There I was in the supermarket the other day, minding my own business, squinting at the price of fruit n veg, when along comes this child – she could have been no older than seven – her mother not too far behind. She takes in my shorts, my high heel boots, exclaims:
to which everyone within earshot suddenly turns round and, having identified the source of the remark, erupts into unanimous laughter. The girl herself, she had not intended to be funny, laughs too after a while. I wouldn’t call it copying, I think they call it social referencing.
Me? I only smiled, surprised by the fact that a child so young even knew the meaning of the term ‘sexy’. Should I be happy or worried? This child did not only know her abc, or (no doubt?) that a yellow M towering above all the buildings around meant this way for a quick, cheap meal! (that is, until she learns that it also meant obesity, diabetes and so on). This child had already picked up other social symbols as well;
shorts + long legs + high heels = sexy
I was not aware that I was a walking symbol in that respect. All I wanted was to stock up my fridge. Children have their specs on whether we know it or not and possibly whether they know it or not. She too force ripe is what my grandmother would have concluded, her voice thick with disapproval, but in this day and age when around the clock and everywhere your eyes turn, allusions to sex are used to sell just about everything (barring dog food, for now…), is it any wonder?
And I wonder whether, instead of simply chastising, it would not be far more effective for us, the grown-up chaperones, to steer children’s visual intelligence to a more critical understanding of cultural symbols. Oh, and to practise what we preach.
This post has also appears in my blog on educational research.
I had my first taste of it when just a wee boy. Been searching for that something ever since; that of innocence, inattentive of hygiene. A bit fish, a bit salmon… crevettes…
She was the daughter of the shopkeeper who owned the Sadna. Whenever mother went there to buy something, I’d be sure to come along cos I just had to get a glimpse of this little girl tho I saw her at school everyday, but when there was no school, I still had to find a way to see her. We were in love, see. No, really. I now happen to think that her father was rather partial to mother too, he kept slipping her freebies and their hands would brush. She told him of a garlic treatment she knew for warts and another one for hair loss: add five chopped cloves of garlic to three soup spoons of olive oil, soak the paste for two days then apply half an hour before washing your hair, she said. And for that extra shine, don’t throw away the water after you’ve cooked rice, massage it into your hair, leave it on for a while, then rinse.
You’re so knowledgeable, Madame! You know all the tricks of your trade. And I know all the tricks of mine…
Dirty little slimer.
Whilst he was working out ways of getting under mother’s skirt, I’d be half hidden behind mother and his daughter would be half hidden behind him. She’d come to my place after school when mother had gone to work for she knew I’d be alone. We’d get undressed, play mothers & fathers then eat whatever she’d pinched from the store, mostly pastilles Vichy. I tried to penetrate her and others later but it didn’t work. In the beginning I thought their hole was at the front.
Erotic Diva Blakely Bennett had me on her site in the autumn:
What genre is your book? Do you write in other genres as well?
My books have been classified as women’s fiction, post-colonial fiction, British fiction. Adult fiction. Verses Nature won’t be easy to classify. I don’t mind as long as it ends up in the top ten (lol). Verses Nature has, as an overall theme, and in common with all of my fiction, the notion of self-interrogation and growth. It’s about carving out space for personal development. This can’t be done without also coming to terms with one’s sexuality – I know, I’ve tried! Sexuality, thus, plays a significant role in all my fiction. Doesn’t mean I write what generally goes as erotica, though. I don’t. I once tried to get a man to understand what I meant by the term intellectual erotica. When he still couldn’t get it, and I was at the end of my tether, I barked ‘high-brow rumpy-dumpy!’ He got it.
One of the main characters in Verses Nature is an old man called Tatar. Outspoken, verging on the vulgar. He’ll say:
Men shouldn’t assist at childbirth if you ask me. She’ll be screaming, farting, crapping, saying vile things to and about you and you, idiot, are sposed to just stand there saying Yes darling as you squeeze her hand or mop her friggin brow? Then there’s the pushing and gushing and out it plops as from a sewer. Puts a man off for life. You’ll never really want to be in there again, But we’re not allowed to say that about wifey, are we?
He’s full of tips: You should get Him not to wash for a while so he stinks of man, then you give him a royal blow job, he’ll spray like a whale, I swear.
Miss Virginia Mendes stumbles from the bourgeois bliss of her brittle marriage into the world of virtual romance, convinced that He must be out there, somewhere. Finding instead…
14.01.— Discovery 13:39:28+0100(CET)
I am a woman of my word.
