CHAPTER ELEVEN

 

All in all, that Wednesday at Prescott's house had been fairly pleasant for Andrew Doyle, since the two men had struck up a cordial, not to say understanding, relationship, and exchanged views on a variety of topics of mutual interest - the author having been provided with a rare opportunity to air his political and religious views to a sympathetic ear, while the photographer had been only too ready, for his part, to expatiate on art and photography as they affected modern life.  After which, the host had conducted his latest guest on a tour of the house, not excepting his unique 'Panties Museum', which the latter duly praised for its exotic novelty, albeit declining recourse to nasal verification of the authenticity of their curator's claims!  And then there had been the spectacle of Prescott's photography to consider, not all of which was confined to women.  Indeed, in one of the three downstairs rooms where examples of his work could be conspicuously seen, the majority of photographs on view were either portraits of famous people or views of various buildings, landscapes, ships, animals, flowers, etc., according to the nature of the project Prescott had been engaged on at the time.  Latterly, to be sure, he mostly specialized in women.  But there had been a time when a more eclectic approach to photography had prevailed, and with some considerable success!  Whether he could be regarded as great a photographer as the likes of Brassai, Man Ray, or Cartier-Bresson ... was open to debate.  Yet if, for want of greater knowledge on the subject, Andrew was not prepared to accord him the benefit of the doubt and place him among the greats, he could hardly deny that Prescott's work was of considerable interest, displaying more taste, imagination, and subtlety in its handling of any given subject than one usually encountered in photography these days - especially where the nude or semi-nude model was concerned!

     However, if Prescott's guided tour had provided Andrew with an unprecedented experience shortly after lunch, the high-point of the day came when Carol started to model later that afternoon, and the writer, contrary to his expectations, was not sent packing but, rather, encouraged to take part in the proceedings himself, if only to the extent of assisting Prescott prepare the studio by moving various items of furniture about, arranging props, and adjusting the lights.  Carol, of course, had to take care of herself, though she followed instructions from the photographer without demur, giving Andrew a fresh glimpse of her shapely body - one which, unlike before, was concrete rather than abstract. 

     In fact, as the afternoon progressed, he found himself becoming positively hypnotized by her, at times scarcely able to conceal his appreciation of her stunning beauty.  It was as much as he could do to sit perfectly still in the shadows of the studio and not rush across the floor to embrace the model, as she posed in a variety of erotic postures with, at times, no more than a flimsy pink G-string protecting her modesty.  It was as though he hadn't realized the full extent of her sexuality until then.  Previously she had been an acquaintance who also modelled.  Now she was a model who was also an acquaintance.  He could hardly fail to appreciate the difference!  If it was to impress him that she was modelling like this, she was certainly going about it the right way!

     During the following days he didn't see anything of her in any sense, though he was only too conscious that a change had come over his attitude towards her and that the spell of her seductions was beginning to have its effect on him.  For the first time he allowed her image to become a part of his fantasy life, to usurp the domain temporarily held by Pauline as an erotic focal-point of his imagination.  He would recall certain of the postures in which she had posed for Prescott's camera, elaborating on them as he thought fit.  Occasionally he would even imagine himself cuddling up to her, taking off her clothes, examining her vagina or, as he preferred to call it, 'pussy' from different angles, as though she were a kind of puppet to be manipulated at will, a beautiful dark puppet with a highly responsive physique.  His imagination would take flight, and he would glide from one fantasy to another with the grace of an accomplished dreamer.  But never for very long!  Disgust with fantasy, illusion, and cerebration would quickly intervene, obliging him to erase from his mind those images which now threatened to degrade him.  He didn't want to become their victim, to be dragged down to the contemptible level of a naturalistic picture machine!  If she was really that enticing he would have to have her in the flesh, thus purging himself of voyeuristic impurities.  Fantasy could be seen as a first step towards action, a preliminary indication, as it were, of how he should respond to her in future - assuming he managed to win her over from Harding, that is. 

