Can you imagine someone like John Edwards truly believing that he had to lie; that all the good that he could do for the world would be wrecked by his very private and personal weakness going public? Could that possibly excuse the lies he actually told out loud and in public?
I don't really think so, but I don't know for sure. I've never been rich and good looking and a prominent chick magnet who stayed true almost to the end.
The trouble with what he did is that he betrayed any trust at all he might have ever thought he had in the public. We thought. He can't claim to be an advocate for the poor and then suppose that the public, overrepresented by the poor, wouldn't understand his weaknesses. Just like Tiger Woods, he wanted to be thought one of the good guys, when he was really just another guy wanting or needing to get laid. Against his public vows. Are you proof against that? Really?
I gave Clinton a pass - in my mind right where Jimmy Carter lusted - because he was already in office, and fessing up would cause actual havoc. Too bad the havoc was wrought anyhow. Too bad for John Edwards that he didn't wake up earlier too. And if he was waiting for his wife to die so that he wouldn't have to break her heart, well, it's hard to find that noble. Not impossible. Just really hard.
Doesn't the public just want to get laid too? Maybe holding our representatives to a higher standard than we expect from ourselves just isn't working for us. Because, in the end, I'm simply not quite ready to call John Edwards a terrible person. I'll let him do that himself, if he wants to. If he wants his soul back, it will have to be done in public.
Or, you know, maybe we don't all want to be rich and beautiful and famous. Maybe we just want a chance to hang with the homies; by which I mean wife, kids, dog, decent job, a garden maybe. Maybe the trouble is our supposed lust after the life of those people we love to bring down once we expose their secret evils. How the hell did you think they got there? By playing tiddlywinks in Sunday School?
Hell, out in public, a single word, misplaced, can bring you down in a big hurry. And then people will think they know all sorts of things about you that you thought were hidden behind your public act. Just try saying Negro out loud. Your only excuse would be that you were living in a cave somewhere alongside Rip Van Winkle. (He wasn't gay, right?)
OK, here comes the strange part. There's always a strange part, but at least you can't say I didn't warn you! It's almost like I'm reverting back to the way I wrote when I was young enough to make a name for myself. I'm way too old now, without a chance.
There is that strange (see?) moment just before getting out of bed for the day, when there might be some clarity to thought. Some settled certainty, which feels as certain as if you will remember it. And then, like a dream precisely, you get out of bed and it's gone. Very much like those brilliant ideas you were in the middle of exposing, in the middle of a conversation, and then they're gone too, and you worry that you're losing your mind right along with your memory.
This morning though, I do remember the topic. It was nothing; the blissful realization that arriving at the still state of nowhere to go is bliss and that there never was anywhere to go and that finding nothing is finding everything. But I had some particular words which might go along with it. I was certain that I could write it, this nothing that was the proper goal of all searching. This it.
I watched the movie Klimpt last night, which was John Malkovich being Klimpt being John Malkovich, punning about body doubles and art objects and love objects and siphylitic madness and loss of mind from mercury mad hatting. In the film, in the paintings, in the mind, apparently, of Klimpt were these body lovlies, of a sort you might wish were pornographic. But they looked like paintings, and on the standard that you know it when you see it, I'm pretty certain that even the religionist nutjobs would not have found these moving naked bodies obscene.
They were juxtaposed, these lovelies on the screen, with intellectual crowds who looked ridiculous up against what we mean by modern art. Forgetting the costume of its day, when modern was something to look forward to instead of back on. Forgetting that people always did have a sense of humor, even when they took themselves seriously wearing track shoes in public, for instance, like we all did back in the 90s (except me. I never did that. I wear teal Chucks.). Bowler hats and black tie. Punching actual faces to settle scores.
How quaint. We murder now with words alone. With pictures.
Yes, art is that thing within the frame - Malkovich being Klimpt carried one he could look through to compose what he was seeing - and it must be distinguished from what has function and from the frame itself, which must be crafted and can't be art. Pedantry spoils the show. Klimpt had foul words for those who would make claims against him. He thought all art was shit. He was easily a man. There is no flattery in that. Women all, were his sacred objects.
