Rousseau, runkkari

by: Maurice Quentin de La Tour / Wikimedia Commons

”Rousseau might as well be talking about sex in solitude when he describes the process by which he writes. When he’s “alone and at work,” his ideas ferment until they excite and heat him. His heart beats fast. “In the midst of this excitement,” he’s unable to see, unable to write, and obliged to wait until the confusion clears up and “everything takes its proper place.” Classical dramatic structure is an accurate, if rather dry, diagram of the sexual experience. Writing is directly analogous to sex, and given his preoccupations, especially to masturbation for Rousseau. He can’t write until the tension of arousal has been released. Confessional writing and masturbation fantasy are Rousseau’s internalized expressions of revenge upon society for its use of language and sex for merely legitimate purposes: namely, communication and procreation. Jean-Jacques wants to be the only person who has access to the pleasures of language and sex. “If I had known how to wait first and then to restore in all their beauty the things represented in my brain, few writers would have surpassed me,” Rousseau writes, but surely he realizes the impossibility of reversing the creative and sexual patterns so that he arrives at beauty before subjecting himself to chaos.”

– David Shields, Remote: Reflections on Life in the Shadow of Celebrity, s. 204

Rousseau, runkkari


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