Perversity Think Tank
warranted. Indeed, Freud’s “definition” of “the sexual aim” was more than a simple “restatement of the traditional conception”: it was the reinforcing of the traditional conception with (pseudo-) scientific theory that has virtually become a secular canon of the psychiatric sciences.
Supervert used his earlier, but now-discontinued PervScan web project as the basis for much of his research, and it was through that project that he has – almost – “seen it all”. But, vitally, he has considered what he encountered, and has done so very deeply.
Importantly, he doesn’t necessarily rule out anything, and resists judgment. As he wrote when discussing the case of a man who allegedly habitually sought the embrace of a horse to satisfy his obsession with anal pleasure, to the point of eventual death (of the man, not the horse): “Is it ok to pursue pleasure to the very point where it finally separates from the duty (tendency? instinct? moral obligation?) to preserve your own life? I don’t know... You’d have to answer that question for yourself”. Here he seems to admit that philosophy has its limits; his passing appeal to Kant provided no ready response, and “morality” is an impotent concept.
Appropriately, Supervert doesn’t come to any definitive conclusions: “Negatively put, perversity leads desire to the unlovely. Positively put, it carries desire beyond all limits”. Negative potential and foreboding are “an important part of sublimity”, he writes, and in weighing “the rapist” against “the pervert”, concludes the former is a conventional being pursuing conventional desires through appropriation, while the latter “arrives at sublimity [in achieving] limitlessness in his desires... in the liberation of abnormal urges”. In the end, “all we have are definitions”, and any attempt to define pervert or perversion is ultimately futile; they are, as the author writes, anything one wants them to be, usually juxtaposed to one’s own self-perception as “normal”. Excluding nonconsensual practices or those that cause emotional, psychological or physical harm, any attempt to understand the nature of perversity is not a waste of time, if, like the author, one realises that definitive conclusions don’t matter and what confronts us is not an abyss, or a philosophical problem, but humanity in its richness and diversity.
So is this book the child of “a philosopher of perversion”, as Supervert writes in reference to Julian Wasser’s 1963 photograph of Marcel Duchamp playing chess with a naked Eve Babitz? Although it is not clear whether the reference is to Duchamp or to himself, our author is making a statement about the power, allure and elemental nature of sex and – despite the haughty intellectualisations of philosophers – about the inseparability of body and mind in human existence. Likewise do Supervert’s thoughts on the sixteenth-century woodcut by Hans Baldung, Phyllis and Aristotle, appear to represent development in his philosophical thinking over the nine years since Extraterrestrial Sex Fetish, particularly regarding an apparent lionising of Kant in the earlier book.
To focus a little more on the author himself at this point, how would one portray Supervert? He describes himself as “an alias – a nom de plume – a moniker for an individual – a corporation – a brand name. Supervert offers you a unique combination of intellect and deviance. Perversity for your brain. Vanguard aesthetics, novel pathologies”. Indeed. And not many people, we presume, know his real identity. It seems to be working for Banksy, and it appears to work for Supervert. In our opinion, accolades are due.
And now for a general note on the physical format of Supervert’s books: they’re small – a five-inch by seven-inch format, which is smaller than the international A5 size. The diminutive stature of the books somehow make them more attractive, and, dare I say it, desirable. Their desirability is enhanced by quality printing with relatively solid, tactile covers and good paper. So yes, the books are paperbacks, but are among the best examples of the type and are conversation points in their own right. So, for anyone who finds such subject matter appealing, or is curious to explore some unusual and, at times, difficult human terrain, then this book, as with all of Supervert’s work, is worth the investment of time, energy and money.
Perversity Think Tank is published by Supervert 32C Inc. (New York, 2010): 118pp.
Supervert seems to admit that philosophy has its limits; his passing appeal
to Kant provided no ready response, and 'morality'
is an impotent concept.
This work appears to represent development in the author's philosophical thinking.