I own several copies of ‘The dying animal’ by Philip Roth, in different languages.
On Monday I started reading this short novel with one of my students, a woman who’s just turned forty. Mature and wise enough not to be shocked by this. It was the first time I risked reading this book with a student. She is the very first Slovak to tell me that she is for polyamory and doesn’t believe in monogamy. She watches a lot of foreign movies, I suppose that liberates. The lesson went well, she wanted to understand every word.
The next day I found out Philip Roth had died.
There’s no link between the two events, but it still surprised me. I do not think God or some other vengeful force struck Roth down as soon as his wicked influence on my teaching methods was discovered.
Here’s one of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite books (I reread the book every year, it gets better every time). It’s a quote on marriage:
‘No, men don’t know anything – or willingly act as though they don’t – about the tough, tragic side of what they are getting into. At best they stoically think, Yes, I understand that sooner or later I’m going to relinquish sex in this marriage, but it’s in order to have other, more valuable things. But do they understand what they’re forsaking? To be chaste, to live without compromises, the frustrations? By making more money, by making all the money you can? By making all the children you can? That helps, but it’s nothing like the other thing. Because the other thing is based in your physical being, in the flesh that is born and the flesh that dies. Because only when you fuck is everything that you dislike in life and everything by which you are defeated in life purely, if momentarily, revenged. Only then are you most cleanly alive and most cleanly yourself. It’s not the sex that’s the corruption – it’s the rest. Sex isn’t just friction and shallow fun. Sex is a revenge on death. Don’t forget death. Don’t ever forget it. Yes, sex too is limited in its power. I know very well how limited. But tell me, what power is greater?’
Personally I’m giving money a shot as a substitute for the invigorating kick of sex with strangers… If it’s not with strangers, then where’s the thrill? It becomes a technical affair if you do it too often with the same person, which has its advantages too, of course, but it loses its euphoria, its celebration of life, it becomes part of the daily routine. The scientific name for this is ‘the coolidge effect’.
Ok, back to money now.
I suppose that drug will have its own limits too.