copy&pastings guess what i am writing about for finals
Taxidermia, one of my favorite movies! By Palfi. Probably not that fun to read on a blog, but since I haven’t posted in a month, and it seems relevant to the theme of mortal steaks, I’ll just vomit it up a little here. Oh, and this article is good and helped me think about the movie. You should all see it!
This is where I talk about the meat pack:
A disembodied female voice begins and ends the extremely male-focused epic of three generations of Hungarian men. Taxidermia implies that the “art” of history, so focused on masculine, rational perspective and desire, obliterates the feminine and its respective attributes. But as Stallybrass and White attest, what is overtly excluded or marginalized by the dominant class is also symbolically central to its identity. The female body is not the overt object of focus; it has been not just negated but also exploded, diffused and suffused throughout the entire film, but perhaps the pervasiveness of the grotesque in Taxidermia makes these othered, feminine images so blindingly conspicuous that once again, their source becomes invisible. The repressed female, the lower sex, the sex associated with the porcine, the bodily and instability of all manner is present only as symbol, yet it is physically channeled through the male body. Taxidermia’s taboo-laden terrain reconfigures the gendered terms of the social “economy of signs” and gives us a vision of history as regurgitated slop that resists rational determination. The feminine Life Cycle and masculine Revolution become one undifferentiated series of convulsing, distended stomachs, while the object of history turns into the grotesque mounting of a dismembered human corpse, an allusive hybrid of Michelangelo’s David and Antioch’s Venus de Milo.
Revolution is one of the major themes of Taxidermia, and is interwoven with its critique of historical memory. History is consumed and regurgitated both literally and figuratively, and Hungarian politics is spliced with the ugly, abject code of the feminine in order to undermine the male (and thus far universal) tradition of nostalgic romanticization, linearity, and progress, all of which are tied to the possibility of Revolution. In the film, revolution is rendered as orgiastic, onanistic and obscene, but this is done by transplanting the symbolic low baggage of the cunt onto the cock. It may be tempting to read a feminist undertone to it, or at least an anti-masculinist one. But the transgression remains mysteriously dormant. Stallybrass and White emphasize the ambivalent and unstable state of the hybridized object or space, (such as the grotesque body or carnival) which, while being a potential site of transgression and subversion, could also be its own foil. One example they give is the fair, which, while being “radically hybrid” in its juxtapositions of local and exotic, domestic and uncivilized, etc., is simultaneously an “educative spectacle, a relay for the diffusion of the cosmopolitan values of the ‘centre’”; so something like a fair or carnival, both conducive to inversions and profanations of the official and the sacred, are also historically the space and means by which new objects of desire are formed by their society’s emergent mercantile interests (38). The subversive does not necessarily lead to actual revolution, and may actually be complicit in the perpetuation of oppressive forces. Mere hybridization between symbolic domains does not entail actual transgression, whose end is the irruption of official ideological hierarchies.
So what about the modern “site” of a body-horror film that corrupts its own identity in addition to the national history? The Hungarian release of Taxidermia, designed by Raymond Phathanavirangoon, comes in a flagrant package that is an actual Styrofoam package with the DVD case, designed to look like a slab of raw meat, shrink-wrapped inside. There are a couple of variations of the meat pack. One looks like a hunk of fatty red meat and the other looks like a vulva made of raw meat. Even before the consumer watches the film, it has already said something about the confines of its own transgressions. The film’s final act of the triptych is set in a modern-day capitalist milieu, where ultimate alienation is embodied through the pallid, emaciated Lajos Balatony who eviscerates himself in a strangely bloodless surgery toward self-mounting. When he finally succeeds in “packaging” a fragment of himself albeit with a huge scar down the middle, the film echoes its own promotion. The shrink-wrapped slab of vulva-meat is purposely offensive, its humor is pitch black, and it packages packaging itself. Taxidermia flippantly rejects certain genre boundaries and traditions of cinematic “good taste”, but it is still a consumable product. Customers are still going to buy it, even if they are buying into their own position as the butt of a distasteful joke. The film seems to be aware of its own position within the actual world of its reception, and it is not afraid to assault its consumers, but it is not the film’s intention to go beyond the critical statement or poetic bedazzlement. And it is certainly an impressively dazzling, grotesquely seductive film. The meat pack, like the gallery of Balatony corpses, have knowingly become new objects of desire, and the feminine grotesque remains feminine and grotesque, though realized in an almost fully dissociated form.
And so on…