I have seen a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines
Her beautiful souls (she has three) will have all flowed into my sea.
I put my arm around her shoulder twice. I squeezed her shoulder the second time and brushed her hair lightly with the palm of my hand, feeling a kind of ownership. In front of the book store, when I reached across with my hand and squeezed her shoulder, her eyes overflowed with her love, and I was shocked by the intense flow of electricity that poured through my arm intensifying my own feeling.
But she is playing games. And I am worried about her continual inability to confront strong emotion. At one point it became almost a giggling or hysteria. And her unwillingness to be open, even though she said she was more open with me than anyone else.
Is she playing with me COMPLETELY? Is she pretending to herself that she doesn't love me? And if so, what scenario will be played before this ends? Who is her "friend?" Is her father a "big shot?" Was she planning for me to take her to the DMV to pay her ticket so we could be alone in my car? Was SHE playing a seductive game that I was too dull to perceive? Is this all an inept charade played by a neurotic?
I feel only the deep currents; I am indifferent to the ocean spray, the surface. If I were a seducer, I would play on the surface. Well, it is clear that her seductive behavior is just the reflex behavior of a young woman whose ego is being flattered by my pursuit.
I'm afraid that she lets most of this dissipate, as everyone does. We all do usually. We remember moods; we select high points or low points, or block things out altogether. This kind of analysis is art, poetry, music, or pathology, obsession - bad art. Art enhances life. And what else is the meaning of an artist's existence. To beautify life, to enhance life with his work.
She said two things that damage my pride. She said that "later," I would laugh at my love, and I said no I would never laugh at it. And she said she would not have agreed to the meeting if she had known that it would be "like this." So my pride resolves never to seek her out again. And it is right. It is for her to love me. If she doesn't then none of this is possible. It becomes exceptionally clear that she must do everything and that I will all but avoid any contact with her, including a gradual forgetting of her, although I would like to give her something, something to take back to Iran as a permanent memory of me.
Recapitulation of Stendhal's seven stages of love:
1. Admiration; 2. One says to oneself 'What a pleasure', etc. 3. Hope; 4. Love is born; 5. The first crystallization; 6. Doubt is born; 7. Second crystallization. A year may elapse between 1 and 2, a month between 2 and 3; if hope does not come quickly, one renounces 2 imperceptibly, as causing too much unhappiness. Between 3 and 4 there is but the twinkling of an eye. There is no interval between 4 and 5. Only the degree of intimacy separates them. A few days, more or less, in accordance with the degree of impetuosity and the boldness of the individual, may elapse between 5 and 6, and there is no interval between 6 and 7.
I think I am more in control here than it seems (?). I mean to say that it is certainly impossible to be in control when in love, but I seem to be as much in control as possible!
I again, very quietly told her that I loved her, but I think only indirectly. I said, "I don't understand why my love doesn't draw a response from you, etc." I recall now that I DID say, directly, that I love her because she was surprised, she thought that I was joking the first time. So I don't love her, I can't love her. She is simply a coquette. I thought she was a kind of saint, but she is a hypocrite. I love Lamiel.
I want to love a beautiful character. It seems that a beautiful character reflects its harmony in the face, and that at my age it is possible to not see conventional beauty: the straight nose, the blond hair, the tall thin, large breasted gazelle of the Pepsi Generation. But if Soheila is a hypocrite, my vanity recoils and avenges itself on her physical defects: her Semitic nose, her nonexistent breasts, her small size, her blotchy skin.
She was wounded when I translated "gem" into "pretty stone," as if her heart has been called a stone before.
If I were a seducer, Don Juan instead of Werther!
Just as we were parting, I loved her for her passion. Her face was illuminated by love. Yet it was her very ugliness and her imperfections that fanned my passions. I loved her more for her Iranian ugliness: her ugly clothes, her flat chested, totally covered body, her white, almost blotchy complexion. She seemed like Heloise and I felt myself to be Abelard at the height of my powers, with this sweet flower all mine. The physical imperfections made her even more mine, alone, safe from any rivals.
