August 8th, 2008
“I could cite such eternally elusive mysteries as beauty, generosity, sexuality, insecurity, fidelity, jealousy, loneliness, and on and on, making sure not to leave out the wonderful tingling of two souls that we curiously call ‘chemistry’, and that the French, even more curiously, describe as avoir des atomes crochus, which means having atoms that are hooked together.” — Douglas Hofstatder in I am a Strange Loop.
Two years ago John Edwards and Rielle Hunter’s atoms crocheted, the upshot being today’s headlines. That this news is of urgency to the hundreds of millions beyond the Edwards/Hunter family circles is just another sad commentary on America’s Hooked-On-Values way of living. I should say way of living everybody else’s life.
John Edwards had an affair and apparently told his wife about it at the time. No reason to suspect otherwise, although lying is the norm — and may even be the right thing to do.
The thing that interests me is that the emotion, lust, is clearly chemical. And while it is useful to subdue it in most instances outside of one’s marriage, it is a bodily imperative. An appetite that can be overcome, but not ignored. An acceptable substitute, according to most non-religious family counselors, would be fantasy — either solo or a deux.
Consider another emotion. Anger. And with it, not the fight-or-flight syndrome, but just the fight side of things. You swing, kick, bite, whatever you have to do. In most households — unless it’s an everyday thing — it’s forgiven. Usually it’s encouraged, either actively or tacitly. I’m fine with that, too.
Now let’s think of the kind of man who wants to fight, but wants proxies to do the fighting. To make matters worse, he struts as though he bravely put himself in mortal danger. Well, we all know who that is. Nevertheless, we as a nation accepted it. One of our presidential candidates applauds it.
Can you imagine the pride we would have had if George W. had challenged Saddam Hussein to a fist fight? In the name of both national and personal honor. We would have rallied around him, cheered him. If he clobbered Saddam, we’d have been ecstatic. If Saddam had whipped him, we’d have admired W. for putting his own head on the block.
I don’t think anger was W’s operative emotion. I think it was disdain. The body language is different. Anger is whole body, disdain is simply a sneer.
Lust is, of course, whole body, too — but in America it has to be so much more disguised than the negative emotions.
How would George W. Bush give into lust for a woman other than his wife? Would he go out and fuck her? Or would he just send a nation of young people out to do his fucking for him?