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The Worst Perversion

In His Bold Gaze My Ruin Is Writ Large

The Right Man And The Wrong Woman

Getting Daddy Do It for You

4/sometimes murder


Interview with
Jane Hammond

Interview with
David Salle


The Worst Peversion


Stuart Schneiderman

Koons image

Human societies establish standards of excellence by holding contests and competitive games. Winning and losing do not divide the world into masters and slaves, but determine a hierarchical ordering to society in which some have more authority, status, or reputation while others have less. No one has it all and no one has none.
At the pinnacle of the hierarchy we find a champion, someone who has bested all challengers and whose achievements will be the standard against which others will be judged. Such a principle of social order has nothing to do with an ideal condition of perfection known only to the very few. All members of the group know the rules, know the game, and know who has won and who has lost each contest.


The path to a solution is then clear: to oppose and undermine a God who creates out of nothing, the worst pervert must destroy out of nothing. If God does not create nothingness, but only something, then reducing all victims to their fundamental nothingness subverts God's creation by revealing its deceit.
The worst perversion is sadistic, but not every garden variety sadist would qualify. Strictly speaking, the perversion itself does not have a name, but the worst pervert, or better, my candidate for the title does. He was called Gilles de Rais.
1 You can find this name in history books about fifteenth century France, especially in books on military history. Gilles de Rais was a great warrior, almost a warlord, and commanded troops led by Joan of Arc. People have claimed that when the Maid of Orleans was wounded at a decisive moment in a battle on the outskirts of Paris in 1429 she called for him to be at her side.


The more serious question is simple: why do the rules themselves not break, why are they not revealed to be a fraud, a convention, a custom that has only as much binding force as the seemingly flimsy notion of mutual consent. Mutual consent requires of each participant full acquiescence in obeying the rules of the game. It seems to require little to subvert or deconstruct this mechanism. In the minds of the enlightened the issue is why the rules hold, why people continue to follow them, and why the image of the individual who defies them, who tramples them with impunity, is not the romantic visionary or hero but the worst of criminal sociopaths?


° Paris-New York Psychoanalytic Workshop, April 2, 1989. back to top
1. The reference for these details is The Trial of Gilles de Rais, ed. Georges Bataille, New York, 1991. This book contains Bataille's introduction accompanied by some of the documentation of Gilles' trial and confession. back up


Illustration: Jeff Koons, Made in Heaven, 1989.

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