Give me two


Approaching the Sepulture

The most interesting phenomenon of the consumption era is consumption of man by man. It seems to some people that they love and are loved. Some people believe they are playing games. Frankly speaking, we are looking at the world through the eyes of Patrick Bateman, the hero of Bret Easton Ellis’ novel American Psycho and are simply using each other. In zoology, there is a concept of a model specimen — this is the specific body of, say, a wolf that is kept in a museum and by which the species has been described. Patrick Bateman seems to be such a model specimen of a modern man.

***


There are different forms of human consumption and there are different sites where this exchange of commodities takes place. Sometimes this looks like a luxury car salon, sometimes, like a supermarket, and sometimes, like an open-air market near a metro station. Love is gradually disappearing from this discourse. That means, love is on one side of this relationship. The situation “commodity-money-commodity” is on the other side. Each situation may be viewed both like falling in love and pricing (“All by Louis Dell’OliO. High-heeled shoes by Susan Bennis Warren Edwards. Sunglasses by Alain Mikli. Pressed-leather bag from Hermès”). We estimate what he/she has and what career perspectives he/she has. We wonder what you want from this person. We wonder at which level he/she is a commodity and what you can bid for it. We wonder whether we are at the market of marital relations or can count only on one-off sex. We walk around and browse. We make another person enamored, feel, give hope, evaluate the look and the property and come over to another commodity.

We look closer and come to a conclusion whether we should accept the partner or not (to marry or not to marry) — this is the most civilized option. Another option is to try, to evaluate, to try again, to shake our head, to come over to another partner — and so on and so forth. This is already an Oriental bazaar. Finally, we buy — use as much as we want — discard — replace for a new commodity. This is the third option.

We often cheat each other in this trade. Instead, we give hope, for example. Hope is a very common commodity, when one person starts a relationship hoping this relation would develop, while the other one looks at these dates as a free promotion before a big sale, probably a marriage. He will make use of the promotion but then he will say, “This does not taste good” and will turn to a table with another promotion item.

***


The most unpleasant place I have ever been to is the market stalls in the Old City of Jerusalem when I wandered around it in search of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (I looked for the Holy Sepulchre remembering the Brazilian rock group Sepultura). The stalls surround the approaches to the church, and the shrieks of the street traders trying to sell me something make me deaf: they sell everything, from expensive crosses studded with gems to cheap small icons and red wrist threads, which are offered right on the steps leading to the main Christian shrine. Here our religious belief is exchanged for commodities. Whether one has thousands of shekels or just a few coins, there will be a commodity for any pilgrim there with any degree of buying activity.

When human beings use each other, the coins they use are often called religion, hope and love. Perhaps, love is the most expensive currency, as the marital market is the market where expensive commodities are traded. Hope is cheaper. We hope that sex would not be one-off, we hope that our partner will not dump us, we hope that the relationship will prove to be meaningful - that is on the part of a girl. On his part, we see a benefit: one free sex means saving a hundred, two free sexes mean saving two hundred, a year of free sex means saving a lot. It is hard to determine the place of religion on this market — here everything occurs under the cover of secrecy, but for some people religion is a reliable cover for trade transactions with human bodies. Most charismatic religious leaders of different confessions successfully exchange religion for sex. However, one should be skillful in using this currency, and then one can get oneself a harem — a Moslem, Christian or Krishna one.

By the way, the talk is not only about men, Women can also be beneficiaries here. Even Leo Tolstoy wrote about the economic aspect of marriages by convenience. Little has changed on the marital market since then. However, there are more innovations on the markets below this level. Take, say, a woman, dating a foreigner who has come to meet her and stay with her for two weeks. He brings her gifts, buys brand clothes, which she later returns to the shop and gets money for them, and takes her to expensive restaurants. Finally, after this sex-free dating, she just kisses him good-bye on his cheek and says, “Bye, we cannot be a couple". She remains an honest woman and at the same time, she has successfully traded hope for the commodity he never acquired.

Epilogue


As we return from the travel around Dante’s circles of social relations and go down to the level of mortal bodies, we notice that the picture is very much the same here… We are again in a huge interactive supermarket. ”What is a whole girl for, if there is a knee here…” — this line from Joseph Brodsky could be an excellent slogan for this miserable place where consumption of impulses and fetishes rules, where there is no personal interaction and no interest among people. To have substitutes to be. We use stockings, swagger-sticks, leather harness, and ropes to tighten body parts, we use impulses of different power and frequency. We get equipment with the required parameters — fifteen amperes, nineteen amperes. Ideally, it is great to have equipment of different frequencies for different cases and moods. We exchange impulses. We say good-bye. “Would you like an omelet for breakfast? Thank you. It was really good. Bye. I need to plan my day”.

All this is becoming similar to the reality presented in minute detail by the Swiss artist Hans Ruedi Giger. Exchange of substances, converting into an exchange of impulses. Possession revolting against being, devaluation of values and existential emptiness.

“People just… disappear. The earth just opens up and swallows people” (American Psycho).
© Yelena Mordovina

Yelena Mordovina


A prose writer, a translator, an editor of the Kayala Publishing House

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