     Indeed, had he not already won her over from the painter to some extent, as evidenced by her confidences in him both at Henry Grace's house and at Donald Prescott's?  Or perhaps she had won him over ... from Pauline?  Yes, there could be no denying that she had a significant part to play in shaping his current attitude to her.  It remained to be seen whether he could turn it into concrete action, however.

     Yet there was still the problem of Pauline to resolve, and Andrew wasn't altogether convinced that his meeting with her, the following Monday, had adequately done so.  Having spent the morning in Harding's Richmond studio, where she was sitting for her portrait, Pauline had contrived to slip next-door and pay him a lunch-time visit, agreed to see him again in the evening and, when this duly materialized, got herself laid shortly before returning to her hotel nearby.  Nevertheless, in spite of his realization that Pauline's feelings for him were stronger than he had supposed, he did his best to impress upon her the unsuitability of further meetings and strongly advised her not to take their relationship too seriously - a vain piece of advice to a young woman who had only recently lost her virginity to him and was flattered to consider herself the girlfriend of a famous author!  But a piece of advice he felt it incumbent on himself to offer her all the same, if only for his own sake.

     However, he did manage to persuade her to visit Prescott with him later that same week, giving her to know that he was interested in seeing the photographic results of her modelling session in due course, and assuring her that the photographer, anxious to develop latent talent, would generously remunerate her for all her efforts.  Naturally, she had been a shade diffident about accepting the invitation at first, never having considered the possibility of modelling for anyone before, and being slightly unsure of exactly what to expect.  But with due coaxing from Andrew, who used his sexual powers over her to tactful advantage, she eventually discarded her qualms and promised to comply - as also to keep the matter a secret.  It was accordingly decided that an excuse would have to be made to Harding, to the effect that she had a dental appointment on the Friday afternoon and would therefore have to restrict her sitting for him to the morning alone.  That would give her time to make the journey from Richmond up to South Hampstead with Andrew after lunch and get her modelling done during the afternoon.  Mr Prescott would of course be informed in advance of her coming, as would Carol.  It was unlikely there would be a hitch.

     Having disposed of this obligation to the photographer, Andrew smuggled Pauline out of the house under cover of darkness and set himself the task of forgetting about her until Friday.  He had no desire to see her again in the meantime and principally because he had a strong desire to see Carol again, whose company was anything but an inconvenience to him.  Rather, it was her absence that was becoming inconvenient!  Yet this desire had to wait until Wednesday evening, when she called on him in a tight black leather miniskirt and matching high-heels, to find out what had happened between Pauline and himself.  Mr Prescott would have his way, she was blandly informed, on Friday - a piece of information which caused Carol to smile inwardly, since she knew only too well what the photographer liked to get-up to with his new recruits, and lost no time in reminding Andrew, who was also amused.  But there were more serious matters to address, the writer's feelings for Carol being among them.  He wanted her to know how much she had impressed him that afternoon in Mr Prescott's studio, how privileged he had felt to witness her modelling talents at such close-quarters and, more importantly, her physical charms.

     To be sure, Carol was flattered by this confession.  She hadn't expected him to respond to her seductions with such alacrity, knowing something about his reputation for coyness.  It was almost a shock to her.  Yet, at the same time, she was relieved, immensely relieved that Andrew hadn't been more interested in Pauline and was all for disentangling himself from the little bitch as quickly as possible.  For she had been at pains to conceal her jealousy from him at Mr Grace's house and, to some extent, was still smarting from the effort.  Now, however, she need be in no uncertainty over him.  He was not bluffing her.  It was all too obvious that he meant everything he said, that he wanted to make her his girlfriend, and she, true to her essential nature, was only too willing to oblige, to give him the opportunity of getting his own back on Harding for all the humiliations of that Berkshire weekend; to allow him to do the double, as it were, on his ideological enemies - first through Pauline and now with herself.  It was the least she could do to prove her allegiance to Andrew's transcendentalism at the expense of Harding's dualism.

