The Infernal Desire Machines of Dr. Hoffman, pt. 2

“In these regions, you may observe Man in his constitutionally vicious, instinctively evil and studiously ferocious form – in a word, in the closest possible harmony with the natural world.” — The King

Angela Carter’s Count is back, but not for long. In this chapter, his tempestuous will faces difficult challenges – slavery imposed by the law, chaotic nature, and finally, his mirrored self (and only one of those even has a chance of bringing about his demise).

The morality of this novel suggests that a will of pure negation only has one possible end. Negation leads its beholder to a sort of numbness, a distancing, cutting oneself off from the world surrounding you, seeing it only as a trick to be manipulated. How could you find pleasure engaging with anything weaker than yourself, after all? And if all of reality bends to your will – what could possibly bring you pain?

The Count manifests his own end in the form of himself. He creates and meets the King, a being of unlimited power, who lived his life similarly to the Count, another expert in cruelty. The women of his army devour their first-born children in order to pass “far beyond all human feeling”; their clitorises are “brutally excised” so they “are entirely cold and respond only to cruelty and abuse”. All, of course, in accordance with nature and harmony, which cares nothing for those without strong will.

What happens next is inevitable. Negation, ultimately, must turn in upon oneself in order to feel.

Words, audio, editing and production by September

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