December 19, 2008

Despite everything, something

Houellebecq, thinking about something
...this film strove to be a vigorous plea against friendship, and more generally against all non-sexual relationships. What in fact could two men talk about, beyond a certain age? What reason could two men find for being together, except, of course, in the case of a conflict of interests, or of some common project (overthrowing a government, building a motorway, writing a script for a cartoon, exterminating the Jews)? After a certain age (I am talking about men of a certain level of intelligence, not aged brutes) it's quite obvious that everything has been said and done. How could a project as intrinsically empty as two men spending some time together lead to anything other than boredom, annoyance and, at the end of the day, outright hostility. Whilst between a man and a woman there still remained, despite everything, something: a little bit of attraction, a little bit of hope, a little bit of a dream. [....]

Launching an attack on not only friendship, but all social relations as soon as they are unaccompanied by any physical contact, this film thus constituted - only the magazine Slut Zone had the perspicacity to notice this - an indirect eulogy to bisexuality, if not hermaphroditism. All in all, I was harking back to the Ancient Greeks. When you get old, you always hark back to the Ancient Greeks.
Michel Houellebecq, The Possibility of an Island, p60
Colorful profile from 2006 here
Houellebecq's one of the few writers I've read as an adult who makes me feel like when I was a teenager and fell in love with certain books, that things I kept secret from even myself were being clearly expressed and I was not alone in the world. Of course, that doesn't make those things healthy or right, only true to myself, which isn't always grand if the self needs more work.

When I taught English we would have classes on jobs, and the language for describing them was always inadequate - not all engineers are the same, or accountants, or clerks. There are more specific ways of making a living and a life than you could list in a day, the things you actually get paid to do, not the job title. Yesterday I saw man who worked for a coffee store at a busy intersection, and his job was to stand by a sign telling people not to park their cars or scooters out front and make sure that no one did. He had a bright orange jacket and a device like a toy light saber to draw attention to his enforcement role. There are far more jobs I don't want than ones that I'd prefer, which ought to make me lucky.

If I'd lived before the economic and social developments that allow an individual to thrive in a vast array of niches - then I'd been either f***ed or brought into line long ago, probably both simultaneously. I'm not a natural top dog, but I can't stand being in second place. Instead, I opt out of the system as much as possible, although that's a weak escape, as I remain a primate. My affinity for shamanism is half on the visionary / daydream side and half on the idea of being a socially sanctioned outcast who retains some status within the group as a whole, both of it and outside it. Essentially left alone, but able to survive.

Anyway, my classes have almost ended, only a few hours per week at the local university, and these are unlikely to continue next year, as they interfere with other things. So for the first time in a long while I'll have no work based interaction with people, and the thought is a little dizzying. I work at home, and my wife has her atelier elsewhere, out all day. She'll come home and wonder if I've spoken to anyone since the morning. Or I'll tell her that I went to a certain restaurant for lunch, and her usual response will be a (fake?) incredulous alone?

The only people I like to talk to for any length of time if I'm not being compensated are women, and perhaps it's hard to widen your circle of female friends for lunch / dinner dates when you're married, although it's something that I'm going to have to try and do when I come back from my vacation.

My wife encourages me to see other women, but I have no idea how sincere she is.

Related posts:
Man in a monkey suit
Animal nature

No comments: