Daily Prompt: Unconventional Love

Over the weekend, we explored different ways to love. Today, tell us about the most unconventional love in your life.

Departure She noticed him as soon as he walked into the bar. There was a sudden lowering of voices,           the other girls were quiet, their eyes down, and she saw that other men greeted him silently, with the sort of respect one owes to someone special. He went to sit in one of the leather chairs near the wide window, and to O’s surprise signalled to her to come to him. O stood in front of him, silent. “You are O”, he said in a deep and yet youthful voice, “Anne-Marie has told me about you, and Sir Stephen”. O could not stop herself shed a tear. “I have come to take you with me”, he said in a matter of fact voice. Then, against her usual discipline, she looked at his face, his eyes. He smiled. “I have told Anne-Marie to have your iron rings removed. I will give you a pair of rings to wear if you wish, but this time of silver. Also I have a new collar for you, and you will find it more comfortable.” His eyes were grey, the pale grey of autumn clouds near the sea. O knelt and started crying, unable to stop. He slowly pulled her to him, cradling her in his arms.

Later he took her to her room. He had brought her clothes, and lingerie. Anne-Marie came in with her tools. She showed great respect for him, as he watched her remove O’s rings. Then she asked O if she wanted her to undo her collar. O said yes, all the time looking at him. When this was done, he thanked Anne-Marie who left the room. He took O in his arms. She felt at the end of a long road, and she wanted to belong. She fell asleep in his arms. In the morning, he helped her dress in her new clothes. Then they left.

The following year O gave him a son.

(This story was prompted by a comment from Gemini on my previous post. The full story can be found here)

#WritersWednesday ~ O m’a dit/Avant-Propos

O m’a dit ~ Avant Propos

This translation of  “O m’a dit” is my own. I acknowledge all copyrights: editions Jean-Jacques Pauvert (1975 and 1995), Régine Deforges, Gallimard, estate of Ms Aury.  An American-English translation of  “O m’a dit” was published in the 80’s by Viking Press.

Dominique Aury Régine Deforges interviews Pauline Réage in 1975, twenty one years after Histoire d’O was published (1954).  Régine is then forty, and in 1968 has founded her own publishing house, “L’Or du Temps”, and its first erotic novel, Irène, was banned by the censors.  Pauline is sixty-eight, but her true identity as the author of O has not yet be revealed (it will be in 1994, as the following text mentions).

For the new edition of O m’a dit, in March 1995, Régine wrote this introduction.  Pauline will die three years later.

“I have with the author of Histoire d’O a relationship of infinite tenderness, made of profound affection and respect, and I know she has for me the softest of friendships.

She is now an old lady [in 1995 Pauline is eighty-eight] but I cannot see her as such. I see her rather as a lost child, as I am, in the world of adults; always capable of saying things that surprise them or shock them.  This submissive is a free and loyal being.  Even though I am not so sure that loyalty be such a great quality.  One uses it when one needs it, as one can conclude by merely looking at our politicians…  The loyalty, which one believes to owe to others, is a trap in which someone as free as Dominique Aury [Pauline’s “official” literary name]  may sometime be caught. But I love her the more for it.  Don’t we love the very weaknesses of those we cherish?

Why Dominique Aury instead of Pauline Réage? She herself lifted the veil over the identity of the author of Histoire d’O in a long interview with the New Yorker, in July 1994 [Pauline’s/Dominique’s real name was Anne Desclos but she was known in her profession as journalist and literary editor only as Dominique Aury].  There she “admits” being the author of the most erotic and troubling novel of the 50’s, which only knows a worldwide success twenty years later.

Cinema has not done justice to the book, the great film of O and her love is yet to be realised.  Perhaps it is too late?  Histoire d’O talked to us, as a disciple of Fénelon and of Madame Guyon (classical mystics of the 17th-18th century), of “abandonment in the hands of the Loved one”.  This quietism is no longer of our time.

To please me, Dominique Aury agreed we composed O m’a dit. I owe to this proof of friendship to have overcome my fear of writing; she forced me to develop some of my questions or digressions.  I obeyed her and this work appeased my anxiety. One or two years later I published my first novel Blanche et Lucie [Blanche et Lucie is the history of Régine’s two grand-mothers].  For this I am for ever indebted to her.  The following year it was Le Cahier Volé [the Stolen Notebook], in which I tried to describe what would hinder my writing for more than twenty years.  Of that fear I am not completely cured.

For a while Dominique and I thought of adding a chapter to O m’a dit. “But my child, I have told everything and I am so tired”.  I did not insist.  This book expresses the essential on the manner (the writing of) Histoire d’O was undertaken.     Perhaps today I would be more combative, more incisive, more brutal?  But already then, I wanted to protect her, and, I admit, she intimidated me still a little.  I was amazed to know her so well, she the author of a book that had so much taken hold of me, that I had read so many times with the same emotion, the same deep effect on me.  This was childish on my part.

