CHAPTER TEN: SOME FOREGROUND INFORMATION

 

I have been living with Philomena over a year now and, frankly, the time has quite simply flown by.  I can hardly believe it.  Can hardly believe, either, that my depression is on the retreat, and so fast that I'm now almost back to normal.  But I owe that to more than just a change of environment, and to more, even, than Philomena herself, who has never denied me marital comforts.  I owe it, above all, to the presence here of Rachel, with whom I was once madly in love and whom I'm now madly in love with all over again!  Rachel, you may recall, was someone I was mortally afraid of ever seeing again, since I feared the consequences of a recrudescence of sexual love on my spiritual life.  Well, despite her initial assurances, Philomena trapped me into seeing her, and did so under the remarkably false pretence of employing her as a chambermaid!

     Yes, a frigging chambermaid was what Rachel appeared to be when I first clapped eyes on her, ostensibly cleaning our bedroom carpet on her hands and knees, and I could scarcely believe them.  But, of course, that was just a pretext for Rachel being present in the house on a regular basis, since I soon learnt that her real motive for being there was to seduce me afresh and enslave me to her physical charms.  And, believe me, she succeeded in her intentions, even though I feebly protested to Philomena and threatened, with what insincerity I cannot imagine, to divorce her.  But I was trapped, and she knew it!  I was in no position to divorce her after having just secured a divorce from Susan, since, even with a separation, I would then be alone, totally alone, without a house to return to and with no friends to whom I could turn.  I'd had enough of that kind of unsettled life in London and felt no desire to resurrect it, especially as I was still determined to overcome its depressing legacy with Philomena's help.  And she was even more determined to help me, which is why, paradoxically, she employed Rachel in the aforementioned menial position.

     I have already recorded, for the reader's moral benefit, that Philomena was an exceptional woman, and, by god, she has given me ample proof of that fact in the intervening time!  Knowing that I would be unable to fall in love with her, she contrived to force love upon me through Rachel, and all for the sake of my mental health.  Curiously, her selfless strategy worked.  For love is what did develop between Rachel and myself as a consequence of her residence in our house, a love such as I had never expected to experience again - admittedly, not as passionate as before (for that was mainly youthful), but sufficiently powerful, all the same, to render me a willing accomplice of Rachel's allures and - dare I say it? - regular fornicator.  Now, after a year of true love, I know Rachel's sex even better than my current wife's, having been in-and-out of it so many times ... that I've lost count, not to say weight as well!  Although Philomena does her best to ensure that I'm well-fed and sufficiently fit (I take plenty of gardening exercise) to be able to continue in the, by-now, well-worn tracks of my extramarital predilections without putting undue strain on our marriage.

     Ah, Philomena, what an angel you are!  You even prefer a vibrator to my penis, these days, and have ordered one of Shead's, or perhaps I should say Lyttleton's, mechanical copulators for future use; which of course means that I shall be free to dedicate most of my sexual energies to Rachel, whose compliant body holds an irresistible charm for me.  With you, on the other hand, I have to be transcendental, and that I mostly am, even though your arsehole suffers an occasional itch.  You're the most sophisticated woman in the world, and I, the foremost literary and painterly genius of my generation, am adequately served by you, my beloved wife.  You even know what genius is, and admit that, despite your cultural sophistication, you've been unable to attain it.  You've told me that no man is born a genius, since genius is at the furthest possible human remove from nature, human or otherwise, being the product of the most intense nurture.  One can only become a genius, and then after years of painstaking struggle with one's thoughts and techniques, which may result in one's being out front, a creative leader, a man apart, a purveyor of the most artificial criteria - virtually a god!  That is genius, Philomena, and even you have to admit defeat where such a Promethean isolation in creative precocity is concerned.

