Essay

OBSCENITY [Flash Fiction]

I

All the World is a Stage

The pornographic, which is a prime connotation of obscenity, if not the most widespread synonym, permeates all commodities, all communication, all interactions. Public space shrinks and becomes oppressive, almost as if everything and everyone were in extreme close-up, as are sex acts in a porno film. At the same time, the boundaries of our private spaces are being erased, re-defined, made transparent for the voyeurism of the public who need to observe ever more microscopically because the spaciousness of space has been eliminated and revised not for our vision, what we see with our physical eyes, but for (ad)visory claims, what is taken under advisement (notice we are under as a female porn star in a gang bang film). What we see has been refocused for us. These changes in the conditions of the Public and the Private are confrontations with our conventions of Public and Private staging.

The duality of public and private space, public and private selves with a many-selves Self has been shattered. Am I too quick to conclude hyperbolically? Overstatement and understatement are broad and contingent categories; they are often mutual and reciprocal in their intensities in spite of their broadness; their dynamic energies have co-influence. The bull’s eye of expression is a narrow band and more times than not we writers find our critiques in one or the other, hyperbole or litotes. Of course, there is a willfulness to either of the latter two Greek terms when applied tom speech or writing. What I am expressing here is not a willfulness but an unavoidableness, an inevitableness to one or the other.

The world Shakespeare understood to be a stage has been dismantled. The theater of our lives, of our world, of our selves is no more. What is filling this void is something for which our traditions of communication and communicating have little facility. Yes, we have been taking the Globe apart bit by bit–power has never been more powerful, nor has monied ever been richer.

It is interesting that in order to justify itself as legitimate, most of what it does has to be concluded behind closed doors–but then that’s most of politics, which means most of what is done in the name of government and our economy–or the value the monied elite put on their wealth, worth and labor, is obscene. How could obscene salaries not ensue, when everything they do is ob skena. The call for transparency is just this, the call to make what manages, arranges, manipulates and governs our lives less obscene. and if not always seen, then more often part of the scenes of life, of that stage Shakespeare had warned us was our lives.

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