But if I had been a seducer! Just as we were parting, after our 2 and a half hour long love dance, she said, "you just HAVE to say hello to me when you see me!" Saliva sprayed from her mouth and she said, "excuse me," and again I loved her silently and she basked in the love. I could have said, "only on one condition. I will only say hello if you allow me to kiss you goodbye." I could have insisted until she couldn't resist. But I had to come home to Judy and Andy, because I always have. A seducer wouldn't be so regular! They would be used to unexpected absences. But it is Lamiel that I want. I need the freely given love of a woman. I absolutely don't want to seduce this woman. I refuse.
When she says she doesn't know what love is, is she being a coquette? Is it her Persian veiled secrecy, the over two thousand years of slavery that are preparing some ugly revenge for me? Her crudeness shows itself in quick intense thrusts: she called the Arabs animals and said that women got what they deserved for believing them. That is when my love is withdrawn, her beauty becomes ugliness, her sweetness hypocrisy, impossibility.
Her brother has his own apartment. She said that he tells his sisters everything about his private life! Even things that would compromise him in his job! When I accused the Iranians of a terrible oppression of women, she seemed hardly to understand what I was talking about. How can I love this woman?
Conclusion: I inspired love in this Iranian animal, and I loved her in return. I created her; she is a catalyst for me. She is the projection of my need for ecstatic love, a need that is so easily led into foolishness. I am the Don Quixote of love. As Stendhal quotes from The Pirate: "That you should be made a fool of by a young woman, why, it is many an honest man's case." He puts this on the title page of On Love!
Cowardice: her father would never approve of a marriage to an American, and she would never consider anything outside of marriage. But she inspired my love. She drew it from my soul like music or wine, and now she is gone.
I don't hate her but I want to ignore, to look away. I declared my passion through tears suppressed only by her ridicule. Should I be in pain, defeated? I am European/American Civilization. She is the barbarian. Let the pagan suffer. She has met a civilized man. At 38 years old, I am at the height of my power. She can't resist me. For me she is nothing more than an Egyptian campaign, full of barbarians, Arabian nights, colorful tents, Cossacks.
The Iranian women are stunned by this. They look at me with new eyes. I will make them my Harem: Vida, Zohreh, Fatemeh….
But I have the flower of American woman
at my feet. The descendants of those
glorious pioneers: Indians, whores, gunslingers… THEY look at me with the most
tender eyes. The soul of
I am drinking wine, and listening to that incomparable Richard Strauss' Rosenkavlier on Koss headphones! At the pinnacle of civilization, at the height of my life and powers, intoxicated by it all.
In soberer tones -- but how can one be sober? We are rising into spheres of incomparable scope and beauty. Life is reaching unbearable intensity. Serious minds, sober men, men of old fashioned probity and gravity are saying things that would have sounded insane even to Paul Valéry in 1945! We are engineering bacteria to produce the proteins of life in limitless quantities. We are on the road to completely deciphering the genetic code. We can duplicate human beings. Hybrid species have already been created: it is possible to cross two different animals. A cross between man and ape could be done. We are seriously contemplating the possibility of extending the human life span indefinitely. Our electronic equipment, our computers, are leading us into a completely transformed world.
Soheila won't marry anyone who
hasn't been exposed to the American or European Civilization. But she wants an Iranian! Poor girl! Is
it only MEN who will steer out into the high seas? It always seems to be foreign men who marry
American women. The only exception seems
to be the oriental woman. Does woman
always have to feel superior to man in love, her domain? But we Americans! We don't love our women enough! I feel that I need space now for them. But I don’t understand why. I don't want to fuck myself to death, or swoon
in a harem. Sex may be necessary but
if I go to woman it is as a lover not a fucker.
I love them in many forms: the young hare lip, the two Latin ladies,
Donna, the Negress … yes, we can still use that word.
Well, I have come full circle back to her. Love has flown, but it hasn't flown. I sing with Apollinaire:
And I sang this air
In 1903 unaware
That if my love resembling
Morning sees it born anew
A year may elapse between admiration and one saying to oneself, "what pleasure," etc. and months between imagined pleasure and hope; if hope does not come quickly, one renounces ones imagination imperceptibly, as causing too much unhappiness.
