Yes, it's very damp here in Guangzhou this time of year. Nothing dries except under the influence of air-conditioning. But I'm not going to talk about that. I'm going to talk about a much more embarrassing topic.
This morning I was awakened graciously pre-climax by an increasingly rare erotic dream. Let's say it was the meat I ate last night, full of grease and tasty crust. They didn't have the beans I like, and my inner selfish craving went for the special-price item, even though I knew I shouldn't have. (It could have been the spicy tofu, but I eat that plenty often enough with no unusual outcomes.)
The restaurant was Mao-themed retro-chic, with the waitresses all dressed in drab fatigues. I was trying to gauge the irony content, but the clientele seemed all of an age to have actually worshipped Mao once upon a time. Earlier in the day, I'd watched a grampa explain history to his little grandson, using the kitschy dioramas in the window to explain the Long March, liberation, and who was Mao and who was Zhou. That's why I came back there for dinner.
The place was not cheap, but not too expensive either, and the middle-aged clientele seemed dressed for a Friday night out, the way that we might do for Olive Garden or maybe more like Cracker Barrel or still more likely a small-town restaurant attached to the barely surviving old hotel. They seemed comfortable with the place and the prices, and pretty sure that its decor was not out to cheat them.
My problem is that the woman in my dreams was your usual Hollywood fantasy, and the engine was meat. I don't want that to be the case. By daylight I am passionately against all such self-gratifying indulgence, and might even be moved to march in the street against those with Hollywood life-styles and outsized lived fantasies who bend the rules to favor their winnings, as though they earned them.
Oh sure, it's not a zero-sum game, and Gates and Zuckerberg and even Jobs are homely enough and seem to love their homey wives. Why not project our cravings for beauty, security, comfort, choice? What could it possibly have to do with the ways that queers are treated, the ways that the poor are short on love of the sort that could provide a home.
The Hollywood types seem overwhelmingly liberal in their politics anyhow, and you have to move back from the front row in business to find the smarmy oil tycoons who really do manipulate things to keep as much loot to themselves as possible, and buy the sweet ass which won't come to them directly any more.
I don't know, I honestly don't, but I am forced to struggle with this stuff because my narrative descends from Cotton Mather, a direct antecedent according to Dad. I must torture myself or not be suffered to live this side of hell.
But oh hell, I'm banished from the garden anyhow, as Leonard Cohen might say (although methinks he doth still have entree, kind of like how Hillary once proclaimed her poverty). It's nice to see older Chinese women with makeup and fancy dresses, and their men half drunkenly shouting hello to me in English. These are working class people who've made it to middling, and want to feel it for a night. Stout heads, healthy for drink, enough to splurge this once.
There are so many home-style restaurants now in China, despite or because of the endless destruction and resurrection. Unlike Cracker Barrel the cooks in these places are the real deal, as are the waitresses, though the owner may have other stores in the glitzy shopping malls where the young prefer to get their cook-by-numbers meals. The ones who still climax before they wake up. The ones now allowed openly to snuggle and kiss and squeeze barely covered behinds.
The prices are good in these homey places, but you don't see young people there, or at least not the swarms who crowd the kinds of places which take your smartphone money and give you a fat discount in return. Split the check on automatic, or duke it out with deft gamers' fingerings.
I still don't know how to do that well, and my overseas bank card doesn't fit the box. Eventually I'll get the hang of it. Maybe. Or not.
So many ugly deaths - so much destruction - seem caused by the overinflated idealism of the Maos, the Stalins, the Mathers the ones who crusade for equality and purity of heart over cleverness and beauty. So many more now seem caused by those who have it all already. Where oh where is the middle way anymore. Where?
This afternoon I will hang with the young folks, who champion youthful fantasies of transformation and renewal here and here and here. Why can't we just make this happen, Bernie, why? Will it all just go to hell again, as young folks hit the big time. Or are these still just the same old beautiful people, blind to their privilege, riding a wave of temporal fantasy as the world boils down around them?
I'll let you know, right. Veering back and over again to the side of the angels, if only in my dreams.
I do know it won't be the technology which pulls it off. That so quickly descends to the good vibes we all crave so badly. The start-up stuff of youthful Hollywood fantasy dreaming. Yes I will show you a good time if you give me your bitcoin. I will give you a taste for free. You will want the entire deal, though, you will, and it will taste as good as rare steak, london broiled, over easy, Luke Skywalker to my drone.
The end of history is a peculiarly Western fantasy, twinned with extraterrestrial origin stories. It is transformation which approaches surely, and not the end, if only for you and not for me. End in sight and still I can't relax. And in sight and no comfort against the terrors of healthcare extraction. End in sight and no security in employment or in governance. End in sight. Tonight I will drink with an old friend after thirty years apart. Tonight I will have a good time.
Where is the liberation? It will not be death or after death. Of that I am reasonably certain. It will be in these rare blissful moments of certainty before awakening. The times when I do see the foolish stupidity of fantasy science, where all the world is ours to predict and to control and to shape according to our ends. The times when I do see that it is the human heart which matters, which must invest our tools with direction. That the human heart is no artificial separation at birth from earth as spawn.
These are but fleeting moments before awakening. Gracefully pre-climax.
And now I must head out for my housekeeping perambulation. Drink up please, it's time.
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