In the series The Dialectics of the Sexes: no. 4
Yearning to go out of bounds, desiring to violate the rules, the will to sin – perhaps archetypically human. ‘Transgression’ some might call it. Whoever continually suppresses this urge is a victim of religion and of self-appointed moral censors. That will to sin, by the way, cannot be practiced all the time.
Two of my greedy urges are now so surrounded by medical taboos, that I no longer want to escape their rules. One: Moderate food – nothing sharp, in both the spicy and the physical sense. I am married to an Indo-woman, so this is really bad. I also loved hard nuts, they’re ‘out’ now. Two: No alcohol – self-preservation, even though the quality of that self is already in question.
Saddled up with those miserable, swelling veins in stomach and esophagus, what remains of the desire to sin are the transgressions of the flesh. At my age this takes some doing, as an aging man one must also first be given such opportunity.
Face to face with a handsome Madonna, somewhere in a beautiful church, I occasionally light a gorgeous candle in honour of the goddess Venus, certainly no saint in the Church of Rome’s pantheon. Nevertheless, may a new woman’s love find its way to this old man, may she fire the required lust…
Now however – this lonely night’s dark hour in my French house, a vault sealed off from the outside world with many doors, gates and shutters, with in my ears no more than the wail of a distant cow who is weeping for her calf that was taken away from her and hauled to a faraway slaughterhouse – now there is that other terrible loss.
With great music at full strength – albeit fucked up by an old runaway iPod that flatly refuses to follow the music’s assigned order – I drink a liquid called vin sans alcool, a French version of ‘alcohol free wine’ with the unsparing name Bonne Nouvelle. What I normally drink as substitute for the real thing, a drink of some stature made by the German wine-seller Faber, has by now been sipped away. When I had a knowledgeable acquaintance nip a little of this Bonne Nouvelle, with a rather sad and sour face he commented: ‘Bad news, man, bad news!’
In the past I partook of bottles filled with serious wines, during long hours listening to Coltrane, Bowie, Brahms, Shostakovich and all those magnificent others. Then, the distance between me and the speakers evaporated – music flowed into me, I crept into the music.
Now, of a sudden, I am deprived of this. There is between me and all this beauty an abyss, an icy desert. No more music that once hit my ears by way of the tongue, then descended into the scrotum. Not any more, all that beauty feels far so away, as if it must cover an unbridgeable distance. I listen to it closely, as they say.
Meanwhile, ‘to be sober’ has acquired a very real connotation. Even sober intellectually, while writing. The pen lacks that flow of lightheaded intoxication. And all that beautiful music without wine – something is amiss.
Perhaps, one day, this old man will recline once again on ‘the meditation mat flesh’, so called in the title of the Chinese erotic novel Yu Poe Tuan. There his lower parts undergo their metamorphosis and ascend to great heights… That would be a windfall, this time his lustful dynamism is supported by not consuming alcoholic potions.
There is of course the comfort of a passage in the older Casanova’s History of My Life, volume 11. Still at it, never tired of chasing women, he falls in love with Callimena and becomes obsessed:
“I see that I must hasten to leave Naples, for otherwise I should become the unhappiest man.
“By loving you with no hope of possessing you.
“Love me, and stay. Why cannot you believe that I will love you? Only restrain your ardour, for you must see that I cannot fall in love with you unless I see that you can control yourself.
That miracle of carnal love will take place, however so much later and on her own lawn.
Contemplating their exchange of fine talk, Casanova added: “I had reached the age when a man begins to have the strength to wait.”
Sierksma, 25.5 / 2014 La Roche
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