All of that. And more. Excerpt? Word.
BT: What I was struck by was that within this exercising of
control, especially between the FBI agent and Viola, it is tantamount to
how torturers deal, and how the FBI agent later deals with Robert.
There seems to be a commentary on torture, but how consciously were you
making that commentary?
JTA: Pretty conscious. I was trying at all points to
walk a fine line between coercion and desire and trying to muddy that.
There are a number of scenes in the book where Viola and the FBI agent
are having sex and its consensual masochistic sex, but then those are
sort of mirrored later in the books in scenes with the FBI agent and
Robert and interrogation where it’s definitely not consensual, but it
takes a lot of the same forms. It’s an interesting question about
Sadomasochism and desire in general. There is always that question about
how much is our consent our own? How much agency do we have over our
own desire I guess would be another way of putting it. Which is not to
say that the current focus on consent as the bright shining line in
sexuality and other things is a bad thing, it’s a good thing, but there
is a sort of future question of how much are our desires our own, how
much agency do we have over our desire? That’s not by any means a legal
point, but it is a thing that is worth asking for each of us. But also,
and this is only tangentially connected to the question you asked, but
with the torture report having come out, just the number of times I have
heard people say, the U.S. engaged in torture and it didn’t even
produce any useful information. Can we just stop that entirely? It isn’t
a fucking question about production, it’s a question about ethics. I do
not care if it produced useful information. There’s no world in which
it producing useful information makes it okay. And maybe it’s just
because I’m becoming more and more Kantian in my old age, but the ends
in this case cannot justify the means under any circumstances.