Thought in the Act – Looking at the Object of Sensation.
Prompted by “The Kisses of His Mouth”, a memoir of heartbreak and exploration by Monique Roffey.
And by watching “A Single Man” directed by Tom Ford and starring Colin Firth.
No massive break up in my Life. No. Not recently.
No inciteful incident of loss.
Some subject I can write what I know about.
But I can show and you can then tell how much I don’t know about mid-life, about mortality, about not having a map, about the whole of Life coming into question and not up with a solution – in theory and in practice. You can assess what call I refuse to answer.
I’m not copying Monique Roffey.
I’ve not been doing one night stands courtesy of Craig’s List. I have not flirted with a mass cult that howls at the full moon whilst performing synchronised catharses in flight formation along ley lines.
I have made a few friends to chat to over the space of eighteen months on a naughty website. Givespanksandbenaughty dot common. Chatting a bit to quite a lot of ordinary women.
I soon got beyond the shock or thrill of cybersex, the moral scandal of virtual gratification.
Tap tap tap tappity tappity tappity tappity…… TAP ……oh..uh ……OHH! TAP ! UH !!!!! nnnngggh mmmmpppph !……… d – i – d – y -o – u – c – o – m – e ? tap ? enter ?
And I hardly do it now—except by way of introduction.
But the site was a revelation to me even if only because of what it taught me about my own assumptions about women; preconceptions about what they got up to; and beliefs about what they or I or you or we should be doing.
Or thinking of doing.
Things that had not previously been found in a good translation into talk and text. That is to say: not one which had met with approval.
I met a woman online, wowed her, got her going, got her panting with a mid-life efflorescence of delicate crudities and lewdities. She sniffed, yelped, growled and belted in pursuit in my direction and because I was so humbled I had no cavils about feeling and meeting the pure force of a woman’s want.
And because of the chest-length, jet black locks, the lashes, the glossed ruby lips and the flame red and orange circa 1969 pattern mid-thigh-length dress on her hale and glowing, 5’10” Cornish frame as she stood, head bowed and hesitant, answering my mobile call at twenty yards after she had got off the train in Euston station.
We got our own illicit-explicit get-laid-zone licence for a space of eight months.
This woman was no dog.
She was no bitch.
Except on (howlingly hilarious) set occasion within the highly intricate and idiosyncratic, scripted words and actions in which she required me to call her one and required herself to be ordered to sink beyond the surface level of descriptions.
And above the keyboard we were dissimilar in social background and interests but appreciated each other as companions. Ahem.
I met no one else from the website in the flesh in particulars that stand out and pin life to the mental vellum.
I thought a lot, I journalled a lot. I reflected on the many relationships and encounters I had had in twenty five odd years as a musician. For instance: the ones I thought that me, myself, and I had pulled but it turned out they’d stalked me and I. I remembered the random, the planned, the bipolar, the drunk, the pilled-up and destructive. The selfless two who wanted to re-educate and reconstruct the potentially lethal, rapacious simian I really was; to teach the guinea ape to sign a brave new natural language—one maybe without the hew of metaphor and ambiguity to splinter ideology.
I briefly shook or shuddered remembering the ones I recognised too late how much I could trust them. And the women I still miss and desire because I had witnessed desire awaken in them without them knowing. So moved and so in awe to see, independent of my need or desire, the silent explosion in psyche and soma.
Never mind the eccentricities. Never mind the fumble, the bumble. Never mind the quaint, olde worlde, late twentieth century world of relationships and the fall-out from sexual politics, from gravicrass eighties socialist feminism and emotional nuclear deterrence and realpolitik and protest. The village jumble sale of mix ‘n’ match global thoughts.
Before the internet changed attitudes and the realities of sex and dating forever and kicked the Cold War babies out blinking onto the unimaginably large, blowy, digital playing field with the other bewildebeests.
I reflected on what I might want now.
And I have received about twenty five live hours of very high quality tantric massage.
