Sartre on masturbation

A masturbator by choice, Genet prefers his own caresses since the enjoyment received coincides with the enjoyment given, the moment of passivity with that of the greatest activity; he is at one and the same time this consciousness that clots (caille) and this hand which churns in agitation. Being, existence; faith, worksl masochistic inertia and sadistic ferocity; petrification and liberty; at the moment of pleasure the two contradictory components of Genet coincide; he is the criminal who violates and the saint who lets himself be violated. The masturbator makes himself unreal – he brings his own realization; he is very near to discovering the magic formula that will open the sluice gates.

However, victim of execution, caresser or caressed, these phantasies in the end will have to be reabsorbed into Narcissus; Narcissus fears men, their judgments, and their real presence; he wishes only to experience an aura of love for himself, he asks only to be slightly distanced from his own body, only for there to be a light coating of otherness over his flesh and over his thoughts. His personae are melting sweets; this lack of consistency reassures him and serves his sacrilegious designs: it caricatures love. The masturbator is enchanted at never being able to feel himself sufficiently another, and at producing for himself alone the diabolic appearance of a couple that fades away when one touches it. The failure of pleasure is the acid of pleasure of failure. Masturbation as a pure demonic act sustains in the heart of consciousness an appearance of appearance: masturbation is the derealisation of the world and of the masturbator himself. But this man who is eaten up by his own dream knows surely enough that this dream is there only by virtue of his willing it; Divine (the other in some of Genet’s masturbation phantasies) ceaselessly absorbs Genet into herself, and Genet ceaselessly absords Divine. However, by a reversal which brings ecstasy to a point of overflowing, this clear negation (clair neant) will provoke real events in the true world; the cause of erection, the ejaculation, the damp stains on the bedclothes is – the imaginary. In a single movement the masturbator captures the world to dissolve it and insert the order of the unreal unreal into the universe; it is necessary that they be images, since they act; No, the masturbation of  Narcissus is not, as some misguidedly think, the little gallantry that one performs towards the evening, the nice, boyish compensation for a day’s work: it wills itself a crime. Genet draws his pleasure from his nothingness: solitude, impotence, the unreal, evil, have producted, without recourse to being, an event in the real world (from Being and Nothingness, pp. 341-42.)


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