‘Never believe anything a man says when he is sexually aroused. Lust is a morally blind motivator.’
Simeon Stain is having a dinner party. The host, a 54 year old bachelor with a shock of grey hair and a thin moustache, sits at the top of the table. A tireless autodidact, he devours the latest scientific literature from the fields of psychology, neuroscience, sociology, evolutionary biology and behavioural economics. Human nature is his obsession. Though much is beyond his comprehension, he relishes the discovery of new topics for debate and his parties pulse with passionate discourse.
There are seven guests tonight: Martha, an old friend endowed with immense intellect and a wicked sense of humour. She is in the midst of her second divorce; Marvin and Jenny, work colleagues one month into a new courtship; Sandy and Roger, friends from university, married for thirty-three years. Prim, proper, and protestant, they bring some decorum to the affair; Finally, Jacqui and Karl, drunken lushes who seize upon any opportunity to escape their children and themselves.
It’s 11pm and the guests have been drinking wine for four hours.
‘Morally blind perhaps Simeon, but necessary nonetheless’ Martha says.
‘I mean, how else are we to get together without the sparks of sexual attraction spurring us on’.
‘I agree of course Martha’ Simeon replies swiftly.
He twirls his moustache as he speaks, scanning his guests for reactions of disgust or disagreement. When he finds either, he continues his point staring directly at the offended party.
‘It is wrong, however’ Simeon continues ‘to attach any significance to such a fitful, impersonal impulse’.
‘Impersonal? Come on Simeon’ Marvin interjects. ‘We can’t help who we’re attracted to’. He smiles smugly, and Jenny kisses him on the cheek, marking her approval.
‘Oh spare me Marvin!’ Martha says. ‘Next thing you’ll be claiming that Fate brought you two together!’
‘Well maybe it did’ Jenny says. She and Marvin share a long, tender kiss.
‘God new lovers are obnoxious!’ Simeon spits.
His words fail to penetrate their bubble of serene certainty. The rush of romance combines with the self-righteousness of drunkenness to shield them from cynicism and doubt. They smile in concert and continue kissing.
‘Oh Simeon. Has single life made you so contemptuous of lovers?’ Sandy says, holding her wine glass lightly between her index finger and her thumb.
‘I mean, with that attitude, you’ll never find your soul mate. You’ll scare her away!’
‘What are soul mates exactly Sandy?’ he replies.
‘Kindred spirits’ she shoots back.
‘Another vague, nonsensical term. Explain to me how it works, really’.
‘Well…I don’t know Simeon. It’s a mystery. Soul mates find each other, or they don’t, I suppose. Roger and I were lucky enough to…’
‘AH HA HA HA HA HA HA’ Martha cackles, banging her hand on the table, rattling the multicoloured bracelets on her wrist.
‘Oh grow up Sandy!’ she says. Her lips and tongue are stained by red wine, giving her a sinister appearance.
‘Well excuse me Martha! Some of us can keep our marriages going!’ Sandy replies.
Simeon contorts his face as if he has just seen an open wound. He looks at Martha who locks her gaze on Sandy.
‘MY SHOES ARE SOLE MATES!’ slurs Karl. ‘LOOK!’ He tries in vain to take his shoes off and in doing so tips his chair backwards, falling slowly to the floor. Jacqui laughs uproariously.
‘Get up you idiot!’ she shouts, standing up to help him. She feels a sudden rush of nausea and staggers out of the room with a look of alarm.
‘Oh Karl’ Simeon says.
‘Just gonna sleep here for a bit’ Karl replies.
Martha hasn’t broken her stare. She stands up and claps her hands.
‘Come on everyone, let’s all give Sandy and Roger a round of applause’.
‘Martha’ Simeon says.
‘Raise your glasses’ Martha continues ‘to the most wonderful couple in the world, just perfect in every way. To the soul mates, Sandy and Roger!’
She raises her glass and drinks the contents in one gulp.
‘Martha, please’ Simeon says firmly.
‘Oh can it Simeon!’ she replies. ‘Sandy, you really should join us in the real world sometime. It’s not as terrible as you think.’
She sits down and tops up her red wine. Sandy opens her mouth to reply but Martha continues. ‘Roger used to have a personality before he met you. Look at him now, submissive and pandering, like a bloody lap dog!’
‘How dare you! He can speak for himself.’ Sandy replies, nudging Roger with her elbow. ‘Roger. Roger!’
‘I’d rather not Dear.’ Roger replies gently. ‘It’s getting late, maybe we should go’.
‘What? Because of her? No!’
‘Please Dear. We’ve an early start tomorrow’.
