Notes From Past The Tipping Point
Don’t expect more than fragments, don’t ask me to make sense of things. Something happened, I got broken somehow, I don’t know how. My tipping point was – back there a ways. Like the Gangetic dolphin, the Amundsen ice, the ladyslipper. (You see how I put on airs.) What’s left is to be company to each other. As I am alone here at the infamous Malaysia, the longest-running sleazy cheap hotel in Southeast Asia, you’ll excuse me if I write a little.
Being neurotic is like carrying a heavy bag on one shoulder. You get sore, walk funny, and appear somewhat ridiculous. At the same time, it’s not such a problem, being somewhat askew. Certainly one has plenty of company. It’s fine until you one day you go to hoist your bag and pain shoots you in the face. If only one could simply call into work and say , “I’m very sorry. My mind’s gone out.”
The mistake is the same one we make with the oceans. We think we can dump in anything and it will just disappear. But a mind is like a back, it can be broken, and a mind is like the ocean – lose your balance for too long and pretty soon you’re killing off the dolphins.
Back in New Hampshire I saw a red cardinal and was momentarily incapacitated. I live in Tokyo, understand. Our bird is the crow. So I have some capacity for wonder still, that’s good to know, but not for crows or, for that matter, for live fucking shows, of which I’ve seen too many.
I was reminded of this fact last night at Tawan, the muscle boy bar, when the men donned golden masks, poured on the hot wax, and fucked each other in tandem and acrobatically, spinning like old-fashioned TV antennas. There’s more art in an evening’s cabaret at a bar of boys for sale than in a century’s worth of certain literary magazines: the ladyboys in spangles, gauze and plumes, lip-syncing flawlessly and looking better than the stars themselves, the bruise-eyed comedienne done up to look the haggard slut, mocking the audience and crying for lost love, and, yes, the actual fucking.
Purists reserve the word art for sonnets, for prose poems and pottery. I invite naysayers to try it themselves, to learn an aerobic jazz dance gymnastics routine and then perform it naked, on stage, slathered in baby oil, with a big thick dick up their ass. I'm certain Michiko Kakutani agrees: respect should not be reserved exclusively for sonneteers.
Is anyone still shocked? Was anyone shocked to begin with? Is being shocked just how we reassure ourselves? These sins are all humdrum, even straight people now attend gay sin dens. The open air gay bars on Silom Soi 4 have more tourists than actual queers, like a tribal village overrun by bus tours. I do my best to glare at straight men’s crotches, to look threatening and ravenous -- it’s no use. Even if you grab some tourist’s ass he just smiles sheepishly and says, “Thanks man, I’m flattered.”
As for the depraved steroid leather fetish fucking shows, well, even women go to them. Actual biological women, who have never had a penis of their own. Last night a woman sat alone at the table beside mine. She was in her late-twenties, a little heavy maybe, but long-haired and pretty. She was no wild child, her skirt was long and her shoes sensible. A graduate of Vassar possibly, B.A.Women’s Studies, followed by a Masters in Development from Brown. I mean, she looked the sort who could be expected to disapprove. The sort of person who might well take time to explain to you the brutality inherent in Jell-O desserts, and how gay porn oppresses women. Yet here she was, sipping her Coca-Cola and watching the boys deep throat each other. She looked bored.
The men on stage couldn’t help but give her a little extra attention. Most of them are totally straight after all and here was an opportunity to reunite work with their own interests and passions. Certainly she was lucky to be seated in the third row and not up front for the final number when a drag queen sang “Come as you are” and the boys did, one after another. (I thought it very conscientious of the management to go around first and put coasters atop all glasses.)
The women fled eventually, but not before she was quite thoroughly nuzzled and I did hear one muscle boy say teasingly “No tip necessary!”
I am still impressed by red cardinals -- how is it that all human things have had their color drained from them? These are days I feel I could beat even Ms. Joan Didion for Disenchantment Overall. “It is possible to stay entirely too long at the party,” says Ms. Didion, and she presumably has not even been to ‘boots-only night’ at the sex club called Church in Amsterdam.
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That was the end of the slightly fun part of the essay. What’s left are complaints and ennui. The optional part of the tour reserved for depressives seeking company.
All my life I’ve been an enthusiast. That man dropped suddenly dead -- now it all just seems hideously repetitive. I note that religious faith and spirituality keeled over at this same point. Funny to discover what actually kills off faith, which is neither tragedy nor ecology. (Or are these now classified as one and the same?) My faith died off because no use was found for me. Selfish and stupid, I know, but such is the case.
Hundreds of thousands of dollars of education, edifying chats with Allen Ginsberg, the Dalai Lama and the Empress of Japan, preposterous amounts of world literature of every stripe, all dumped into me like tomatoes into a food processor. Every teacher I ever had went to special bother on my behalf, time which they could have better spent on video games, on nail care.
Of all the things one for which one could become estranged from God, what sinks the boat is that the body of truth, the dharmakaya, turns out to be a suck-ass career counselor. No use is found.