Death or victory

I’ve often wondered what might have lead to my writing something like this exchange in The Apsinthion Protocol.

MOIRA

It would be a one-way trip for whoever did it.

NANETTA

It would mean giving up everything in this world.

MOIRA

And possibly entering a far more wonderful one.

NANETTA

Or it might mean a few moments of ecstasy, and then annihilation.

MOIRA

And there is likely very little time to decide.

(In my bleak moments I often think that what Nanetta and Moira would eventually achieve — even if it was just blissful annihilation — would be superior to the alternative:  adulthood.)

One finds one’s erotic inspiration where one is.  Where I was for a lengthy stretch of young adulthood was Harvard’s Widener Library.  Had I had my druthers, the erotic inspiration would have taken the form of a studious-but-sultry meganekko but sadly there was a severe druthers shortage in Cambridge at the time and so I didn’t get mine.

There was, however, this mural executed by John Singer Sargent (1856-1925).

A doughboy embraces death and victory in the same moment.  (We know he’s victorious because there’s a defeated figure in a stahlhelm at his feet, presumably one of those nasty wicked Germans.)  At the time I would pass this mural daily (it’s on the library’s main entrance stairs) my conscious thoughts were that it was a singularly shameless bit of militaristic propaganda.

My subconscious thoughts, I conjecture, were on a different track entirely, thinking that maybe it’s cool — erotic even — to throw one’s life in like that.  It’s a natural interpretation — look at the soldier’s face, it’s expression and positioning under Victory’s bared breast.   It would explain a lot about the sort of things I’ve written.

Sargent didn’t do much in the more explicitly erotic line, although there is some, for example this study of a nude Egyptian girl.

Orientalist art — something I’ve found appealing before.

Why liquid girl?

“You get warmer and warmer, and then you melt.”

If you had to come up with the genesis of the strange fantasy of Li Anwei and Nanetta Rector and eventually others orgasmically turning to liquid, a conceit on which The Apsinthion Protocol turns, you might do worse than that, a description of what orgasm felt like, given to 18 year-old me by a female companion.

But there’s doubtless some reason why this particular metaphor stuck so soundly in my mind.   Could it be, perhaps, that liquids, and water especially are such erotic elements?  Venus is intimately connected with the sea:  she was neither gestated in a womb nor constructed as a piece of technology like Pandora, but emerged from the sea foam, the product of sea-water and the blood from the castrated genitals of Ouranos.  Her emergence is commemorated in perhaps the greatest masterwork of the early Renaissance, Sandro Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus.

It is a subject painters will return to again and again.  Consider Odilon Redon’s twentieth-century symbolist version of the same, which I find particularly striking.

But the association of women and water and eros is not limited to Venus.  Consider also, as just one example,Gustave Courbet’s Woman in the Waves.

Women, eros, liquid.  So powerful an association that there’s even a genre of erotica (printed in water resistant volumes, like that depicted at the left) devoted to it.  And if you survey photographic erotica, you’ll find that it’s a prominent theme — so much is shot in our around water — on beaches or in oceans or near waterfalls or ponds.  Or in baths or showers or hot tubs.    Surf over to a frequent poster of tasteful female nudes — GoodShit for example — on any day of the week and count the number of young lovelies who are in, or near, or covered with water.

And so I suppose it is hardly an accident also that some odd person like me might drive the metaphor into a more literal sort of fantasy…