When you send me one of your delicious lines, your sensual reveries, they touch something deep in the centre of me behind my navel. The heat spreads slowly. I think of sunrise. Of a sleepy beast, stirring. At the same time, my nipples, my clitoris, light up like a match. I burn, four hearts pulsating at different rhythms, at different points in my body: my nipples, my heart, my belly, my sex.
My heart is the fastest, fanned by my short, choppy breath. My nipples: throb sonorously, slowly, more than sexual, suffusing me with a gratification I recall from breastfeeding. A rhythmic, timeless tug. My sex tingles, beats like the excited heart of a child about to do something daring. I can’t wait. Desire lubricates me. I want to touch. To savour my own ripeness but I abstain. Pressing myself, hard, against the chair, I imagine it is your hand, your knee, your nose. I lift my skirt, open my legs, which part, making the sound of a kiss… In my mind, I knit your hair with my fingers as you drink me, as you bury into me with the different parts of your body as I squeeze my buttocks together, my rotating hips in barely perceptible movements.
My orgasm starts with my breasts. With a quick series of contractions, pushing down my body, like swallowing; the sensation ejaculating through me in little waterfalls. That my breasts may come alive like this is a revelation. They are not my favourite part of me. I learn, now, to acknowledge them; to take pleasure in the pleasure they give.
Sometimes my orgasm ends here, in my breasts, burnt out before descending further. On other occasions, it continues its galloping downwards so that when I erupt, I feel like a fruit that has been squashed in the palm of your hand, juice spitting everywhere. And then there are those times I feel as if the floor beneath me has suddenly disappeared; I fly, pulverised into millions of particles. Hours it will take, before I may bring them all back together again; before I may ‘collect’ myself.
My most familiar sexual part of me, my least understood. Strange, that, in the absence of touch, energy and fantasy suffice to make me come alive. Woken up from a long winter sleep — and I’m starving! When my sex comes alive, shows her head, the tantalising warmth she releases spills down my legs. It becomes impossible for me to sit still. The slightest movement magnifies my excitement. I feel how the folds of my flesh fill with liquid desire. I know that if I put my hands there, tease back the lips, my fingers may drown, may slide around on quivering pink flesh. They may dive and probe the ridges of my inner walls. Resurface, stroke the inside of my thighs and be drawn by the obsidian throb of my clitoris. If you touch her, breeze across her, surreptitiously, she will flick a shudder through me like a whip. Do not touch her for too long. Tease her and keep her waiting. Therein lies the secret. What we both prefer is a slow, merciless rise to ecstasy. So when you excite me with your words and my desire is stirred, I do not force her; I let her dance, for I know that patience is all I need to discover the secrets of joy…
Do not misunderstand me. I can be more than satisfied without reaching a climax. An orgasm is not the hallmark of a successful sexual experience. Not for me, at least. Misrecognition of this has caused much unhappiness. When forced to an orgasm, I feel more frustrated than before. Duty, so-called, having been done, I have nonetheless been left behind. I am not a sex beast. I do not need multiple orgasms or to copulate interminably. I do need a good fuck… and I know that you know what I am talking about…
A multiple orgasm is, then, not necessarily one vaginal orgasm after another, but also, and more essentially, the (sometimes simultaneous) eruption of my key zones, of which there remains one to discover, as you know…
In trust, Gini
noluckwiththefu@…: So is it fact or fiction?
noluckwiththefu@…: You get women’s hopes up with all that. You make them dissatisfied with their men. My man’s a good lover but I never had any of those other orgasms you’re talking about. You just made that bit up and that’s mean.
flow.tite.ange@…: Who said she made it up? I’ve had abdominal orgasms. I swear!
(Disbelieving snorts from the others)
kissmy@…: So who’s been giving you those inter-galactic orgasms, hey? Your husband?
sucette.du67@…: I think it was wrong to let her tell her husband. But I like the poetry.
GinImE@...: I’m listening…
sucette.du67@…: He doesn’t need to know all the details. You’re just putting yourself in an unnecessary dilemma. I know I wouldn’t want to know all the details about my man. He comes home with a smile on his face, that’s what counts.
kissmy@….: Even if some other pussy’s putting it there?
(sucette.du67@… sucks her teeth.)
babygirl@…: Shy is right. You’re passing the parcel, if you ask me.
