The lineaments of gratified desire.

What is it men in women do require?

The lineaments of Gratified Desire

What is it women do in men require

The lineaments of Gratified Desire.

William Blake

Until I started writing this blog I thought I had memorized this quotation years ago and that Blake was right, although he was a gnomic who never quite meant what you think. But, I’ve just found out, after many years to my shame that firstly I didn’t know what lineaments were – I thought they were linty and comforting bandages – worst still that I had substituted a ‘most’ for the ‘do’: What is that men and women most require…which has dented my blogging because I was going to argue that what ‘we’ most of all require are healthy levels of self esteem, and the courage to be ourselves. I’ll come back to that after my desire diversion.

 Despite these reported lapses, I have worked out a paradox of desire, or perhaps that’s not true, I’ve worked it out in conjunction with an absent friend who’s still watching seals on that distant seashore and pondering the meanings of the universe, which is that the essence of desire’s compulsive energy to connect is met, no not met but fulfilled in the obstacle to its connection. Gratified desire is doomed – sooner or later to become dead desire, or domestic desire. It is the obstacle rather than the object that fertilises desire.

In the romances of archetypal lovers like Tristan and Isolde, Romeo and Juliet, Hero and Leander, Venus and Adonis and Achilles and Patroclus, desire is challenged by separation, suspended and then immortalised by death. I find Venus and Adonis the most tragic scenario because of its lack of symmetry between the lovers and because Adonis is adolescent he feels himself to be invincible to danger and as immortal as Venus. It’s still true that it’s the most original, beautiful, brave and intelligent adolescents who wont listen to their elders. (Which brings my grand children Dan and Portia instantly to mind.)

This paradox of desire is true of Amaldova’s  latest and perhaps greatest – although I have heard as many say his least successful – erotic testament, ‘Los Abrazos Rotos’, or ‘Broken Embraces’, where the collision of obessional desire(S) are suspended and then ruptured by violent acts of  sex, death and blindness. Here, there is no light; except with Almodovar there always is more light, but I don’t want to write a review of Broken Embraces although I am still thinking of little else, except that Penelope Cruz’s symphonic Spanish beauty stops me thinking at all. (Her Hollywood performances don’t work so well outside of her mother tongue, which enhances her sense of timing and wit.)

A link between Coriolanus and Almodovar’s film is that they both reveal the suffering of men whose parents have refused to recognise them, let alone love them for who they are. Isn’t that what we all desire most of all, to feel that we have been unconditionally loved.  Or is that just another unrealisable myth that keeps us in a state of longing. There is so much unconscious narcissism in love.

In my ‘Mother’ blog I talked about the elusive elixir of self-esteem, which I would identify as the lubricant of becoming oneself, and which is almost impossible to manufacture artificially. Some few do manage it but if you miss out on feeling unconditionally loved in childhood then it’s a lifetime’s work and hard going all along the way.

I’m drawn to the observations of ethologists, who were inspired by the ideas of Conrad Lorenz when he uncovered the concept of an ‘innate releasing pattern’ to explain our instinctive behaviours which are often only accomplished at specific life stages and afterwards become notoriously hard to recapitulate.

It’s one of the great wonders of life that self- esteem is so vital to human wellbeing and yet it is so often absent even where you would expect to find it. Success is rarely related to self esteem, but often grows out of its absence and an inflated desire to get the zeitgeist to prick up its ears in compensation for the absence of a more private gleam of admiration in the parental eye.  

In ‘Broken Embraces’ what I understood to be personal clues from Almodovar’s life are barely concealed within his maze of imagery;  an underplayed moment of personal pathos and revelation was costumed in the geeky  and sexually ruined son of the tycoon Ernesto Martel, whose life is fuelled by revenge for  humiliation at the hands of his father for being unworthy of his loving embrace. That’s why unconditional love matters: it is the antidote to stunted emotions. And then, I thought of Almodovar’s compatriot Lorca and his torment at disappointing his father and then, how astonishing it must feel to grow up knowing that you are unconditionally loved, and then how terrible it is to know that so often, but not always, because nothing is for always, that broken embraces are so easy to contaminate one dysfunctional generation with another.

And that is why learning how to live and love matters more than anything.

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