This is the tale of two boys who lied their way into the army when they were only fourteen. McLain fought for the North, C. C. for the south. They meet four years later on the last day of the fighting. They have nothing to go home to, so they throw in with General Jo Shelby and go to fight in the Mexican Civil War, where they are promised good pay and land. McLain falls in love with the daughter of a powerful Mexican aristocrat, who forbids the marriage. Heartbroken, she takes her own life, breaking McLain’s heart. The boys have known nothing but violence in their young lives, so they solve the problem by killing the father and running for their lives. The story follows them for the rest of their days, which are filled with more killing and heartache. They kill over a hundred men in one day at a railway camp in Colorado, where the railroad’s thugs are torturing and killing conscripted Chinese laborers. They are old, in their sixties, when they fight their last fight and discover, at long last, peace and redemption.
Taking a fundamentally post-psychoanalytical approach, Bodies at Risk links philosophical and aesthetic issues in two distinct periods, with postmodernism continuing and amplifying the central concerns of Romanticism, including subject formation, the disruptive effects of the human body, and the unique forms of textuality they enable through risky personal and artistic conflicts. Neveldine investigates how the body, designated as queer or otherwise, has placed itself at risk, such that it has questioned dominant notions of what it is to be a human subject in Western society, roughly since the time of the Romantics. Neveldine also explores how certain kinds of artistic conflicts have played themselves out in various texts in the Romantic period and postmodernism and what these conflicts have produced, both corporeally and textually.
From Wordsworth’s poem “Nutting” to Gregg Araki’s film The Living End, from the Marquis de Sade’s prose to the autobiographical fiction of Thomas Bernhard, the artifact radically interrogates our notions of textuality, setting aside forever its status as a mere imitation or representation, and becomes a testimony to the body’s ability to resist oppression and create new types of human being.
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