Saturday, January 9, 2010

Trued Love

Trued love is, of course, the sort which lasts. As with a join along a pair of boards, it requires lots of work and practice, and a good eye to make the fit right. Although you can do it repeatedly and near perfectly by machine, the work is very much more satisfying if you can learn to bring the pieces together by hand.

Planing off the bumps and rough spots, and then applying the finest layer of glue. When the match is right, the boards stay put forever. It's not only about the joint, but about matching the grains so the boards won't strain too much as they shrink and swell.

On my Kindle, grace of a gift card, I just started reading some David Foster Wallace essays again; the first called "Big Red Son". It's about the porn industry, and like all his writing resides at that spot between painful and funny; right about where you might find yourself while suffering a laugh attack during a serious lecture. Maybe that never happens to you?

Foster Wallace himself slipped along the razor's edge between earnest and ironic, not having, perhaps, quite the right tight-rope walker's genes to keep his balance. I think there has been no greater tragedy in our history. He had the gift to true our words, and there are few enough quite like him.

The porn-industry essay is not shy. It is not quite graphic either, skating along that edge to describe how insiders everywhere must define themselves. They are earnest toward their craft, these real people on the inside. They hone and perfect their tools (sorry) as relentlessly as any others. Maybe more so, since the competition is that fierce and the stakes that high. Think of Tiger Woods practicing his swing. You and I could never do it. The world will not suffer our falling short either. Our absence from the stage of prodigy is, well, quite fitting and quite proper.

If you believe our journalist, the porn industry is significantly larger than its more "mainstream" Hollywood pinafored sister. And its operators look, says Foster Wallace, precisely the way you would expect them to look; as if they were selected by central casting and prepped by the makeup department.

There is a clear divide there in the entertainment industry, between those who would perform lewd and pornographic acts, and those who do only earnest work for your wholesome entertainment. Often enough for your enlightenment.

On the inside of every craft, there is the requirement to perfect ones role; to inhabit and to refine it. The porn stars do what everyone does, they just do it in ways we must avert our eyes from in public; and they do it in ways to make a garment of their skin instead of to make naked scream from beneath their clothes the way more orthodox starlets do.

There is makeup and the airbrushing in every case. The adjustments to the core. The funniest parts of Foster Wallace's journalistic investigations are his descriptions of the abashed and nervous fans, getting autographs from barely clothed women about whose bodies they know more than most people know about themselves. I know I like my self better clothed while glancing in my mirror.

These starlets - either kind - represent a kind of aspiration for the ones we would really love. They indulge on screen those things which might turn our light switch to the on position in fact, if some actual woman (we're almost always men, right? No?) were to let herself be degraded that way. If someone could wear in real life that look of raw desire. If only your body could be such a perfect caricature of my desire.

Not, mind you, that we wouldn't prefer the ones up on the less vulgar silver screen. But you don't quite get off on them, now do you? Surveys show that every single man on the planet looks at porn now and then. No pollster has ever asked me any questions, but you know, they must be right.

So, what about the one right in front of you then? There's that kind of yeah yeah worn out familiarity, no matter how good the fit is, or maybe because of how good it is. The moves are practiced, the turn ons and turn offs almost entirely predictable, and then there are the petty resentments and complaints about what is always resisted, or what is that mismatched to the fantasy in your mind.

There's a message from true-believing Christians for all of us would-be or wannabe lovers everywhere. I mean, if you're not crazy, you have to know that the Christ we worship is an airbrushed version. No, actually, the Christ we worship is more like a Dreamworks Pixar studio creation. Avatar would be more realistic.

You don't have to be a conspiracy theorist to wonder about how many heros were born around the time of the winter solstice. Of how many of virgin moms. You suppose, maybe, that there was a Man who lived around the time of that crossroads of our awakening as conscious human beings. Who really was nailed to a cross for his worldly indiscretions. And whatever that image has represented across these two or so millennia, a kind of feeling has been maintained. You might even call the love, well, trued. It certainly does endure.

Back in that day, heros walked the earth in droves. They set down in canonical ranks the trivial words of our very first writing. The Name which can be spoken is not the Eternal Name. The Way which can be followed is not the Way. There is no God but Allah. And the Truth shall set you free.

And we still never do quite get beyond Homeric stories, or the ones the Greeks put up on stage; all philosophy sometimes seeming but footnotes still to our Plato, Aristotle and maybe Kung fu tzu. Foster Wallace wrote about that too, come to think of it. In his Brief History of Infinity.

There is, of course, no Truth but only truing, and so the simple words as first set down remain as good as any. There are only so many ways to rearrange them. Buried beneath the recent explosive proliferation of words words and more words, is still that nugget of whatever it was first turned you on. To life as lived by humans. The nothing at the center of all peelings away which reveals only that you were already there the whole time. But had to expend a whole lot of energy along the journey to make it conscious.

The thing about the little lies - the aspirational half truths - is that you might start to believe them yourself with practice. When caught in the right light at the right moment, your lover's face truly does channel something wonderful. And you should say so. Beauty also is something aspirational which collapses when faced head on. But for the body which will take whatever momentum on offer and ram on home to conclusion. Sorry. Sorry.

You'll think I read too much of that unsavory Marquis deSade, who pointed out definitively that there is no limit to what gross aspects of reality we will overlook on the way to the conclusion our body has demanded. I mean if you're as strange as he was. He lurks among us still, I'm afraid, as often literary as not.

Japanese soldiers in Nanjing must have been so rank-ordered in worshipful subservience to their earthly god, the Emperor, that once confused and on their own they had no moral compass at all. They regarded Chinese girls as animal objects for their desire. And slaughtered them as wantonly.

This happens still each day and all around us. Slavery is still very real. Though as with Grand Theft Auto, we should not confuse the gaming with the real. Especially when marketed by one of our most powerful corporate entities. The Church?

I don't know. I worry about the moral compass of those who have accepted a projected fiction in the place of what can only be known in the heart. I know at least one true believing Creationist who is in jail now for having rationalized the rape of his own daughter. I know another woman who had to spend her entire life in and out of mental institutions to finally prevail above her father. She is a twin, whose sister wore the white dress.

For sure, the one in jail was deluded by a fictional god. He accepted the exhortations to believe from men, and became a preacher for a while himself. There is no rational discussion possible with such men, who know only what they know. And have closed themselves off, therefore, to the Jesus who is real. They only know what they've been told, and are liberated therefore from being human. It is my aspiration to be human.

But there are as many Christians who have done and are doing exactly what you do if you still love your wife. You have trued by hand all those things about each other which are less than perfect. You accept that beauty was a fleeting thing, meant for foolish youth to get the process started. No older man would ever whistle on his way to war.

You marvel that that thing which you found through the Word has always been there, always will be. And that you'll never quite pin it down. Certainly not in words. Is this the day then, when Christ was born? According to which calendar, then; according to what mapping?

If you live your life as hero, you might become one? Hard though it remains to see him in the mirror. Those firemen on 9/11 had no idea when they went out that morning. The moments happen each and every day, and sometimes you find yourself in harms way and sometimes you do the right thing even though it may get you killed. Sometimes you don't. Life is a game of many chances, and, well, it's never a bad idea to keep on trying to get it right.

Now I have a few more hours until my sweetheart arrives. What shall I do? Read more about porn, I guess. It passes the time.

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