6: "The Centered Polenta"
ONLY MY PERVERSE FANTASY CAN STILL SAVE YOU
Lance E. Rector
Creamistress 6 opens with a shot of the London Eye, a giant
ferris wheel from which one views all of downtown London. This shot
consolidates the images of the eye (“I”) and the wheel,
both significant to Sortor, somewhat-versed as she is in Western literary culture
prior to its subjugation by Rupert Murdoch et al.;
and she's trying to catch up on developments since, for one must relate
to succeeding generations, to have a lasting impact ("I's"
being phallic; "O's" being vulval; both meeting in "eye,"
which sounds like "I" but looks female.)
The wheel appears in various forms both in Creamistress 6
and in Sortor’s other works. In the first instance it refers
to the Medieval Chaucerian or Sony Pictures t.v."Wheel of Fortune"; I wanted to say wheel of torture) concept:
what goes up, must come down; as well as to the Bible or The Byrds’
concept of, "to everything, there is a season," and to Ralph Waldo Emerson's "Circles." And Sortor, Shakespeare
fan that she is, also has in mind his, “Nor time nor place did
then adhere,/ And yet you would make both! [NOW,] they have MADE THEMSELVES!/
And that – their very fitness now! – doth UNmake you!!”
(Macbeth, Act I, scene vii; emendation, emphasis and exclamation points supplied).
The wheel is visually related to the spiral emblem that appears later
in Creamistress 6. The spiral suggests growth and change;
while a simple wheel might suggest repetition without progress. Although
there are certain moments in Sortor’s life she wouldn’t
mind repeating, possibly perpetually . . . oh yeah!!! and others she'd just as soon had never happened – er, Sortor, like
Heraclitus, sees CHANGE as the only constant, especially small change,
which is hard to get rid of. Thus in Creamistress 6, the
wheel emblem – though lovely as the “handiwork of Callimachus”
referred to in William Butler Yeats’ Lapis Lazuli – ultimately explodes.
The spiral also looks kind of like a navel, implicating birth or re-birth,
nourishment, and a withered or outgrown tie to the (m)Other, among
other things. Not to mention navel-gazing. Creamistress 6
is not particularly autobiographical, however, Sortor having spent
massive amounts of time and money in trying to put her past behind
her; though how successful are such efforts, really, ever; and even
now I'm pretty sure she'd be better off on medication;
but if it weren't for such prone-to-perturbation Cassandras, who would
early-warn us about brain tumors caused by cell phones, among other things; and
besides, what if such medication became unavailable following a terrorist
attack; then perhaps better never to have become dependent upon it.
Sortor also has in mind a lot of other stuff, some of the gist of which
is: at any given point in time and space, we are at a certain point
in our growth spiral, and we are confronted with certain limitations
and certain opportunities; and certain additional possibilities lurk
about, if we can hurry up, stall, remove ourselves to another location,
or tell the officer a convincing excuse; in sum, welcome
to Dial-a-Life. So it’s helpful, sometimes critical, to spot
or manufacture as many possibilities as possible.
Some of the other gist is: individuals or groups are like circles or cells that are constantly trying to invade, repel, contain, expel, or rub against each other; and other meanings of circumferences or borders are also at least dimly disclosed in Creamistress 6.
The exploding “eye” is succeeded first by a title page
incorporating veiny vines and a white version of the Creamistress
wheel emblem; then by the inmost recess of what may be the most female-looking cave on the planet.
[Next something about how we owe psychokillers for committing all
that bad stuff we’d all like to do – where the h--- did that
come from?? But must trust one's unconscious!!]
We see the back of the cave, hemispherical, dribbled with white. Nature’s
graffiti – mineral secretions, bat excrement; or uterine lube; or something less random?
One does not know, and one need not be ashamed to admit it.
Next, we see the Creamistress in the cave, sheerly veiled. She is
both queen and novitiate, among other things, reflecting the supremacy
of youth in modern culture, among other things. Her name, Mira Fibbah,
suggests “fibbing mirror” and is a rough acronym of Matthew Barney’s character drawn from the Freemasons'
“Hiram Abiff.” “Mira” is also a diminutive
of “Miranda,” the daughter of Prospero in Shakespeare’s
The Tempest, Act V, scene i, who famously exclaims, “O brave new world,/
That has such people in't!”
