Girl, but it is a fictitious one.  The Young-Girl is just a contradiction frozen in tomb-like immobility.


Whatever she may say, the Young-Girl's not being denied the right to happiness, but the right to unhappiness.


However happy the Young-Girl may be in each of the various separate aspects of her existence (work, love, sex, leisure, health, etc.), she must remain essentially unhappy precisely because those aspects are separate.  Unhappiness is the fundamental tonality of the Young-Girl's existence.  That's OK.  Unhappiness makes good consumers.


The suffering and unhappiness that are an intrinsic part of the Young-Girl show the impossibility of some "end of History" where men could be content to be the most intelligent of animal species, and renounce all discursive consciousness, all desire for recognition, and all the exercise of their negativity; the impossibility, in a word, of the American Way of Life.


When she hears talk of negativity, the Young-Girl calls up her psychologist.  One way or another she has all kinds of words she can use to not talk metaphysics when it has the bad taste to make itself heard too clearly: "psychosomatic" is one of them.


Like the model that she has necessarily dreamt of being at one time or another, the Young-Girl aims at total inexpressiveness, an ecstatic absence; but the image gets all dirtied by becoming incarnate, and the Young-Girl only manages to express nothingness, living, teeming, sweating nothingness, humid nothingness -- until she vomits.


The cyborg as the supreme, IMMUNODEFICIENT stage of the Young-Girl.


The Young-Girl's depressing because she'd like to be a thing among things, that is, she'd like to be like everyone else - as they are seen from the outside - and she can't; because she'd like to be a symbol, and circulate smoothly within the gigantic semiocratic metabolism.


The whole of the Young-Girl's life coincides with what she'd like to forget.


The apparent sovereignty of the Young-Girl is also the absolute vulnerability of the separated individual, the weakness and isolation that can nowhere find the quarter, security, or protection that they appear to be seeking everywhere.  That's because the Young-Girl  lives ceaselessly "in pursuit of herself," that is, in fear. 


The Young-Girl tenders us the authentic enigma of happy servitude, which we can't bring ourselves to believe.  The mystery of the slave glowing with joy.


The pursuit of happiness summarizes, as its effect as well as its cause, the Young-Girl's unhappiness.  The Young-Girl's appearance-frenzy shows her thirst for substance which finds nowhere to quench itself.


All the Young-Girl's elegance can't hide her undethronable tackiness.


"EVERYONE BEAUTIFUL, EVERYONE ORGANIC!"


The Young-Girl wants the best of all worlds; unfortunately the "best of worlds" isn't possible.


The Young-Girl dreams of a body purely transparent in the lights of the Spectacle.  She'd like to be in all things no more than the idea that PEOPLE have of her.


Frigidity is the truth behind nymphomania, impotence is the truth behind don-juanism, and anorexia is the truth behind bulimia.


Because in the Spectacle, where the appearance of happiness also works as the sine qua non condition for happiness, the duty to simulate happiness is the formula for all suffering.


The translucent non-existence of the Young-Girl shows the false transcendence that she incarnates.


What the Young-Girl proves is that there's no pretty surface without a terrible depth behind it.  


The Young-Girl is the emblem of existential anguish expressing itself in a unreasoned feeling of permanent insecurity.  


The Spectacle consents to talking about sexual misery so as to stigmatize people's inability to be exchanged with one another like perfect commodities.  The stubborn imperfection of the seduction market would be worrisome otherwise.


The anorexic detests the things of this world only so as to render herself more detestable than they are. 


Like so many other of our unhappy contemporaries, the Young-Girl has taken western metaphysics at its word, irresolvable contradictions and all.  And she will seek in vain to give form to it in naked life.


The extreme spread of male impotence, female frigidity, or even vaginal dryness, can be immediately understood as contradictions of capitalism.


Anorexia expresses, on the same terrain as the commodity, the most incontinent disgust for it, and the tackiness of all wealth.  In all her bodily manifestations, the Young-Girl signifies the impatient rage to abolish matter and time.  She is a soulless body that dreams it is a bodiless soul.  


"The anorexia of Catherine de Sienne was a consequence of her will to master the exigencies of her body, which she saw as an evil obstacle to her holiness/saintliness." (Rudolph Bell, Saintly Anorexia)


Anorexia must be seen as more than a fashionable pathology: the desire to liberate oneself from a body entirely colonized by commodity symbology, to reduce to dust a physical objectivity of which the Young-Girl has been wholly dispossessed.  But she just ends up making a new body out of the negation of the body. 


Both in the anorexic Young-Girl and in the ascetic ideal, there's the same hatred of the flesh and the fantasy resolution tending towards the physical in its pure state: the skeleton.


The Young-Girl is afflicted with what might be called an "angel complex": she aims for a perfection that would consist in being disembodied.  On her bathroom scale she can easily read the one-sidedness of commodity metaphysics.


The anorexic seeks the absolute in her own way; that is, she seeks the worst of absolutes in the worst of ways.  


Bloom's desire, and thus the Young-Girl's desire, has nothing to do with bodies; it has to do with essences.


The absolute vulnerability of the Young-Girl is that of the merchant, whose merchandise can be stolen away by any uncontrolled force.  


The Young-Girl is a "metaphysical" creature in the adulterated, modern sense of the term.  She wouldn't put her body through the kinds of tests and cruel penitences that she does if she weren't fighting with it as though she were fighting a demon of some kind, and didn't want to subjugate it entirely to form, to the ideal, to the dead perfection of abstraction.   This metaphysics is in the end only the hatred of the physical, understood as simply that which  comes before metaphysics, in the proper sense.


"How do you dress 'green'?"


The Young-Girl is the commodity's final attempt to transcend itself, which fails miserably.




changed April 6, 2011