There are so many willing, loving ladies.
But it is love and passion that really inspire them.
Soheila is a catalyst.
She will have to chase me again. I
said I wanted to see her. She said you can see me. "WILL I see you?"
"You can see me! You can see me, you can
I CAN'T love her as she wishes. I CAN'T marry her. She isn't strong enough or noble enough for me. No woman that I love will be afraid of disobeying her father, or "would never consider anything outside of marriage." I don't want her. She must want me. I love her that is enough. Everyone knows that I love her. She knows I love her. There is no doubt.
But that one word, doubt, remains for
HER. And yes, it is the green book that
she holds in her hands, the green book of Khomeini's sayings that will be the
PRETEXT for her tears and doubt. But
I will be the cause. Does she have the
courage to love me? Let her come tearfully
and in prayer to the shrine of me, and then I will truly love her!
God, if you have ears, hear my prayer.
She said, in the French conversation class, that if she went back to
I am sitting in a Jack in the Box "restaurant."
Hardly the place to think about love. That is
Well, I can't, or won’t, forget her. I haven't seen her for a week now. There are only two places where I can see her. I won’t go out of my way.
I feel hurt. I want to forget. I would like to do something bad. There are two American wenches here. They are incredibly crass, incredibly pretty. Incredibly low. I have to escape from that. It feels ugly, sinful, bad. I don't know what I want. I love -- a phantom. I hate ugliness. Soheila is beauty itself. A simple equation. I thought of her as my Elizabeth Barrett. Sleeping beauty, Brunhilda. Only I had the courage to enter the Ring of Fire and kiss her, only I was worthy of her love.
I need something real. I hate
The beautiful young married woman just
came over to my table and almost offered herself to me! She politely asked if I had an extra piece of
paper. Now she is busily writing something, probably a song. I am ashamed of myself for wanting to take her
home and fuck her. Why do I resist women
like that? Why don't I even
I think Soheila has served as a catalyst only, and as a teacher for me! It is another lesson -- as if I needed another lesson in “Love from a Distance.” Am I just regressing into childhood? Stendhal’s concept of crystallization, what is it? Has Alain really understood Stendhal?
I think it is my own personal beauty that has, paradoxically, got me into this mess. I KNOW, no, I really don't, I really WISH and SUSPECT that she loves me. Can I be so vain as to say to myself that I am incredibly beautiful? I don't mean that I am a "prime time," male model type. But I owe to the women who have loved me the knowledge of my -- yes I say incredible beauty because my mother never allowed me to feel it. When I was younger I felt ugly. Not until my late twenties did I begin to see that women consider me to be beautiful. Yet my looks are completely unfeminine. I was so stupid not to see the signs of admiration. I was so masculine. Looking back, I can see all of the furtive looks, the emotional reactions of certain women, reactions that I took for hostility! And the occasional extraordinarily beautiful woman who seemed to step out of character and come towards me. How I remember one in particular. She was twenty, blond, with dark, tanned skin, with eyes as beautiful as any I have ever looked into. I couldn't believe that she wanted me. I was afraid to ask her out on a date, certain of rejection. It was when I worked as a salesman for Montgomery Wards, almost 20 years ago. Yet she had every reason to love me. What a pain it is to think of my inept and stupid youth.
But I have always been an unknowing disciple of Stendhal in that I always recognize the sovereignty of the other in my love. I allow Soheila to be infinitely valuable and beautiful. Alain defines l’amour Stendhalien "as the need for the sublime, or if you will, by the need to admire."
Love can't be an obsession.
Alain: "It isn't a question here of an obsession of which one is not the master, an obsession which resides in the mechanical part of the mind, but of a completely opposite phenomenon: crystallization is willed and oriented towards an object. It never stops creating happiness, and its triumph is to bring to life that which it believes in"
That is why my despair is
Stendhal criticizes the French manner of falling in love-; which he thinks of as love of the indifferent or following what runs away.