GinImE@...: Go on…
noluckwiththefu@…: Well, you’re absolving yourself by telling your husband, but then you get him to bear the burden. It’s a bit chicken, don’t you think?
kissmy@….: Hell! Men’ve been having their cake and eating it too all along but listen sisters, this millennium’s for the ladies! My life has improved threefold ever since I woke up to this fact, ever since I stopped listening to all those nonsense songs about letting him be king, about just how perfect I would be if only he loved me right. I’m loving myself right — got rid of the complacent swine I had educated him to be ‘oh, don’t do that, honey, I’ll do it for you’. Sign of my love? Sign of my stupidity more like. Of my mis-education. I can have my cake and eat it too, n you know what, you guys are yummy. Yum yum, more of that please, but on my own terms from now on and you all better wrap up well cos the wind is changing.
babygirl@…: C’mon, stop dragging this down…
sucette.du67@…: No, let her have her say. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. Why do we belittle ourselves and play coy when a guy says we’re pretty? We behave as though we’re hearing it for the first time, like we don’t deserve the compliment or something, instead of saying, Thank you, I know, which we do. Cos we are. They strut into the room without a shadow of a doubt so why shouldn’t we? Get over him, Gini. You’ve got eyes in the front of your head for a reason. Move on. (Talking more to herself now) you know when you just know it’s over, but all that time it takes you to say it; all that dead time in between knowing and doing? God, I’ve got so many dead years on my account. All gone to waste through cowardice and false loyalty… (wakes up) move on!
‘Of all the books I’ve read, this has divided me against myself more than any other.’
‘Don’t know what tablets you’re taking, but do, please, keep taking them. They seem to be working wonders. If you can get them on the NHS, please let me know.’
‘This is an abridgment of a novel which pushes the boundaries of women’s literary fiction to its limits – a D.H. Lawrence type moment (…) I can’t say enough good things about this novel. This is a haunting work which will stay in my head for a long time.’
J.M. Coetzee, in Waiting for the Barbarians, paints a pretty grim picture of the sexual life of the older man. I have been known to succumb to such low-hanging fruit and, frankly, I’m glad Coetzee says what I don’t have to. It sounds less vicious coming from a man:
Sometimes my sex seemed to me another being entirely, a stupid animal living parasitically upon me, swelling and dwindling according to autonomous appetites, anchored to my flesh with claws I could not detach. Why do I have to carry you about from woman to woman, I asked: simply because you were born without legs?
the older the man the more grotesque people find his couplings, like the spasms of a dying animal
his erection has nothing to do with desire, it being nothing but a stiffening, like rheumatism
Tatar, the protagonist of my novel-in-progress (you’ve met him several times here already, Mr compulsive-repulsive (cf Chef d’Oeuvre or Perfume); after how many thousand women was it that he stopped counting?) would have us show more respect for his ‘old man’s member’. I wonder if his proclamations will mellow?
For the records: I don’t do old members anymore.
Further on the topic of other low-hanging fruit:
Nymphomaniac (Lars von Trier): what was I expecting? I dunno. An intellectual-sexual challenge more than a tease. Close-ups of Charlotte Gainsbourg’s wet fleshy bit not only put me off but haunted me all the way home. Had visions of it creeping up on me and licking my earlobe whilst I was minding my own business. I return to a central preoccupation in my novel-in-progress, Verses Nature:
how can you thematize sex (-related issues) in a way that is original?
I don’t think Tatar is that original. He’s frank, no doubt about that:
Men shouldn’t assist at childbirth if you ask me. She’ll be screaming, farting, crapping, saying vile things to and about you and you, idiot, are ‘sposed to just stand there saying Yes darling as you squeeze her hand or mop her friggin brow? Then there’s the pushing and gushing and out it plops as from a sewer. Puts a man off for life. You’ll never really want to be in there again, But we’re not allowed to say that about wifey, are we?
He’s full of tips:
get Him not to wash for a while so he stinks of man, then you give him a royal blow job, he’ll spray like a whale, I swear.
If I were twenty years younger, I’d open a brothel for senior citizens of both sexes, say seventy and upwards. They’ve got the finish line in sight, cash in their pockets, assorted ailments to forget, if only for that moment… and ungrateful brats as offspring. It’d be a runner. Especially with the women. With my neighbour for starters. The way she looks at me. Teeth tarnished. Slack wet slit where her mouth should be. Gives me the creeps. She’d pay. Bet she would.
