Odysseus Returns

This is how bodies are changed into different bodies.


What could capture our attention in the oft-told tale of an old warrior and honest liar chancing anew upon his own home and wife after an odyssey of twenty years?  What could yet titillate us or move us amidst these anterooms and courtyards of suitors who have beset or besotted the aging beauty?

Can we lure away a reader who comes to these pages for an accounting of the malfeasance of such scoundrels and functionaries as are accounted leaders, a reader glutted on plaint and remonstrance on the one hand (“Mr. O’Bama disappointed me” as a surprise outcome!) and on the other the witless confessional poop of web blogs, trough after trough into which the snout of the hapless reader is directed as if to a virtue?   ’Bloid, in short, and ’blog.  The dull repetition of “news” as the ship of state takes on rats and bilge, an acceptable waterline hastily re-painted higher onto the hull each time as if it were a real horizon of possibility and hope rather than lipstick on a pig.  Amidships already awash.  Yet is not CP an island of sorts in this sea of fools and castaways?

Howdy, reader.  David Ker Thomson here.  Coming at you with today’s bottom story.

“Ha ha, Daddy said ‘see pee’,” says Liam, who’s older than the comment might lead you to believe.  He’s about four feet tall but is studying the Greek language and is an expert on gods (Greek) and flaws (tragic).

Howdy, I was saying.  Longtime readers will note that we’re up to our old tricks, including getting rid of readers (in our first couple of paragraphs) who are the choir of the converted, dropping quantity of “hits” in favor of hits of a certain sort, insulting whoever needs it most, employing a “we” that turns out not to be royal but must encompass, at the least, the three billion of us who neither vote nor ratify the system in any way.

“Have you done it Greek style with her?” my poet Sam asks me, by way of throwing down a certain gauntlet and not others.

Less fascinated by the sober antics of any leader or ’conomy than by the status of my own buttocks as the Scylla and Charabdis serving as markers of an inward voyage, I turn a certain cheeky otherness upon Sam’s comment.

“That’d do it, you think?” I say, letting the question itself serve as an implied negative about whether I’ve already done it.  The ’whipped man considering alternatives to his sin of uxory, so far from luxury and usury.

The paradox of my love needing me to corral her by freeing her with a negative (Thou Shalt Have No Other Mangod Before Me) has lain on the table between Sam and me, as it has between my love and me these two decades, and I’ve summoned a vision of her across these decades with the men flotsam’d and jetsam’d at the high-water mark of her inchoate desires—island metaphor—or with the men lapping gently up the stairs in a tableaux suggesting without precisely naming the bedroom—flood, dog, and house metaphor, at the least.  Suitors.  Suitsters.  Pseuders.

“As you wish, my love,” I’ve always said.  But what if her wish is that I block her wish?

If you love someone, let them go’s been the prime mandate,” I’ve been telling Sam, and Greek’s his best shot at a resolution to the paradox.  At the top of the stairs, shifting by turns to the lead of the line of suitors, are the aging karate master and literary theorist ($110K/year, house purchased before run-up in prices, no kids) and another, un-named, but who my friends tell me is even less fair of countenance.  He is a richer version of the first suitor (possibly a dean or similar suit, three kids, makes “considerably more” than the $150K I’d tendered as a gambit).  I’m taken, or taken up, by the notion of using Trojans to do it Greek.  World’s only horned man dons a Trojan and mounts in a resolute way that resolves the paradox?  She wants me—commands me—to command her not to.  My command would be, would always have been, in this sense, prophylactic, a protection for her, the security without which the project turns to ruin, like a defenestrated Faulknerian mansion drenched in wisteria and regret.  Thwarting her was always going to be the only way to save her.  That’s her side.  Are there sides, or merely a welter of facets?

“You haven’t…been here,” she says.  An odd comment directed at a man who’s never precisely left, but it makes sense, or the sense of the paradox of law, of the Law.  The Law eschewed.  “Tell me not to,” she says, or seems to have said repeatedly, but with the inflections of a nuance varied enough as to be almost esoteric.  “You’ve been out on the street, fighting your…battles.”  And immersed in your raucus pleasures, she’ll imply later.  My way of being on the street: open, ‘American’, jape-prone, boisterous, not at all like her measured European way in the world.  My project the self and its body as a test case for the ‘political’, if such a word had not been stolen and diminished by the electoralists.

As a last-ditch effort (and what is a ditch if not the concavity of envagination or—more thrilling and humiliating—a version of the anus and its retentiveness?) I send her pics from a fellow writer at CP who advocates spanking for pleasure.  The photos have dislodged something in me, moved it out into the world, enabled an inspection, like the way pleasure is in line at the airport but only shows up on the vids that display everyone’s privates as a “security” procedure.  Security is precisely what has been lacking in the exchange of stuff for pleasures that passes for our marriage, for all marriage in the mode of love.  Could a swift and compelling inversion (“Greek style”) break through the paradox of loving, leaving, giving leave to love?  “Without so much as a ‘by your leave’,” as my mother used to say.

