Sunday, October 14, 2012

Sex, Halloween Chess Sets, the Little Death

"Sometimes the skin comes off in sex. The people merge, skinless. The body loses its boundaries. We are each in these separate bodies; and then, with someone and not with someone else, the skin dissolves altogether; and what touches is unspeakably, grotesquely visceral, not inside language or conceptualization, not inside time; raw, blood and fat and muscle and bone, unmediated by form or formal limits.'

“My heart was open to you, says a man obsessively in love in the Face of Another by Kobo Abe, quite as if the front of it had been sliced away. This skinless sex is a fever, but fever is too small. It is obsession, but obsession is too psychological. It becomes life, and as such, it is a state of being, a metaphysical reality for those in it, for whom no one else exists. It ends when the skin comes back into being as a boundary.'

"Inside a person, sexual desire-or need or compulsion is sometimes experienced as a stigma, as if it marks the person, as if it can be seen; a great aura emanating from inside; an interior play of light and shadow, vitality and death, wanting and being used up; an identifying mark that is indelible; a badge of desire or experience; a sign that differentiates the individual carrying it, both attracting and repelling others, in the end isolating the marked one, who is destroyed by the intensity and ultimate hopelessness of a sexual calling.'

"Am I saying that I know more than men about fucking? Yes, I am. Not just different: more and better, deeper and wider, the way anyone used knows the user.'

"Sexual Intercourse is not intrinsically banal, though pop culture magazine like Esquire and Cosmopolitan would suggest that it is. It is intense, often desperate. The internal landscape is violent upheaval, a wild and ultimately cruel disregard of human individuality, a brazen, high-strung wanting that is absolute and imperishable, not attached to personality, no respecter of boundaries; ending not in sexual climax but in a human tragedy of failed relationships, vengeful bitterness in an aftermath of sexual heat, personality corroded by too much endurance of undesired, habitual intercourse, conflict, a wearing away of vitality in the numbness finally of habit or compulsion or the loneliness of separation.'
Shades of Grey chess set
"Having an interior life of wanting, needing, gives fucking human meaning in a human context. Being stigmatized by sex is being marked by its meaning in a human life of loneliness and imperfection, where some pain is indelible.'

"In Amerika, there is the nearly universal conviction or so it appears- that sex (fucking) is good and that liking it is right: morally right; a sign of human health; nearly a standard for citizenship.' 

"In fucking, one’s insides are on the line; and the fragile and unique intimacy of going for broke makes communion possible, in human reach—not transcendental and otherworldy, but an experience in flesh and love.'

I like this innocent set.  Especially the dogs.

"And crossing on that high and rotting and shaking bridge to identity, with whatever degree or quality of fear or courage is the ordeal that makes empathy possible: not a false sympathy of abstract self-indulgence, a liberal condescension, but a way of seeing others for what they are by seeing what their own lives have cost them."  --Andrea Dworkin

Andrea Dworkin is thus quoted over on Jennifer Shahade's website, link, compared against the "trite" prose of Fifty Shades of Grey and connected with the jailed band Pussy Riot and Garry Kasparov which in turn connects it yet again with chess and with Jennifer Dubois's amazingly good novel, A Partial History of Lost Causes, certainly one of the best novels of the year.

Fifty shades of Kevin Bacon.

Anyone attempting to read Fifty Shades of Grey might do better to read instead David Guy's The Autobiography of My Body.  I like the Dworkin quote too, but the mere physical merging pales beside the combined mind/body meld that true love brings.
Apparently they even make chess pieces out of candy corn.  The pawn's kind of bland but the bishop might serve.

When I was a kid, the available chess sets were all fairly standard.  I bought the first Napoleonic chess set I ever saw, with its knights on strikingly beautiful horses.  I still have it, and it remains my only chess set.  But I like to window shop.

Last year, I blogged about Stephen King's idea of the Halloween tarot (link), the trumps of which easily morph into chess sets, as can be seen with a casual stroll around the web and the pictures above.

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