Now, when we evoke Histoire d’O and O m’a dit, we feel that a long time has gone by, that women and men, overfed by television and films with forcefully realistic images, can no longer be moved by O.  I did a survey of twenty and thirty year-old women [Régine writes “girls” and “young women”] who have read O. All have recognised, even when they disagree with the tortures O accept, that they felt like making love when they discovered the story.  Thus the words still have the greatest strength of evocation.  As for the men, something like nostalgia of a time that preceded feminism seems to float on their eyes.  But they are wrong, one can be a feminist and take pleasure, like O, in being a sex object.  For who decided to be that object, if not her?

O m’a dit is a sincere book, where neither Pauline nor I have cheated.  It still looks like us.”

The End of the Challenge #AtoZChallenge #WritersWednesdays

The End of the Challenge

O There is always an anticlimax at the end, like finishing the first reading of a beloved book.  But, somehow, one of the posts has given me an idea.  Doing research for the Challenge leads sometime to old friends, or friends one did not expect to have.  Thus I have met Régine Deforges, a celebrated writer and hell raiser in her own time.  From Régine I have promised myself to read several books, and more about those in due time.  For now I have picked up a new project: translating and commenting on Régine’s “O m’a dit” (© Société Nouvelle des Editions Jean-Jacques Pauvert, 1975, Nouvelle Edition, Pauvert, 1995), her 1975 interview – sorry – “entretiens” with Pauline Réage, author of Histoire d’O.  In fact there is yet another idea beyond this, but for the latter, my readers may have to look elsewhere in these pages.

I think a translation of “O m’a dit” in English already exists (if so I have not read it), but I relish the idea of doing something my own way, with my own bias.  “O m’a dit” is a fascinating piece of journalism and critique, one of only two interviews Pauline gave in her lifetime.  When, in 1975, Pauline and Régine met they were already friends, and they talked about O, of course, but also about many subjects they were keen to discuss: in those lines one can read the weight of their own success – published and successful author of one world-famous book for Pauline, Régine of many to come – as well of their phantasms.  Well, enough for now, and more later.  What I am planning to do is to translate (I think the whole text: 170 pages) and post in small chunks with comments, hopefully of interest to you, reader, and I’d probably do that every Wednesday or so under the tag #WritersWednesday!

So, what about the Challenge?  Well, it is now over for 2013, and I published the last post yesterday!  It has been most enjoyable, and I found it easier than last year, which was my first year of participation.

 

#FiveSentenceFiction: Shadows

For Dominique Aury

Permis de Conduire Through the magic of things written I am trying to find you: and you are in so many places, present, resolutely the woman you always were.

So it is, for me, that you live on, your writing a seductive light of decency and wonderful poetry, for everything I read from you is sheer delight…

And, yes, there is a bit of jealousy in this admiration, in this search through shadows, towards the man you loved and for whom you wrote the ultimate passionate letter, the one that cannot be forgotten.

You wrote of a gift never equalled since, of a sacrifice that only heroines of old were capable.

Is this madness, falling in love with someone who left this world so long ago?

#AtoZChallenge: April 26, 2013 ~ Women

La liberté n’offre qu’une chance d’être meilleur, la servitude n’est que la certitude de devenir pire.” ~ Albert Camus

Amazons
A wall painting by Franz Xaver Simm from the Caucasus Museum in Tbilisi. The original painting has not survived. Date 1881 Source Hermann Roskoschny, 1845-1898. Das asiatische Russland, Leipzig: Gressner & Schramm, 1884

Perhaps one day – how far in the future is a matter for speculation – it will be suggested that parthenogenesis is the way forward for the human species on its way to the Stars.  In my novel, The Page, the alien race poised to colonise Earth, offers it to the female gender, arguing, with some reason, that exterminating the males would be a favour to the Universe in general, Earth in particular, and free them from the kind of slavery no law or feminist revolution has so far succeeded in doing.  The unanimous reply is: “Please go – and clone yourselves.” This may be yet further evidence supporting Paulhan’s idea of “bonheur dans l’esclavage”…

Yet you are irreplaceable, even if we might be.  Not only are we hopeless at bearing children – pace “mummy” Schwarzenneger – let us banish for ever the thought of a male only world, even if biologically such an enormity was conceivable: it would be hell, even for the more softly inclined among us.  Who would we copy, whose lingerie would we try with rising emotions?  Whose panties would we rub our stubbled cheeks with, dreaming of the thousand and one nights delights? Whose lovely ways of walking would we try to emulate, us, the primates, occasionally goose-stepping morons, of otherwise poor artistic tastes?  And, worst of all, whose slender necks would wear those sober collars, emblematic of our deepest dreams?