Obviously I cannot allow myself to do that. But have I? Do I?
He is also very clear about not allowing this process to occur with a woman who is just a blank receptacle.
Is that what ONLY a foreign woman can allow me? Because I know American women too well to allow myself to be deceived by them?
It is a WILLED madness, a heroic MADNESS.
But have I only been OBSESSED with Soheila? I only thought about her occasionally until she left my life, until I didn't see her all last summer, and then after the fiasco in the Computer Architecture class last fall. I saw the bad side of her for the first time then. Am I simply ridiculous? But I am certain that I could forget her. As Alain says of Stendhal:
"The lover who is worthy of the name is in no way a slave. He is lord and master of himself beyond all limits, and in that way never ceases to give himself by an act of the will."
It is the opposite of being lovesick. Sickness is weakness. But the lover must be strong in his love, and invincible.
Alain calls this kind of love romantic (Romanesque) because it is outside of society and secret, etc.
Doesn't Islam require that the individual be related to the community in everything he does, through a strict set of rules, rules that limit the woman in everything concerning sex and love, while allowing the man virtual freedom in those areas? Hence for Soheila, love is necessarily romantic, or secretive, dangerous, outside of society. Is it true that for American women Romantic Love exists ONLY in adolescent fantasies because everything is allowed to her as an adult woman?
If I promise to be "good",
and love you only with my eyes, can I take you to lunch this Thursday?
If your religion and customs prevent you from expressing your love physically,
I am prepared to accept that. As you know, we in
I love you still,
Yet while something in me says that no woman could possibly resist such a letter, it is just as obvious that any woman, at least any American woman would be half-insulted and half-amazed that anyone could be reduced to such imbecility by love. But she isn't an American woman! I think that if she read the letter alone, or if I said that to her, she would understand, and know that it comes from my heart. But she wouldn't hold it in her heart. She would think, and begin to mount her defenses against me. She would end by convincing herself that she hates me and that I am a madman. So, that is why seduction is so much easier. But alas the rewards of seduction are so meager: it is so sad listening to the Arab Jamal assure me, almost nervously, that his American girlfriend let him do anything he wanted.
Is the Middle Eastern soul totally sensual, totally hypocritical, totally incapable of love?
I am curious, and a little playful. Why should I care if an Iranian woman thinks I am crazy? If my love can't soften her heart then I’ve failed, but if I don't try then I AM just a madman, a fool. Lamiel! I want Soheila to be Lamiel. Lamiel says, "I never lie, I never exaggerate." As Alain says of her, "this savage girl takes the veil for human love just as others do for divine love." Lamiel puts on anti-;makeup so that she won’t attract vanity love. If that is Soheila then I love her. If Soheila can't come to me and love me, if not with her words, at least with her eyes, then she isn't Lamiel, then she isn't worthy of me, then my love falls on barren ground.
I am restored -- for now.
Love is like a fever, it comes and goes without the will having any part in the process.
Is this the progress of a mad love? Or a mad passion? Is passion necessarily crazy?
She said that if she knew this was going to happen, she would not have met with me. She said that her father would never approve of marriage to an American. But I don't want to marry her. This is obviously impossible. She wants a conventional life. This is madness.
I am on the verge of forgetting her, or sending her a love letter! But she would share it with the entire Iranian community. Why can't I just fall in love with an American woman?
I have fallen into a middle class life, I am bored, etc.... On the surface it seems so obvious. Yet it is confusing. What is it that I am calling love?
A man with an extraordinary face got
up from the table across from mine and revealed the source of his strength:
a horrible limp, a nearly crippling limp. He was talking of
Today is Judy’s 50th birthday. Today I won’t go to class. I will try to avoid Soheila. Her girlfriend will tell her I wasn't there. I will begin composing a letter. No, not on Judy’s 50th birthday. I see an old lady at another table eating carrot cake. She reminds me of my mother. Hard, closed off from the world. I think of Stendhal's Octave. His mother is the only person in the world that he loves.
