It is structurally intricate, and it enacts a philosophical concept I am, for whatever reason—since the genealogy of my interests is as opaque as anybody’s—deeply invested in.
Assujettissement is a French term which designates both the process of becoming a subject, a self, and the process of becoming subjected.
Self-death becomes an even more complicated imperative in light of Foucault’s work.
Foucault, of course, obliterated the difference between the subject and its surrounding social world. You are forced to write enough essays as a youth and you might actually come to take pleasure in the process.
O agrees to her prostitution and to the subsequent consequences of her enslavement.
Soon torture, which was never supposed to yield pleasure (“[I]f you do tie her up, or whip her a little, and if she begins to like it—then that’s no good either” [Réage 10]), becomes the source of O’s deep subjective satisfaction: “However astonishing it might seem, that she might be ennobled, that she might gain dignity from being prostituted, continued to amaze her. It seems as if O’s passivity might then be read as having a liberating effect, and that the text could be parsed as an allegory for a liberating form of self-death, or self-overcoming: The self negates itself in order to free itself (perhaps from itself, or perhaps from a power which functions through the self).
It might seem strange to consider self-negation a positive, or necessary, gesture in the first place, but there are a few intellectual frameworks which motivate the idea that it is: Nietzsche, for example, promoted self-death as an anecdote for nihilism; he urged his fellow—though he was loath to call them fellow—nineteenth-century, German subjects to become other than they were, to relinquish their sickliness and become gods.
That is to say, he urged them to pull up their pants and make their own values, given that values were nowhere to be found (God was dead, after all).
But there is no denying that I love it, that I have fallen in love with it.The poison is a necessary condition of its merrymaking. It is true that when one considers O, the character, and ’s obscenity eases.One loves to hate, but even critique, which is devoted to the object it criticizes, which lavishes it with the most intense of its attentions, which parasitizes it and assumes it as a basis for synthesis, is love. In the text, O’s lover presents her for prostitution within the limits of a clandestine, male-run society.He kissed her, lay down beside her on the bed, his face to her face, and tenderly and slowly and gently took her, moving to and fro between the two passages offered to him, finally spilling himself into her mouth which he then kissed again. Pierre chained her hands above her head by the bed chain.When she was thus bound, her lover stepped up on the bed, kissed her, penetrated her again, told her that he loved her, then stepped back onto the floor and nodded to Pierre.