Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter

In the fall of 2006 I traveled to Peru to meet my best friend, who, being much braver than myself, had been vagabonding across South America for months. The trip was quick but memorable and at the airport giftshop in Lima I bought Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter.

The book sat on my shelf for a long time, as books at my house are wont to do. Eventually I read it. I remember it being somewhat of a labor though. One of those books that you with effort and determination push yourself through. I don't remember being much taken by the plot or the characters but there were some interesting meditations on the convergence of creativity, romance, and sex, in the artist's life. There was also one of my all-time favorite quotes:

Lower your pants, all of you; you're in the presence of a poet.

In every vagina an artist is buried.


It's not always with pride that I read Chuck Palahniuk, but it is usually with some enjoyment. His cynicism in the face of popular culture and the darkness of his imagination and prose are consistent and welcome. Tell All is no different. It's not an amazing piece of literature but it's not meant to be.

Katherine Kenton remains among the generation of women who feel that the most sincere form of flattery is the male erection. Nowadays, I tell her that erections are less likely a compliment than they are the result of some medical breakthrough. Transplanted monkey glands, or one of those new miracle pills.

Each romance a type of self-destructive gesture...Instead of plunging a sword into one's stomach, you repeatedly throw yourself on the most inappropriate erect penis.

The Devils of Loudun

Nature abhors a vacuum, even in the mind.

Partisan loyalty is socially disastrous; but for individuals it can be richly rewarding--more rewarding, in many ways, than even concupiscence or avarice. Whoremongers and money-grubbers find it hard to feel very proud of their activities. But partisanship is a complex passion which permits those who indulge in it to make the best of both worlds. Because they do these things for the sake of a group which is, by definition, good and even sacred, they can admire themselves and loathe their neighbors, they can seek power and money, can enjoy the pleasures of aggression and cruelty, not merely without feeling guilty, but with a positive glow of conscious virtue.

Sex can be used either for self affirmation or for self transcendence--either to intensify the ego and consolidate the social persona by some kind of conspicuous 'embarkation' and heroic conquest, or else to annihilate the persona and transcend the ego in an obscure rapture of sensuality, a frenzy of romantic passion or, more creditably, in the mutual charity of the perfect marriage.

Her home was not at Loudun, not among these frumps and bores and boors, but with a god in a private Elysium transfigured by the radiance of dawning love and imaginary sex.

But falling in love, as she now perceived, was not the same as loving. It was as an imagination that one fell in love, and what one fell in love with was only an abstraction. When one loved, one loved a complete existence and loved it with one's whole being, with the soul and every fiber of the body, with the self and this other, this new found alien beneath, beyond and within the self. She was all love and only love. Nothing but love existed--nothing.