Exclusive Excerpt

Masturbatory Reader: Sticky Fingers Publishing are asking us to reconsider the power of the erotic in literature
By Ella Joyce | Art | 4 May 2023

London-based Sticky Fingers Publishing are an intra-dependant feminist publisher shaping the literary landscape, bringing together marginalised voices to discuss topics ranging from digital libraries to the work of Anaïs Nin. For their latest anthology, founders Kaiya Waerea and Sophie Paul release Masturbatory Reader, compiling the work of sixteen contributors to dissect how power and pleasure can be accessed through attending to the erotics of knowledge production in literature.

Speaking on their latest publication, Kaiya and Sophie tell us; “This collection was inspired by all the brilliant writers we have published and the authors we admire examining the relationship between the erotic, knowledge-making and power. The latter include political writers like Audre Lorde, auto-theorists like Kate Zambreno and McKenzie Wark, and punk icons like Kathy Acker. It’s this lineage of writers we honour with this work. We hope our readers will reconsider the power of the erotic within processes of reading and writing, and that particularly our readers who experience marginalisation will find amongst these pages the energy to continue doing the work of insisting on our fullness.”

Below, we publish an exclusive excerpt from the publication: Tallulah Griffith’s Fucking the Reader, meditating on themes of selfhood, pleasure and the body.

Fucking the Reader, Tallulah Griffith 

Fetish, at its central sore spot, is object worship, is devotion to a bewitching thing. Book is smelling spine beneath the covers, sleep felt against pillowed protrusion, hard edges and soft overspill. Is tactile self-discovery. Is cleft prised open, thumb-
pleated pages, ink-sodden finger grease. Is corpus-in-lap hunching over curling-up curling-round curling-in.

First time: coming was, for me, a read experience. Automatic autoerotics, fingers under flaps always on the pages. No intent, no genital stimulation, hands pressed against the body of the book. Accidental. Enchanting object. The book, of course: The Reader. Found some tender node, I guess, where her domming joined his arousal, where reading was foreplay and words, uncloaked from euphemism, stood stark, frank, naked. Felt my way around them, traced erotic outlines. I was her, or him, or them. Shame in hindsight.

Don’t think I could have told you muscle spasm caused good feeling. Or that its cavity led out to any orifice. Read and reader, pleasure disseminated, flooded. In The Body of the Text, Pierre Guyotat, childhood masturbation, MY DISARRAY AT THAT TIME STEMMED FROM THE CONTRADICTORY DRIVES TO BE BOTH SEEN AND SEE-ER. PIMP AND BAWD. BUYER AND BOUGHT. FUCKER AND FUCKED. Maurice Merleau-Ponty, I am both the hand that touches and the hand that is touched. Reading too. In and out. Am body, in body and text. Sticky edges falter in encounter: remade around pleasure points. Vermont Almanac via Guy Hocquenghem, to make Swiss cheese, you take a hole and you put some cheese around it. Deuterostomes. The mouth comes second. Build substance around hollows – find them. Book, spontaneous opening. Pinpointed spot again: grew around it. It’s fantasy too, shakily embodied, shifting coordinates. Corners of self, voluptuous spread, self-extension splaying fingers, tentacles plugging. Marquis de Sade smuggled manuscript in dildo; Paul Preciado, like a dildo, a book is a sexual body’s assisted cultural technology of modification. Toy. Self-in-other-in-self-in-mess of rough-skinned book, kink-edged word, sliding into person. I arranged around. Someone in the writing workshop tells me keyboard is no good, hands form letters and tug at schoolchild self and I guess reading is the same, hands circle ohs and ahs and in pours reader, transcribing shapes with mouths, vibrations with throats, locating place of play. I used to get up early to play with my dolls. I used to dress them and play with myself automatically, child says in Demetrius Zambaco, Case Study of Onanism in Two Little Girls. Auto play, play with self, undress doll, peel pages apart. Better than sleep.

Daniel Sloate’s Polly/Paul is SECRETLY A MAN IN WOMAN’S PANTIES, MASTURBATION TRIGGERED BY POLLY’S FURTIVE READINGS À LA FLASH LIGHT UNDER MIDNIGHT BLANKETS. WAS ACCOMPLISHED BY MEANS OF AN ADROIT FINGER INTRODUCED UNDER THE PREPUCE AND TWIRLED COUNTERCLOCKWISE. THE WHITE RESULTS WERE LONG MISTAKEN FOR THE MENSTRUAL FLOW. Secretions are not words unless written so. Inaugurated incarnation, embodiment by name. Imagined and projected thing becomes the thing itself. Secret tangled in man’s woman’s panties. Self-sex. Sometimes same-sex. And maybe seedy isn’t so masculine after all. Touch on finding that penetration is not unilateral, and to be entered is not synonymous with to subsume, or maybe they’re just different kinds of thrust. Hocquenghem, it is when I am masculine that I want to make love to a man. It is when I am feminine that I want to make love to a woman. That is the secret to all my masturbations.

I’ve rubbed around the point. Kate Zambreno, what prevents me from writing this book? Circling around but not finishing anything, reading, researching, masturbating, time passing.

Masturbation, return, The Reader. Now. Library culprit copy on loan. Who to? How long? Same beat up book from ‘06? Stains or marginalia? Dead skin and old bookmarks Couldn’t have hoped for Guyotat, THE NOTES. ARE UNREADABLE TODAY: STUCK AND UNSTUCK BY SUCCESSIVE ORGASMS. Mucous memory, lusted scrapbook collage.

New impression. Paw through, pore over, seek out erogenous zone. Find page easily, struggle with the other part. What part of me to point to in these pages? He says it was an exciting kind of comfort and I got hard. Wet from bath, she rubbed me dry
and I could feel her breasts against my back. Next night: I kept getting erections, but I didn’t want to masturbate. I wanted to be with her. Roland Barthes, the text of jouissance has to be in a sense unreadable. It must come as a jerk. Jerk off tear-jerker. Stretchmarks where words refuse smooth flesh sentence. Sink in teeth. Infant Reader grappled with words unknown, taboo by default. Throbbing with unrealised meaning.

Can’t see the stretchmarks now. Faded with time.

Tallulah tells us; “I’m excited to be part of the Masturbatory Reader. The prompt is so provocative for thinking through ideas of self, which bits persist because we indulge them. I think a lot of writers work around the theme of loneliness, and masturbation is an interesting lens for that, for thinking about which bits of myself I want to reveal and which I’m stroking better. The collection is full of great texts working through the things that rub on us, and it’s only right to say they’ve really come together.”

Masturbatory Reader is available to purchase here and check out Sticky Fingers Publishing’s Instagram for regular updates on events. 

GALLERYPhotography from Sticky Fingers Publishing events

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