No mean thing for anyone who is honestly curious to explore this intimate sensory experience. No mean thing to lie back and think and receive the gift of touch with riveted attention. And no mean thing to commit a trenchant, mechanical fencing-off of that attention from push-button, waggy-fingered, self-directed accusations of exploitation, of the mean objectification of women. Of making them a piece of tail to be told. To be read. To be read aloud. Text to be written and spoken through. An equation to be solved. To be dangled and cast aside. Of making sex and pleasure into a commodity, a controlled and calculating mechanical transaction. Of making it one act of stolid, solitary, unimaginative tin-eared grasping and fingering and over-blowing. And stealing. Without interval. Without pause to consider. Without wish to depart from the mean. Without deviating from the text. Rendering and reducing the act of taking pleasure into something to be watched, skimmed, stared at—or read—without the risk or moral worth of involvement, emotional dirt and soiling.
Rendering the body of sensation into the various wordy fats, tallows, bones, proteins, sugars and salts of spectacle.
Explore this and you run the risk of being a figure of fun to yourself, if not others—perceived as a slave to the greedy need for a genital sneeze. The lust to be blessed. To be coddled or cuddled. Perhaps pulled into a pornificated, soulless, hardcore sub-culture.
Maybe it isnt so much the “sub” anymore and rather the “dom”.
On the other hand, there is Tantric philosophy, culture and practice. You explore the Masculine. You explore the Feminine. You explore the Principles. You spy on the Spiritual. Dress it up in disguise. Derobe it. Dilute it. Rip and slip its knickers off. Maybe the Spiritual has nominative, vocative, accusative, genitive, dative and ablative endings that must morally and politically agree with the masculine and feminine and neuter physical declensions of nouns and verbs and adjectives.
In terms of what I’ve read or what people say, it may be fey and pretentious.
It may incense those allergic to perfumed smoke. Even if there is liberation in Tantra and pleasure and group sex to be snaffled up, do you really want to commence babbling in the Western Spiritualian epic poetry dialect and be so plain loony ? What advanced worldly or supernatural wisdom dictates that people that smug could actually be truly sexy?
I dont know much about it yet. I’ve done no rituals or groups – only read a bit and received massage.
Enslaved or not, enslaving or not, grasped and fingered or not, I have stood horizontally, a razed statue, to attention at length. I have lain prostrate and supine in seance with the medium of the body. The messages received blew my head off.
Decoding is ongoing.
The invasion of my own privacy—turning experience into sign, personal effects or shared or discarded token—continues.
The thing about Monique Roffey, this writer, this recorder, this researcher, her with her fierce, bossy, nosey Love, her heartbreak and her quest for answers about ordinary varieties of love—and the eager, bouncy, tail-wagging trust she elicits and the fact that just her name makes me grunt like an aroused, clumsy Labrador tottering forward on hind legs, jowls a-drooling—was the fascinating way she opened up a space for me.
And that this did seem a very good idea and then yet but no but yes but so but f***, bugger and damn the realisation – or delusion – I slowly arrived at.
That all experience has the quality of text. And that does not mean a split between the Real and art or the Book. Or the copy.
I dont know if this is a mindset gained through keeping company with—and inadvertent copying of—a writer, for four hundred and eighty five pages.
Or a hatchet (or mere cute metaphor) I had left laid buried out of terror for years.
But it means that all blinking Life is text. Ordered, disordered, funked and ragged and backs and fronts jumping over one another and standing in snakey or brick-bashed, dusty ruin or plate glass and aluminium sprouted tower.
And that goes for sex.
Thought, word, picture.
Inside and outdoors and the squeal and the gravel scrunch as the car swerves and the, and the, and the, and the…
The thud hits home in the insides of the sentence. Forced to watch. The eye of the mind trapped wide open.
Pictures about pictures, a snog, the writhe of wet human animal tongue, translated into another tongue, qu’est-ce que ce veut dire en francais, withering words about words in a line and on it and queues of words about pictures.
Nickers of glances.
Letters. Ertsetl. Deckchairs. Sent. Re-arranging. Home. Titanic. It’s a tip all below the surface. Stop.
