I Fell in Love with a man from Mars

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I fell in love
with a man from Mars
once
He was ten feet tall
He was ten feet tall

The Earth would shake
when he took a step
or at least
that’s how it felt when you’re small
that’s how it felt when you’re small

The hair on his chest
was purple and blue
his nipples were green, his fingers gray
and I used to bite them all
and I used to bite them all

How I desired to take him to bed
to lay him down
and make him MY man from Mars
but he just wanted to visit the mall
but he just wanted to visit the mall

“Look at these prices and models!
Look at these colors and brands too!
You can’t find any of them at the Martian stores
These shoes won’t come out until next fall!
These shoes won’t come out until next fall!”

MY man from Mars liked to dance
He’d put on extra extra extra extra large pants
Turn the radio on, shake his hips in front of the mirror
And ask me to take him out to a ball
And ask me to take him out to a ball

He used to caress my little boyish face
and give me that stupid grin
all the rows of teeth out of place
How my heart flew when my name he would call
How my heart flew when my name he would call

When my enemies would see us pass
with their devouring eyes and their eagle sharp claws
I’d always shout, “Between us
there has never been a wall!
there has never been a wall!”

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What is Masturbation?

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This is the second in a series of articles called An Absurd Guide to Getting Your Heart Broken. You can read the first here. With any luck (or misfortune), it won’t be too long before another one comes out.

There’s too much crap out there. You practically have to shout obscenities to get someone’s attention.

MASTURBATION.

Sorry. I’ll explain if you stop rolling your eyes.

I know we don’t discuss this openly passed fifteen. Nobody wants to be the luckless loser stuck with their hand, but we shouldn’t let our embarrassment allow the moralists, the liberationists and the psychologists to rob us of some useful self-reflection while we’re giggling in the corner.

Go ahead and have a laugh first though. It is absurd: touching yourself and pretending it’s someone else. We work hard to convince ourselves of an external sexual “presence”. Nobody fantasizes about their own hand after all. Being alone isn’t erotic.

Masturbation demands an active imagination. Who is touching us, and what do they look like? Where are they doing what? How does it feel? …and now?

Careful or you’ll hurt yourself!!

Yet most of us are too lazy, impatient or distracted for this. Luckily there’s porn to recreate the experience of sex for us. Like a spell book, a wand or a genie in the bottle, porn magically conjures a champion to take us on a little adventure.

The sorcery is so effective we forget to question it, but we shouldn’t. Liking something we don’t understand is dangerous.

Partially recognizing this, we lock Rapunzel in a tower and lock Harry in a cupboard under the stairs, we keep Cinderella busy cleaning the house, and we scold Jack for playing with “magic beans” until they’re all of marrying age. Left alone they might blow themselves up. Or forget to eat. Rarely are we as impulsive as in our youth.

But rarely are we as pompous as in our adulthood, preventing candid reflection on one of life’s most commonplace absurdities. We’re all more ignorant than we ought to be.

What is this peculiar act? If masturbation were merely gross hedonistic pleasure-seeking, like a sweatier version of eating chocolate, we could masturbate while thinking about filing our taxes or getting our teeth cleaned. I know there’s a fetish for everything, but still that seems extreme.

Let’s look closer (STOP! Not that close!). First the individual excitedly anticipates the pleasure to come, allowing a disconnection from reality. Then during the act itself, the individual fully concentrates their creative energies on bringing to life the “sexual savior” and hearing the angels sing. Finally the individual returns to objective reality and realizes nothing has changed. There is no dragon defeated, no enlightenment, no minimal human interaction, just the same old dreary walls and a sweaty hand. Temporary disappointment or even guilt pervades.

The individual at peace with themselves can laugh and move on. It was fun; it was stupid. They have no regrets. But this emptiness can push others further into themselves on a quixotic quest for pleasure and away from a balanced vision of their own reality.

Masturbation and sex have much in common in this regard. The deed’s context clouds any “objective” sense of quality, because eroticism isn’t determined by crude physical desires but by a fear, rumbling around our intestines, that when the end comes, death will just shake his head at us out of pity or embarrassment.

We seek out the company of others, because we lack the perspective to judge the adequacy of our own lives. People don’t seem to understand us in a meaningful way. Doubts build. How can they assuage our fears if they can’t even see who we really are? Our words fail us. We lack eloquence, and they lack interest. The doubts remain. If only there were some way we could communicate to others our innermost being without all the confusions and misunderstandings.

This is when the erotic whispers in our ear that it knows a purer way to communicate, without any of the bullshit that normally hinders comprehension. We can finally have the much desired confirmation of our own existence’s legitimacy. All it takes is two nude bodies, intertwined, writhing. We scream. They scream. The joy is shared and therefore real. Through this mythical ideal, we no longer feel alone. We understand and need nothing more. This is what it means to be alive.

