January 28, 2009 7:29 AM
November 12, 2008 11:59 PM
it always makes me perplexed when people refuse eternal youth. i didn’t read homer’s iliad but i read the sequel, the odyssey, a long time ago, and i believe that at the end of the iliad, ulysses leaves troy to return home to ithaca, where his family and his fans are waiting. the trip (the “odyssey”) takes almost 10 years during which he meets (a) junkies, (b) circe who turns men into swines, (c) alluring rowdy killers (half bird half lesbian), (d) giants with unpronounceable names, (e) etc, and (f) calypso, a sea-nymph interested in witchcraft who used to have a career in porn jacking off sea elephants before focusing on wannabe heroes. all viragoes when not creeps, with the notable exception of
(g) nausicaa, who is awesome and will ultimately save ulysses.
i got interested in calypso (from the greek kalupso, “i will conceal”) — technically the second main character of the book given the arithmetic fact that on a 9 year-trip, ulysses spends 7 years in captivity on calypso’s island.
calypso falls in love with ulysses, and like terence stamp in the collector, she tries to seduce him, to force his love. it doesn’t work. ulysses isn’t interested. “i want to move the hell out” are the only words he knows.
despite the lack of reciprocity and, we must admit, ulysses’s bad grace, calypso’s libido doesn’t fade, nor even plateau, she wants him so bad, he’s so handsome and veiny.
at this point we all rightly observe, in petto, that ulysses, for his trip back home, is going to have to sail and face the crowded seas, the lures, troubles, dangers, perils, freaks, and get into a lot of does god exist kind of games. he is going to risk his life. on the other hand, on calypso’s island, he’s safe. and yet – our nota bene – this assured safety proves insufficient to decide his love.
so in phase two calypso ups the ante and offers ulysses immortality and adds eternal youth, on top of, remember, abundance of love, seaside dinners, star gazing, smiley culture music…
are you starting to get the picture? (1) staying young for ever, but staying with calypso for ever, too (you gotta be in it to win it), or (2) risking your life to go back home, reuniting with your spouse, being celebrated as a hero, being worshiped (for your victory over troy, the trojan horse, et cetera).
we know that the laws of megalomania suggest that being admired by a crowd is a strong plus, and if you draw a line in the sand, immortality/mortality, and reexamine these two words carefully, what you see, in the current context, is that accepting immortality means staying on that island hidden from the world, “concealed” (hence calypso’s name), which equals being eternally young, maybe happy, but with nobody except calypso knowing about it. it means being forgotten, ending up nobody. say goodbye to your hero’s career (heroes’s exploits must be known in order to be praised).
yes it’s starting to look like a really bad deal and of course ulysses refuses, he leaves, he chooses death (one day he’ll die). what matters to him, is being immortal in people’s mind, in books, in history. not on that island, not only in calypso’s eyes.
celebrity the new drug.
ulysses: “i’m so glad someone invented death.”
Some names have been changed for privacy
Courtesy of Chiquita
T-Symmetric casts a circle and calls the girls to witness. She draws down the moon upon Damien Hirst.
In the centre of the circle stands Damien Hirst wreathed in smoke from the bonfire of wood of nut, pine, prune, poplar, juniper, and mimosa.
T-Symmetric profanes Damien Hirst’s face twice. She moves ninety degrees counterclockwise, behind Damien Hirst, and the girls move ninety degrees counterclockwise, with Damien Hirst between them. The circle moves slowly around the circle. As each passes T-Symmetric they kiss her upon the cheek and knife Damien Hirst merrily, as T-Symmetric chants:
Queen of the Damien Hirst,
Bring to us the bones of the Smiler.
The hand of the Past.
Oh Hello! Hey!
All raise their hands high and repeat the last line. Damien Hirst is pushed into the centre and burned. The girls jump over him in couples as T-Symmetric ordains.
Death follows and, after the circle has been closed, more merriment the girls savor.