“Neanderthal rising” is an hallucination lurking in my “writer-in-learning” ’s mind: an apocalypse of primal beasts rushing back to the stone age in a flurry of females being dragged by their (long and gorgeous) hair… and frightened mammoths…

But there are biological and physical facts: a different – but then, are two brains ever similar? – wiring of the synapses, longevity (a crucial quality for deep space travel)… and of course the potential for asexual reproduction.  If a (presumably female) Columbus of an unfathomable future wished for “peace on board” the proverbial ship, what would be her best bet?  A mixed gender crew soon rioting into roman orgies and muscular hand to hand fights, or a spartan and disciplined amazon crew of jar-headed female warriors, athletic, evidently lesbian, and, well… just tremendously sexy to this Neanderthal’s imagination. Peace.

#FiveSentenceFiction: Angles

Angles

Susan You are working in our study, and for now you are on your own, in a space we share.

On the wide oak table are the latest photographs we have made: you, me, us, in different angles, seized in the slow motion of time arrested, provocative and yet romantic pictures of lovers…

You are choosing those for the next edition of our book, for which the publisher offered that huge advance: we were almost embarrassed, after all, it’s one of our hobbies – I see you’re smiling…

Now you’re looking in the mirror, and I know the reflection of you, the slender neck, the leather collar, the triumphant red hair, the delicate silver necklace, those eyes your master gave the world for.

And tonight, I will take your portrait, as you know, the angle which suggests, and does not show, just enough and no more, of your sublime beauty…

Daily Prompt: Freaky Friday

If you could be someone else for a day, who would you be, and why? If that seems too easy, try this one: who would you like to have spend a day as you and what do you hope they’d learn from the experience?

You and me You know I want to be you, for a day, for us to exchange our rings, our collars, our devotions.  It may not be easy: the challenge is to try and ignore my “old” self, and for you, yours… For we share more than our love: with intimacy comes the kind of knowledge that goes beyond the familiar, you know what that meant – knowing someone – in the middle ages… So, turning this round, me becoming you, you, me, this will send us spinning – aren’t you afraid?  I am, a little anxious: after all, this is more than reversing roles, it is about being from inside, not merely naked, in front of you, it’s being possessed by you in a way which may not be reversible.  So, if I am to be you, and you, me, for a day, maybe the risk is then for us to chose to stay that way? Are you ready?

Weekly Writing Challenge: Person, Place, Thing

The challenge is to write three paragraphs, though you can choose to write more or less if you wish — the goal is to get you watching closely, observing, and collecting people, places, and things to use in your creative writing projects.

DSC_0226 You are that person, and your beloved face, at that instant, is for ever engraved in my memory: those grey eyes calmly fixed on mine, the cold air, lips made for love, a kiss, a wish.  How far did the dream go that day?  Your still body, expecting, your smile, the black shirt you wore, the thin silver necklace: my reflection in your eyes, on that cliff, far from everything – the challenge as your hands softly rested on my shoulders… I observed the rock going out of focus, as suddenly you filled my vision, eyes only for you, once unattainable beauty… Then your hair escaped the cap and my heart sunk…

The cliff was cold, just touched by the morning sun.  We heard the cry of the eagle, above us, searching the plateau.  The rock was damp with dew, your finger traced our names on the smooth surface… You had forgotten the vertical, but of course I had not: I was your guide, your knight…

So the rope held us together, and you laughed as I made the innocent move that brought us closer, tightening your belt – then you said: “only the eagles can see us, we are free Mister”.  And so I will write the story: the beautiful red-hair, the cliff and the tight rope.

#AtoZChallenge: April 16, 2013 ~ Naoko

norwegian_wood_by_himekavya-d3hn542 “It takes time, though, for Naoko’s face to appear.  And as the years have passed, the time has grown longer.  The sad truth is that what I could recall  in 5 seconds all too soon needed ten, then 30, then a full minute – like shadows lengthening at dusk.  Someday, I suppose, the shadows will be swallowed up in darkness.”

So speaks Toru, the narrator of Norwegian Wood, Haruki’s Murakami’s immortal love story.  This harrowing tale of desire, impossible love and loss lingers forever in the reader’s memory: what could have been, the search for reasons, the desperate hope.  This is a romantic heroine, doomed, condemned to a personal hell: “Don’t you see? It’s just not possible for one person to watch over another person forever and ever.  I mean, suppose we got married. You’d have to work during the day.  Who’s going to watch over me while you’re away?”  As for him, Toru, there will be no peace, those fleeing memories do not reduce the pain, so there is only one choice:

“Once, long ago, when I was still young, when the memories were far more vivid than they are now, I often tried to write about her.  But I couldn’t produce a line… Now, though, I realize that all I can place in the imperfect vessel of writing are imperfect memories and imperfect thoughts.”

The thought of Naoko, for us who have met her only in the book, fills us also with an unbearable sorrow.  So is the power of great literature.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/dec/06/winter-reads-norwegian-wood-haruki-murakami

#AtoZChallenge: April 6, 2013 ~ Femme

Femme, de Marcel Rochas

Femme Marcel Rochas created the perfume “Femme” in 1943.  Suffice to say that some of the most beautiful women in the world have worn, are wearing and will wear “Femme”.  Suffice to say that the most beautiful of them all is my wife, Gorgeous.