But the crash afterwards tests our strength. The person lying next to us could be mean or boring or ugly or smell funny. How could someone we don’t even like understand us? Or worse, if we’re masturbating, then they don’t even exist! At least not the way we want them to. We’ve been looking at pixels on a screen, ink drops on a page or fuzzy projections on our cerebral cortex. How futile are our efforts once again!

This is why understanding the motives behind our little absurdities is so important. Masturbation or even sex by themselves can’t shield us from our existential fears. The erotic can only paint in new colors an existent pain or reaffirm a positive belief that itself requires no external confirmation.

Admit it! You’re a Polytheist!

I don't know what you're talking about, I woke up and the shell was just floating here.
I don’t know what you’re talking about, I woke up and the shell was just floating here.

This is the first in a series of articles called An Absurd Guide to Getting Your Heart Broken. You can read the second here.

I hated The Notebook. Few times have I ever felt such a strong desire to walk out of a movie theater. Unfortunately, when I went to see it, I was with friends and the girls they (and I) were interested in. I was stuck. I tried unsuccessfully to fall asleep. I laughed at all the wrong moments and received multiple dirty looks. It was traumatic. It was torture. It was like being stuck at the church your fundamentalist uncle belongs to.

I don’t mind romantic films as a genre. Some movies I’ve even enjoyed: Ten Things I Hate about You, Casablanca and Pride and Prejudice come to mind. I’m not a cold heartless bastard, but forced sentimentality has always felt like a personal affront. Call me a romantic doubter or an acolyte of Aphrodite, waging holy war on the heretics of love! I like my art to maintain the illusion of authenticity.

We commonly think of polytheism as a thing of the past, of the days when people believed in gods, who warred, tricked, rewarded, fooled around with and impregnated mortals, or of the exotic lands where gods have consorts, multiple arms, enjoy tobacco and hard liquor and the occasional ritualistic possession. Seldom does the modern Western subject consider his or her own polytheism. No, in the age of reason, the fewer gods one believes in the better. We’re intellectually superior to those primitive superstitions.

And yet, lesser gods still pervade our culture, shading the colors of our daily existence with their exuberance and charm. Their presence and cult worship is now so well hidden that one could mistakenly believe it native to the realm of rationality. The cleverest gods don’t go begging for us to come back to them. They simply change their name, prayers and associated iconography. There is no cultural shift a good rebranding can’t overcome.

Queen of all these lesser gods is Aphrodite: the Greek goddess of love. Thousands of years later and her appeal hasn’t faded. She is everywhere: on billboards, on magazine layouts, on runways, on the New York Times bestseller list, on the silver screen and on dimly-lit street corners. In her contemporary twin forms as the Aphrodite of True Love and the Aphrodite of Sexual Liberation, she is the object of devotion and adoration of millions of hormone-addled youths across the globe, her main temple of worship transplanted from her mythical birthplace at Paphos on the Cyprian coast to Hollywood Boulevard.

There are other gods, who have made their home in the hills of Los Angeles: Ares has his Die Hard’s and Rambo’s, Dionysius his Animal House and The Hangover’s and Athena her A Beautiful Mind, Pursuit of Happyness and Shawshenk Redemption. But in the pantheon of contemporary gods, no one else promises so much for so little. Aphrodite reigns above them all.

We’ve gone from consulting a priestess to consulting Cosmopolitan, self-help guides and Yahoo Answers!. When a Catholic prays to the Virgin Mary, they light a candle. When a Muslim prays to Allah, they face East. When a romantic is feeling inspired or lonely, they make popcorn and scan through stacks of DVDs or browse Netflix. Then they turn off the lights and piously watch as the divinity appears before them, imparting her wisdom, asserting her power and bathing them in her warm embrace. In a fit of passionate devotion, they may laugh, cry, jump for joy or even shout out, “I believe in you, oh goddess, my queen and one joy, my eternal, faithful and beautiful companion, True Love! Illuminate my path, oh goddess, for I am ready! Give me peace and strength and swiftly bring hither The One you’ve chosen for me.”

We know she is a fickle goddess, and nonetheless through theatrical ritualistic repetition we attempt to summon her to our aid. We watch the same movie or listen to the same song over and over again for weeks when we’re particularly desperate. For she only has to prove her existence once. Only once and then we’ll believe.

The modern man and woman are sensible creatures. Faith is limited to what we can see and touch ourselves. But what happens when you don’t see the things you want? You ask Hollywood to make them for you, of course! They’re not superstitions or religious creeds if your desire to believe is great enough and if mainstream society is willing to indulge these urges. Then it’s just human nature.

“I believe, oh goddess, I believe…”