Annotating & Numbering “My Most Secret Desire”- working notes segment 1

Julie Doucet’s “My Most Secret Desire” is separated (subtly), into five sections. Here are my notes to the first section as I go through and number the pages/do a close read through.

1.) Opening page= blood, excessive tooth loss, & boyfriend brining Julie back to bed. Orients reader towards text in a particular way: towards abjection and disgust, panic/fear/anxiety, and also towards the ambiguous space between the dream state and wakefulness; at first we’re certain that she’s dreaming, but are uncertain once she’s brought back to bed. (Are the other sections oriented differently?) *should research, then: something, anything about dreams that is also academically rooted. Suggestions welcome.

2 & 3.) Guillotine sequence. Canny/uncanny (apartment is familiar & not, eerie. has been altered while out- see especially panel 5 on page 2). First appearance of a cat, has been mutilated by a guillotine. “I’ll take care of you” (panel 3 on page 3)- but holds cat at arm’s length. Obvious disgust. Trauma/anxiety/fear/disgust/the uncanny.

4.) Final page of guillotine sequence. Attempts to escape death apartment, falls out of window into street. Presumably breaks neck?

5.) Opening page of space sequence. *Marked change in style- larger panels and gutters, more open feeling. White space gutters rather than thick lines. Slowed pace & positive tone.

6 &7.) Panel 1 on page 6 entirely scenery, only implied bodies (first/only of its sort?). Good view of space shuttle, which: phallic. Julie’s mother catches up with her as she is about to board & gives her cookies “for masturbation purposes.”

8 & 9.) Final pages of space sequence. Same layout as above: top left panel= scenery, still of spacecraft. Cookie masturbation scene (makes the sound “clit clit clit”).

10 & 11.) Opening pages of bra shopping sequence. First prologue scene. Some kind of comment on gender performance- rejects frilly bra, attempts to purchase sports bra.
11.) change in style- wavy frames, but also busiest panels. Cluttered. Pace slows. Some kind of commentary on shopping as an exercise of agency, or something else?

12.) Final page of bra shopping. Literal end of the world- nuclear bomb. Only surviving human being, realization of which is followed by a panel in the waking world in which she asks “what the hell does it mean?”

13.) Dystopian earth & the bald people sequence. Picnic outside of the city (industrial part of city remains in background) interrupted by threatening looking nomads with spears.

14.) Nomads select Julie: “I want you…” She is frightened by this. They leave.
15.) Nomads return, now wearing shorts. They’ve brought croissants for the picnic. Croissants in shorts scene.
Abejection, stickiness (the body isn’t dirty, and the croissant isn’t dirty, but they make each other dirty?), something about the primal horde, or instincts?
16.) Simulated fellatio on croissant, melted butter. Abjection, disgust, but also the relationship between desire and disgust (she likes the melted butter). Transition into apartment paranoia scene in bottom two panels. First time one sequence transfers into another on the same page.

17.) End page of segment 1. All the things in her apartment hate her and are trying to kill her, but she can’t see them. Cat appears again- he can see the things/tries to fight them off. Final panel is Julie writing in her diary about her horrible dream and “good old reassuring reality,” while her things encroach on her, saying things like “hate,” “fuck,” and “kill.”

SEGMENT ONE is characterized by: cross-overs between real life anxieties/panic and dream worlds, a relationship that moves in two directions. An interest in the uncanny, especially uncanny spaces. The relationship between desire and disgust. Dirtiness- dirty spaces, especially dirty interiors (which seem largely comfortable?), which are contrasted with the dirtiness of the city (bad), and the polluted environment (also bad).

Annotating & Numbering “My Most Secret Desire”- working notes segment 1

Back on the Bandwagon- Research/Reading that isn’t especially useful.

I’ve just finished reading Rosi Braidotti’s Mothers, Monsters, and Machines, and didn’t find it especially useful. There is nothing wrong with the essay itself; the writing is solid, the essay is well researched, and the argument is easy to find and follow. The issue is that the essay is from 1994, making it 20 years old: the main argument, that historical ideas about monstrosity and the risks of female power (a female gaze, but also the power of re/production) are germinal to today’s practices of medicalising and thus scrutinising the female body, and especially the reproductive female body. Additionally, the essay has some severe blind spots that are reflective, I think, of the cultural climate (in general and within feminist discourses) at the time. Specifically, the text takes up a discussion of historical ideas about abnormality and monstrosity, extends those ideas into medicalisation, and fails to consider how the same discourses continue to impact, for example, on trans and intersex bodies.

In any case, useful or not, it feels good to have some kind of momentum in my research again.

Back on the Bandwagon- Research/Reading that isn’t especially useful.