He’ll say things you may find irresistible tho you may be unwilling to like such statements openly (I’ve been tracking you on this blog. Don’t be so chicken. Click that button!). The originality in Verses Nature must stem from a combination of content and structure; from how his voices (there will be many) dialogue with the multiple voices and structures of the other characters in the novel. Big project. Every time I think about it, it makes me gulp. This project’s been on my shelf for two decades. To imagination I am now able to add experience. I’m ready for it.
Pastor: How long were Adam & Eve in paradise? Child: Till autumn Pastor: …?… Child: When the apple is ripe
I like the inevitability of nature here; the apple will fall. Must fall. Mitigating circumstances for our female evil-doer?
I could formulate it another way, bowing to our friends across the pond. I could make the whole idea more compact:
Pastor: How long were Adam & Eve in paradise? Child: Till the fall.
Warming up to the spiritual-theological-erotic aspects of my novel Verses Nature, and yet, somehow, still shying away:
Away in a manger
no crib for a bed
she eased back his swaddling
so she could give head
Someone told me (hand on heart) that he remembered his very first fellatio. He was a baby. It was his mother. He’s been partial to soft fellatios ever since. No erection. Nothing to do with sex. Much more: the performance of an act of worship. Like drying His feet with her hair. There are those who will insist on downplaying that scene but the bigots’ve got hold of the wrong end of the stick. Again. It’s worship. Like the fellatio on the son. Worship. I’m not the mother of sons, so I guess I’ll never know… but I LIKE the idea – its tenderness rings true – and I’m going to use it. (practise first???)
No longer have the time to be afraid of my own ideas. Want to complete this novel within two years. Time’s running out in other ways too. So just do it.
between the virtual and the real, between knowledge and doubt. Between the meaning, and consequences, of the ‘I’…
‘This is quite simply one of the most extraordinary and brilliant books I have ever read. Dark, disturbing, and forensically brilliant at dissecting twenty-first century sexuality. It has everything Anais Nin and Brett Easton Ellis have, wrapped up in the same incredible package.’ (Amazon)
‘Of all the books I’ve read, this has divided me against myself more than any other.’
‘This goes beyond erotica, beyond the culturally censurable. It is sheer beauty as was Henry Miller at his most liberated.’ (Authonomy)
‘I jumped at the chance to read more by this obviously talented and original authoress. I was not disappointed – ‘blown away’ would be a more appropriate description. This is an abridgment of a novel which pushes the boundaries of women’s literary fiction to its limits – a D.H. Lawrence type moment (…) I can’t say enough good things about this novel. This is a haunting work which will stay in my head for a long time.’
‘This is such a surprise! Wonderful writing, scintillating ideas and rich use of language and character. This is something I would happily read and buy copies for all my friends (maybe not my Mum, though).’
‘I don’t know what tablets you’re taking, but do, please, keep taking them. They seem to be working wonders. If you can get them on the NHS, please let me know.’ (Brian L.)
‘This is quite simply one of the most extraordinary and brilliant books I have ever read. Dark, disturbing, and forensically brilliant at dissecting twenty-first century sexuality. It has everything Anais Nin and Brett Easton Ellis have, wrapped up in the same incredible package.’
‘This goes beyond erotica, beyond the culturally censurable. It is sheer beauty as was Henry Miller at his most liberated.’
‘I don’t know what tablets you’re taking, but do, please, keep taking them. They seem to be working wonders. If you can get them on the NHS, please let me know.’
Chains, now, there’s a topic for a prolonged conversation…
Yes, I’m into chains – more mental ones than real – and you are wrong to think that writing fiction does not enslave, does not shackle. It most certainly does, in no less a pleasurable/excruciating way. The one freedom it accords us is the liberty not to set our thoughts within the comparative contexts of other thinkers/scholars with a view to elaborating an argument. Writing fiction is my ‘self-inflicted pleasure’. You know of the risk/rupture/latent stress entailed in the move from one developmental stage to another, and echoed in the notion of growing pains. I find this risk, this danger, this pain, exhilarating, and yes, erotic, so that I must return to it again and again. It is a form of bondage…
I cannot tell you how hard it is to write the things I write. The battle as I wrench myself from my old developmental level; from received social, sexual, linguistic codes, propounding, instead, forging, instead, a new order; the move to Level 2. (…) but I shall have to ruminate further about the nature and purpose of the chains involved in both my writing activities. Right now, I’m just putting my nose to the idea. The few pages which comprise Papermate , for example, exacted as much discipline from me as any chapter in my doctoral thesis, that much is sure. My fiction is crafted, and crafts must bow to rules of harmony, stability; they should delight with a surprise, with insight, taking you further, as much as any (good) scientific paper. The melody, however, is another.
