Wednesday, August 08, 2007

play on

Four-year-olds often make for the best company, in spite of some obvious drawbacks. Nothing can really compare to the tightening hug of a four-year-old friend, after a period of absence. Pets too can offer something unconditional and nonjudgmental, and more reliably even than children, though we might hesitate to call it love, and in any case it isn't human love. We do have a hankering for our own species, in spite of everything.

We're the most social species on the planet, experts say. Yet some of us are awkward in company, bored with our friends, disappointed with new contacts. We end up talking to ourselves, which eventually palls, but not so quickly as talking to others.

Often the problem with company isn't that we find others disappointing but that we find ourselves so. We're not a patch on the scintillating conversationalist of the hours leading up to our public engagement. Naturally we can't wait to get away again and recover that charm, that erudition, that intense concentration on our own rich view of the world.

I write about myself always, but I prefer, perhaps for that very reason, to employ the plural.

The greatest pleasure I've known, I'm sure, has been in contemplation of the human female form. There have been other pleasures too of course - a woman's kiss, her breath on my cheek, the warmth of her excitement, her moisture - and the bustle of a city of strangers, a star-spangled desert sky, the waves, a tree.

Of course some men are more attractive as sexual or romantic partners than others, and physical appearance plays its by no means always decisive part. Arguably the years between twenty-nine and thirty-eight will be the best, those of most heightened sexual allure, even for the unalluring. As it happened, those were the years I spent as a late-blooming, well-buttoned student on a university campus flecked, as campuses will be, with dazzling, hungry, diffident young women.

The city bars were much frequented too in those days. I rarely go to them now. Omnia vanitas est, I don't like to look sad and foolish. Then, I would visit those bars, sometimes alone, sometimes accompanied, and contemplate the best woman or two there. In my humble opinion and according to a taste I hoped was original but also definitive. Often my choice fell upon the same woman or women each time. Sometimes they worked in the bar, or in cafes where I took my studies, zoo animals, perpetual prey to my gaze. Minor obsessions, ironically treated.

Marcel Proust apparently altered a maxim of La Bruyere to suit himself.
Men often want to be loved and yet do not know how to be, they seek defeat and so are forced to remain free.

One of the great curses of the human intelligence is its need to struggle with the need to love and be loved. It makes for the grandest spectacle. It almost defines art. Of course, there's so much that almost defines art.

Music of any genre can provide pleasure so long as it contains a certain lugubrious weight.


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