Monday, July 15, 2019

Freedom is a bottomless abyss

I feel compelled to put closure on this book (possibly on this year of love) — My Year of Love, by Paul Nizon. Published in 1981, it has the feel of sexual memoirs from an earlier era, but no, Nizon represents a very unevolved male attitude of the 1970s. I damn near hated it, it bored me so much.

And yet. I am reminded of it most mornings. I wake up enveloped in a greenish haze of light, much like one Nizon described. Of course, I'm unable to track down this specific passage, I wonder if I imagined it. Or I read something he wrote about curtains while I was half asleep, and I later reshaped it into the sheers billowing around me, I see the trees through this mesh of silver.

I thought he was writing about the prefect writing space, but as this passage doesn't exist, I must accept that this is some expression of my subconscious attitude to the space and light I live in.

This novel is about a man trying to write, and while he sits at his desk he watches the old man in the apartment across the courtyard feeding the doves on his windowsill. So he writes about the dove man, and the dove man's wife, and his mother, and the tenants in his building (other writers), and the landlady, and his dead aunt, and his dalliances with women, past and present.
I like the confidential aspect of such relationships, which by the way are very casual, very lightweight. I like the complicated solidarity, because here, where everything is influenced by venality, the extras, the little votes of confidence, do have the nature of beautifully shining kindness. I've always had this special relationship to so-called loose women, this offhand relationship that also incorporates closeness.
He leaves out the transactional element of his dealings with prostitutes. He extols these relationships for their simple, casual nature and for their kindness, and I feel, momentarily, that I can relate, I appreciate the beauty of such a contact — to have a lover, no strings, it is the ultimate, intimate, kindness we bestow on each other. But it never once occurs to him that he has paid for this experience, that it might be less than authentic.

This troubles me immensely. Not that he frequents prostitutes (though that is problematic), but that he seems incapable of noticing the difference between these relationships.

He even argues that there's more sincerity in one that is transactional, no false promises or expectations to manipulate, whereas taking a girl to dinner or a movie he would feel he was buying her attentions.

We gradually learn about the marriage he broke for the sake of an encounter with another woman, and so he left for Paris where he might experience true love, by which he really means sexual freedom.
I kept a lookout for her from behind the mask of my sunglasses, I didn't even really know if I liked her, I couldn't ask myself that question, because I was dependent on our being in love, dependent on this atmospheres as if it were a drug, that's why I was dependent on her, whether I wanted to be or not. I couldn't be without either. That's why I wore the sunglasses.


I only wanted to experience LOVE with her and excluded her as a person.
For all the women in this book, none of them are people, not even (especially) his wife. No one exists except in relation to his male ego.

But he arrives at a conclusion I came to myself about a year ago. Love isn't what happens between two people; it's what happens in one's own mind. It is a completely solitary state of being, and the person beside you is almost completely irrelevant.

Passages from this book are achingly insightful and poignant, but it's all infuriatingly male and so much self-pitying, solipsistic bullshit.
Write something or pull it to shore, that is, put it on paper, otherwise you'll get sick in this freedom, it's unlimited, I would never have believed that freedom could be form of captivity, freedom can be like a primeval forest or like the ocean, you can drown in it or disappear and never, never ever find your way out again. How can I make it to shore in this freedom, or how can I enjoy it? I have to parcel it out for myself, plant something in it, cultivate it, I have to change it, at least a little, into an occupation, freedom is a bottomless abyss when it present itself in this totalitarian form.

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