     Yes, genius is the most artificial of attainments, and you admit that, as a woman, you're unlikely to surpass me in artificial or indeed transcendental accomplishments, since a woman’s place is not above and ahead of a man in sensibility but, as a rule, slightly beneath and behind him, even in the late-twentieth century, when the boot, if I may resort to such a crude metaphor, is usually on the other - and sensual - foot!  You may strive after creative equality, but you're unlikely to attain it.  What you will be able to do, however, is put a break on my progressive zeal, hold me back when I threaten to demolish my human integrity through too idealistic a lifestyle, or heal me when I have become the victim of adverse environmental circumstances.  This you are doing, Philomena, and not least of all via the medium of Rachel, who is the complete antithesis of a genius and yet, for that very reason, the impious solution to my long-standing problems!  Yes, without Rachel, I would not now be as well as I am, nor nearly so prone to penile tumescence.  I have found worldly salvation in the enemy camp, and gladly regress to naturalistic criteria.  I'm already more than half-way on the road to becoming a politician.

     Occasionally I get a letter from Susan, telling me what is going on in her life, and in this way I have learnt that her marriage to Dr Richardson - for she did in fact consent to his subsequent daft proposal - is working out as well as could be expected, since she has recently become pregnant again - this time through him.  However, the original baby, who appears to have been a boy, seems to have pleased the good doctor, who is convinced of its paternity, never for a moment imagining that anyone else - least of all I - could be partly responsible for it.  They have called this boy Janko, apparently after the mechanical copulator, though Dr Richardson still knows next-to-nothing about the contraption and would be the last person on earth to suppose that his son was really the product of a mechanical copulation.  Good, that is how things should be, and I have informed Susan of my approval, taking pains to send her a bouquet of artificial flowers for her second pregnancy.  I only hope that, when the next child is delivered, Dr Richardson won't note too striking a distinction with the first one!  That would certainly arouse more than he had bargained for!

     As to Shead, the crafty old sod seems to have done nicely out of his invention, for it is now big business, selling not only in England - the land of sexual perversion par excellence - but abroad as well.  The Americans are especially keen on it, though a shade rumpled that an Englishman actually got to the idea ahead of them.  Being ultra-libertarian, they prefer to be first in the field of new inventions, and usually are, though Shead, I've since learned, is partly of American extraction, which might explain something.  Only an American, or part-American, could have cold-bloodedly come up with a contraption like that, even if Dunne also played a part, albeit minor, in its final realization, principally, it seems, with regard to the thrusting mechanism.  And Lyttleton, with his Anglo-Saxon flair for business, has successfully capitalized on it, becoming an overnight millionaire.  He paid me quite handsomely, I should add, for my artistic contributions to the machine's commercial welfare, which helped to boost sales among his more aesthetically sensitive customers, not all of whom are bluestockings or feminists, by any means.  There is even a chance that one of my quasi-Expressionist paintings will get into the Tate some day - a thing that would certainly be good for business.  I can just imagine women staring at the over-large blue penetrator (as Shead prefers to officially call it) on view, and wondering to themselves whether they oughtn't to buy a mechanical copulator in the interests of enhanced sexual satisfaction.  After all, time can't be reversed!

     Fortunately for me, however, depression can, and compliments of Rachel, who is as ravishingly blonde as Philomena is dark, I'm now well on the road, as already remarked, to a total recovery.  Another year of Rachel's domestic services and I shall be back to normal, capable, thereafter, of taking an active role in Ireland's future political salvation.  Curiously I can still paint in an avant-garde manner, doing aesthetic justice to my earlier intellectual and literary formulations, but I feel that, with each passing day, I become less of a genius and more of a genial romantic in the grip of his genitals.  Soon I shall probably cease being a genius altogether.  For the combined efforts of the two women, coupled to the rural environment in which I languish, a willing captive to their wiles, will preclude me from leading an artificial lifestyle and oblige me to return to full health, like a well-groomed animal.  And that is precisely what a genius never has!

     Perhaps I was wrong to play for personal comfort at the expense of impersonal inspiration?  Now my artistic conscience nags me and condemns me for having wimped-out of the burden of genius in the interests of mental health.  But have I?  Time alone will tell!

 

    

LONDON 1982 (Revised 2011)

 

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