Through the philosopher Gilles Deleuze, reading and writing can begin to be thought of as processes of transformation. When one reads or writes, one plugs into impersonal flows and affects and becomes something else. Likewise, Deleuze theorizes masochism as an embodied practice that produces transformation on a multitude of levels. Beginning with Deleuze’s analysis of Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, from whom he developed a concept of masochism as a process of inversion and rebirth, this article reads Deleuze’s theories on reading, writing, and masochism together, arguing that Deleuze saw these three processes as kindred methods of producing impersonality and freedom. As a way of complicating Deleuze’s notion of freedom as the production of impersonal flows, this essay reads his meditations on his chronic illness as a way to flesh out his own reading and writing on masochism and becoming. Suggesting that we reflect back on Deleuze as a reader and writer in order to critically engage with our own readerly and writerly relationships to reading, writing, masochism, and identity, this article argues—against a universal notion of impersonality—that fusing reading, writing, and masochism opens ways to think about the intimacies between text and body, and the importance of the specificity of flesh.
Amber Jamilla Musser; Reading, Writing, and Masochism: The Arts of Becoming. differences 1 May 2012; 23 (1): 131–150. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10407391-1533547
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