In David Cronenberg’s film Crimes of the Future, the plot unfolds in a hypothetical setting where humans no longer feel physical pain. Instead, they grow new, unknown organs that are then surgically removed. In this scenario, the body gets opened up in order to show, like a cabinet of curiosities, the ever-growing mutations, turning mutilation and surgery into mass entertainment and a means of getting and giving pleasure. Exposed tissues and internal organs appear as sensual, beautiful forms, comprising a constellation of new sexual interactions. In this world, beauty and horror can hardly be separated, and there is a sense of permanent lack; cutting open their numb skin seems to offer the characters momentary relief, even if it never quite satisfies them. The lack of suffering becomes disruptive and painful in an off-cognitive way. Alongside the spectacle of artistic, sexual-surgical procedures, a question arises: can desire exist without pain. If so, what would it look like? [ read more … ]