[Ed: Yes, readers, I’ve been negligent. Apologies. The Disgraced Martyr Trilogy blog tour is going to begin over the next week, so be sure to pre-order your copy in order to have yours when it comes out May 19th! By way of recompense, please accept the first of a double helping of essays today.]
With another book almost ready for publication, Supervert writes that he considers his works to be a series, rather than a set of individual pieces. “Each book forms a dialogue with all the others,” he wrote in the interview. For Extraterrestrial Sex Fetish, he preferred a cool, more impartial palette; but for Necrophilia Variations, he attempted to tackle a more personal voice. “I wanted it to be intimate because death is intimate, something whose presence we all feel closely.”
–Excerpt “A Sit-Down With Supervert”, a short interview from an old blog of M. F. Sullivan’s
Recently, my mind was stuck in a loop about Supervert. His fiction, I mean. Especially Apocalypse Burlesque. A set of routines seemingly torn from the obscenest parts of an alternate universe’s Naked Lunch where Burroughs was allowed to play with a laptop hooked up to 2018’s Internet for a month or three while in that Tangiers hotel room, Burlesque starts strong and finishes with an apocalyptic ejaculation. Or, rather, the apocalyptic consequences of failure to ejaculate—but what’s the difference on a cosmic scale?
This is what I love about Supervert. Every page holds anything from the kind of titillation you’d tell no one about to that kind of rancid feeling of trainwreck sickness you get from scrolling past a surprise page of Internet gore. Just yesterday I was watching clips of the BLAM! CD on which Supervert collaborated with a partner in crime, and I was amazed to find the images and hilariously affronting interface sizzled with that same scintillating fear-of-discovery—either fear upon discovery of the thing, or fear of being found discovering the thing. Discovering Supervert is like discovering sexuality.
I was seventeen when I first started reading his books, but I had been into transgressive fiction for several years at that point. Growing up, my father’s bookshelves contained volume after volume of William S. Burroughs and Hubert Selby Jr., and his film tastes edged into a similar direction. I was therefore inundated with subversive thought from an early age, taught to question all authority, and given some extremely bold and unusual interests in literature.
The Internet makes it easier than ever for an anti-social nymphet such as once I was to stumble across list after list of banned and censored books. I still remember finding Lolita in a Wiki list at around the age of fourteen and being lured in from the title alone—but by that lurid description, well! What child, especially what precocious (evil?) child such as I was, could resist a book like that? Heralded as a classic of literature! This was what we should have been reading in school. I sensed it then and still agree with it now. A few days later, when I happened to have a day off from school and home alone, I walked what must have been four miles round-trip to the nearest Barnes & Noble, found a copy of Nabokov’s controversial classic, and was relieved when the clerk didn’t have anything to say. Then, at a nearby ice cream parlor, I sat down and read the first lines of a book which have stayed with me since, and will stay with me forever.
The thing that makes Lolita such a grand accomplishment of human literature is the irreplaceable prose. While the reader is horrified by Humbert Humbert’s doings, his ego and his repugnant, grandiose series of justifications, they are hypnotized by the prose and the infinite layers of symbolism with which Nabokov weaves his works. I must have read the first thirty pages in that ice cream parlor—probably about to where he meets Lo—at the age of fourteen, which was a powerful experience, both about literature and its potentials, and about the depths of human depravity.
By God, I wanted more. After I finished Lolita I began to swallow all the transgressive fiction I could find. I also began to write novels, but that would be a different essay, about how good reading makes for good writing. No, no. This essay is about Supervert’s incredible literature.
