Saturday, December 18, 2004

The Drowning of Male Sexuality

The sun is in a swathe of blue sky flanked by grey clouds, very low down although it's near midday, for this is winter. Its beautiful, beautiful light is swooping down to brighten a patch of my small lawn, and green, green, green in spring shades bounces into my head. My eyes are seized by the clarity and content, and gratefully, almost worshipfully, my brain picks out each blade of grass, following and tracing their detailled lines.

Towards the open ground on the Flats, there is enough blue that the bare London Plane trees stand their magnificence against it, their pale upright limbs reaching upwards with obvious grace. Again, my brain launches forth, like a hawk released, seeking out visual sustenance in the distance, and the flush running into my body tells me that I am at last being resuscitated.

Love myself, I had said. Don't wait. Find yourself a cure. Perhaps some sophisticated classical music, instead of the usual XFM, Virgin, or Magic? Radio 3 even? So Maracas accompanied me to the windows.

Seventeen hours I was prostrated on the sofa, with a TV as my only nursemaid, and many forages into the kitchen in unsuccessful attempts to push life back into myself, but few trips to the bathroom to push the death out. And my stomach all the time feeling mildly cramped, as though it were stuffed with garlic-flavoured lead and strangled by cling-film. I felt somewhat ill, but this does not yet count as being sick. This was not caused by food, I don't think. It may have been the bug that was hovering in me all week, augmented by ones met in my forced occupation of public transportation and workplace. Or it may have been true neurosis, or psychosomatic magnification of a genuine pathogenic disease by being a working person now.

For Day Three happened so quickly, that I fully reverted to the Life of the Office Worker that I used to live, accommodating it with habituated mechanisms learned over many years. Ones which came into operation without any opportunity for me to understand them or to consider their relevance. Prevention, is better than Cure, but they all clicked in before I could see which undesirable ones I might prevent. By the end of the day, familiar manifestations of the effects of how I habitually suffer working in an office, had appeared.

On the train home, opportunities for wandering off at intermediate stations are drowned by a desire to get home without any further ado. My face is in a mask of battery-chicken contentment, while my eyes cast about desperately for something to consume. It is dark already outside, of course, but thankfully there are a few handsome heads to admire. These are normal going-home times for working people, and these people still exist beyond Seven Kings. You see few of these handsome people in East London, especially if you're living in the world of the unemployed (the broader sense, e.g. including the sick and the elderly). And it's hard to believe that I ever had any heterosexual inclinations earlier in the year. These men I view today, as it ever was when I worked in an office, are the only visions that I can cling to until I get home. The women only seem to get in the way.

This is why I said it was a gay job. By the end of the day, I feel that I have so resoundingly repressed my sexual, physical animal self, that to rescue me from the human spiritual suffocation, I have no alternative but to BE GAY. To seek out the images of men who are stronger, and appear to be freely expressing their manly, masculine selves. Today's office culture is even more enforcedly unisexual than it was 20 years ago, whence sexual liberation was already de facto. But outside, today's social culture, I hate to say it, is a never-before-seen perversion where men and women are expected to deny their sexual differences. For men, this means drowning every molecular trace of their chest-beating, thrusting, warring, dominating, lustful selves. For women, it means the opposite.

Also, it's an office culture which has seen the full invasion and assimilation of computers. So you're more likely to spend the day staring at a computer screen, than by interacting with your colleagues to hunt down the goals of your socio-economic work tribe.

It's all draining to my soul, and I have to find a way to keep it all in perspective. The simplest ideal is to reduce the entire experience to the exchange of my time, for money - necessary money. In the meantime, I am now savouring the memory of me, working as a gardener in the height of summer, shirt off, sweaty and dirty, my brain in tune with every muscle in my body, driving around in a Transit tipper with the windows down and the radio blaring, and in the last redoubt of others who even more blatantly have refused the prissy pussification of our world. If only we could have more summer, and less winter.....

And aptly for my topic, those BBC/Guardian/Labour intellectuals have this week been wondering why binge-drinking has taken over British society. And for the time being, their solution is to stick more police in the boozy troublespots all over the country, especially for the Christmas drinking season. They never seem to think about basic human instincts, and the need to provide sustenance for them. How else can young people today come to terms with their animal selves, if they refuse to be contained in a cage of Xbox Playstation virtuality?

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