tenlittlebullets: (Default)
Ten Little Chances to be Free ([personal profile] tenlittlebullets) wrote2014-04-21 09:11 pm

soldiers, violence, sex, masochism

(Archived from a Tumblr post at http://shinelikethunder.tumblr.com/post/83452708647/klaus-theweleit-writes-of-the-soldier-the)

"[Klaus] Theweleit writes of the soldier: ‘the arena of war is first and foremost his own body; a body poised to penetrate other bodies and mangle them in its embrace’. A body, that is, incapable of acknowledging its own penetrability. A ‘male’ body.

[…] The [young soldier’s] body is treated as something that must be broken before it can be made stronger. In order to survive, the young cadet inevitably develops a 'thick skin’ which Theweleit warns us not to read metaphorically:

'And little by little the body accepts these painful interventions along its periphery as responses to its longing for pleasure. It receives them as experiences of satisfaction. The body is estranged from the pleasure principle, drilled and reorganised into a body ruled by the “pain principle”: what is nice is what hurts…’ (Theweleit 1989)

A kind of masochism, then, is the consequence of such training, a channelling of the need for pleasure into a need for pain: a pain to be endured, overcome, transcended, as proof positive that the body can – indeed, must – be dominated. This is at the heart of becoming a soldier."

- Jonathan Kemp, The Penetrated Male, 41-2

#OHAI CAIUS MARTIUS CORIOLANUS #also arguably #the winter soldier #the soldier #the male body #male sexuality #masochism #coriolanus #aufidius #THAT FIRST BIT IS SO AUFIDIUS IT HURTS #but the masochism's more evident in martius imo tbh #do u understand how many times i have read this section istg #relevant to my interests like FUCK #mumblingsage #sure u must have approved of this bit #jonathan kemp #the penetrated male #pleasure principle #is weak #pain principle #is where it's at yo

‘a pain to be endured, overcome, transcended, as proof positive that the body can—indeed, must—be dominated’

THERE. THAT’S IT. THAT’S MY ‘TERRIBLE AWFUL NO-GOOD VERY BAD THINGS HAPPEN TO MY FAVORITE CHARACTERS’ KINK IN A NUTSHELL. Except it leaves out the key point that makes the whole thing so hrrrrnnnngh: the domination isn’t just over your body. Mastery of the body is only the prerequisite, the means to an end; the end, the real victory, is taking power out of the hands of the motherfucker who’s trying to hurt you in the first place.

Your commentary is VERY YES and also explains why I really love character types that can best be described as “snarky martyrs.”

On the other hand, I do want to point out the specific soldiers Kemp discusses included precursors to the Nazis (I think? thepurposeofplaying you may have readier access than I my Nook is charging on the far side of the room) and this dominance over the body, when it neglects the soul, can go—really really bad.

Deliciously bad sometimes. Like in fiction, where nobody’s on the wrong end of it.

(actually thepurposeofplaying Shinelikethunder’s comments sort of remind me of our discussion about masochism styles, and how male masochism is constructed vs the boringly predominant passive femsub construction?)

Yeah, believing it’s a Good Thing to inflict adversity on other people in order to teach them that triumphant response to adversity is always going to be fucked-up on some level, and the consequences if it’s uncritically taken too far can be horrific. OTOH, I do think narratives about it are important, because everyone’s going to face varying levels of adversity in their lives and it’s an important coping tactic–and, as you said, when you’re writing fiction, you can create the pain that enables a character to develop mastery over their pain without having to justify inflicting it on a real person.

A related narrative kink that plays into this is hurt/comfort as a sort of grace, which I think the Winter Soldier movie summed up beautifully in just two lines of dialogue: (paraphrased) “It’s okay, I can deal with this on my own” / “That’s the thing, though. You don’t have to.”

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