Here there be monsters (socratic) wrote,
Here there be monsters
socratic

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It won't be the first heart that you break you won't be the last beautiful girl

I am definitely maturing in my tastes. I've been able to watch french films and old black and white films on a regular basis now, dramas in addition to comedies, and really appreciate them. This was driven home most powerfully when today in class we say "Meshes of the Afternoon" a film I loathed intensely just last semester, but only disliked this time around. Cleo 5 to 7 was actually quite good, even if it should have been called Cleo 5 to 6:30.

Class itself was an interesting experience. This guy who's been out sick for over a month is back. He makes very strong comments and the professor fawns over him, which is a challenge to both my dominance and ego in the class. Fortunately I have dealt with this constructively and actually become pretty friendly with this guy, who is quite nice. I guess the reason that it bothers me is both the fact that the professor really loves the stuff he says mostly because of the style in which he says it and his delivery. It's not that there isn't any content, sometimes the content is quite good, but that the style alone just turns this professor weak at the knees. I'm also jealous of both his motivation and his knowledge base. He's a film major and he knew he wanted to make movies since he saw Fellini's 8 1/2. I wish I'd known early enough to do that. He's like 20 and already much further along than I am. Consciously I know that such statements are just plain silly. I'm not two decades older than him, just two years, and there's no way of knowing how long each of our respective lives will last or what we'll produce. He doesn't have an unassailable head start and I shouldn't be measuring myself against him anyway. On the other hand it doesn't help that Hollywood considers you over the hill if you can grow a full beard in under a month. I'm not going to worry about being jealous of this guy, though, since I think he respects me and I do respect the things that he says and his great stores of knowledge about film. Maybe I can even learn something from him.

Watching Cleo 5 to 7 made me think about male perceptions of the female. This is not coincedence because the professor did stress this element, but it was made a more poignent topic by my constant low level awareness of LHGs presence in the class. I don't think that there's anything in human (or at least American) experience analogous to the heterosexual male's perception of the female. It's a peculiar combination of evolutionary and hormonal impulses, culturally determined values, and something more that defies explanation. I'm not talking mere lust here, lust is something that every sexual creature experiences to greater or lesser degrees, I'm talking about that romanticized combination of lust, fascination and pre-occupation that can best be approximated with the word longing. This is not a feeling that one has in reaction to every female, or even every pretty girl who crosses your eyeline. It is reserved for the special ones, the ones that have that combination of attributes that strikes a cord deep within you, like a key that fits your lock perfectly and releases thoughts you have shunted to the back of your brain until they flood your neural pathways and hijack your consciousness with the image of the way her sweater caresses the tiny hairs on the nape of her neck. There are different ingredients for different men, to be sure, but they can be approximated into various categories. She must be beautiful, yes, this element is not sufficient but it is necessary. She doesn't have to be extraordinarily beautiful, doesn't need to be an airbrushed liposucted rhinoplastied plastic barbie version of the female form, or even one that stuns you at first glance. In fact it helps if she has a face or body that grows on you, one with imperfections and quirks, even traces of acne or imperfect teeth, visual character so to speak. She must be graceful and feminine. This does not mean she has to glide around softly in chiffon and lace, but her body language has to have a softness to it and she can't be masculinely aggressive, although there are feminine types of aggressiveness she is free to employ. She must be smart, because dumb people get boring rather quickly. If she is not smart she must at least leave an opening for the male to imagine that she might be smart, that florid poetry and great insight could erupt from her lips at any given moment. Beyond these elements the remaining attributes are a la carte. I like women who are demure, smile or laugh a lot (this is important for most men but there are some who are drawn to sad women, presumably because they want to be the one to make them smile) have a deep base of knowledge in an area where I don't know all that much, and are willing to challenge me (but are not a huge threat to my ego.) Some men like women who are confident and show their bodies at every opportunity, have an accent of some sort, or possess some other attribute that escapes my notice entirely.

Then there is one last element that is critical and MUST be the case. She has to be mysterious. You can't know her very well. A woman who is longed for is imbued with almost magical powers, she is like a fetish (not the sexual kind) and though the man worshipping her must consciously know that she goes to the bathroom and makes mistakes like every other living breathing human being he must be able to push these facts to the back of his mind. Her burps and coughs can be charming, but runny diarrhea and the fact that she once drunkenly blew her cousin's boyfriend at a family gathering can not. There is a scene in Cleo 5 to 7 where Cleo is being pushed on a swing with a pair of angel wings mounted on the wall behind her. This is a perfect example of the kind of idealization that needs to take place, first because of the girlish abandon of the swing (girlishness is femininity) and second because of the angelic imagery. Angels don't shit or give inappropriate blowjobs. If you are a pretty female looking to be fetishized in this manner you must stay mysterious (this is also the reason that all those horrible romance books suggest that a woman should remain mysterious even to her husband. Sacrificing a real relationship for objectification, albeit not necessarily of a sexual nature.)

