Saturday, May 14, 2016

Sensible Regarding Beauty

(extended dance remix, 2016)

Starting on this very day, he resolves to be more sensible regarding beauty. And not just in terms of clouds or birds or dawn -- about which it is hard enough to maintain one’s composure -- but specifically in regard to the beauty of men, which is, after all, exceedingly common, so that a heightened sensitivity to it turns out to be as inconvenient, as nagging, as an allergy to wheat, or dust, or trees.

The beauty of men pursues and surrounds him.  The beauty of men flees from him – and then sneaks up again.  Is it not high time he learned to cope?  Falling to pieces, becoming terribly nervous, staring like a loon.  It is unnecessary.  It is exhausting.  Moreover, it is often disconcerting to others, who may quite naturally feel annoyed or intruded upon.  He must therefore  learn to moderate himself.  

The Buddha, seeking to combat lust, instructed his disciples to meditate upon the repulsiveness of the body by dissecting it into its components. In this, the Buddha was only somewhat successful. Because many men have handsome femurs and highly erotic scapula. It is more than possible to admire the gaping eye sockets of their adorable skulls. Poor unfortunate Buddha: some boys even have cute mucus.

Along with the downright perfect – always more numerous than is conducive to productivity or sense – there is an even more troublesome and pernicious breed: those men with imperfections so precise, so cunningly and daemonically fashioned, that they are thereby rendered even more impossibly desirable, so that he is unable to even glance at their crooked noses, jug ears and furred bellies, without being incapacitated by a single-minded aspiration to sodomize and/or fellate them to very limit of his ordinary (yet strenuously enthusiastic) capacity.

Certainly it is a surprise to no one that he has arrived at middle age with nothing remotely resembling a career.

It is neither pragmatic nor seemly to be a continuously swooning person. Not merely impractical, he is a source of embarrassment.  To others, as well as himself. Rather than continuously swooning over masturbatory visions in an ever-squalid courtship of humiliation, it’s time he cleaned up his act, thought about, heaven forfend, other people. How about that? Yes!  The time has arrived when he will learn to think about other people in ways that are actually wholesome.  Other people shall now appear very often in his thoughts.  Clothed, in his thoughts.

For example: he is the useless offshoot of a thriving family business: a multi-generational, multi-dimensional, transformational pumpkin farm. It is shocking really, what some wayward Bostonian might plunk down for a pumpkin. Why? Because they believe that pumpkin could change their lives. And are those affluent yet credulous Bostonians going to buy that pumpkin from just anyone? 

Of course not!

His brother’s wife, in possession of a patient heart and perhaps overfond of impossible causes, has tried to explain to him the importance of reputation. She herself maintains a top-shelf one. (She had only married into the family, the neighbors said, and thus could not be blamed. But, seriously, how far could this tolerance be stretched?)

An excellent reputation was like an enormous pedigreed dog: how glorious to take it for a walk on a sunny Sunday afternoon!

At the same time: how delicate that dog turned out to be. Despite its hearty appearance, the magnificent beast was downright fragile, subject to every stripe of illness and complaint, liable to keel over in the slightest ill breeze.

But, oh!  To possess such a dog! It was worth no end of fuss. Days of grooming, nights of worry. Reputation: such a splendid and precarious dog!

His sister-in-law had patiently and kindly explained to him the necessity of reputation. The overall point being that he had absolutely no right to go around shooting other people’s pets.

Be sensible, he tells himself.  Dignified!  Respectable!  And indeed he resolves to be so. Starting on this very day!

He wonders if he might fare better in some place where the men were not so beautiful. After all, he has heard a thousand catty remarks about such places, full of men guaranteed not to stun.

He has, in fact, traveled in search of such a place, a plain-faced paradise of reliable ugliness.  Not just once but several times, he has spent considerable sums traveling to remote and inhospitable regions, unpopular cities, muddy islands, only to discover, as soon as he disembarks: his own unmitigated defeat.  Here, too, he men are beautiful, they are very beautiful indeed.

His despair at these moments is easily imagined. It is vast and profound.  And it is brief.  Exceedingly brief.  In less than a minute he’s off chasing some soldier in tight pants, heedless as a dog after a squirrel.

A few times he has become hopeful upon finding himself in a place where the men seemed dull or unpalatable. I could live here! he thought. I could work! I could think for extended periods!

Yet, within three days, he finds that he has begun, helplessly, to admire the confident stomping of the bow-legged men. How astonishingly far they could spit! By then of course it is all over: he is swallowed up again by this vast encroaching beauty like a plague.

It is understandable, perhaps, that this man often feels that beauty is out to get him. Because -- even if he succeeds in averting his eyes from the mountains, even if he makes it past the little butterflies like glimmering bits of ash -- suddenly there’s some dusty unshaven hippie boy, adjusting himself in the street. Please, god, no! Not an unshaven freeballing hippie boy! But it is too late. A whole day of being sensible shot in the head.

On these downtrodden occasions, he takes heart by thinking of all the people throughout history who have resolved to starve, suffocate, stamp out, and obliterate beauty – and indeed have at times succeeded, very nearly, in destroying it entirely, not only in their own lives but also in the lives of people around them.

These heroes cannot be blamed if beauty turns out to be freakishly durable. Like honey in the Pyramids. All things pass away.  Except beauty.  Beauty is not impermanent.  Beauty goes on and on.

