Nathan Hamel is a 27-year-old human male, though originally of Liverpudlian provenance, now residing in Prague. He had the perfect fortune to study what he wanted at the University of Glasgow for a bit, moved to France to be mostly idle for a space, and then concluded his autobiography by moving to the Czech Republic. He now divides his time between frequenting moral dens of public iniquity and private vice, and re-reading Agatha Christie novels. He has never ridden a horse, nor been skiing, which he regards as both an injustice and a topic of conversation fit for relative strangers.
One Week of No Consequence
Well, it was one of those bits of performative philosophy, set out in moderately poetical prose. I could hardly approve of such rot deep down, in my heart, but one never likes to say so, does one? Well, the piece itself rather feted the idea of criticism for the sake of the same, but one never feels certain with these performatively self-contradictory pieces – one would not like to be accused of a lack of comprehension. Of course, in most such cases, the lack of comprehension can go without saying – insofar as authorial intent can be said to stretch – but one never likes the fact to become apparent. The situation is rather akin to when one’s lover is telling one about something; feigning an interest (or, in the other case, an understanding) is absolutely of the essence; they can be spared the truth.
This is all beside the point, but one does start to become a bit windy when bewildered. The point (aforementioned) is this:
Bothering respectable tax-payers over their breakfasts with post-feminist philosophical conjurations is absolutely over the limit. Personally, I like nothing more strenuous than to review some of my correspondence, while reanimating the mortal coil with caffeine and bacon. But this preference, alas, was not extended this very morning to myself – one of the perils of being affianced to a brilliant and celebrated academic: potential discomfort in the morning. Of course, one never admits it.
“Oh, ah, brilliant, what? Notionally seminal, I would venture” – no-one has ever known the meaning of this word, in my opinion.
“Ooh, Crispin, you could at least offer even the vaguest insight”, thus spake the Love of my Life.
“I consider it seminal!”, I probably lied. “I am sorry, Olivia, but I absolutely must start writing those e-mails.”
This last was an objective falsehood; my employment was computer-rubbish (technically termed ‘HR’), which everyone knows is painfully sedentary. But my handsome academic mistress was never going to dirty her existence by showing any interest in anything of the kind, so I could dissemble fairly confidently.
I shall not endeavour to describe any of the computer-rubbish. I do not care, and frankly, neither should you. I might take the opportunity to mention that this is not an attempt at any beastly spot of neo-Realism – nor, for that matter, an epic in Romance or anything pre-, post- or trans-modern. It is what I would refer to as a ‘petty diversion’, and I would like it to be treated as such – not censured for failing to do things it was never intended to. Moral edification derived from the same is, naturally, inevitable – but please keep this to yourself.
No. There was a spell of work, likely a lunch, more work, and then the pub.
Ay, there’s the pub, what?
I met my charming intimate, Rupert, chez the pub. I do most days, in fact. Indeed, whenever I want hold of the beast, I go the pub. One would readily suspect the Devil of having, as they say, no fixed abode (despite the obvious contradiction; he is always there), had he not reassured me frequently that he was possessed of a flat, and even a petite copine – this latter abusing one’s credulity, but one manages to dissemble on such occasions. Anyway, there he was, breathing deeply into his glass. I hailed him:
“Rupert, you unworthy pissant!”
“Crispin, sit down, you worm!”
I could see that my intimate’s countenance had a flavour of the Dostoevskian about it – that is to say, something of the Long Dark Night of the Sleep of Reason. I requested that he lay his guts at my feet instanter.
“Yes, well, I suppose I might as well, Crispin, you foul blot. You remember this Love of my Life?”
“Glorifannia, wasn’t it?”
“The very same.”
“Always sounded to me rather like a United State, what?”
“Shut up, you pest.”
“Sorry, old thing – continue.”
“Well, anyway, Glorifannia has taken into her head the notion that I should become a writer.”
“Why?” This surprised me – Rupert, in my esteemed opinion, being the sort to know and discourage Shakespeare, rather than play at wordsmithery. As far as I recall, he does not approve of poetry – says it’s morally corrosive or something.
