Reading “Lifting the Veil – Old Masters, pornography, and the works of John Currin” – New Yorker profile, 1.28.08.
Currin says, “I’d like to get the sex thing over with, but I realized I’m not done with it… You should never will a change in your work–you have to work an idea to death. I often find the best things happen when you’re near the end.”
True of the podiatrist father sequence (God is in the Cracks, dialogues and monologues between a father and son) and now, more recently, of the Shelby the Dog poems, some of which, like Currin’s paintings, derive from porn and images and descriptions of sex products. Actually, both Shelby (above, in the greenery) and Leopard Dog (above, on the floor) are sex-obsessed in my poems about them, but they have higher longings as well. I don’t know about you, but sex has always fueled my imagination. Or, should I say “imaginations,” and those other areas beyond… anything to do with sex. Sex is part and parcel of our “divine conscious energy.” That kundalini energy, truth, consciousness, bliss…
And like Currin, I too sometimes long and would like “to get the sex thing over with…”
But there it is in the quasi autobiographical Lenore and the Leopard Dog sequence (God is in the Cracks, pp. 53-59) with the young boy and newly arrived voyeuristic animal peeping through the keyhole as Father and Father’s wife-to-be make love:
“‘What, you still don’t get it? says Dog,
thwacking me with his tail.
Lenore’s your Mommy, little boy;
Wicky Wicky’s your Father.
You had mother.
Now you have another.’
Hands on his shoulders, she sits on father,
moves up and down.
“Now you see it, now you don’t,” she says.
“Bad Lenore, Bad. That’s not Dog,” says Dog,
barking at the keyhole.
“There is man and woman and a third thing, too,
in us, says the poet. That’s the eye in the heart
that sees into the invisible. The goal, Poet says, is to see
with the eye of the heart so like sees like.” [says Father… the Poet of course is Rumi]
“Shut up,” she says, “shut up and schtupp.”
“Oh God, marry me,” he says, “marry me.”
Well, the sex is part of the narrative. It’s also fuel, powers the higher longings, so-called, and the endlessly fascinating, endlessly fascinating. As someone commented today on my post “Words, Words, Words,”
I think words can form a nest you can settle down in or can act as ammunition to blow your security apart. They are tools, also, to get the work of life done. I think of a line from a Frost poem “…each tool I step on… turns into a weapon.”
And, as John Currin says, “Pornography is so associated with photography, and so dependent on the idea that the camera doesn’t intercede between you and the subject. One motive of mine is to see if I could make this clearly debased and unbeautiful thing become beautiful in a painting.”
And in poetry. And in a canine’s view of humans doing the deed. Bow wow. Bow wow. Or, as Shelby the dog puts it, “Bow fucking wow!”