Saturday, March 25, 2006

Chapter Five (part 7)

(continuing the "all nighter" conversation between Cassie and her lovers P. and S.)

"It all makes me dizzy," I admitted.

"It should. Deconstruction's motto is 'the center cannot hold.'"

"Do they pay Yeats royalties for stealing that line from him?" Leave to S. to be irreverent. P. laughed.

"Deferring," I laughed, too. "I'm deferring my life right now, it's on hold."

"On the whole, you've lost me, Old Man" S. admitted with a yawn. Out of nowhere, I started giggling despite myself— the hour was getting so late, and besides, I can't be serious about heavy subjects too long.

"Hold on," S. objected with real heat this time, "Deconstruction sounds like this year's model, another flashy, trendy tool, nothing more. We've gone through a whole laundry list of 'isms' in class. There's Structuralism, Freudianism, New Criticism, who cares?" I felt pride in S. He wasn't intimidated by our "professor" like I am.

"Right," I chimed in, hoping for strength in numbers, "isn't this another stupid search for another stupid Holy Grail to open up poems and novels to hidden meanings the writer never intended? I may be a naïve reader, but anyone with common sense can see The Picture of Dorian Gray is really about a gay man in the closet and the harm keeping that secret does to him. I want to know the answer to the questions books offer, like whether Pip gets the girl at the end of Great Expectations? That last line— " I grabbed the copy I'd been reading after work and opened it to the last page— "'I saw the shadow of no parting from Estella.' It's so tantalizing, it leaves me with goose bumps each time I read or think about it."

"Ever the Romantic," S. sneered playfully, throwing me off-balance, "wasn't it Ambrose Bierce who said if you scratch a Romantic, you'll find a cynic who hasn't been disappointed yet?"

"OK, I'm a Romantic," I blushed, backpedaling, "but a cynic in many things, too. But what about an author like Colette?"

"What about her?" P. countered with a knowing smile.

"Well, I may be a naïve reader, but I know her writing isn't compelling because it's beautiful, it's compelling because of the insights we gain from reading her."

"Why do you read Colette?" P. asked me with a wink. It's a private joke between us I wasn't ready to share with S. I wanted to throttle "the professor" at that moment.

"I read her because she writes about young women like me— who want to know more about themselves— or life." I sounded pompous and gassy, I could see I was getting in way too deep. "I want insight from her books, not philosophy." S. winked at me when I finished because P. was rubbing his eyes, though he wasn't fast enough and P. saw most of it anyway.

"Then you'll find Deconstruction helpful because it isn't a tool, it's a way of looking at the world. We define ourselves by our texts: the laws, newspapers, books, poems, letters— or in your case, Cassie, by a bisexual exile from the Parisian theater writing books young women identify with. Instead of worrying about who Colette was, or whether her books are autobiographical, Deconstruction cuts out all the intervening bullshit."

"Sounds like a literary seduction," S. snorted, "a sort of intellectual penetration, yes? I've read Foucault, you know, with his bizarre theories about sex and literature!" He was less interested in the ideas than in the intellectual cat-and-mouse game, slyly grinning at his erotic allusion.

(to be continued)

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Odd Fans & Non-Fans

One of the funnier blogs out there has little or nothing to do with sex. It's The Dead Guy: the cartoon. It's a conventional cartoon strip like "Peanuts" or the very marvelous "Jump Start," and worth reading regularly.

I always find it fascinating coming across folks who are living the Beyond You & Me story. One of them is Stiletto Diaries, the story of a 20-something woman in Canada and her two male lovers. There's plenty of drama, and frankly, I'm worried about Stiletto Girl, because she's very young and her husband doesn't appear to be too happy about her love affair with a younger man. But I wish them better luck than Cassie had, since they're both about the same age (23 vs. 24).

In terms of younger lovers, you ladies should check out Mike at I'm Not Touching You (see above photo). Alternately funny, gross, inventive, crass and horny, he's a typical young guy with sex on the brain who also writes well.

And speaking of writing, there's Adrie Santos: the Accidental Sex Writer. She got the name because her smut is selling better than her regular writing (I can relate to that). She posts about a variety of interesting topics, both related to the printed word and to life in general, including her stint as a sex toy reviewer.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Passing the 100,000 visitor milestone...

I think that sorta says it all (please look to the right and the hit counter that says how many people have stopped in here since March, 2005).

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Chapter Five (part 6)

(continuing the "all nighter" conversation between Cassie and her lovers P. and S.)

"If I tell you it's OK to borrow my vacuum cleaner," P. rambled on, "my words are expressing a gesture of social politeness at odds with the natural, selfish desire to withhold what's mine from another person."

"And if I asked to borrow your wife, old man, it's much plainer why you might say no." S. laughed at his own cleverness.

"You'd be wasting your time loaning him a vacuum cleaner," I quipped, "try hiring a maid." S. made an overly-elaborate wincing motion, then rolled over and buried his face in my lap.

"Loaning me a wife would accomplish two goals at once, including having a cleaner room," he mumbled through the cloth of my skirt. His voice vibrated against my thighs, tickling, distracting me momentarily from "deep thoughts."

"You're a male chauvinist, Retter!" I scolded after bringing my attention back to the conversation. "Besides, the ideal ménage à trois for a woman is one man to do the dishes and another to clean the house."

They both laughed, though I'm sure it was in competition to seem the most solicitous. Ah, testosterone. Still, I relished the competition between them with my attention as the prize.

"We subvert our own selves through these hidden desires or urges," P. went on while shoving S. over onto his back. "It's the same with texts: they have hidden subversions." He put his hands on my shoulders and began rubbing out the deep knots of tension there. S. couldn't compete with him on a physical level.

"Sounds like shrink talk," I blurted out with S. joining me in a conspiratorial laughter.

"There's definitely an element of the psychoanalytical to it all." P. sorta shrugged at our small point. "In French it's called différance."

"Not more jargon!" I protested.

"Ah, vive la difference!" S. leered, first at me, then at P. to show he didn't mean it for anyone in particular.

P. parried by running his foot along my bare legs, nearly lifting the hem of my skirt. His showing off made me blush— I didn't like him letting S. know whose property I am that way, men are so fucking possessive!

"It's not the same word, old man. Différance is a Derrida made-up word combining 'deferring' and 'difference.' The meaning's pretty straightforward: no poem or novel or play, no writing at all can sustain a coherent meaning."

"What? That's absurd! What about political writing, or scientific texts? And what about propaganda? Explain that to those of us like myself who are by-products of the Second World War." S. wasn't grinning now. "When Nazis talked about gassing Jews, where is the incoherence in their meaning?"

"No matter how tight or logical words seem," P. shot back, "all texts have internal contradictions. Those contradictions cut us off from what we call a real meaning."

I thought then how much Deconstruction applied to my life: an outer façade (good girl, good wife) plastered over a maze of impulses and "meanings" at war with one another tight. "A mass of internal contradictions." Perhaps that simply describes human beings in general? I didn't think it applied to P. He's usually so constant— except perhaps for sex. He likes experimenting in the places we make love, the positions, etc. Beyond that limited sphere of his personality, however, he's so grounded. Unlike me, he knows he was born to teach, that he'll someday write important books and think great thoughts, and eventually become Sterling Professor of Comp Lit like de Man."

(to be continued)