     Having already adopted a number of his philosophical positions as her own, what was there to prevent her from adopting his body as well, from linking her allegiance to his mind with an alliance to his flesh, and thus bringing her relationship with him to completion?  Was it right that she should continue to rebel against Harding's views on art, politics, religion, etc., while permitting him to ravish her body?  Surely there was a dangerous dichotomy involved between the spirit and the senses which could only be to her personal disadvantage, reducing her relationship with the painter to a predominantly physical thing.  And hadn't he already noticed that something was amiss, that she wasn't quite the woman she had been, before Andrew Doyle and Henry Grace came onto the scene?  He could only become more suspicious of and dissatisfied with her as the months wore on, just as she would grow more dissatisfied with and suspicious of him as Andrew's spirit took greater possession of her, making her contemptuous of everything Harding stood for, in his anachronistic battle against modern art, with particular reference to beingful abstraction.

     Yes, it was perfectly obvious that she could not continue to find her spiritual bearings in the writer and simultaneously orientate herself to the physicality of the painter.  This fact had first occurred to her during the weekend in Berkshire, shortly after she secretly found herself siding with Andrew against the combined opposition of Robert Harding and Mr Grace on the subject of transcendentalism, and it had grown more pronounced ever since.  There could accordingly be no alternative but to try and win Andrew over to an appreciation of her body, to get him to respond to her in the exact opposite way she had responded to him, so that a completely integrated relationship became possible.  For she could no longer face-up to the prospect of being the repository of Harding's semen when she no longer related to his mind.  Strictly speaking, she had never related to his mind anyway.  But it had taken Andrew to make her fully aware of the fact, to wake her up from the mental stupor and moral inertia into which she had fallen as a consequence, in large measure, of the mere physicality of her relationship with the painter.  Now she could be under no doubt as to where she stood with Harding.  It was her duty to break with him, to establish a new centre for herself in which body and soul were reconciled to the same man, and she thereby acquired a new lease-of-life, positive and wholesome.  She needed to find her equal, and so establish herself on a footing which could only lead to their common good.  And this equal, this spiritual mirror to her own physical self, was now standing before her, reflecting her beauty in his spiritual eloquence, assuring her how of beneficial her physical influence had been upon him, and extending to her the opportunity of a two-way relationship which would rescue her from the self-division into which she had tragically fallen.

     A single kiss, gently placed on her sensuous little mouth, was sufficient to ignite the torch of her desire and hurl her into the arms of her saviour, bringing the present to life in a way which made the past irrelevant, insignificant, and contemptible.  No doubt, she would have a lot to learn from him in due course, other aspects of his transcendentalism presenting themselves to her as they went forward, growing more finely attuned to each other, more closely integrated, as their relationship blossomed.  She would learn about the development of the superconscious at the expense of the subconscious, and the changing nature of the ego in relation to this, so that the contemporary ego, subject to a greater influx of spirit, was decidedly less egocentric, not to say egotistic, than the ego of, say, three hundred years ago.  The doings of Western man in his egocentric prime were a thing of the past, never to be resurrected in the future.  The former tense balance between the two hemispheres of the psyche - ever the driving-force behind the development of great civilizations in the estimation of philosophers like Spengler - had been superseded by a mounting imbalance in favour of the superconscious, with a consequence that all traditional manifestations of dualism, whether religious, political, cultural, scientific, or social, were in rapid decline. 