Apart from her veil, Mira is dressed, as we shall see, in the uniform
worn by the other Creamsters, consisting of a skirt evocative of the
veined M. Barney plaid, with the division and curves of closed bees’
wings in front. The skirt is, like Barney's Masonic aprons, open in back,
though more coyly so; hey, it's not like anyone was getting paid for
this gig. And b.t.w., designing the Creamsters’ costumes was
worse than picking bridesmaids’ outfits.
Mira’s veil is too transparent to obscure her much; it's more
a reminder of those membranes or boundaries that are all but invisible,
perhaps artificial or even delusional, yet somehow there, whatever
the h--- that means. (Unlike the hymen; at least for some gals, I
understand, it’s altogether too much there. Sortor, however,
spent a little time on horseback at an early age.) The Creamsters
also wear a sash bearing the wheel emblem.
As the next scene opens, we recede out of the cave (Catarina Cave,
in Palo Duro Canyon, where Sortor had a great Labor Day weekend
in 2002). The canyon is located outside of Amarillo, Texas, home of
"The Big Texan" restaurant, where you can get a not (in
the opinion of this writer)-so-edible 72 oz. steak for free, if you
can finish it all in an hour! (Don't ask what it costs if you don't finish it.) [Is Texas the rest of the country's id;
i.e., embarrassing, but we do what, deep down, the rest of you would like
to do?] It is with this landscape that the dialogue with Barney’s
Cremaster Cycle commences in earnest.
Let me mention that Sortor is a sincere fan of the Cremasters and admirer of Barney. They say a picture’s worth a thousand
words; well, Barney’s works speak volumes, and not just spatially-sculpturally;
and Sortor is sincerely glad someone put some cash into it, for painfully
obvious reasons as well as some not-so-obvious ones.
Creamistress 6 carries forward the color schemes of the Cremasters,
especially the orange and green of Cremaster 3; orange being
the hair color that makes Sortor’s boyfriend look repellently
yet fascinatingly like an over-sized Lucky Charms refugee, and green
being the color of the Creamsters’ tent, and of money. And white
being important as the color of power and of spot-resistant innocence,
one of the many benisons of synthetic fabrics, especially since Sortor’s
cat peed on the Candidate’s white tutu shortly before the shoot
(fun true fact!)
As the next scene opens, we find ourselves in what appears to be a
cross between an outpatient surgical center and a beauty salon. From
over the Creamistress’s shoulder and partly obscured by her
veil, we first glimpse the Horny Candidate. He is apparently naked
except for a white tutu, and is seated with his back towards us, facing
into a mirror. As Sortor learned from Plato’s Republic (Jowett translation preferred),
one cannot see oneself without an Other, however imperfect. Speaking
of which, other Creamsters then enter.
The Creamettes push a cart laden with various disconcerting-looking
knives, utensils, and appliances, and a lovely array of fresh veggies.
One Creamette is older and has huge bags under her eyes from sewing
costumes into the wee hours the previous night; that would unfortunately
It soon appears that the cart also carries a prosthetic mouth, ears,
and other items, to be applied to the so-far-stoic Horny Candidate.
In his next stage of development, he'll apparently need enlarged perceptual organs (we haven't succeeded in cleansing the doors of perception, as William Blake urged; so let's try prosthetically enlarging them). The scene is evocative of certain gruesome procedures
to which the Cremaster protagonists are subjected; but here,
in lieu of, e.g., a transformation of teeth and entrails
into the leverage of a stick or rod, we're privy to something between
a make-over and Iron Chef.
Of course no great artwork, especially a Barney parody, would be complete
without goo. In Creamistress 6, the divine substances that
lubricate and bind are (1) shaving cream and (2) marshmallow fluffer
stuff. These substances would have more aesthetic cachet if they were more repellant,
but hey, life's tough; give in to some yumminess!
The Creamettes apply prostheses, goo, and veggies to the Horny Candidate.
Two ice cream cones are affixed to his forehead like horns. A Creamette
hands the Candidate a hand mirror and rotates him in his chair so
he can view the back of his new “do”; which just goes
to show that, to cover one’s back, one actually needs two mirror-Others
(hence the importance of triangulation and trinities? and consider the utility of having as many parents as possible).