“She tells me she has always been terribly attracted to Goethe and the rest of them.”
“The implication, then, is that she would like to be more attracted to you?”
“Well, Crispin, you loathsome relic, that was the very conclusion I was attempting not to come to.”
“Sorry, old beast. Have you written anything to speak of?”
“I have. I’m not sure it’s as wretched as one would expect…”
I can read between the lines.
“Would you read it me?”
“Are you sure? I could certainly want a critical sort of ear to bend.”
“Read on, old horse.”
“It needs filling out somewhat.”
“Brevity is the soul of writing, in my opinion.”
“Well,” he began “Winters were long and hard on the farm, and Martha’s hands were warm only when she milked Methuselah, their single cow, well past adulthood, but still a dearly cherished member of the family – a family by the name of Churnerford, comprised of Martha, her two brothers, Winford and Hartlepool, and their eternally-ill but adored mother, Chastity Belt. And when Methuselah died of solitude, poor mother Chastity Belt’s heart broke so that she also did not live to see ever again Summer on the Plains. Winford and Hartlepool left to pursue an urban life of smuggling casinos for the Jewish banking mafia. And Martha lived to see her eightieth year – but her hands had never been warm since Methuselah’s death.”
This I had not been expecting. My mind had to spring to its feet pretty bloody quickly to make out any response to this.
“Seminal, old thing – absolutely seminal.”
“You think the religious imagery is evident?”
“You think Glorifannia will now find me irresistible?”
Here, I was forced to fly into his ointment.
“The term, la petite mort, comes sadly to mind.”
“Put that in proper man’s drinking English, would you, you cur?”
“I mean to say that, having achieved her desire, your Glorifannia might find herself even more despondent than previously.”
“Oscar Wilde’s mother, you mean?”
“Almost, old wheeze – his tragedy.”
“Well, what would you suggest then?”
“I think Freud, or one of them, would say the urge on her part was – forgive me – primarily sexual.”
He grunted here, my Rupert. I continued:
“I might propose some more adventurous, exploratory Biblical activities.”
He looked pained – and who would not?
“Crispin, I know you are right, but what on Earth could that entail, you savage?”
“I am not in a position to divulge such distasteful information, old fruit – terribly sorry.”
“I’ll do some research – there must be something of the sort in the library, what?”
“Steer well clear of le divin Marquis would be my advice.”
We sat listing some of the more libidinous writers for some time. When we got to Matthew Lewis, I felt we were getting upsettingly close to Sadism, so I introduced a more novel Leitmotif: my own breakfast.
“You know my Olivia?”
“I have had the pleasure.”
“To make her acquaintance, I mean.”
“Right… Well, anyway, she handed me this document over breakfast.”
“And you read it?”
“I did. She handed me this thing, Rupert, full of declarations and commands and evocations, and all the rest of it – rather like Helene Cixous, except I was eating bacon. Anyway, she was less than pleased when I gave as positive a criticism as I could manage under the circumstances. What is one to do?”
“I don’t want her to think I’m of sub-normal intelligence.”
“Have you considered writing a response?”
“Rupert, I could barely read the thing, never mind write it.”
“Maybe pretend to take a long time over the next one – it will probably seem like you’re particularly interested, and even striving to get a very serious command of the text, what?”
“Rupert, old sting, that is rather good.”
“Of course it is, Crispin, you filthy whelp.”
We might leave that conversation there – it became somewhat more rambling in tone thereafter. Leaves were taken – you know what happens of an evening, I would imagine. Come the next morning, unreplete of events worthy of relation, other than that this Olivia of my Life was feeling moderately frosty towards me – one imputes a measure of displeasure (ahem) lingering after my attempt to praise her work without denigrating myself in her eyes. Women are sometimes like that; they remember things even hours after they have already happened. Anyway, a day intervened, and Our Olivia of Sorrows handed me another printed sheet of diatribe against, for and against-for whatever it is she always argues about. Advice was thundering all about me. I informed this Love of Mine that I would re-read the piece when I had better leisure to do so.