No idea of a title yet, but something will come to me. Now the fun and turmoil starts. I can already feel the clay under my nails, the spattered thoughts which must be tamed and brought into unison. I can feel this thing growing in me, compelling my thoughts back to it, and I anticipate with relish the ecstatic pain that is the price I must pay for daring to bring something beautiful to life.
(from my private correspondence with one of the few men who have had a brief impact on me. Illustration: Forming Trust, reproduced with the kind permission of Naomi Brosnan )
I’m gonna be a PLAYBOY MODEL WHEN I GRADUATE. I think it’s the only career I know that would be suitable to me. Limited hours. Pay-per-job. True you can no longer shop for groceries like normal people. But I’m ok with that. Playboy models have the perfect life. Bright lights. Fluffers. I think I’m gonna need about two fluffers. If I cannot be a Playboy model then I will be a porn queen. I don’t want to do any webcam stuff, though. But I definitely want to have some lesbian stuff.
I wish I could get kidnapped. I would make an excellent kidnap victim. I’m pliable. I come with a vagina. I don’t care about my life. Also, I’m an excellent conversationalist. I like to meet new people. Like to travel. I hate smalltalk, so when we meet we’ll have to skip introductions and get down to the nuts and bolts of the kidnapping Who? Me. When? Right now. Where? The trunk of your car. When you are tired of riding alone you’ll eventually untie me and place me in the front seat next to you so I can keep you company. Then we can tackle the grander topics. Are you a mass murderer? Yes – err – well, aspiring. Do you enjoy killing people? I’m not sure yet. Are you a torture murderer? No. No? That’s ok. That’s ok. Keep your eyes on the road please. Drive safely. You don’t have to be a torture murderer. Yeah — no, totally. It takes all kinds. Is there a history of abuse in your family? Maybe something your mother or father did to you when you were young? Something you’ve never told anyone? (I don’t want to talk about it.) That’s fine. No problem. How ’bout we start off with some simpler stuff. Tell me about your dreams.
Whilst the synopsis on the back cover may lead you to expect a story about bullying, revenge and atonement, in truth, Things Said in Dreams is a masterful exploration of much grander topics. As I read, I began in ache out of sheer admiration for Matthew Temple’s style. By the time I was through, I was paralyzed. Things Said in Dreams is amphibian chameleon hypnotic sardonic manic hypothetical incisive indelible deep treacherous tragic philosophical spiritual unblinking… forgiving. You will forget to breathe. You will never forget Matthew Temple.
Matthew, how comfortable do you feel calling your book a novel and how useful do you find such labeling in general?
I am completely comfortable with calling my book a novel and I find absolutely no use in such labeling.
What in God’s name is a fluffer?
A fluffer is one who keeps a porn star excited between takes.
LOL! Still don’t see why a person can’t just ‘fluff’ him/herself, we’ve got two hands, haven’t we?
Given the symbolic dimensions of the protagonist, how would you react to the accusation of misogyny? You have a female personify weakness, indecision, inaction… Not necessarily what I think but what do you think???
Misogyny… I don’t know how I’d react to that accusation. Probably by admitting that it might be the case. I think my reason for choosing a female protagonist here is that I want to encourage female roles, say, if this were made into a movie. But maybe part of it is the classic idea that it’s easier to write about something if you switch the sex of your protagonist, so it seems/feel less like you.
Why the protagonist’s erotic relationship to her sub-conscience? I should swot up on Freud…
On the eroticism of the subconscious relationship… I don’t know that there is a good reason for it, I think it’s just the way it is (in this book.)
I think I commented on the fact that her language struck me as being very masculine, but then again why is strength automatically a masculine attribute? I think she is complex and challenging in the sense that she challenges us to revise our comfortable attitudes. And I think the power of the novel comes precisely from the tension between what is said/not said, done/not done and even undone in matters sex, power, politics, philosophy, theology, learning, life… gosh, I wish I had written this book!
I’m glad you liked it. And I’m enjoying your detailed analysis of what you’ve read. Keep it coming.