Speaking of the material/psychical condition of parenting and its corresponding responsibility/investment into the more or less intertwined relationship between ‘it’ and the responsibility/investment in the processes of making (selfhood/things).
The discursive practice of a tendency to make and unmake is collapsed by the presence of this other, which it always was, but the experience of pregnancy makes it seem otherwise. The otherness of a child – father dynamic responds to a different set of (unambiguous) delineations which constellate around the mutual ideation of the singular.
The other-being within is not only categorically other but this otherness is boundaried by the otherness of its sac/protective placenta. The foetus requires a border between it and the mother’s body in order for it to exist.
Motherhood myths nevertheless seep into this borderspace; one feels the other within and knows the presence of the third other, and yet the latter is subjugated in favour of the former, affectively. One is not supposed to experience/enter into a relationship with the placenta, which is recalibrated mythically as a parasite.
The immunological system should reject this foreign object that is a membrane with the purpose of holding apart (apostrophising) the foetus and the mother’s body. But, instead, the mother’s body nourishes this other/membrane; its health signifies the health of the becoming-child-other within.
One nourishes the ambivalent relation as a proxy investment into the health of the becoming-child-other. This process is one of elision and is entirely emotionally cathected. And it is a non-choice. And it is a fact that is relegated in the production of the maternal myth. I fed you via a third party in utero, so why this crushing sense of singular responsibility once you are born out of my body and into the external world that is replete with other others?
Love needs an object. You are my most profoundly experienced love object because no other love object, in spite of sexual penetration of the genital or prosthetic will ever crawl up inside my uterus and become-itself in that space that, since my own birth, is reserved for the purpose of being filled-up with an other that gestates within internal corporeal boundaries.
Love wants to bring the object inside, which is recalibrated as intimate touching, often cannibalistic. What could be more so than kissing? Your mouth over my mouth which is how I breathe; your tongue entwining with my tongue which is how I speak; I cannot speak when our mouths are touching. Language passes into the body/bodily elucidations of desire and love. This membrane seems so penetrable but you cannot ever penetrate me and I can never penetrate you but we attempt trans-subjectivity in the act of intimacy that edges towards erasure. Erasure of self, that is, ego; erasure of other; that is, dissolve with me so that the boundaries fizz electrically as our flesh is aroused by the other’s touch. Erasure of boundaries being impossible, the moment of absorption comes when both bodies feel the same/they feel the same thing; breath into breath, intertwined immateriality producing the next level of pleasurable collapse, which for its intensity to be fully recognised must invoke loss and the material condition of singularity (against which the other is constituted).
What is at stake in love for the other (the child, born or unborn; the lover) is the non-abstracted condition of singularity to which one returns always, having never truly abandoned it. I iterate: the child never was part of my body. The child was made by excretions of my body in conjunction with excretions of the body of its father. This process is procreative, not creative, male poets. My body has capabilities beyond (horizontal, vertical) the scope of my hands, my mind and the application of multiple learned and instinctual process.
Perhaps the assimilation of the child into the day to day practice of the father is less of an emotional struggle due to the physical labour that is synonymous with pregnancy and childbirth, (which is not to say that this labour is necessarily unpleasureable – and yet it is labour itself). In the passage from singular to multiple, and in the paroxysmal agony of childbirth, a violence most grave and banal, perhaps the woman-mother, being both nothing (subjugated in terms of both nourishment and myth) and everything (the suckling child literally draining her body via the breasts), enters into a dissociated state: necessary for the time being and extended out of habit.
One might speculate that the mother is in a perpetual state of suspension, borne out by the myths that constitute her newfound, totalising (established) identity. However, she lies if she disavows the involvement of contingency, ego-narcissism and the apostrophising deferral intimated by her new set of responsibilities, with which she can more or less intertwine.
Which is to say that this new responsibility renders those prior desires secondary. Perhaps the father can accept the child more easily because the relationship is not predicated on, or at least produced out of, an internal process of gestation and mutual-becoming. Both partake in the procreative sex act – both experience the production of fertility and plenitude; both ‘become’ linguistically ‘parents’ at the point of birth. But the mother’s burden (literally, for this ‘burden’ is not necessarily a negative of ‘burdensome’ quantity), is a physical, interpolating, scarring one.
In the passage from guilt to shame (I speak only for myself), one recognises what one has lost, and unhooks oneself from the ideation of what one never anyway had. Is this common? To integrate ego-fantasy into one’s sense of self that the distinction between (materially) real and imaginary dissipates, invoking that loving dissolve, marked by mutually consensual desire yet operating at the service of self-disgust.
In recognising what one never had and mourning that, one enters into a dialogical relation with the beast that brays at the door of sanity, taunting one with images and texts that shouldn’t have penetrated the psyche, but ones defences have a tendency to rise and fall out of sync with the minds resilience. Others must be handled cognitively with respectful distance, even as hunger rises up and the process of assimilation (mythologised in the foetus within) returns.
This unthinkable thought I reproduce here. When she (a pronoun in lieu of a name, which is a gesture that belies magical thinking; her namelessness is her abstraction and I fear tempting fate) is gone, by some brutal act of violence or some horrific accident, it is in the space of suffering where I sit, speculatively, absorbing and holding that inert lack which is something and also nothing. I grieve not for her but for my emptiness which is like sexual hunger, occupying the same tense space as does sex and birth, a deep erotic ache that must be fucked away or otherwise rubbed off the face of the earth.
Fear shares/shapes this space. Fear, sex and birth congeal in that territory of potential excess, pre-orgasm burns like hot oil; muscular contractions may strain the abdomen but the real horror is the harsh twist-burn of labial flesh and the fear is one of being blasted open, invaginated, slaughtered (the best case scenario; one’s labia minora is in tatters and internal tears take weeks to heal, hot spikes of pain accompanying each piss).
Suspension. My child was always other, never me though seemingly supplementary, which takes into account the singularity of each whilst appreciating that each penetrates the other, to a lesser or greater extent. Sometimes I lie in bed at night and visualise catastrophes that will extinguish the relation between my child and me, via her dematerialisation; the loss is felt in the body, extending from the trajectory of a loss I already know, manifested by virtue of her material exteriority – her voice, her physiognomy – in short, her otherness that always was, my relationship to which always ambiguous, wavering, vacillating, drowning.