Aphorisms VII

On a Certain Experience in Relation to Sex – In response to a talk by Leila Slimani, I think of someone I love browsing on tinder, or not even that, but of spontaneously, magically, having found someone to bring home and fuck. And this causes a pang of something in me. But where does this pang happen? And in relation to what? Is it a spur to action, to step through into my ideal space to avoid missing out, or to assert control? Or is it the same as the anxiety dreams I have sometimes, that in some manner everything would fall apart, that I actually have no power over them, all my power, our relationship, has been undermined or not existed quite how I thought?

What, after all, could I do? For it must be an issue of confidence here, of self-worth. I fear having no recourse to a response, no power to respond to such a situation. Insofar as it is not just a kind of pang of sadness, or of lost hope, of ‘I thought you cared, but now it seems you don’t, or at least not in the way I hoped, to enchant everything about you sexually, morally, like a kind of drug’, it is also this self-relation, that I do not even see the potential to action in response, and rather just experience it, curl up like the proverbial stamped on worm.

But of course, if someone were to perform this act, in reality, what is to say we would not be able to respond, to say ‘I value myself more than this experience, I demand of you something (submission?), a tribute, a change in you, or I will simply walk away, believing I can achieve great things again. In this way it becomes clear that the whole thing about these experiences is that they are tied up with power and power relations, which is another way of saying relations of self-image. Because power is not inherent but relational. I would not care in this case if I did not see myself as essentially powerless, though unconsciously. The whole situation would not occur without neurotic and twisted power relations already being present. All of which would indicate that people don’t get sexually jealous unless they are insecure in some basic way, or in an insecure situation.

But is this any different from betrayal, from paranoia tout court? I can imagine similar pangs happening if I knew I was missing out or hadn’t been invited to some event, though without the extra sexual fizz and burn. Then, maybe that extra fizz is just sex itself, and that is all that there is particular to an experience of sexual jealousy. Thought invests so much in sexual relationships, that they become monolithic and hard to parse.

As Leila Slimani says, I think that having secrets is important, and if not vital then helpful in all things. We must fight the urge to know all, to totalise the relationship, to totalise anything, really. We know that the total is the real lie, the real wasteland. We sense this because knowing everything can bring the moment of banal clarity, and that clarity wipes away all sexiness, all suspense, or it controls and prescribes til that controlling and prescribing becomes everything. We might agree that we shouldn’t know everything about our partners, our friends, because we agree not to know a prescribed set of things about them every day, their breakfast, their toilet routine, their every thought, though there are exceptions to this. We just need to accept more secrets, not worry about finding out. Why act as if love is an investigation, when it’s a lot closer to gambling? In gambling, we know we lose sometimes, that’s part of the charm. But then that also brings its own problems.

Provocatively put you might say sexual jealousy is not something that people in general have, but rather certain societies have.

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Path

Occasionally walk down a path such that you wouldn’t mind to die at the end of it. Having seen the beech seed pods’ dark red and the leaves’ brown, damp on the verges, having felt the cold breeze chill your hand on the umbrella, having said ‘cold I welcome you for a moment’ til it echoes in your fingers and having heard the pop of the rain on plastic like rice crispies in a bowl on a quiet morning. And the greens oh the greens of the trees in towering walls and your lone figure at the base. And the end comes with a sigh of a ‘we have to die sometime. And now is a moment for that, having walked down that path.’ Across the way, the hill of trees sits in the misty rain, magentas and grey greens. Colours shore us.

But there remains this; that an act of self abnegation is a kind of assertion of authority over the world. For the following reasons. Either you believe you should stop, in which case you believe you are powerful and too powerful to change yourself, a contradiction. Or you believe your assessment of things is the most true, which is arrogant, considering the world. Or your abnegation is in itself a challenge to the world, since you believe you can still win by not wanting anything. Or something else. If you would just submit to things, you would have a better time, but that’s what I was saying, wasn’t it? No, I was saying something else. I forget.

Outside it has rained on and off all night. The sodden tea bag is cold in the bottom of the cup. I pop a small fruit gum in my mouth and chew it.