Very moving words about the words ‘images’ and ‘pictures’ moving across the screen.
Lascivious, detailed replication of suffering.
Crackle. Text. Left to right, left to right, left to right.
A moan, indoors words about death.
Sex about words.
Type. Slap, bickering, Travis, Bickle, single song, sex about pictures, pix pix, soft excel, sexcells, sex about grief, grief about words.
Words isnt working, bad for the unemployment figure, Darling.
Pictures not about sex when they should be because – hell-UH-oo – pay attention please, stuck fuckweejit : I’s, you’s, he’s, she’s and it’s possessed and things are being done right now with her, the One – freely, directly and indirectly and with a minimum of discussion of the actions of readers and actors locked into this point of the plot which will be lost on those just concerned with just getting away to the end without anyone watching…
(………..) me like the (…………) I am.
Insert the (……….) word in brackets.
Get rid of dead wood.
Put the thought inside you. Feel for it.
Is it in ? Try it for size.
Will you put a word in for me.
Adjust volume according to strength of signal from text. Filter.
Record the gift. Touch. Stop. Stuck. Nothing repeat cant wrong go. Round and round. First, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth guess of the thought.
Unsent Janglo-Klaxon forked letter birds.
Repeat joke until required groan.
Tell the One about the telly ban.
Words about town. About your aunt. Typo. Stereo.
Monkeys. Writers. Cocoa. Channel 5. Got to get her number.
A kick in the kneecaps, things occurring inside the mind, the gap, text in the body, on the body, underground, written in the speech, rupture on the page.
Foot, foam, froth, soap and the toe stuck in the tap. Telly bath dance. Hot water. Electric city of joy. Stop.
A punch, pixel, commas, periods. A double malt. Clavicle snaps, flaps, handlebars meets back of the neck.
Tarmacadam. Hole. Pot. Black.
Believe it you me. Wood you.
Who who who who writes writes writes this this this hand- hand- hand-held s*%$”*%+ s*%$”*%+ s*%$”*%+ s*%$”*%+
Get a grip, focus-puller.
I wanna hold your hand. Words about songs. Songs without words. The order of songs.
The ordering of Things.
Margins. Notes. Sharp. Flats. Houses in the right order. Proof. Bullet blunt. Formatting. Irruption. In rhythm.
Being on the material or digital or mental page.
Being out of Time. Wind in the trees in the middle of the night. Leaves. The rustle.
Time minus motion plus wakefulness equals transcendence. Stop.
Stop fucking around.
Continue to pay attention.
Be realistic. Instead of babbling.
Follow the words. And what happened.
In the midst of ecstatic writhing, in the wished-for, longed-for pleasure and stimulation and intimacy of making love and Being with Love.
Inside or outside or to the side of the inconsolable grief and defenestration at Death and Loss, the irrefutable feeling that the world must now surely end.
There is still :
The view from nowhere.
Of no origin.
“What is this, what is happening?”
You dont know whether to rejoice at the continuation of the Spirit, at the irrepressibility, at the miracle of Life – or to congratulate your own largesse in containing the raging desire to to rub out, to delete, to write over or rewrite this program.
This sucking, pubescent solipsist.
This “Only Me”. This comedian.
The reading and producing and yet more reading and production of yet more experience.
Let alone the hapless efforts to direct it.
Experience – Life.
It’s a windbag.
Colman’s mustard with French knickers with a talking gusset that speaks Hebrew in the shape of an oracle that secretes Gideon bibles and squeezes stripey metaphors into a toothpaste tube. Costs £9.98 at Liptons – nah– na-nee-ay.
The invisible wind that flies in, and makes and fills, the mould in the mind.
Blow-dry and condition your life with :
It’s a look.
It’s a space.
It’s an air.
It’s a breath of fresh flair
And a movement of mind
At a speed of light pace!
Captured, distilled and bottled at source from windsocks at airfields all over Britain. Occasionally mixed with the smell of evenly-spread organic muck.
Makes for a taste thud right on the dot common.
Gets your attention like the flipping ninety-nines every time and you pay lip service every flipping, flapping time – a witless, tumescent, rhyming cartoon character.