Firmly he resolves: Even though my faults are numberless, still I will remove them. Even though beauty cannot be destroyed, still I will destroy it. At the very least curb, restrain and moderate it! The Japanese understand so well. Beauty has to be controlled.  Beauty isn’t something you can just live with, or leave lying around. Certainly not. Beauty is too terrifying.

Consider what happens the moment beauty is perceived. In particular, the beauty of man – of all the kinds of beauty this is by far the worst and most incapacitating: the way it explodes in the mind like a bomb in a busy café on Sunday morning.

What happens, exactly, inside that single second – at the sight of a beautiful man?

First, shock. Actually a microscopic blackout. An abyss complete with a feverish dream. Upon awakening: sheer panic, which hardens into terror of imminent humiliation, such as one might feel arriving at an elegant party clothed only in wads of toilet paper held on by fresh crushed lice.  A sharp, desperate craving for invisibility is next, most preferably in the form of death. A plan to hide is hatched: to hide, most cunningly, within the body of the man. The strangling wish to become, oneself, that holy and radiant animal, followed by the wish to possess him,  at least to blow him. Next comes the agonized, cringing famishment: the wish to receive from him some half-hearted token of recognition, not as an equal obviously, but even as remotely satisfactory dirt.

This is a gross oversimplification, of course. What actually happens is much more complicated.  And vastly more extreme.

Even though this process occurs within a single second, it still lasts long enough to contort his face, rendering his attempt at a harmless smile into a hideous grimace, a rictus of deplorable yearning. This elicits, in turn, from the beautiful man, that tidal wave of radiance, that blazing wall of fiery terror -- a shudder of distaste. Beauty rolls its eyes – freak!

The torrent of regrets and recriminations that follow such an event is likely to last four to six weeks. An entirely unnecessary period, it turns out, as the process is bound to be repeated several times within an hour, and often within seconds.

Really one marvels that this gentleman manages to put together even the semblance of functionality. It is a struggle certainly. He wants to be respectable.  He wishes to be rational. Even sporadic good sense seems like something he could really grow to appreciate. Which is why he has resolved, starting on this very day, to be more sensible regarding beauty.

But: how does one go about it? he wondered. Particularly when one has – no rationality nack, no sense for sense? What is to be added, what avoided?

Anything provoking ecstatic trance should be cut right out: devotional singing, porno, coffee. Immoral and/or classic works of literature. Long walks. Nature. Memory.

He really ought to be supervised, he thinks. Sense requires supervision, particularly in its wayward early stages. There ought to be lectures on the concerns of rational people: security, dignity, reputation, retirement planning. There ought to be a guard, a very plain and not at all handsome guard, to supervise the senses, above all the eyes – those traitors to the cause – someone to bark, “No staring! No sneaking glances! Eyes up! Not that far up!  Down!  Not too far down!”

Would sunglasses help?

Ideally he would wear, in addition to a medical bracelet advising cute doctors and nurses to maintain caution at all times, a large pin emblazoned with the words: FAILS TO UNDERSTAND APPROPRIATE BOUNDARIES. PLEASE DO NOT CONFUSE.

Right now, for example. At the café he frequents, still reposing in the gleam of the early morning sun, the waiter greets him with a hug. He finds this hug extremely pleasant and entirely welcome. In fact he is totally ready to shove his tongue in the waiter’s mouth and help him out of his stiff black pants right then and there. But evidently this response is considered inappropriate.

Appropriate responses! If they are so important to people, why can’t people just tell him what they are? Armed with knowledge of the correct response, he could then proceed to enact it, with both precision and feeling.

But no-o-o. No one is going to tell him the appropriate response. Of course not! He is expected to guess. And meanwhile it’s all trial and error in front of a preposterously gorgeous waiter.

Apparently, when the waiter embraces him, his words and touch in response ought to be perfunctory and matter-of-fact, as if men with beards, eyebrows, shoulders, hands, and asses like this one embraced him all the time. He is expected to simply order his coffee, as if coffee mattered at a moment like this, when one has just reveled in the embrace of molten-hot waitstaff.

He ponders: would good sense ever come naturally to him?  Pure despair and inextirpable shame descends upon him now; he is wholly and utterly overwhelmed for very nearly all of three seconds.  It is appalling, it is unnerving, it is humiliating -- at least when he can keep his mind on it.

First he asks for coffee, but then he needs a glass of ice water, then realizes he’s forgotten to ask for just a little milk. The waiter walks cheerfully back and forth. Which is cruel and unfair. Because if the waiter had only one side – he might have managed. One-sided waiters would be well-suited to his self-control.

But the waiter has at least two sides and very likely several more besides. It is overwhelming. How did the waiter’s lovers ever possibly manage? You couldn’t ever just choose a side. If you ever got him into bed you’d have to just keep flipping him over.  Such was love.

Get a grip, mister! He orders himself. Checking to make sure the waiter was out of sight, he presses his glass of iced water against his forehead. Restrain, regulate, control, curb, moderate! He puts down the water and picks up his coffee, still black. He clutches the mug with both hands, lets the steam sting his eyes. He resolves, pledges and swears to become, this very day, sensible regarding beauty!

When he looks up again the waiter has returned, smiling, with his little jug of fresh milk.

In which his resolution drowns.

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