Kathy Groan

Art: Love Is the Devil

Truly Malady Deep

Writing, being made of language, is abject. Like the body it leaks, breaks down, behaves unpredictably. Yet there is a passionate form of reality in the body’s abjection. Tears. Laughter. Vomit. Faeces. The salty overflow of relief: let it pour and leak back in. And laughter – hard, spontaneous laughter – outwits the body. It leads to silence, that place where laughter reaches its own underside.


When the painter Francis Bacon says “the texture of a painting seems to come immediately onto the nervous system” he is suggesting art should have a direct, physical impact on the body.

—————————————Writing is an environment, not an art —————————————object.


The word and the thing are not the same. The word approximates, emptying as it signifies. The word is dancing, filling, emptying, pouring, sloshing about.

————————————But the word is not the thing. The word ————————————and the thing are not the same.


Sound loves the body and travels through it with a dense, shameless pleasure. Sound is the body’s element. Just when I think I am concealed, enter sound. Sound trespasses, violating the body’s territories. It unseats me, like sex. Like laughter. Like tears.


Speech – my utterance of myself – lifts me out of myself. Speech, after all, is a social form of thought. This utterance announces the thing I am as ‘I’, as ‘You’, as ‘We.’ Utterance is a continuously unfolding event; an open-ended and exploratory mode of experiencing the world through, in and as, active participation in speech-events.


When the journalist Tom Lubbock developed a brain tumour – one located in the proximity of his speech area – he experienced a gradual estrangement from language. In the time before his death, Lubbock kept a journal. One day Tom wrote in his journal:

———————————I thinkthatloss ofspeech,andof
———————————understanding of writing, and of coherent
———————————writing –
these losses will amount to the
————————————loss of my mind
. I know what thisfeels
———————————like and
it has no insides, no internal
.Mind means talking to oneself.


To live in a body is to know the strangeness of edges and the violence of loss. To live in a body.


If it had been another man I would have been angry. He said it would be some years before I understood this.

—————————————-Her favourite words: holy shit; you
—————————————-know; honey; generally; fuck; baby;
—————————————-darling; yeah; dorkish; feverish; hey;
—————————————-that’s all.


He always refused to piss in front of me. Now he leaves the door open and pisses as loud as you please.

——————————————-A girl called Lydia kissed me. A girl or a
—————————————-woman? Something inbetween.


I watched him yearning into the empty orifice of porn. Here was real flesh; I was as alive and real as I can be. But the images of blow jobs were somehow more enticing than the actual blow job he was receiving.

———————————-The actor inside a fuckbox is fascinating
———————————-for being continuously hard, wet,
———————————-available. The erotic is always elsewhere.


It was in the headlines. A boy taking a photo of a girl on her knees giving another boy a blow job.

————————————-If pornography is like a fairy tale it is
————————————-precisely because the narrative gives
————————————-greater and greater pleasure the more
————————————-often it is repeated.

Further Reading:

David Sylvester, Interviews with Francis Bacon (London: Thames and Hudson, 1975)

Tom Lubbock, ‘Cover Story’ (The New Review) The Observer 07/11/2010, pp. 8-11

Kathy Groan was born in Scarborough, North Yorkshire, and has lived in Rugby, Paris, Huddersfield, Manchester and mid-Wales. She has worked as a bartender, busker, cleaner, life model, usherette and waitress. She is currently working on a book of creative and critical essays on language, violence and desire.

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