And even if you achieve a position consonant or assonant with that of Hero in Life, from where you can declaim:
“I am doing life!! I participate. Yes I do. With People!! Mmmmm. Not just watching, like some people – those cowards and couch potatoes! Pixel pawns! The game-overs. The epistemically, epistemologically and ontologically challenged – those people just like that person I used to sound—or look—like. Hmmph!”
If you can deliver that mouthful in an affectionate good impression of Paul Merton – said good comedian also effecting an affectionate, good copy of Corporal Jones in Dad’s Army, said good BBC comedy of the Home Guard – genial, bumbling, twinkly-eyed
If you can give it a good kick in the adverbials
If you can deliver that and get a laugh
You’ll be a man or woman that is cognisant
That the watching
Does not cease to be.
Oblivion does not oblige.
The mind or brain or nerd doesnt sod off and go do sums or stamp collecting elsewhere. Doesnt stop perving at your life like a teenager in the back row. It doesnt stop being the would-be artist, the kerb crawler, the smug, smirking wide-boy or the scientist. Or Peter-Cushing-being-a-mad-scientist. Or being, of course, like a connoisseur of good painting.
How very dare s / he—the gender-neutral pronoun, the detached observer of pronounced motions and emotions and momentous events in people’s lives—acquire such a privileged position ?
It’s bad for society. I shall write to my dearest radical MP.
But fears disappear through dogged peering.
Ears prick up and down to the sound of thought. The demi-monded bodymind alert to the weight of a woman’s ways and ordinary wants. Looking and being looked at and the looks counting and looking at the wreckage of past relationships that never dared say that these kinds of looks mattered – out of the fear of innumerable, unnameable transgressions of thought, of ethics, of politics.
Of direct action in the street river bed.
Of peer and parental disapproval.
The: “What will people think ?”.
The: “Am I mad? “.
The: “Well, it’s it’s all very well unstiffening your upper and lower lips North and South but wont you end up all very right up your own innuendo?”.
Blah, blah, blah-dee-blah.
However, as sure as red night light is followed by dark living daylights they are soon replaced with the question , with the unapolegetic, pissed-off, unlucky look:
“And what the fuck is this all for please ? Excuse me please?”
And the peevish, repetitive retort:
“Is this some kind of stupid joke?”
Followed inevitably by the callow whingeing:
“When do we get to the End – to the meaning bits, to the point of the double-blind trials, of the dates with destiny, of the experience, of the punishment, of the ecstasy?”.
Of the -ing or ping of the Text.
Of all the Looks.
I treat this with liberal irony . It could be salutary, intelligent and sobering (and good for improving my vocabulary ) to intuit that my life and thoughts and physical presence and their significance are as ephemeral as the reflection of a digital billboard advertisement for Transformers IV in a puddle of pee on a rain-soaked, wind-tossed, London Winter’s night .
And perhaps complacent mores and flabby faith, perhaps those who may universalise about love, sex, morals and Life and do so from a point of view of dismal, provincial and platitudinous particularity, perhaps they could be dealt a dose of no-bullshit, reptilian intellectual and emotional jujitsu to maintain and preserve the cyclopean CCTV, the heart of the “I” of the gender-neutral, impersonal, and very interrogative pronoun.
If on a piss-poor, wet, cold Winter’s night
If after a date even more hellish than Transformers IV (or an orgy, it could be that it was a dark and stormy orgy night, yes I’ll let you picture a groan at that)
If my gutter philosophising
If my being a dirty badass granite mirror
If my being so insensible and eyeballing
If my being outrageously hostile to inrageous Fortune
If my irreligious fearlessness and depth-plumbing
Is a valid gambit
Yes, well I’m sorry but other people’s lives are most certainly important too
If families are important
Feelings are important
If occupations and interests are
Caring for and defending the structures of life
Is, was, were, are and ever shall and will be
A Good Thing
However these questions are still there and sex, lust, love and all the looking are powerful forces and motors; needs and sources of deep curiosity.
