a review of Dodie Bellamy's Cunt Ups

By Zoe Brezsny

Here We Are Yet Again
It’s what we’ve always wanted: a little book we can carry around in a pocket, shockfull of sexual secrets that disorient and excite. The cover of Cunt Ups depicts a demure mouse staring into darkness. It’s only after reading the first page that you realize that it’s on the edge of night and it’s hungry, scared and waiting to be fucked. And that’s just the mouse.Teasing us further, author Dodie Bellamy’s back cover photo has the comforting glow of a conservative, suburban housewife. True to the confusion of sex itself, Bellamy’s Cunt Ups oozes with bodily fluids, grotesque fetishes (crucifixes anyone?), psychosis, and -- you guessed it -- an irresistible mundanity. Her hands might be dishwater clean, but her mind is dishwater dirty.

Bellamy edits Cunt Ups William Burroughs-style, a Frankenstein creation composed of various texts, both Bellamy’s own and others. It continuously disorients: “I was Jesus, see the dark figure in the empty room alone, all fours tied, cakes, one arm out of the leather.” Then a few paragraphs on: “I fucked you like snakes fuck each other, fuck me, your tits hanging in my face because that feels good, the organs and the blood, hitchhikers tight in the crack of my ass.”
There are pots and pans
When she writes, “I’m saying all these things to you in the basement, I give you some more coffee,” the ordinariness is surprising and grounds Bellamy’s sexual obsessions. The fact that the book is oh so sweetly dedicated to “Kevin,” makes her desires all the more contradictory. It’s the intimate and frankly normal elements in Cunt Ups that makes jerking off during a lunch break seem like a reasonable activity.

The cut-up style that Bellamy employs is one reason the hermaphroditic content of the book works so well. Bellamy’s constant fluctuation between genders and juxtaposing objects of desire are a written mirror for sex’s unpredictability and its all-encompassing ambiguity. “My cock is a cocoon and it’s going to live inside you and be recycled. It seems real to me that bodies get dark.” In Cunt Ups, bodies disappear and all you’re left with is pleasure and pain.

Yes, a cocoon
Our culture is all about making bodies visible so we can buy them; the bodies in Cunt Ups, including Bellamy’s own, do not have pornographic visibility. They live in darkness where they escape market commodification. That sounds postmodern, and it is, but that doesn’t mean the book takes itself too seriously. “I feel so luxurious, you in my panties as if I hadn’t read Anais Nin.” Bellamy’s dirty, androgynous language play is refreshing in an age of careful tiptoeing around the subject of gender identity.

Was Anais Nin thinking of the future Dodie Bellamy?
Bellamy’s novel is equal parts a fucked-up version of pillow talk and a radical -- dare I say feminist -- manifesto against capitalist ideas of sex. She takes the taboo and makes it casual, rubs genitals up against things we see or experience every day, like dishwashing or waiting for the bus. She covers netsex, psychic oozings, alien invasion and serial murder. Though in the end, as she says herself: “In ecstatic peristalsis the lover endlessly re/turns to life.”

In the end, well, there's always a fox
©The CCA Arts Review and Zoe Brezsny

No comments:

Post a Comment