After finishing Selby Jr.’s Waiting Period, moving into more modern classics like Fight Club and American Psycho (though this doesn’t begin to touch the list of smalltime ‘bizarro fiction’ authors whose works I read at that time and forgot in a fugue of high school pharmaceutical abuse) and diving into avant garde cinema, my lifelong morbid fascination for serial killers and true crime blossomed into—hah, well, you know how teenagers are. Everything gets wrapped up into sex for them! Goodness knows at sixteen I’d already discovered a certain penchant for sadomasochism (Maggie Gyllenhaal in The Secretary made spanking look safe, and it’s all been downhill from there), and spent some time catching myself up on mankind’s efforts at erotic BDSM literature—de Sade missed me with all but Justine, and The Story of O was physically painful in a decidedly un-fun manner, but only Supervert could someday explain, in an introduction not to be written for years at that point, why the conceptually titillating Venus in Furs left me colder than Wanda by the book’s end.
By seventeen, I was still reading a lot of transgressive fiction, watching the ID Discovery channel’s lewd panoply of violent crime shows (“informative murder porn,” as the very on-the-nose South Park episode called it), and getting very interested in writing my own controversial books. The novels I had been writing up to that point were fun practice stories, mostly erotic romances, circulated through friends and now lost to the annals of time. But with my fascination in serial killers at an all-time high and my desire to write increasing by the day, I had to combine the two passions and, at the start of my senior year of high school, also started to write a transgressive novel: a serial killer romance, or an erotica for hybristophiliacs. Take your pick on how to describe the book destined to be Delilah, My Woman.
What a task that was, starting that book on which I would be doomed to toil for seven years and as many (or more) totally scrapped drafts! I had to increase my drug use just to keep up. Marijuana entered my life thanks to writing—that evil gateway chemical—and my reading required more transgressive fiction, because I had read from writer Heather Sellers’ wonderful books on writing that before one writes a book of any kind, one should strive to read 100 books from that genre. I had quite a task on my hands with transgressive fiction, because it’s not a very wide genre!
That, friends, is what led me to Supervert. I’ve told you this rambling and inappropriate tale to perhaps explain that I was already debauched by literature before I stumbled upon his filthily fascinating works. Ever since reading Necrophilia Variations during my senior year ‘free reading’ class, I have been saying in astonishment, ‘Why isn’t anybody talking about this man?’
Maybe because people don’t want to read about necrophilia, M.F.? That’s what I hear you saying, and I respond, but you’re not reading about necrophilia when you read Necrophilia Variations. You are reading a symphony of moral and ethical queries whose waves move through the medium of the concept of necrophilia—hence the name, ‘Variations’. For, like the Goldberg Variations, NV (and, truly, most of Supervert’s books) is
I read Necrophilia Variations and saw what I really hadn’t seen, or hadn’t appreciated, while reading de Sade’s laundry lists of shock. I understood from the first two or three routines that not only was I reading a book like I’d never read before, but it was showing me there was a kind of purification in the deviance. The reward for having your sense of propriety, sexuality and self all challenged by a Supervert book is that you are given the opportunity—the permission—to think things you would never dared to have considered on your own. The real utility of demonstrating the taboo, the perverse, the evil in fiction occurred to me in the hallway of my middle school, rather than a few years later while reading Bataille’s Literature and Evil when bored at work at the mortuary—more on that later. It occurred to me that is the duty of literature to confront and crack open the concept of evil and thereby open the self to the possibility of a higher truth. As Supervert’s collaborative project, Necro Enema Amalgamation, puts it in its mission statement, “We’re not God’s antagonist, we’re the Devil’s Advocate. When we say No, we mean Yes.”
I think many readers of this blog understand that.
Opening a Supervert book is a little like being in a sadomasochistic relationship right from page one. In reading those words, you are consenting to whatever experience with which he condescends to provide you and all others who spent money to be financially dominated by literature’s wickedest man. Yes, of course, you can stop. But you can feel his contempt for you—his sheer disappointment that you’d even consider such a thing—oozing through the page, and it drives you on where the brevity of each routine isn’t motivation enough. Because, hail Satan, each routine tends to be short. Even Post-Depravity, for being one long, incredibly delightful dystopian dive through a hospital I’d recommend you avoid, has an episodic quality to it: you get little moments of pleasure and relief between all the revolting challenges.
