(of course) perversity
Why not start from the beginning: the small package of three books had been opened on one side of the Atlantic or the other. Clearly, perverts infest the UK and US postal–security bureaucracies, but whether they are of the type that would appreciate Supervert’s books is doubtful, even if they did allow the books to reach their destination.
Perversity Think Tank in many ways is a distillation of Supervert’s thought, and, as far as his three books are concerned, the culmination of his work, although there is every indication the author has not had his final word on the subjects that so clearly occupy so much of his time. As far as his latest book is concerned, the topic is approached more directly, the author’s focus unhindered by literary forays and explorations of other major themes such as the question of the existence of extraterrestrial life, or grappling with the reality of mortality.
Thus, the principal questions asked in Perversity Think Tank are those such as What is perversity; how can it be defined?; What is the nature of perversity?; What acts, what thoughts, are, in fact, “perverse”? These
questions are at the crux of this work, and they lead to other, more concentrated questions, many of which are more intriguing than they may appear at first glance; for example: “is it precisely perversity that gives birth to normality, and vice versa?”.
The reader encounters early statements setting out the author’s starting point, as when he explains how he was “not sexually but conceptually excited” when he discovered a magazine devoted to apotemnophilia, or Body Integrity Identity Disorder (BIID), formerly known as Amputee Identity Disorder: “My thoughts poured into all the spaces where limbs used to be, and I realized that these deformities of the flesh demanded a corresponding deformity of thought – a new way of thinking about desire, beauty, pleasure”.
Whether Supervert has succeeded in thinking in a new way about the issues he treats is perhaps entirely in the realm of philosophy, but the book’s text is certainly unusually structured: it is reminiscent of his first book, Extraterrestrial Sex Fetish, but not as formally compartmentalised. Perversity Think Tank is all-the-more interesting
for its structure: three, thematically linked philosophical and reflective narratives weave their way through the book. One of the narratives is focussed on imagery that Supervert, for reasons best known to himself (copyright issues? censorship issues?), has chosen to represent as solid black rectangles. The reader must do some work for himself to follow up on the imagery, but the result is a greater and more rewarding engagement with the subject: the reader must invest his own stake in what is essentially a contemplative process, and hopefully also an educational one.
This does not mean that Supervert could not perhaps have done a little more in offering concrete criticisms of established thought. For example, early discussion of Freud’s writing on sexuality and perversion as presented in the famous psychoanalyst’s Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality moves very quickly from a brief, if correct, conclusion on Supervert’s part – “if the object isn’t genital or if the subject fixates on foreplay, then the act isn’t quite normal” – to raising questions that suggest a wholesale revolt against Freud’s edifice is