Jonny Liron’s poetry is activated by desire. His writing strokes a queer trajectory that moves from Shakespeare’s walking wounds to Acker’s Rimbaud’s precocious, transcendental masochism, tenderly inverting the traits of private longing into the honest myths of localised, de-privatised bodies, advancing a zealous campaign for the dredge of all our nightly lust to be converted through the slipstream of convertible language into fecund methodologies for examining subjectivities. Here the vicariousness of the imagined sensual body is exploded in favour of a hurt directly responsible to desire, and desire that responds directly to the hyperbolic positioning of sexuality as radically un-assimilable by the predations of robotically functional capital; at least seemingly so, as the work deliberately manoeuvres itself into wranglings within both the body and the body politic, a self explored in all its flesh and letters. Hetero-throats vomit back the urgent constituting gaze in a queer cartography of gregarious delight & ethno-babes take the fervent soundscape of the succubus’ phallic intransigence and fuck with it in pertinent, esoteric song.
The activation that I nudged at formerly is part of Liron’s wider praxis of theatrical desire, or desirous theatre, one that stems from the usefulness of place demolished of its private assumptions and invigorated by desire in place of stultified communicative models of interaction, a responsive erotics of occurrence, where that desire “is always political” and trained to invert the voyeuristic mode of awkwardness and discomfort into fertile ground for performative modes of connection. Liron’s poetry seems to me part of both the elicitation of that response and the response itself, as in,
see the meaning fall off like so much gravy
down the sluice you testified my testicles drooped off
into the home alone hell hole of rhyme and
syntax you cannot leave me with this butcherdress
of un living in the cattle prod of disneylanded squash the ch
christ push my face further in the shit so I can't breathe
kill me or set me free, fuck me or fuck me up,
but here god damn it no knife for us now in the
60's self referencing bitterly ironing automobile
of my reading infested with the clot of cliche drizzling
out the stigma of my earnest urge, this form is barbed
wire to be left and caught in a wing of distaste
where the incessant, barely sadistic self-harm is the index by which the poetic voice can feel again for the first time, completely wounded, real and shivering, a post-modern arsehole sonnet of failed affection but secure desire. How seriously should we take this urgent, unsimulated rhetorical demand to “fuck me or fuck me up”, and where do the ethics of this eroticism stake their claim? In the guts of poetry’s designs on a passive other, forever loved in silent sequence, the exhortation to be not only the loved one instead of the lover, but the fucked instead of the fucker, is in the poem a superfluity of “earnest urge”, however painful, in the face of what is denigrated as the “self referencing bitterly ironing automobile / of my reading”, where I take “ironing” to be a facile piss-take of “ironizing” and the general mode to be one of hope rather than despair, despite the self-satire of “my reading”. The danger implicit in a violently sexual encounter makes the body realer than referencing the self’s own desires, and thus the body needs only to be desired upon or in in order to accumulate the subjectivity necessary to make fucking vital life. The desultory and denigrating “un living in the cattle prod of disneylanded squash” makes the only viable response a mass onslaught into the fleshy processes of real life which must be accessed from a state of wanting to be transformed, to see the meaning of our bodies re-applied, not through the identity politics of straight or gay, but by queering the lover’s gaze to make the constitutive act less important than the desire behind the desire to be so constituted, the bloody real-time catwalk sped to a hurricane of lust to pump more blood through the veins than they could possibly handle, a cry against the “ironing” out of desire to the mass entrainment of normative beauty and pre-packaged, glossy, textiled love that is the very place of the poetry’s ecstatic insurgence.
Undoubtedly there are problematic points in a poetry of this kind – radical subjectivity was and never is a generalized prerequisite for fucking, although I am certain that Liron’s pornographic tendencies are aimed at re-appropriating the body from its image and re-investing it with the truth of desire whilst jettisoning exploitation. Pornography is an industry that has hi-jacked sexual desire, both gay and straight, for its own billion-dollar profits, and language that can attempt a reversal of the balance of power into the hands of those real human peoples who love & fuck in equal measure serves only to wrest influence away from pornography as the teleological arbiter of discourse on modern sex. Nonetheless, a Bataille-shaped transcendental shag is hard to pull off without sliding into exactly that kind of bathos or cynicism – the word “fuck” itself is a violent sound of attack, loaded with discrimination: the language itself is complicit. “Degradation”, notes Bataille, “which turns eroticism into something foul and horrible, is better than the neutrality of reasonable and non-destructive sexual behaviour”, because that neutrality, where too little is at stake and too little risked, is too distanced from the original taboo on violence and death that for him effectively invests eroticism with its transcendental power to glimpse the continuity of death and to burst through the barriers of our bounded subjective lives. And yet this reasoning predicates suffering and hurt, even if only for the rhetorical self declaiming the violence of desire in such a fashion. Desire is constantly co-opted. How can the poetic voice regain from corporate co-option the ability to conceive of itself as a desiring subject without itself performing those same hollow acts of appropriation that turn real love into the fantasy parameters of plastic souls? How much of that hurt can be re-invested into the work of a poetic language swimming in the erotics of theatrical desire and how much ends up superfluous damage in a subjective body already all-too wounded by commodification and cashflow? When can love corrupt capital? These are questions undoubtedly being raised (and answered) by other voices in the current poetic climate, and I submit this perky stub in the spirit of friendship and excitement about Jonny’s (and others’) continued investigations into the praxis of desire.
Jonny Liron is reading & performing in Cork at the SoundEye festival next week. Read his poetry here.