I have decided to blog my ongoing work on my MA thesis. As with most graduate students, I'm sure, the whole thing is taking much longer than expected.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Roses & rabbits

The most disturbing analogy of Roses and rabbits is the terrible sensuality she sees in their skinning, her skinning, as if it were a game of seduction. This is made manifest when August recounts, after she asks him to, how he would skin her. As he describes the steps he would take, Roses, disheveled with drink and desire, holds herself to avoid falling into “some empty space just under the sky” (Stone 31). She enjoys this “fairy tale telling” (Stone 31). Meanwhile, it strikes the reader as an incestuous ritual of his consumption of her. This scene is disturbing for two reasons, the first being its incestuous overtone. J. Hillis Miller writes that, “Since the taboo against incest is absolutely universal, in the sense that there are no human cultures without it, it is natural to the human species, not cultural. On the other hand, it is a distinguishing feature of human, as against animal, societies, so it must be defined as cultural” (73). This means that though the taboo of incest is disturbing, it is essentially indefinable. Also, August is a father-figure, but not her father, therefore on what grounds do we call incest? At the same time, Roses is the one who expresses desire, and not so much August. In Hush, the definition of incest and its performers exist as unfocused conceptions, which causes for the reader unsettling ambiguity. Second, their game of seduction is expressed through the retelling of a violent and gruesome act, to skin alive, that only the most sadistic could possibly enjoy. It joins the morbidity of death (and killing) to the sensuality of the body (and pleasure): the corpse to desire. Theirs is a repugnant rapport where the body becomes a wound, and where the very act of being lacerated becomes an expression of desire. Their rapport is confronting to the reader not only because it conveys many levels of ambiguity, but also because desire is expressed as suffering, as a crying-out from deep under the skin; it is desire soused in abjection.

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