Or, a Brief and All Too Postmodern Escape from Plot

In the voracious night, we see some things we would rather not mention.

A woman meets a man in a diner. They talk, and then they go home together.

(Did you know that a recent study has determined that we do not decide most of the things we do consciously? That we in fact experience the moment of decision-making many seconds after our brains have begun to work on the decision process? The scientists conducting this study call the latter type of work, “unconscious processing”; and the former sense of decision-making, “conscious processing.” I myself call it splitting hairs, but in doing so I’m indulging myself. After all, it’s an invocation of an image that takes us to the outer edge of the cranium, and it’s the outside that most of us are interested in today.)

The woman lies down on the floor. She is naked. She spreads her legs. The man (he calls himself a student of Aleister Crowley) stares into her open mouth. What Courbet called L’Origine du monde. Angela Carter references this painting in a funny, risqué manner, in The Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman. Her book concerns the aestheticization of violence, and the dangerous hunger of the unconscious mind.

In the voracious night, we want some things we would rather not remember ourselves wanting, by the benignant light of day.

(People don’t use the term “benignant” any more. We tend to be dismissive of gentler emotions these days. We crave the wrack and surge and the satisfying destructions of our everyday world. Such emotions, and their aftermaths, complicate our lives less.)

And then, the woman tells the man it’s his turn. He is so surprised he does it, he lies down on the floor; he spreads his legs. She takes a look. But she is surprised, too, to find the roles reversed, and she discovers that she can’t stop laughing.

(Not a consciously-decided ending for this at all. What does it mean, to have the woman laugh? What happened to the muted intimations of violence? What are the man and the woman doing there in the first place, lying on the floor, taking turns no less? Why the hell would anyone, these days, consider himself a student of Aleister Crowley? And how can I even mention Crowley, without depicting a man who has convinced his wife to let a goat fuck her, only to have the goat wander off, in the end, out of disinterest, thereby ruining a whole set of traditional emblems of lustiness in the process?)

The voraciousness of the story. It consumes the consumer. How untoward! How deftly it inverts expectations, and makes its author at once hopeful! ––Though also longing for a good old-fashioned sense of plot-resolution.

In the Voracious Nght

Take Two. (A little bit of plot.)

I wasn’t especially young, which can serve as an excuse sometimes. He rode a motorcycle, shaved his head, stood 6’ 5” tall, was big too.

His cock was shaped like a missile. I mean, more so than most cocks. It would have been funny, if he weren’t Catholic and terrified of getting me pregnant. He wouldn’t let me touch the faucets to wash myself after we screwed, if he had touched them first. Because the sperm could somehow travel from his dick to his hand to my hand to my vagina. And then they, the sperm, were home-free: they were then, he led me to understand, without a doubt uterus-bound.

This was one of the jokes he made, one thread in a tangled skein of joking. It got old though, because he wouldn’t come out of the joke-mode. I understood; he was younger than I was; he felt that his elaborate jokes and the outré sense of humor that fed them were almost the only things that gave him power over me. But I didn’t buy it. I was the one willing to say I was in love. That gave him power, to my mind. I didn’t realize until it was over that, no, in fact, saying that I was in love with him gave me more power, because he couldn’t say it.

(I have always been rather stupid when it comes to the issue of the power one gives to people by saying that one is in love with them. I have always given my power away. If I said I loved someone, I decided that that person had power over me. If that person said he or she loved me, I decided then that he or she had power over me.)

It is very stupid not to recognize the power you have. Not because it matters, what you recognize or what you don’t recognize, a whole hell of a lot, in terms of how things play out. But because not recognizing it gives you fewer options.

(Note that you can substitute the idea of consciousness there in the paragraph above, for the idea of recognition.)

There was one night when he wouldn’t screw me. He wouldn’t. He was afraid of my desire for him. It overwhelmed him. In turn, his refusal of me intoxicated me.

(Stupidly, I didn’t realize that being refused can be very delicious; it can heighten desire incredibly for the one who is refused; so much so, that the person refused can lose sight of the thing she thought she desired. Can mistake it. For something it’s not.)

I was in a frenzy. When we finally fucked, I lost myself completely. Perhaps men do this more frequently than women; I myself have done it only infrequently. Indeed, this is still true now. It is not often that I am so surprised that I lose myself.

It’s important not to mistake that loss of self for something else. Something more meaningful. To lose yourself is simply something that happens. It is liberating, or can be. (It can also be disconcerting, even terrifying.) But your self returns. It has to or you will never know that you have been liberated. It’s probably true that you wouldn’t like it, not knowing that you have been liberated, even as you continue to be liberated. But it’s not something you should worry about. Since if it does happen, you’ll never know.

By which I mean: you will never know.

(But what I don't know? Who are you?)

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