Friday, February 03, 2006

A video artist named Mike Kelley once said, "I make art to give other people my problems."

Perils of Pauline (1914 Serial)This resonated intensely with me, as the book I am writing right now, Neon Hysteric, is so much a repository of pain, a sort of urbanite Perils of Pauline - Suzanne gets out of the psych ward only have her roommate fall ill, she - etc...

However, it is out of this abjection that I am trying to draw a parallel between Suzanne and her consensual sexual trauma and the hysterics of La Salpetriere in 1880s Paris. Under Dr. Charcot they were incarcerated and pathologized, much as Suzanne is in Chapter 11. Her breakdown is the result of her lover, Greg's, psychological torture.

The Makings of Dr. Charcot's Hysteria Shows: Research Through Performance (Studies in Theatre Arts, Vol 4)For further explanation of the historic precedent, see this article:
Hysterical Epilepsy, from "Iconographie De La Salpetriere" Giclee Poster Print by Albert Londe, 18x24
The female is driven to the madhouse, and as Charcot conducted public experiments on these women - a kind of Theatre of Hysteria - so Greg toys with Suzanne: manipulating her emotions, using her for a place to stay, and claiming her body.

I am now at the critical juncture when Suzanne has left the ward, and must decide what to do. Does she sever with her tormenter? But this may leave me out of a book, a book originally conceptualized as a love letter.

We shall see.

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