Insurgent Time and Techno-Erotics

Frank Cotton ached for nothing but Hell. He must have burned excessively before the hooks ripped his chest and shoulders, opened the choirs of his rectum, unspooled him like an urchin on a dissecting slide. The “Surgeons” peel the loin from his sides. He gives them red ocean spray, from which viscera and spleen fly and spin on singing chains. [1]

Who does not want this?

It is not a matter of self-destruction but a ratification of loss, of insurgent bodies marking time. Bataille terms this seething void “expenditure”. [2] It is not willed or desired but makes desire redundant; a viscid noise that purges bone of flesh and reveals the glamorous chrome terminator teeth adhering to “the lips of a severed head.”


Or, if we are to write of “desire”, it is self-cancelling, as Edia Connole puts it: “auto-annihilation, annihilation of the self/mind, ego death” in which the condition of the human is surpassed. The figure of Frank, willingly damned and shredded, mirroring the passion of the mystic Angela of Foligno: “There are times when such great anger ensues that I am scarcely able to stop myself from totally tearing myself apart. There are also times when I can’t hold myself back from striking myself in a horrible way, and sometimes my head and limbs are swollen.” [3]

There is nothing between Hell and mystic union. Indeed, for Bataille, that is a mirage of the cacophony of time, whose “imperative purity” we cannot feel or inhabit: “As the shockwave of jealousy ejects the universe’s lactescent debris from the crater of reason, transcendent matter loses the perfection of its inertia (design), and nature implodes into the spasms of its own laceration.” [4]

This rolling wave cannot be felt or given through some “categorical intuition”. “Ecstatic time is not able to find itself except in the vision of things that puerile hazard makes brusquely appear: cadavers, nudities, explosions, spilt blood, abysses, bursts of sun and of thunder” It can be understood only as a traumatic and empirical residue, like the desire to have nails or suns for skin.

“Catastrophe” is another name for disconnection. Angela’s need antecedes the posthuman scission. Yet disconnection is not the concept we sought in order to regiment the posthuman difference. It returns to a speculative void once we acknowledge the Shoggothic ruin of the concept of agency.[5]

There almost nothing we understand about being an agent beyond the chirurgic marks it leaves, like traces on a desolate planetoid. The space of feeling and erotic dislocation when we feel the insatiable urge to be eaten.

The agent is always less tangible than the body, which is itself a ruin or a chimera. According to Eugene Thacker in “Bataille/Body/Noise: Notes Towards a Techno-Erotics”, Bataille does not view the body as a phenomenological fullness behind discourse, but in terms of its deformations, ruptures, collisions.

Thacker cites the passage in Bataille’s Story of the Eye when Simone insert the eye of the priest Don Aminado into her vagina. The vision of the eye “gazing through tears of urine” implies a discrepant anatomy like one of Lovecraft’s monsters. The crossing of the eye with its hairy frame, is part of a “reconfiguration” of the body that he likens to Ballard’s concatenations of flesh and technique in Crash.[4] The body consists in its possibilities for “moving out of itself” for sumptuary destruction, wounding and transformation.

It follows that the body is not organic or inorganic, nor limited by gendered binaries, let alone the envelope of the flesh or the skin. It is a syntax within a field it cannot define. This erotics is, as Thacker argues, a techno-erotics that exhibits the affective capacity for derangement and xenomorphology: The egg throbs between Kane’s legs. Its tapered point irising, licks the base of his scrotum, releases oily gold vapour. He smells warm musk as segmented tendrils clasp his penis; inject into his anus, coil against tender rectal tissue.

Frank’s and Angela’s desires have nothing to do the retention of life and form, autopoiesis. Agency is a derivative of catastrophe time and does not travel well.

If the body consists in its affective graphism, the urge to become inhuman, to be ripped into, disconnected, is no longer a derivative but an empirical mark of a catastrophe that no longer belongs to any territory or domain. As Thacker observes of the noise music of Merzbow – though he might have spoken here of Ballard, or Xenakis:

The question of not being able to find the words, not being able to adequately describe an experience, reaches here (in an alliance with Bataille) its greatest tension in a medium marked by its non-visuality. Where or how is something called the experience of noise or eroticism marked off or delineated?[6]

The pornography of Bataille or Ballard’s Crash offer a corrosive substitute for a phenomenology or folk interpretation of the spectral matter body,  pre-digested in a planetary matrix dense beyond imagining. The spectral phenomenology of noise is the “overflowing disintegration of music’s forms and contours” – the viscid anorganic displacement that leaves the tympanum torn on the bleak omphalos of LV-426. Kane feels like magma, a flow that obliterates him and pulls the world inside. His body bleeds through the new orifices that crown his nipples and wound chest and sides. His heart, now huge, bludgeons his ribs, inflaming the veined spire of the inseminator into a buttress whose crenelated tip warms to his eager mouthA metachronal wave runs through the cilia of the surrounding flagellants.

The techno-erotics of noise is thus an aesthetics of unfurling catastrophe/disconnection. But disconnection no longer has a field. It is already an aesthetic operation without semantic content and thus inaccessible to desire. The urge to be posthuman is a fractured imperative that we can only hear as loss, raptured in poisons. Frank/Kane mumbles something out of earshot. Something anorganic, quivering like a crushed god in the reliquaries of an underground car park.

[1] Barker, Clive. “Hellraiser [DVD].” C. Figg (Producer). USA: New World Pictures (1987).

[2] Bataille, Georges. Visions of excess: Selected writings 1927-1939. Vol. 14. Manchester University Press, 1985: 118-119.

[3] Connole, Edia. “Seven Propositions On the Secret Kissing of Black Metal: OSKVLVM”.

[4] Land, Nick. The Thirst for Annihilation: Georges Bataille and Virulent Nihilism. Routledge, 2002: 67-8.


[6] Thacker, Eugene. “Bataille/Body/Noise: Notes Towards a Techno-Erotics.” Merzbook: The Pleasuredome of Noise (1997): 61

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