THE ART-THREATENING WONDERMENTS of SLEEPING WITH YOUR MUSE

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For a year or so after meeting my Beloved Wife, I couldn’t write. I didn’t merely stop writing…   I was no longer able. Some Darwinians suggest that the Arts are a mating display:  mate found, mating accomplished, the peacock feathers are free to fall off.  In my case it was also that so much of the creative effort had been driven by the energy of a sense of estrangement which I no longer felt, waking up with this woman to plan breakfast, a walk, a trip to the cinema or some museum. It was more than that. Who was it that said happiness writes with white ink? But it wasn’t that my ink before meeting her had been strictly black. It was sometimes red (lurid) and sometimes purple (too lyrical) and often rather faint. The dominant image I have is the sepia-tone of faded longhand in a diary from a trunk in a stranger’s attic.

Every instance of fucking one’s Life Partner is an act of investment and in the lucky case that one’s Life Partner happens to be the Woman/Man of One’s Dreams it is also a refinement of the mechanisms of Imagination and Observation at the heart of a writer’s project. Not only does a dream-in-life free us from the arguably awful fate of a life-in-dreams, but to sleep with a real dream is to deepen one’s knowledge of the subject. When that flickering face on my wall became a very real face smiling up at me from a pillow in the bed I used to insult (or confuse) with strangers, I realized that my ability was inadequate to the task. Writing/fucking: same set of tools.

I’d been writing and fucking, before I met this woman, like a teen. Going through the motions is the perfect cliche to describe it. Or: imagine singing in the shower and the shower curtains suddenly fall away to reveal that the shower is center-stage at Carnegie Hall. Except there’s only one person, in a center-row seat, in the audience. A woman with the gait/posture/mood pallette/manner of speaking and smile you’ve masturbated to (often with unwitting proxies) since you first got a taste of the type in a foreign film in a long-defunct art-house cinema in a Bohemian quarter of Philly in the late 1970s (I’m getting down to specifics).

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