That lady has been playing solitaire for the entire flight. And we are 5 hours in. I kid you not, it has been non-stop. It’s actually rather impressive that she can send her brain into near hibernation mode for so long. We are halfway to Dusseldorf. And then, a 4 hour layover (gag) followed by a quick hop to London. As is custom for me, I haven’t gotten a wink of sleep, while Edward has gotten over 4 hours. How people do it is beyond me. How people survive marriage with children is also beyond me. Marriage on its own has a stifling quality to it, let alone with kids in tow.
I’m reading Erica Jong’s Fear of Flying and I can’t help but feel that the narrator IS me. As a nod to her, in turn her nod to The Beatles, I am she and she is me and we are all together. I have a nagging suspicion it’s really Jong, but I’ll be a good lit scholar and not assume autobiographical connection. Isadora describes having children as a terribly presumptuous act, insofar as you intend to raise them well. But really, how sure can you really be of anything–especially that? To assume full accountability for another human being means you have to surrender a large part of yourself. You must say goodbye to the person you were before becoming a mother. On several occasions, she cites her mother saying, “You’re either an artist, or a mother; you cannot be both.” I know a number of women who would rail against such a statement, and their points (yes, I already know them) are duly noted. To them I would submit: raising children is, in itself, an art form. But not all women desire nor develop a knack for it. I struggle with myself on this, because I have long felt that the most beautiful thing I could give birth to, is a novel. I also feel that I would regret letting my window of opportunity pass me by for having children. I would be remiss if I said there isn’t a worthwhile companionship that ensues from having a daughter or a son.
Another point she raises is probably even more condescending, but I’d be lying if I said it didn’t resonate with me. She believes that women who don’t feel much anxiety at the prospect of having children simply haven’t given it much thought. They accept their “duty” as it were, in society, and bear child after child. Much like the brain dead solitaire player a few rows ahead of me. To their credit, they are exceptionally less selfish than Isadora or myself. But that kind of self-sacrifice is a tragic by-product of the larger system of power they belong to. A matrix, if you will. Sure, it’s clear that women are needed in a reproductive capacity, but what if I don’t want to commodify my womb? I use the term “commodify” strictly in its social utilitarian sense, not the Marxist sense, though the latter has historically been the case, and still is in many parts of the world.
Directly related (I think) to this issue of child-bearing and rearing, and the implied selflessness behind it, is sex. Not just any kind of sex, but the kind that is punctuated by the delightful novelty of the unexplored. Isadora introduces an ingenious little thing called the “zipless fuck.” The beauty of it is, it can only be achieved when you hardly know that other person at all. As such, it remains a truly simple sexual encounter, unhindered by shame, guilt, and a host of other coital complications. The zipless fuck is irreproachable. It is the purest form of fucking, for fuck’s sake.
But these masturbatory fantasies are untenable. For all his psychoanalytic babble, Freud got some things right. We are a people built on the repression of desires; it is the denial of wants that ensures our acceptance. And in the end, people don’t just want, they NEED acceptance. It’s more than a mere whim. Getting laid only takes you so far. Most of us, myself included, are too chicken shit to ostracize ourselves like that.
In the chapter Paroxyms of Passion, Jong describes the eternal and fruitless manhunt for the perfect male specimen, one whose mind and body are equally “fuckable.” She contends with an array of disappointments, largely fed by a fantastic literary pretentiousness. Bookworms are indefatigably inconsolable; they grapple with the hard edges of reality while longing for the fantasy only to be found in books. The search for the perfect man can be likened to that of the holy grail. Perhaps men and women are in fact incompatible, making them even more perfect for one another, you see? How can you get bored of someone when you don’t understand them? Understanding breeds sympathy and security, which in turn kills the very stuff of life. It could very well be that the consummation of the ideal partner–the one who laughs at all your jokes, gets your literary allusions, and fucks with a prescience you never thought possible–is death itself. All these things we want in a person, ultimately figures as a nuanced reflection of ourselves. There are two kinds of people: those that want to serve others, and those that want to serve themselves. The former don’t care who they marry, because they live to provide. The latter will never be happy with who they marry, because no one measures up to themselves. In death, they will find themselves. Something to look forward to. But then, of course, it will be too late.
That statement, of course, has as much efficacy as a stale potato chip, but isn’t that the way of the world?
Showcasing Jong’s humor, wit, and sexual candor:
“Because I wouldn’t have known how to say it then, but Steve’s finger in my cunt felt good. At the same time, I knew that soft, mushy feeling to be the enemy. If I yielded to that feeling, it would be goodbye to all the other things I wanted. ‘You have to choose,’ I told myself sternly at fourteen. Get thee to a nunnery. So, like all good nuns, I masturbated. ‘I am keeping myself free of the power of men,’ I thought, sticking two fingers deep inside each night” (216-217).
And she compares the struggle to reconcile the id and ego, immediate and future gratification, with her life and career as a writer. She quotes an epigram by Antonio Porchia: “I believe that the soul consists of its sufferings/ for the soul that cures its sufferings dies” (225). Artists are constantly plagued by new infatuations, because they live in an illusion that must be kept alive.
*** WARNING: THE FOLLOWING FALLS JUST SHORT OF LUNACY ***
My posts get more and more absurd and disjointed as I sit for the 9th hour on this plane.
You learn a lot from public transport in France. For one thing, direct proportions: as the temperature increases by 10 degrees, the number of rancid armpits increases threefold. Thus you have the following covert text to my husband:
“Coño, ese chiquito alante de nosotros tiene una peste a grajo de madre!”
Even the slightest shifting in his seat would send a wave of garlic pesto my way. Not the good kind either; the one that’s gone bad. A week ago.
From Silver Linings Playbook:
“I apologize on behalf of Ernest Hemingway, because that’s who’s at fault here.”
I couldn’t agree more! That damn Hemingway and his inexhaustible digressions that only lead into absolute misery. SOO overrated. Pat’s right. There’s enough of that already in the human condition (whatever that is). I enjoy a fair share of misery but only if the trip there was worth it. The inverse is true, however, of flights. Like this one.
It’s really amazing how we can leave Berlin at 12:20 in the afternoon, only to arrive at New York at roughly the “same time.” It’s as if the last several hours did not just happen. We get to relive them.
Lana Del Rey makes me feel like I’m rolling. And I don’t even know what that feels like…
A sort of sleepy sexiness. Helps me fix my gaze at someone without turning away.
The title of her new album alludes quite explicitly to A Clockwork Orange: Ultraviolence. The poetic voice (if you will indulge me) in her music is so refreshingly sure of itself. It knows what it wants and invites you to join. But if you don’t want to, she doesn’t give a fuck either.
I wonder: for all intents and purposes, is anarchism the same as hedonism?
My random ruminations bore even me.
The differences between Europe and the States becomes evident on our connecting flight in New York. It’s unbelievable how Americans say the French are rude. Americans are the rudest of them all. But we understand each other in our mutual lack of common courtesy and professionalism. On a very harried rush to our connecting flight to Miami, I’ve already encountered ten “shits” and one “motherfucker.” People feeling entitled to choose their seats according to where family members are sitting. A colorful array of accents. The couple in front of us practically dry humping as if it’s their last grope. The grimiest of Spanglish, spoken indiscriminately to anyone and everyone.
O Miami, how I love thee.