The Male-Body-in-Pain as Redemptive Figure
Acknowledging that representations of men confronting violence and pain can reinforce ideas of manly tenacity, Kent L. Brintnall also argues that they reveal the vulnerability of men’s bodies and open them up to eroticization. Locating the roots of our cultural fascination with male pain in the crucifixion, he analyzes the way narratives of Christ’s death and resurrection both support and subvert cultural fantasies of masculine power and privilege. Through stimulating readings of works by Georges Bataille, Kaja Silverman, and more, Brintnall delineates the redemptive power of representations of male suffering and violence.
“Imagine a book that treats religion and eroticism not as sworn enemies or cycling debaters, but as twin arts. A book for which images of sexed bodies are not records or replacements so much as devices of an ecstatic redemption. You have found that book. In it, Kent Brintnall retells the Christian saga of male suffering through Hollywood action films, Mapplethorpe’s most scandalous photographs, and the gurgling paintings of Francis Bacon. His guide is Bataille. His goal is a new self. His book wants to remake you.”
“I have seldom read an academic book as clearly and at times beautifully written as this one. Even when dealing with works of critical theory, Brintnall manages to write clearly without simplifying or sacrificing complexity. The work is in that sense a model for other academic writers. Furthermore, Brintnall has managed to wed religious studies, gender and queer studies, and contemporary cultural studies in a more successful way than most of the projects that recently have attempted such a union.”
“In his prelude to Ecce Homo, Kent Brintnall writes that he has relied on Georges Bataille’s ‘method of pursuing doubleness, undecidability, and juxtaposition’ to explore the image of the suffering male body through contemporary variants on crucifixion imagery. This difficult reliance pays off superbly in a precisely balanced, consistently engaging work that crosses the personal with the theoretical, the familiar with the unexpected, and the aesthetic with the deeply ethical and political in an analysis that is as challenging as it is persuasive.”