Anyway you put all those elements together and you get something...unfathomable. It's transcendent, world re-defining, irrepressable. You see her and you understand why Helen's face was able to launch a thousand ships and send a whole generation of Greek men to die beneath the walls of Troy. It makes sense. You get why the Greeks had to deify love as a force on par with lightning and human intelligence. How they came up with the metaphor of the arrow that strikes you and lodges in your breast, an exquisite pain from a divine source. Even when you're not gazing at her or in her presence she inhabits the world in some fundemental way, like gravity or air, forces we aren't always consciously aware of but take for granted. Her smiles are entire languages unto themselves, fraught with as much meaning and offering as much pleasure as the entire corpus of literature from a dozen earhly tongues. It's a feeling that's brought forth much of the great poetry and art into the world, and yet it has never been expressed in even a tenth of its glory. It's a heavenly choir embodied in 120 or so pounds of fragile human flesh, it's a greater good than world peace, it's a persistant emotional orgasm. It's an illusion.

Of course it's an illusion. No real person can be imbued with that many positive qualities, it's not within the realm of possibility. It's a myth, projection on a thermonuclear scale, a glorious lie. This is why infatuation of this sort always leads to disapointment and sometimes to violence. Stalkers of this infatuated type harass and injure their prey not because she has done anything wrong but because she hasn't done everything right. Because she is not like the wind or the sand or the fragrance of nightshade on a summer evening. She is a person and she does persony things. They can't handle this. It doesn't make sense, it's not logical but it's understandable. One a girl has been imbued with this kind of mythical self she becomes the only one really capable of killing it. And if she does, well then killing her in return is just a simple matter of revenge. I'm not excusing it, I don't empathize with the impulse, I'm just trying to observe the misery this force can bring. Of course it doesn't just bring down psychopaths and deranged people. It drives great men to drink, drug, or take their own lives. It leads to duels, renders friendships, tears fathers away from children and husbands away from wives. It possesses great destructive force and it is unleashed every day. It is an inherently imbalanced situation, there will always be more men around to worship women than women of the type who inspire it and thus always those who feel discounted, unloved, irrelevant. It is played on every day by advertisers and media moguls who try to construct women to be worshiped and then exploited commercially. Now adays they even do it through cartoon or computer generated media. It's evolutionarily determined but socially undesireable.

I don't mean to privalege this emotion above all others. It is no match for true abiding love, on a foundation of personal knowledge and mutual trust. Longing is a hunger that can never be sated, it will not sustain in the long run. No fantasy woman can ever match the complexity and depth of a real woman nor provide the services and functions that a real one can. I'm not saying it's better than or even a match for love. Furthermore I'm not trying to discredit homosexual or female to male attraction. It's a powerful force as well although I don't think it can be as powerful. I don't think it's had the same social or artistic impact. There are great homoerotic works, like Michaelangelo's David, but those works have a hint of autobiography in them as well as desire for the other. The psychic separation of heterosexual attraction is an essential part of the deification of this mythical women. Meanwhile female to male attraction is also quite strong but tends to be of another sort as well. It may be that that's entirely socialy determined, I won't try to argue that point.

I did not do a good job of describing this emotional force, although I don't think I could have done a good job. Perhaps my writing abilities are not up to the task. Perhaps nobody's are. Perhaps I'm just full of shit, it doesn't exist, and male female relations are just a hormonal game of Russian roullette. I don't think this to be true but it's a valid point of view.

I just wanted to say my piece.

In other news, I lost all the weight I'd gained back as soon as I went back on Atkins, which is physiologically impossible, so I have to conclude that I was retaining water. I'm also moving faster than I was a week ago despite not having a weight change so perhaps I still am.

I got an extension on a paper. Early.

I think the president made a tactical error in the timing of his speech last night. Disrupting American Idol (blech) and 24 (great show)? Come ON dude! Know your demographics!

Taking a 4 hour class and then teaching for 2 hours without food or water in between leaves me tired and with a headache. I should never ever do that again. Too much to absorb.

The French New Wave produced some good stuff. Weekend looks absolutely fabulous. I shall have to rent it at some point.

I feel content right now even though I don't know what I will be doing this summer or in the immediate future. I feel like I might finally be on the right path for me. It's an odd feeling.
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