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Sunday, May 22, 2011

Review: Reading Black Swan Through Foucault and Baudrillard and Nietzsche

Black Swan
Jean Baudrillard-Forget Foucault
Becoming a professional ballerina begins at age 3 to 4. Nina's mother  planned this for her, so Nina was caught in the grid of power/knowledge from the beginning, which Foucault defined and wrote about his entire life. It is obvious she had no wiggle room. Ever.

As she rehearses for her role we are treated to a particular kind of torture of the body. The Inscription of the Body begins with a ballet dancer immediately with the classes. We are shown her master teacher's back where every muscle and tendon is delineated under a skin so devoid of any excess, or fat, that it is transparently stretched over the skeletal structure beneath. To feel each individual muscle in her back where vestigial wings can be imagined she digs with her fingernails to create pain to give her the muscular feedback she requires. When her mother sabotages her self torture, she employs tiny screws to dig in to make each muscle and tendon perceivable as she practices. Reading through Nietzsche this is why she does it: to bring each fiber into her consciousness. To feel so acutely she can move her arms as if they really are wings. She has the knowledge of a lifetime of training to know how to do this role, to perform a technically perfect interpretation.

But she does not have the emotional experience to play the Black Swan.

In experimenting on herself sexually she is watched while she sleeps and is left no alternative but to break out of her cage at home, but the cage of the dance studio is even more confining. There the grid of power/knowledge is absolute, totalitarian. She has no chance. Success will only delay her inevitable replacement, her future to teach others, or to follow her predecessor into disfigurement. No. Way. Out.


Leda and the Swan   by W. B. Yeats

A sudden blow: the great wings beating still
Above the staggering girl, her thighs caressed
By the dark webs, her nape caught in his bill,
He holds her helpless breast upon his breast.

How can those terrified vague fingers push
The feathered glory from her loosening thighs?
And how can body, laid in that white rush,
But feel the strange heart beating where it lies?

A shudder in the loins engenders there
The broken wall, the burning roof and tower
And Agamemnon dead.
                    Being so caught up,
So mastered by the brute blood of the air,
Did she put on his knowledge with his power
Before the indifferent beak could let her drop?


And this is where Baudrillard begins his defiant challenge to Foucault in his Forget Foucault. Baudrillard sees Foucault has come to the edge of the abyss. But he says that he stops. This is the end of linear time, the end of history and the leap is into Simulation. When simulation is total, then we will be in Virtual Reality.

It is the terrorist model to bring about an excess of reality, and have the system collapse beneath that excess. - Baudrillard


Living under complete surveillance and terrorism, Nina leaps into the Symbolic Order of Impossible Exchange, an excess of reality paired with Sacrificial Death.

I wanted to be perfect, she says. All perfection is destined for death.

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