Sandy relents and the couple slide their chairs out.
‘I’ll get your jackets guys’ Simeon says with a look of defeat.
Sandy stares at Martha, who stirs her wine with her middle finger and looks down.
‘I feel sorry for you Martha. All that hatred eating away at you’.
As the couple leave, Martha takes her middle finger out of the wine, sucks it and raises it to the door.
Simeon is waiting with their jackets.
‘I’m sorry guys’ he says.
‘Martha is out of line Simeon’ Sandy says.
‘I know Sandy, I know. Goodnight guys.’
He rejoins the table and looks around. Marvin and Jenny are playing with each other under the table. Jacqui is vomiting violently in the toilet, now audible as Simeon has opened the living room door. Karl is resting on the floor.
‘I told you to go easy on the red wine Karl’ Simeon says.
‘Sole mates’ Karl whispers, sniggering to himself as he falls into a shallow sleep.
‘JACQUI’ Simeon shouts. ‘Are you ok? Karl is asleep on the floor again!’
‘Fuck off Simeon’ Jacqui replies. Her voice is echoed slightly.
He looks at the lovers. ‘Marvin, Jenny. Take the spare room’.
‘Thanks Simeon’ they say together. They race upstairs and several thumps and bangs are heard below. Excited yelps and long groans follow.
Martha looks at Simeon.
‘Alone again, naturally’ he sings.
‘Why are people so boring and predictable Simeon?’
‘Creatures of habit I suppose’.
‘Creatures of stagnation’ she replies.
‘Maybe. But changing is hard. The fear of losing what you have is far more powerful than the desire for change, in most people. When you’ve invested so much time and energy into something, it feels wrong to throw it away, even though your life would improve if you did.’
‘I suppose you’re right. Leaving Jim was difficult. I got used to bottling up my frustration. He’d snap any time I tried to talk to him about us. He wanted a quiet servant, not a wife.’
‘It took great courage to leave Martha, particularly with his family.’
‘Oh god, they were a nightmare. When we split, his daughters took to Facebook to air their grievances. Nancy wrote a blog post called ‘The Many Moods of Martha’. My curiosity got the better of me and…’
‘You didn’t read it.’
‘I did. Stupid, I know. A tirade of things I never did for them, speculations that my weekends away with the girls were actually affairs. Just awful Simeon’.
‘I’m sorry Martha.’
‘I get so down when I see people in relationships that smother their potential.’
‘Perhaps you see more potential than they see in themselves?’
‘Maybe’. She smiles.
‘Another glass?’ Simeon asks, picking up the wine bottle.
‘No thanks. Fancy a fuck?’
‘I’d love one’.
Stardust .. “The atoms of our bodies are traceable to stars that manufactured them in their cores and exploded these enriched ingredients across our galaxy, billions of years ago. For this reason, we are biologically connected to every other living thing in the world. We are chemically connected to all molecules on Earth. And we are atomically connected to all atoms in the universe. We are not figuratively, but literally stardust.” ~ (Neil deGrasse Tyson)
Traffic in the city
Traffic in my head
Everybody needs some rest
Gotta look pretty instead.
Coffee in the city
Caffeine in my brain
Always on time for pleasure
Don’t have any time for pain.
Imprisoned by personality,
Is it in my nature to change
Or does change nurture my nature?
Is freedom a feeling confused
With forgotten habits reused?
Am I to blame for the paths in my brain
Laid down by genes and derelict dreams?
Who is the person you see?
Has he always been me?
Happy Birthday, Neil Postman, born 8 March 1931, died 5 October 2003
- What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy. As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny ‘failed to take into account man’s almost infinite appetite for distractions’. In 1984, Huxley added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we hate will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us.
- In Russia, writers with serious grievances are arrested, while in America they are merely featured on television talk shows, where all that is arrested is their development.
- The reader must come armed , in a serious state of intellectual readiness. This is not easy because he comes to the text alone. In reading, one’s responses are isolated, one’s intellect thrown back on its own resources. To be confronted by the cold abstractions of printed sentences is to look upon language bare, without the assistance of either beauty or community. Thus, reading is by its nature a serious business. It is also, of course, an essentially rational activity.
Postman was an American author, media theorist and cultural critic, who is best known by the general public for his 1985 book about television, Amusing Ourselves to Death. For more than forty years, he was associated with New York University.
Long Story Short: You stole my art, used it for commercial purposes, and won’t even respond to my polite inquiries.
Financial and legal complications aside, I hope you understand…
Born of grief,
Forged in fear,
Clouds the truth,
Mind of youth.
Feeds the root,
Poisoning the fruit.