Apocalypse Burlesque, his new title, particularly throws down the gauntlet. Far be it from me to spoil any of your experience, but let’s just say I would give the Pulitzer Prize for Perversity to dear Supervert any year. The routine—maybe the longest in the book, or maybe it just feels that way—is a visceral challenge, like a snapshot of how I can only assume Supervert’s mind looks while he’s sleeping. (All the time? Who’s to say. Wouldn’t I love to know!) The rest of the book is your reward for making it through that first tableau. Once your mind has been ritually purified by that initial, orgiastic plunge into the abyss, you are prepared to receive the sacrament that is the rest of the text: open, empty, and drained of all will. Especially will to put the book down, because, let’s face it, if you do make it through to the end of that first routine, you’re probably going to be a lost soul like me who finishes the whole damn thing in a day. Christ—even just reading over his introduction to Venus in Furs in preparation for this essay succeeded in making me want to re-read that tedious series of slow-going cuckold fantasies though I know it’s a terrible piece of trash. Why? Because you, I, anybody who reads the introduction found at this link, wanders blindly into the introduction expecting a normal, boring series of passive thoughts about a classic of fiction, and instead they get the full Supervert experience. Because he doesn’t have a whole book in which to do it, he corners you like a dog in the first two paragraphs and tells you what you’ve never considered before: that the reader is the author’s slave. He forces you into a role of immediate complicity so that you are not only forced to see the thing through to orgasmic completion—you desire to.
What does Supervert teach us about writing, the occult, the Devil? More than you would think. An author this skilled can only be in league with Satan; especially when he’s covering topics such as these from such a fascinating stance of neutrality. Like the ringmaster of the Bosch Awards which open Apocalypse Burlesque, Supervert crooks a finger to lure you into a gallery of sin for which he is mere presenter. As with any good gallery, those in attendance come out the other side changed people, broadened and exposed. There is an interview Supervert gave with A VOID magazine—now lost to the annals of Google cache—where he said, “One day I would like to produce a book that would deliberately hurt people. The words would wound their feelings and the object would cut their fingers so that they could not turn a page without bleeding on it. A very small number of people would be willing to take this experience on themselves and I would love them for it.”
Now that’s inspiring! (And a book I would read in a heartbeat, I admit.) As an author, Supervert creates works which are multi-dimensional expressions of the relationship between the author, the reader, and the focus of the work itself. We all become voyeurs when we read any novel, but when we read Supervert, we are masochists.
By this point, five books have been released by that secretive Devil’s advocate. Of them all, Post-Depravity had the greatest personal resonance with me, but Perversity Think-Tank got me thinking about sexuality in a completely new way—though couldn’t the same be said of all Supervert’s books? This same recent occasion I discussed earlier, wherein my thoughts repeatedly traced back to Apocalypse Burlesque, my mind turned specifically to a routine wherein the human face evolves to be a sperm receptacle in a wry demonstration of Supervert’s opinions on the growing public interest in facials in pornography. The question Apocalypse Burlesque really seems to be asking me, again and again, is “How is Internet going to change human sexuality?”
Supervert’s answer—and my own personal experience—is that it already has. I’m sick to death of fucking. I can’t get off without at least thinking of one of any number of things which would send most normal people fleeing back to church. But since you and I (and perhaps our voyeuristic confessor, Padre Pervo) are here together, reader, let me make a little confession to you. Do you want to know what really gets me off?
