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Odysseus Returns

This is how bodies are changed into different bodies.

—Ovid

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

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