Lust is functional, we suppose, for reproduction, and beauty too must have some evolutionary purpose. That must be why Adolf Hitler admired cheesy soft-pornographic paintings universally derided for having no artistic quality. He was all about eugenics and the celebration of a striving for his notion of perfection. Is it too bad he had no taste? We really must take better care of who we elect! The pretty people do not represent us.
Fashion is the thing which changes, and beauty moves along with it. These beauties in the film of Klimpt were post-modern beauties in the time of the audience now. They weren't the ones which got his juices going all the way back then. But these were cheesy beautiful in the way which would be mainstream hot. Not artsie hot. Hitler would approve if he were around today.
Which is a reminder, slightly, that the hot ones are always changing, always growing old, always a matter of taste, however bad. That while you catch glimpses, walking down the street or in coffee shops, of women whose practiced accomplishment at turning your heart and mind and eyes, in fantasy as in a dream, these are no more real for being real. The glimpses.
What is that thing that painters must strive for then, which can distinguish strawberry wine from the real stuff? Which would be so sublime if it did not make a buzz? I doubt it. Alcohol is what got civilization going in the first place, dummy! (sorry, I can't think of the modern term for you)
And women now, up against that certain age, will buy a test-tube man, apparently, rather than to remain barren, short of love, and I would never mock the impulse. At least the legal obligations won't be messy. At least Mom can trust herself then, forever and a day.
One hopes for family. One doesn't want to be alone forever. The arrangements for anonymity are so elaborate today. Let's say you want to be a Dad, but don't want any implication (OK, alright, I know, why would anyone want to do that??!! It could only be an oversight). Citibank will very helpfully protect my identity - I can monitor my credit score for only $10.99 per month on an hourly basis (!!!) - and you're terrorized by the ones who would steal you?
The other movie - I really should get back to reading - was amores perrros - "Love is a Bitch" - an absolutely brilliant look at love's betrayals through the desperate eyes of pit-fighting dogs who must maul for love. Men who will destroy all and any woman's heart for what they truly do believe is love. The kind on a billboard like a wet dream. If only I could remember. This film from corrupted Mexico is so far beyond anything Hollywood has ever produced that you might end up wondering if all we gringos watch is porn by analog?
This betrayal, then, will be its own final answer, for John Edwards as for me. This text beside the photo beside the reality of actual touch. I would betray my love out loud and in public, but it's the wrong place and the wrong time, like putting a marriage proposal up on a score-board during a game. Shouldn't the other party have a say?
My car also makes strange noises in its old age, and sometimes I wonder if the wheels are coming off. They do that sometimes, when the very nice mechanics forget to tighten the lugs. It's such a bother to do it myself now, in the ice and snow and cold of Buffalo winter. But it is distracting out on the highway to think that way. I wouldn't want someone to feel responsible because of my omission.
I think that exchanging words, exploring plots, fixing memories, does provide an entanglement at least as powerful as family ties. I do. John Edwards must feel very very alone right now. Hey, buddy, for a fee, I'll fix up your reputation. I'll coach you in honesty. Just as soon as I figure it out myself.
And so I live on now in some strange state of suspended animation, where nothing is happening, and I am breathless with anticipation. (no, really, to the point of landing in the hospital about it) Where weeks go by with no agenda, where there should be terror at the money running out, where I am indulged by friends and family who are under no obligation, where I can't even keep up with, never mind find, the words to fix it, anything, in place.
Now where is that clarity from my dream-state? Where is that nothing at my center? Even my broken cell phone mocks me. It awaits a new embodiment, to be delivered by FedEx tomorrow (yesterday by now, and the new one has a broken joystick. You can't make this shit up). And then I will retrieve my address book from the ether (got it!), so that I can know who's calling and how I might respond.
Shall I go on?
I could talk about IQ and how stupid it is to believe that numbers can pin us down . . . but it is not you I love. You don't even exist, remember? Reader of my dreams.
You know, this whole thing - this particular writing, and all my writing - reads almost exactly like a post-modernist academic rant. By the time you can understand what is being written about, it's already too late. You will have lost the strangeness of it to someone not in and of the academy. You will have forgotten that nobody in the real world talks like that or thinks like that or can respond to writing like that. You will have driven past the point, still waiting for a point, and you will be convinced with each new and brilliant sentence of the brilliance of the author, but then afterward, you also will not be able to recall the argument. Except maybe, to sum it up in a word or two. Power always gets the last word. Duh.