The next scene unfolds at The M.A.C., at the time Dallas’s nearest
equivalent to the Guggenheim that would give us permission to shoot
there. The Horny Candidate is in the men’s
room, again facing a mirror. The roll of toilet paper seen in the
background represents [must think of something – it’s another
wheel, dispensing a fragile, napkin-like membrane; what else? Reference
to quest to return to more pristine, original state? To defecate (i.e.
paint or write) on an almost-endless canvas?]
The Horny Candidate has lost his veggies (perhaps eaten them?) but
still wears the ice cream cones. He carefully removes the cones, revealing
that their protective sheathes or artifice apparently served to inspire or coax the growth of real, nascent horns. (Sortor got this idea from Mircea
Eliade's Myth and Reality – great stuff! in fact I just found out this paperback I paid $1.95 for in 1972 is now selling for $50!) The Candidate pulls
at one of his new horns, and unfortunately, it comes off. A Homer
S. -like “DOH!!” ensues.
Next appears Sortor’s computer screen, through which we see
the ghostly-lit interior of a green tent bearing the wheel emblem.
Within is the Horny Candidate, seated, mono-horned, and brooding (perturbed
at having just one horn, knowing he might have had two? and wondering,
what the f--- next. Females have some power, but I don't think they use it nearly
as often as males fear they will; and sometimes, when they do, it's
for everyone's benefit). A Creamette enters and handcuffs him in plastic
soda-bottle rings. She leads him out of the tent; but we can’t
help but be aware, there’s no exit (not to quote Sartre too
obviously) from the screen of Sortor’s oft-impaired but computer-assisted mind.
As a general matter, the Creamsters seem in charge, exerting control
over the Candidate in ways that seem disturbing yet not entirely unbenign.
The next scene takes place within an indeterminate interior, possibly
connected to the cave seen in the opening sequence. The Creamsters,
including the veiled Mira Fibbah, escort the Horny Candidate, still
handcuffed, to center stage. The Candidate bends into downward-facing
dog position, his bottom held high (c.f. the character
in Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream, Bottom,
who wants to play ALL the "PARTS"!
Mira stands directly behind the Candidate; a Creamette stands to each
side. The Creamettes unveil the motionless Mira, then lift back the
layers of the Candidate’s tutu, revealing a white cake attached
to his bottom – reminiscent of the Catholic-style first communion Sortor
yearned for at age four but never had (wow, when I google that without limiting it to Wikipedia, all I get is commercial sites selling first communion gifts, etc.). The camera shifts to a close-up pan of
the back of the Candidate’s legs and bottom; he’s wearing
boxer shorts featuring the “J. Crew” logo (the ultra-buff
Barney was a J. Crew catalogue model in his youth).
The cake bears three red candles and old-fashioned, hard sugar-candy
letters spelling ”HAPPY BIRTHDAY.” [Three referring to
the three Creamsters and to the triangulation required to view one’s
backside? The camera being the THIRD EYE!!! Yes!! – love those
vindications of the unconscious!! Though I think most other people
should rely on theirs a lot less.]
A Creamette lights the candles, and Mira blows them out. One Creamette
removes the candles; the other removes a lid from the top of the cake.
Mira presses her face into the top of the cake – an intrusion – then
rises; and we see her face gracefully smothered in Barbisol. Which
just goes to show that the right things don’t always get shaved.
And that although the Creamettes may seem in control of the Candidate,
they remain in some sense subject to him – not to mention complicit
in such subjugation.
The scene then shifts back to a long shot of Catarina Cave and quickly
zooms back into the cave. [That tourist in the DEVO t-shirt – pretty
sure it's at least post-post-modern, if not triple post-. Or maybe
this essay gets me there?] From the cave's empty depths, the wheel
emblem now comes spinning and tumbling toward us. Now, the emblem
bears the numbers one through twelve. As it fills the screen, it slows
to stop with the six at the top (implying there may be six more episodes
to come?? Or perhaps that we’re half-way through countervailing,
systemic processes of universal entropy and syntropy – see Sortor’s
website – www.c-cyte.com – for
additional clues). The wheel bursts into motion again, finally fading
to reveal the closing graphic, in which the four characters’
faces fold out in gleeful, Cremaster 1-type smiles.