     Yes, the civilized world was destined to become increasingly transcendental as the decades passed, and nothing, short of a solar collapse, could prevent it from becoming more so!  Those who were categorically against the decline of dualism, and accordingly in favour of stemming the rising tide of transcendentalism, were simply enemies of evolution, of progress, of enlightenment.  They and their kind would have to be dealt with in due course, when the world arrived at the Last Judgement and the wheat were subsequently divided from the chaff and the chaff, in a manner of speaking, from the wheat.  A just retribution would doubtless be meted out to all who stood in the way of progress, no matter how highly they thought of themselves.  'The slow' would be found wanting and condemned for having turned their back on the Christian prophecy of Heaven and the prospect of Eternal Life - a life lived in the spirit of heavenly eternity rather than in the flesh of worldly time.  'The slow' would not be praised for their competitive bias in the face of ongoing co-operativeness.  It would be their undoing, their banishment from a transcendental society.  Their dualism, no longer respectable, would be condemned on every front, slowly but surely eradicated from society, so that the Christian prophecy of Heaven could eventually be realized ... in the millennial Beyond, where 'the peace that surpasses all understanding', and hence egocentric relativity, reigned supreme, and dichotomies ceased to exist. 

     The transcendental future was certainly no fiction, and Carol would have to learn this, along with all of the other things which Andrew chose to impart to her concerning the evolution of mankind.  She would also come to understand why D.H. Lawrence's The Plumed Serpent was virtually anathema to him and why, by contrast, he valued Aldous Huxley's Island so highly.  Why Wolfgang Paalen was one of his favourite Surrealists and why he abhorred so much of the work of Gericault and Delacroix.  Why he disapproved of Freud but admired Myers, and so on.

     Yes, there would be a lot for her to learn as the months slipped by and their relationship became more firmly cemented.  She had a thirst for knowledge, a thirst which Harding, with his third-rate mind, had failed to quench.  It was a thirst every intelligent woman needed to have quenched.  Otherwise, she would be a mere physical thing in the hands of man - parched and indifferent, shut-out from proper contact with herself, deprived of spiritual growth.  No, she'd had enough experience of that, enough alienation from herself at the hands of someone who was spiritually beneath her, to be able to tolerate any more of it! 

     But Andrew would revive her, he would pour some of his spirit into hers and bring it back to life, offer her the cup of his wisdom until her spirit overflowed with his being and was duly restored to its true strength.  She would not be short of spiritual nourishment with him!  On the contrary, she would be satiated.  And what she received she would return, transformed and enriched to her benefactor, in the guise of devotion.  She would take and give back.  He would give and take back.  A two-way flow of giving and taking would be established, so different from the arid, bogus, one-sided giving she had known with Harding - a giving of her body merely!  A woman wasn't happy until she gave not only with her body but, no less importantly, with her soul, a soul which answered the man's physical giving and corresponded to her admiration of him, his whole being ... both physical and mental.  If he didn't permit himself to be fully loved because his ideas and attitudes were unacceptable to one, failed to correspond to one's deepest intuitions and ideological life-urge, then one would be cheating oneself, and nothing good could come of the relationship.  Better not to love at all than only to love by half-measures, on the strength of the man's sexual prowess.

     No, an intelligent woman could not allow herself to be degraded to the extent of being a mere body - a whore.  Her soul would rebel against it.  She needed the give and take, the spiritual and the physical, love and sex.  Hitherto Carol had known too little of the former and too much of the latter.  Now, with the promise of Andrew's company, it was time to swing over to the opposite extreme and break free of the alienated physicality in which she had been stranded with the painter, working towards the reintegration of her being through love.  It didn't matter if Andrew transpired not to being the best of lovers, if he didn't make love to her as often or as vigorously as Harding.  The fact that his political and religious beliefs were so much more congenial to her than Harding's, suggested his sexual habits would be too, so that a reduction in physical sex would work to her advantage.  For the double life of mental allegiance to him but physical allegiance to the painter was a contradiction in terms which could not be continued without the risk of serious consequences - possibly a severe neurosis or even psychosis, such as usually afflicted those who were deeply divided against themselves.  It was therefore high-time for the spirit to triumph over the senses, in accordance with the Zeitgeist of an increasingly post-dualistic age, so that the dualistic past, in which more often than not senses had triumphed over spirit, could be clearly distinguished from the transcendental present, and the will to spiritual beatitude made known in no uncertain terms!