The best jokes are the ones where you’re only half kidding, and this is probably only a quarter kidding. I admit, the idea of dressing up as a kinky schoolgirl for my boyfriend doesn’t thrill me 1/100th as much as the idea of going to a Catholic Mass and taking Holy Communion even though I have no business doing it—unless, of course, my boyfriend is wearing a cassock while I’m dressed up like a schoolgirl. All this without being molested by a priest, somehow! But that’s the divinity of it, the purity of it. It is the Shiva-in-Shakti, the brutal and sublime penetration of divine consciousness into soft, yielding matter and a fragile human ego in need of some flagellation. This is why there’s so much guilt built into the Catholic Church, I think, and probably also why there’s so much child molestation, nun rape and forced abortion inherent in the religion—I get it, because I practice it when I go sit in on Mass once every three years, though I have done nothing so foul as those things. The playful hypocrisy of being a lover of the Devil sitting in on, and participating in, Catholic Mass is surely what is felt by a sex criminal in priest’s clothing. It’s a private kink: a blasphemous three-way between God, myself, and the Devil, and all three of us love it as far as I can tell. Priests surely feel the same. The allure of evil and depraved actions is that they feel good, as Shelley wrote. That is why the truest, most self-aware evil is not only the most erotic, but the most true evil: and why true evil is nonetheless but a disruptive shadow cast by human objects wandering in the light of a pan-universal unity. Existence must, so evil must.
As a kid, I thought religion was boring hokum and God was a fairy tale. I came into a brief period of agnosticism and reactionary atheism because I could not see how God could exist and create such evil things. As an adult, I understand that union with the Godhead—mere contemplation of union with the Godhead, in fact—is the ultimate erotic experience, of which all mankind’s base and fumbling fetishistic efforts are mere splintered, bloodied reflection. The shards in the eyes of Kay, which allow him to be taken into the ice cold arms of the Snow Queen and away from his pure soul, Gerda.
There is something godly in perversion. Something spiritual. God himself is one Hell of a sadist. Carl Jung’s masterpiece is his extremely long and extremely angry essay, “Answer to Job”, which I tend to read in the voice of a lawyer rather than the psychoanalyst. Though, the Book of Job is, in and of itself, black and white Biblical “evidence” of the bizarre and mercurial nature of Yahweh’s cruelty. We must ask ourselves after a certain point—is the problem that God doesn’t care, and that he’s “allowing” evil to be in the world, or is the problem really that the Good Lord who turned a woman into a pillar of salt and gaslit a man into nearly sacrificing his own son kind of a sadistic prick? After a certain point in Christian symbolism, especially Catholic symbolism, the experience of religious visionaries—martyrs—has a sexual resonance. If you have ever seen a painting labeled “The Ecstasy of” pick a name, you might understand what I’m talking about. Bataille wrote a whole book about this, describing in depth the links between eroticism, death, and sensuality. It is recommended reading for the magician, as well as for the growing philosopher—although I profess that they are one in the same, for there is no greater lover of fair Sophia and her gracious wisdom than the well-illuminated, slightly Satanic magician.
Supervert is a magician if ever there was, and Apocalypse Burlesque proves it, paying homage to Bataille as much as de Sade and Burroughs. A phantasmagoria which opens on the word of a deviant MC closes with a cataclysmic tale of divine impotence, my favorite story in the book. (My second favorite has probably become, over the past few months since I wrote the first draft of this essay, a story which involves a man who obtains evidence that a girl is possibly being molested by her father; he refrains from calling the police because he is worried he’ll be arrested for having child pornography on his phone. That, of all the stories in the book, rings the truest to me.) In confrontation after confrontation, the author performs a sleight-of-hand: while distracting you with his freakshow, he’s illuminating you about society, sexuality, and yourself.
So, thanks for another masterpiece, Supervert, and thanks for bringing me where I am today. The Devil only knows where your workings will take me and all your other lucky readers in the future.
M. F. Sullivan is the author of THE DISGRACED MARTYR TRILOGY, with Book I, THE HIEROPHANT’S DAUGHTER, coming out on May 19th. Pre-order that book on Amazon.com or through your local indie bookseller (we’re starting to get into quite a few in the US and Canada, now) and, while you’re at it, get yourself a copy of Supervert’s Apocalypse Burlesque, which is easily Sullivan’s favorite new novel of the past two years. Stay good, children, and keep an eye on the blog. We’ve got a big blog tour starting soon—almost 100 stops—and a few essays on the horizon.
And, yes, that Philip K. Dick project. Don’t worry. You’ll be sorry you kept asking for it when you see it’s even longer than the Book of the New Sun essay.
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