Well, anyway, not to beat too much about the thing, this is indeed what I did. I then approached My Heart’s Darling with the papers, covered liberally in underlings and asterisks, and I asked what sounded to me like they might have been insightful questions. When she answered, I took on the appearance of one deeply concerned and interested in the new information. Another excellent ploy was to place my index finger to my lips, furrow my brow in affected concentration, and then ask what she meant by a specific word.
This approach was successful to the point of immoderation.
Anyway, I thought I might inflict a visitation upon the local public house that evening. My good Rupert was precisely where I had left him, and this Olivia of Mine, so taken with my newly refined literary sense, had decided she would join us also for a short while: a tête-à-tête-à-tête. Greetings were exchanged, acquaintances renewed – the usual rot. I asked this Rupert about his Glorifannia.
“Well, Crispin, you perfect nightmare, it did not go off quite so well as one might have been expected to hope.”
“Oh?”, I, all eloquence.
“Present company accepted as such”, he gestured at the Love of my Life here “I shall attempt a measure of discretion.”
We let him continue:
“I am not generally a man shy of his own passions when confronted with the Love Cave, un-Orthodox though it may be”.
“Cave?”, Olivia inquired, after rather a foolhardy sort of fashion.
“Um”, faltered this Rupert “you know, man, woman and all that? Well this is the situation in which the given gentleman places his Love Baton into the Love Cave of the respective gentlewoman.”
“That”, he answered, reasonably enough “would be the Orthodox method.”
“Fellatio”, my Olivia ultimately divined.
“Yes, well, anyway”, he, unabated “there I was, you know. And so was she. And, as I say, not a man to blanch. But at the same time, here was she, inviting Baton into neither Cave nor Tunnel, but into her Love Alley. And well, I mean to say, but I scarcely knew how to respond.”
At this point in the ‘conversation’, I upended my glass and availed us of further refreshment.
“Tell us more about your writing experiments, Rupert, darling” I said, attempting a futile measure of diversion. As you will see, it was to no veils (never understood that turn of frays).
“I thought I might pen a science fiction”, he said, as if he had invented the term.
“Go on, old thing”, we encouraged him.
“I’m going to call the thing Hyper-Sex”, he warned. “There’s going to be this new type of technology that develops by machine-learning, right, and this will create a new kind of pornography that learns the viewer’s desires, preferences and whatever else, you know. And it’ll show these things to you. But then naturally there is a high incidence of the programme showing the viewer having sex with their own mother – not too much fuss, kind of prophesied, few crude jokes in the press, etc.. But then the interesting bit: the machine learns to show the viewer violently raping himself. Then these religious onanistic cults form, you know, communal, mutual masturbation sort of thing, with the machine and everything. And then they commit suicide at the zenith of a solar eclipse.”
At this point, the Light of my Loins and Fire of my Life decided she would prefer her own company for the remainder of the evening. I had personally never entertained the vaguest of suppositions that this Rupert of my long intimacy was such a lurid pervert – the thing was rather enlightening, though I was scared to probe it. Instead, I decided to offer him the result of my most recent amourous disaster:
“Your advice, Rupert, old thing, regarding philosophy in the morning, has proved catastrophically effective.”
“Oh?” he asked.
“I have now been officially promoted to the role of Official Scribble Checker.”
“I am sorry, you ungrateful beast.”
“You bloody should be – how am I to keep this up?”
Reader, I did not.
Within two imperial weeks, the engagement was nullified. Much the same happened to this Rupert and his Glorifannia. I was permitted not to have to hear the details, you will be pleased to learn.
Subsequently, we settled both of us our Desires on the same Sacred Object. Her name was Lusitania, but it need not matter; she wanted to know neither of us. In the event, of course, this was of little moment; Rupert and myself are no longer on speaking terms. But that need not trouble you either; it has been over ten metric hours since the rift occurred, and I would venture to say that said rift has healed itself during the afore-specified interim. So as soon as I have finished computing for the day, I shall likely meet the beast chez the pub as if none of this had occurred.
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By In Parentheses in IP Volume 7
32 pages, published 1/15/2022
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80 pages, published 10/15/2020