Grace, Sadism and the Obscene


It’s a rainy, gloomy day today. But I am staring to feel that I am getting into the swing of things. Cutting back on the amount of sugar I’ve been eating over the last couple of days really seems to make a difference to the amount of energy I’ve had and the quality of sleep I seem to get.

I managed to read a little bit this morning and I have to say that it is getting a little weird, and I am having difficulty untangling the argument. I think what Sartre is saying is that there is a way of being that is graceful, where you reveal yourself as a free other without revealing yourself as body, and there is a way of being that is obscene. Not obscene in the rude sense, but when you are all body and no freedom, when your body is there as an inert object, you are obscene.

Now sadism is trying to turn someone from graceful to obscene, to take their freedom from them and make them an object.

A bit of background – according to Sartre when we relate to the other in love, we establish ourselves as self through physical contact with the others body. Their body and freedom allows us to know our body and freedom. The relationship is reciprocal, while we know ourselves through them, because we are touching them they can know themselves through us.

According to Sartre, sadism is different because when we are sadistic we try to know ourselves through the other by touching them with objects. We are removing the reciprocity. Hence we make them merely tools for our use.

The main problem with this is that it is a very narrow definition of the term sadism, which can also be used more generally to mean cruelty or getting pleasure from causing pain. Can you be sadistic with your hands? I’m inclined to think you can be. And if so Sartre’s argument falls apart.

On a cheerier note I did manage to finish a block yesterday, and I have been doing loads of cutting out. I am trying to get a whole load cut out so I can have a mammoth sewing session on the weekend.

428 No name 4 patch


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