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Reading Serial Sex: The Case of Erik Rémès Lawrence R. Schehr THE INITIAL LINE OF ERIK RÉMÈS'S NOVEL or autofiction, Je bande donc je suis, set apart as an epigraph is "Seropo ergo sum."1 Rémès is playing not only on Descartes's most famous statement, the foundation of French rational thought, but also on a long line of parodie and not so parodie thought, the most famous of which is in Aldous Huxley's Eyeless in Gaza: "caco ergo sum? Eructo ergo sum? Or, escaping solipsism, why not futuo ergo sumus."2 Starting the work with this line put not only existence into question, but Frenchness as well. What does it mean to be French? What does it mean to exist? And what, one hastens to add, does it mean to be HIV+ in such a situation: how is seropositivity related to existence, existence as a Frenchman, existence in a post-modem world? Unlike the cogito, seropositivity requires a previous action, a penetration, and a precedent. Between the title and the restructuring of the cogito, between the title and the beginning of the text, there will always have been an action, the action that is defined by the title of the other book in question: I screw /1 have been screwed, donc je suis. Both the novel itself and the initial line of the work, as it plays on the cogito, set Rémès apart from others of his generation writing in France today, whatever the stripe of their sexuality. Whereas many may be thought of as playing on the surface of the phenomenological, recounting this is what happened to me and this is what I have lived, Rémès is interested in articulating a problematic of being through that existence. This is not to say that he does not participate in either the habitus of a post-modem sexuality or even a shared vision of what seropositivity may mean in an ongoing existence, but simply that he introduces a philosophical angle to a kind of contemporary literature. In a sense, one could compare him to Guillaume Dustan, editor of the series in which Je bande was published. Dustan's initial writings were autofictions that represented, albeit without much depth or analysis, the existence of a gay seropositive man in contemporary Paris. In LxiR, a more recent work, Dustan includes a political statement , a manifesto; Rémès will have a manifesto on "cyber-cochonnes" in his multi-text Serial Fucker.3 Rémès's work is not as overtly a political appeal as Dustan's, which may reflect a difference in backgrounds: Dustan (William Cabanes, in real life) is an enarque and has published on justice; Rémès's background is in philosophy and in psychology/psychoanalysis. 94 Fall 2004 Schehr In starting with this double version of the cogito, marking erection and seropositivity, the author places the existence of self squarely within the sexual, within sexuality, within homosexuality, and within seropositive homosexuality in particular.4 The narrator of the work marks this situation of self specifically and succinctly: "C'est très jeune donc que je pris conscience de moi-même. L'accès quoi! L'accès au logos. Lors de mes premiers rapports sexuels" (JB 26). The novel's construction makes that gay seropositivity figure as the essence of the being of the protagonist, Berlin Tintin, clearly an alter ego for the author but sufficiently different from him and from the voice of Serial Fucker to require that we distinguish between the two voices. As might be expected, the most important difference relates to the articulation of sexuality and specifically to seropositivity.5 But first we must examine the condition of pre-seropositivity in Je bande. The initial sexual encounter in the novel is perhaps an actual event in the protagonist's experience or perhaps a stereotypical event, perhaps an invented one coming out of his memory or imagination. In any case, however, it is constitutive of an aspect of his sexuality that is determined by the lack of versatility of the other and therefore, by his assumption of a role to be...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1931-0234
Print ISSN
0014-0767
Pages
pp. 94-104
Launched on MUSE
2010-06-24
Open Access
No
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