     It was consequently imperative for Carol to sever connections with Harding and thus free herself from the past, not continue to be torn between worlds.  The new future which Andrew Doyle promised her seemed a good deal superior to anything she had known before, signifying a positivity of outlook which moved with the current of evolution rather than against it, rejoicing at the most progressive developments the age had to offer, rather than rebelling against them; seeing in the times not defeat and humiliation but pride and victory - the grand sweep of transcendental progress taking place right before one's very eyes!  How different it would be, being made love to by a man who entered one with a real positivity in his spirit, the positivity born of an assurance that the world was gradually changing for the better, becoming steadily, if slowly, a better place in which to live!  That, in spite of the ever-present threat of global war and the constant reporting of murders, arsons, rapes, thefts, hijacks, explosions, accidents, etc., on the news or in the papers, life was gradually evolving for the better!

     Yes, different to the point where one would hardly recognize oneself.  Yet there it was, Andrew Doyle was such a man, he lived with the unshakeable conviction that, come what may, things were evolving for the better and would continue to do so until mankind, in overcoming itself, reached its ultimate destination in transcendental bliss, some centuries hence, and thereupon brought progress to a halt, having attained to its culmination in the post-human millennium.  No matter how pessimistic the bourgeoisie became with regard to the impending collapse of their world, there could be no kidding Andrew that his world was in collapse.  Even if he personally became a casualty of evolution, even if he personally succumbed to a premature death, there could be no question of anyone's shaking his confidence in the triumph of transcendental ideals and the fact that human life was on the rise.  Severe economic, social, and political problems there might be, but they had no power to alter his vision to one of bourgeois pessimism or even proletarian cynicism. 

     To be sure, he had been through the worst in his own life, had pushed pessimism as far as it could go before, in a moment of enlightenment analogous to a 'Pauline conversion', he had seen the Light and thereupon acquired a new optimism, a new wisdom born largely from the extent of his previous folly.  Thenceforth the decline of the West, primarily conceived in terms of its bourgeois traditions, became not a cause for complaint but one for rejoicing, since it signified the progression of Western civilization towards higher spiritual development - a development tending away from the dualistic norms of civilized achievement towards a level where dualism became no more than an historical landmark on the road to enlightenment, a kind of midway stage in human evolution, with nothing to recommend it for eternal honours.  The fact that we were outgrowing dualism was yet another aspect of our progression towards a higher stage of life, even though it was not an aspect that appealed to everyone, including, Andrew had to concede, the painter Robert Harding.  For him, by contrast, it was an indication of regression, to be fought against with every means at his disposal.

     Yet how fortunate for Carol that she hadn't been deceived by the painter's views, but had found her true ally in Andrew Doyle!  How fortunate for her that she could now begin to live the victory of the spirit over the senses, instead of being the hapless victim of the latter!  To have a companion whose body and spirit vibrated in tune with her own ... on a major rather than a minor chord.  Not to have to feign scorn at the sight of Abstract Expressionist or other modern paintings which Harding invariably chose to castigate.  Not to have to feign a liking for works of art which were really a hundred or more years out-of-date and accordingly failed to synchronize with one's inner being, failed to impress one on account of their worldly representations.  What a relief it would be to have a companion who, whilst instructive, enabled one to remain true to oneself!  Carol was so tired of playing the hypocrite, so anxious to be genuine.  It was such a relief to know that an escape route from Harding lay open through Andrew and that, by availing herself of it, her life could begin to be lived progressively, optimistically, even happily, for the first time not only in months, but in years!

     She was still somewhat overcome by emotion when, after due kissings and fondlings that evening, during which Andrew had contrived to excite and even ignite her crotch to a degree where the fire could only be extinguished with the help of a succession of wet bursts which drenched her nylon panties, she returned to her room in Harding's house and threw herself down on its bed with a mixture of relief and joy in her heart.  It wouldn't be long now before she saw the back of the artist for good, and moved, with Andrew, to a flat in Highgate, north London.  The least she could do, in the meantime, was pretend that nothing unusual had happened and that every last fucking drop of her body still belonged to Harding.

 

 

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