Not to write and put too deafly a sententious point on it. Not to draw too riveted attention to the fact that—as a look-monkey, as a weightless breath of life, as a faithful, seeing guide dog to or for the mind—one has neither a right nor a lovable left leg to totter on; jowls a-drooling.
No description to speak of behind the pronoun.
I did realise that with the sloughing off of rules – with the freedom to freely associate a little more, to re-arrange the letters, words, sentences and the form and the content and the order of fucking, lovemaking, speaking dirty and talking to bodies as objects to be worshipped, to express what I wished or was forced to, or chose to, and with the easing of anxiety about a lack of moral responsibility – with all those came a strength.
I felt less pushed around by internal forces and external ones. As a man – I suspect women of being similar – I say one of the most offensively goading things about sex socially is its potential to be viewed as a proving ground, where you assume or are even told there are badges or grades; that you are in a hierarchy – sexually and emotionally and intellectually.
And you are intellectually squeaking, you are a mousey no-weight, you are furtively peering through the circle and triangle of the linguistic keyhole, you are not getting stuck in in the rutting where you should be:
If you do not know X-es
If you have not done XXXX-es
If you cannot walk about (………………………)-es in the company of men and women in his and hers image
If there is not no (very public limited) image of which you can say:
“Yes I do know can speak fuck in-out talk-walk that picture talk pussy-fill well-cum”.
It stinks. I hate it. It makes me come over all revolutionary and very manly barricade-manning and explosively, molotovally cock-and-tail.
Eventually I knew I was mostly wrong to restrain myself from this exploration—of my emotions, of the attentions surrounding sex, of the way I had been brought up. Not wrong to restrain myself from holidaying from Life by repetitively reliving the normal banal experiences of fear, bullying, abuse and senseless social conformity so many people force us to bravely blundergo.
And those brave and persuasive people that tirelessly lead us to the conclusion that our mind – and body – is made up.
A desultory, cheap, socially constructed fiction.
And yes, wrong to restrain the desire for love—from the abstract to the concrete. From the look of Love to the occurrence of invisible but palpable feelings obstinately outside textual interpretation or description.
And for real pleasure.
And the desire to give something really indescribable to someone else.
So far, so close.
Notes – for the intelligent but culturally perplexed:
Euston – major train station in north central London.
“yes but no but yes but so but” – the catchphrase of Vicky Pollard, a character in “Little Britain”, British TV comedy show.
“words isn’t working” – a famous advertisement for the Conservative Party, during its campaign before the 1979 British General Election, had the headline “Labour isn’t Working” above a picture of a queue of the unemployed.
Colemanballs – after the utterances of a sports commentator that are uproariously but unintentionally ridiculous. Collected by Private Eye, a satirical UK magazine.
Colman’s Mustard – is just that: strong English mustard. But this is not important.
Liptons – is / was a small chain of local supermarkets. Again, not important.
“muck” – farmers use muck-spreaders to spray fields with fertilising manure.
Paul Merton – well-known British comedian and improv maestro.
Corporal Jones – character in “Dad’s Army”, a television comedy series about the Home Guard, the men charged with defending the UK on home soil during the Second World War.
“If…” – a poem by Rudyard Kipling, adored and parodied.
“If” – a satirical film by Lindsay Anderson, that is also a parody of the Kipling poem.
“How very dare she?!” – catchphrase of the scabrous Derek Faye, a comic character created by Catherine Tate. The character is as camp as Christmas but will practically stab anyone who suggests he is gay.
“adverbials” – if you protest at over-use – or my generally florid and baroque turn of phrase – you may try to kick me in them. I mean: “epistemically”? “ontologically”? For God’s sake!
Peter Cushing – cult British actor in many Hammer horror films.
MP – member of parliament.
Transformers IV – Will there will be 10 sequels of that computer graphic garbage?
“Oh Yes!” – a catchphrase, or vehement expression of vision and belief, attributed to John Major, Conservative British Prime Minister
Please go to Youtube and search for “Catherine Tate Show” and “Derek Faye In The Taxi” .