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JUDITH ROOF The Erotic Travelogue: The Scopophilic Pleasure of Race vs. Gender Let me commence with an overview of our trip. We begin our journey in one of the Parisian brothels desciibed by Ana'is Nin in the Delta of Venus. The brothel is just like home, the safe place of norisk exotic simulation; it is a secure theatre where one pays to watch the burlesque, the striptease, the parade of the deformed, and the humiliation , cruelty, and death of others.1 The point of homogeneity and imagined difference, the btothel is the control center of our excess like the "house of illusions" in Genet's The Balcony. Like Madame Irma, we watch and understand the desire for power implicit in our scopophilia. Continuing our journey with Nin's erotica and the film Emmanuelle, we will next arrive at exotic ports where, with the ptivilege accorded camera-laden tourists, we will continue out hazaidless confrontation with racial, ethnic, and sexual difference. In the threatening illusion of heterogeneity produced by our voluntaiy but controlled immersion in foreign cultures, we will ask why erotica often takes the form of a travelogue , why stories of travel are erotic, and how travel, like the brothel, is a form of safe scopophilia that neatly distances, objectifies, and colonizes the multiple sexual, racial, and ethnic differences regularly constructed as the sexual other in soft-core pornography. On the next leg of out journey, we will withdraw from immediate contact with indigenous cultures to the brothel-like safety of our colonizer 's homes where we can enjoy watching the erotics of the exotic as they, under our direction and scrutiny, vigorously reassert our own noArizona Quarterly Volume 47 Number 4, Winter 1991 Copyright © 1991 by Arizona Board of Regents issn 0004- 1610 Judith Roof tions of sexual difference among themselves. In this new theatre of homological difference, we will explore how watching the colonized other perform our own sad reiterations of sexual dominance enables the voyaging scopophile to dismiss the threat of all differences as they dissolve into the comforting habitual management of a heterosexual imperialism. But all is not well on the next part of the trip as we invariably encounter violence abroad, a violence appended to the process of domesticating multiple differences. Still following Nin and Emmanuelle, we discover, near the end of our trip, that our voyeurism becomes a scopophilia of sadism. At this climactic point, we watch as a controlling Western white male turns native males into sadistic enforcers of a heterosexual hegemony. We will investigate how this scopophilia of the theatre of sadism evinces an insecurity about power in the face of too many insistently un-neutralized differences. We will query why overt violence arises at this point in the story—why the drastic end ofconflict with differences results in punishment—in a violent reappropriation of the other for the self. We will end our trip back in the becalmed erotics of a smugly selfsatisfied domestication, the end product of a pornographic commodification of violence. We'll go back to the boudoir, to our self-secured seat in the theatre of pleasure where the dominant eye might just as easily turn on us. THE BROTHEL/THEATRE Anaïs Nin's collection of erotica, the Delta of Venus, begins, perceptively , in a bordello-like Peruvian theatre, where the Brazilian temptress Anita seduces a charismatically attractive Hungarian baron. The most desired performer in the show, Anita is an exotic dancer whose oversized organs, beauty, and provocativeness stir male spectators into a frenzy, especially when, after her stage dance, she performs fellatio on the members of the audience. Commencing with this performative matrix , Nin's collection of stories sets forth the literal connection between theatre and brothel—among staged spectacle, licensed voyeurism, the commodification of sexual display, and the voyeur's investment in sexual self-reification. But Nin's stories, which are in many ways a metadiscourse of pornography, emphasize an additional but crucial element The Erotic Travelogue in the erotic mix: an understanding of the sexual spectacle's use of multiple, exotic differences. Nin characteristically recites lists ofracial, sexual, anatomical, and ethnic distinctions—skin color, language, class, national origin; the size, color, and configuration...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1558-9595
Print ISSN
0004-1610
Pages
pp. 119-135
Launched on MUSE
2014-04-02
Open Access
No
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