If it’s a marriage we’ve had, bottom lines lurk in the turvey and topsey of our explorations in manwork and womanwork, marriage as sexwork, my “not” working or working only with children and lines of poetry and essays unpaid to ensure their honesty, my refusal to brown my nose between the Gibraltar and Morocco of deanly expectation, my being a bottom rather than a top lover, a mucker, a gravedigger, a Digger, a Ranter, an exhumer: brave Odysseus by day, by night fetal-position’d and given to bouts of agreement with assessments that I’ve been at pains to sabotage my much-vaunted career—gnashville, in short, and weepings.  The leisure of regret after having married the academy in haste).  The suitors are ever ready to underscore our experiment with their own bottom lines.  And so on.  Plaint?  Boon?  Who knows what may yet happen in the general fuckfest sparked to life by sporadically entertained gods?  I write in the daylight, and so am optimistic.

“And CounterPunch,” she says.  No more recrimination than that, but its bottom line as an egg round as zero and unsuit’d to line a nest has been hinted at fully many a time.  Its island sanctuary qualities unremarked.

Is this my wife?  This my house?  This the seven-foot-tall insulated solar belvedere fang I built on “our” roof?  Who could know for sure, after such a lapse, and with such fickle gods?

Of the world of illusion, one can never speak definitively.  But perhaps the following is a practical ontology, an expression of my true desire, what the Italian (after all) theorist Giorgio Agamben might call “bare life,” or perhaps the following is a final couplet in line with those of that trickster Shakespeare:

A certain sort of hits in a certain sort of autumn.
This last line here, this is my bottom.

David Ker Thomson lives in The Greatest Lake Bioregion.  dave.thomson@utoronto.ca

More articles by:
March 19, 2018
Patrick Cockburn
The Fall of Afrin and the Next Phase of the Syrian War
Nick Pemberton
The Democrats Can’t Save Us
Nomi Prins 
Jared Kushner, RIP: a Political Obituary for the President’s Son-in-Law
Georgina Downs
The Double Standards and Hypocrisy of the UK Government Over the ‘Nerve Agent’ Spy Poisoning
Dean Baker
Trump and the Federal Reserve
Colin Todhunter
The Strategy of Tension Towards Russia and the Push to Nuclear War
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
US Empire on Decline
Ralph Nader
Ahoy America, Give Trump a Taste of His Own Medicine Starting on Trump Imitation Day
Robert Dodge
Eliminate Nuclear Weapons by Divesting from Them
Laura Finley
Shame on You, Katy Perry
Weekend Edition
March 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Michael Uhl
The Tip of the Iceberg: My Lai Fifty Years On
Bruce E. Levine
School Shootings: Who to Listen to Instead of Mainstream Shrinks
Mel Goodman
Caveat Emptor: MSNBC and CNN Use CIA Apologists for False Commentary
Paul Street
The Obama Presidency Gets Some Early High Historiography
Kathy Deacon
Me, My Parents and Red Scares Long Gone
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Rexless Abandon
Andrew Levine
Good Enemies Are Hard To Find: Therefore Worry
Jim Kavanagh
What to Expect From a Trump / Kim Summit
Ron Jacobs
Trump and His Tariffs
Joshua Frank
Drenched in Crude: It’s an Oil Free For All, But That’s Not a New Thing
Gary Leupp
What If There Was No Collusion?
Matthew Stevenson
Why Vietnam Still Matters: Bernard Fall Dies on the Street Without Joy
Robert Fantina
Bad to Worse: Tillerson, Pompeo and Haspel
Brian Cloughley
Be Prepared, Iran, Because They Want to Destroy You
Richard Moser
What is Organizing?
Scott McLarty
Working Americans Need Independent Politics
Rohullah Naderi
American Gun Violence From an Afghan Perspective
Sharmini Peries - Michael Hudson
Why Trump’s Tariff Travesty Will Not Re-Industrialize the US
Ted Rall
Democrats Should Run on Impeachment
Robert Fisk
Will We Ever See Al Jazeera’s Investigation Into the Israel Lobby?
Kristine Mattis
Superunknown: Scientific Integrity Within the Academic and Media Industrial Complexes
John W. Whitehead
Say No to “Hardening” the Schools with Zero Tolerance Policies and Gun-Toting Cops
Edward Hunt
UN: US Attack On Syrian Civilians Violated International Law
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Iraq Outside History
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: The Long Hard Road
Victor Grossman
Germany: New Faces, Old Policies
Medea Benjamin - Nicolas J. S. Davies
The Iraq Death Toll 15 Years After the US Invasion
Binoy Kampmark
Amazon’s Initiative: Digital Assistants, Home Surveillance and Data
Chuck Collins
Business Leaders Agree: Inequality Hurts The Bottom Line
Jill Richardson
What We Talk About When We Talk About “Free Trade”
Eric Lerner – Jay Arena
A Spark to a Wider Fire: Movement Against Immigrant Detention in New Jersey
Negin Owliaei
Teachers Deserve a Raise: Here’s How to Fund It
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
What to Do at the End of the World? Interview with Climate Crisis Activist, Kevin Hester
Kevin Proescholdt
Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke Attacks America’s Wilderness
Franklin Lamb
Syrian War Crimes Tribunals Around the Corner