I don't want to hate her. Besides, I promised her I wouldn't. But I'm bored. There's nothing sensual in this. She is an ascetic. I think I first fell in love with her as she was walking past the cafeteria. She was overweight, wearing gray corduroys, a plaid shirt, and she had that mystical look on her face, sweet, sensual. It is a paradox. Mystics are always connected, in subterranean ways, to the erotic. I don't see any American women with that kind of intensity. She is an image of purity. A reflection of myself? When I called her a gem, she thought I said a Jim. I love her, but I (interesting slip) is impossible. I am not a seducer. She will have to come to me as she did the first time.
Enough. I compared myself with Napoleon. Always ready. The Taoist of action. But the corruption of Taoism is fatalism. In my own case, fatalism means sensuality. As my love for Soheila appears to be impossible, untenable, or ungrounded in her response, pure sensuality appears again-;-; of itself.
Destiny placed Soheila in my path. Chance threw her in my lap, whether she had a hand in it or not. But it is the will that seizes Chance. Certainly it is the will that loves. Love is active. Once my own active power of love proves itself impotent, then chance thrusts sensuality back again at the will as a kind of challenge.
If free will is a victory, fatalism is defeat. Life imposes the verdict: Soheila doesn't love me, even more, isn't worthy of me, therefore my being, my center reacts to a severe and serious defeat, and relives the earliest feelings of abandonment by my mother. I cried bitter tears in the realization that I couldn't have her. I haven't cried like that since I was a child, and never in front of Judy.
It was just one day later that I was grabbed sensually by a young girl. It occurred almost without my awareness. Her mother was a large sensual Latin-American woman in a summer dress. My appreciation of the mother was languid, slow, sure of itself, bored. She was only mildly aware of me in an old car. But her daughter was watching. She was no more than 9 or 10, but one of those beautiful dark haired girls who are prematurely obsessed with sex because their unmarried mothers are constantly thinking about it. They were stopped at a light, and the girl looked at me intently for seven or eight seconds two or three different times. Her mother was luscious, and the window was open. The girl was in the back seat with her head just behind her mother’s. My feelings were primitive but lazy, not passionate. As I was driving away, an old black man who was waiting for a bus cackled in my direction and seemed to throw a leering look at me that implied that I was openly lusting after the little girl. And then I remembered that I DID see the girl’s sexual desire. I watched her, and even encouraged her to feast on me while I feasted on her mother. The mother was our catalyst. Then at lunch, a pretty five-year-old began flirting with me, and I allowed her to literally pull a sensual response from me. But a five-year-old baby is incapable of anything but animal rubbing. For her, everything is amoral. Or rather it is good if it feels good and works, and it is bad if it doesn't. Yet how many women remain at that level! The queen of that kind of sensuality is the 8 or 9 year old, and the most torrid is the 5 year old. It is feminine sexuality in its most primitive form.
If sensuality is all that women are capable of giving men, if the money/flesh exchange is all there is, then it is clear that no "morality" will stop men (and women) from "abusing" children. Is my love a red rose offered in a hurricane, and absurd?
Tonight is Judy's 50th birthday. There is more irony than I can bear, or certainly, explain. After 10 years together. We are going to the best French restaurant in the city. Is my love simply a reaction against age? Diana is a 20-year-old baby who loves me. But I know I can't have her, she knows I am safe, I don't even try, and we just carry on a harmless flirtation. Isn't Soheila the same? She is 24 but certainly less mature than the American. Is it just a cultural misunderstanding? Yet my love is so strong. Love is stronger than death, yet in the modern world, that sounds like a joke. She thought I was joking when I told her that I loved her. I am in need of her. Why this stupid longing? Is the DIARY the reason?
The further away from this I get, the angrier I get. The more of my own self, my blind need, I see. I've wasted two years of my life loving a phantom. Just for an inferior work of art, a work of art that I am ashamed of. I've made a fool of myself to myself, to the world.
My imagination has overpowered me: if you see a spider on your clothing and you only THINK you brushed it off, you continue to imagine it crawling on you. Every itch, every twinge is a spider. How powerful the imagination is.