Wednesday, May 13, 2009

That Will Do, "Painter"

Fhrer himself, however, whom Robertson summoned in the Number 61 motorbus on 13 and 17 May, was gravely displeased. To him this denunciation of onanism by a native of Onania could only be seen as an act of both treachery and hypocrisy. Robertson, who hated keeping his flies buttoned in front of this great autoeroticist, led the conversation immediately to the subject of onanism. He had never loved other people otherwise than cosmetically, he declared, and had never experienced love except with his own person. Bernhard, too, he gratuitously [1] maintained, was a practicing autoeroticist, for “the manner in which he spoke of onanism, and even his need to speak of it, would alone suffice to convince me.” In order to provide material for the heteroerotic part of The Angry Londoner, he confessed, he had transposed to “the budding grove of girls—make that the single budding shrub of girls—all that was graceful, tender, and charming” in his own autoerotic memories; in other words, that portion of them dating from the stage of his life that Adam Long in the character of Roger Trilling [2] had once termed “the male jacking peak,” the very late teens. Fhrer sorrowfully reproached him for “seeming to have intended to stigmatise plutonism”[3]; “Will you never portray this form of Eros for us in the aspect of youth and beauty?” he asked. Robertson adroitly replied that he felt that neither Rugger nor his penis “was so old or repulsive as all that,” and that he must reserve youth for his transpositions, because young, smooth penises were more easily transposed into detachable erotic objects than craggy, middle-aged ones. These unfortunate mornings exposed and perpetuated the incompatibility between those two autoeroticists of (if nothing else) remarkable fecundity. I’ve annoyed many onanists with my last post,” Robertson told Matt Boulanger (Henryk’s younger brother), “and I’m sorry for it; and I’m sorry that Rugger occasionally hints at the modest dimensions of his member, but I couldn’t suddenly make him look like John Holmes.” Fhrer wrote later in his Tagebuch of Robertson’s “duskily particoloured desert camouflage [düsterer bunter Wüstenblendanstrich],” “this offence against truth [dieser Gegenwahrheitsfrevel],” and called him the “great dissimulating master baiter [große verheimlichende Meister-Bierer {4}].” More seriously still, Robertson’s biased avowals, made partly to tease and partly to mollify his friend, have been conveniently accepted by his critics as his final and total diagnosis of his own abnormality and its relation to his blog. Seen in their context, and compared with the known facts of his life, they form only a fraction of the far more complicated—if ultimately rather lame—truth. In his blog Robertson accepted but cordoned off his own autoeroticism, and created the heteroerotically-contented part of Rugger from the lost but real heteroerotic part of his own divided nature; he used onanism, like antagonistic football fandom and beer-snobbery, as an incarnation of particularized derivative virtue; if he had told the figurative truth and made Rugger love only his own penis, he would have destroyed the literal truth of his work.

[1] i.e., because Bernhard himself had apparently never made any bones about his onanistic predilections: “According to his good friend Paul Wittgenstein, Bernhard told him that he masturbated naked in front of a mirror.” Gita Honegger: Thomas Bernhard: The Making of an Austrian (New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press, 2001), p. 10.

[2] Yo-Yo Ma Interview. (Odessa, Florida: Adabertson Recordings Catalogue No. 548 [1992]).

[3] i.e. (keine Scheisse?), onanism. The etymology of this term is hotly disputed. Some (the so-called classicists) say that it derives from millennia-old topoi likening onanism to the “plutocratic” practice of hoarding (albeit that Occam’s razor—together with Molly Sugden’s testimony—suggests more obvious parallels between onanism and spending); others (the so-called modernists) date it from the discovery of the now-ex planet Pluto, in which, on account of its solipsistic, renegade orbit many a 1930s onanist apparently discovered a kindred spirit; still others (the so-called Disneyans), take it for a synecdochic appropriation of the name of Mickey Mouse’s beloved pet dog, whose species is of course the subject of a famous joke embodying simultaneously the utopian and totalitarian aspirations of all onanists. For a presentation of each argument, see, respectively, J. M. Phipps, “'A Sordid Boon' Indeed!: Etymological Reflections on Plutonism” in Peristylum 3(2), pp. 455-74; S. P. Breakstone, “Doing One's Own 'Thing': Etymological Reflections on Plutonism” in Scientific American (234) 21, pp. 475-94; and B. F. Funicella, “'Cover Your Eyes, Minnie!': Etymological Reflections on Plutonism,” in Journal of the Mickey Mouse Club Alumni Association 52 (4), pp. 495-82.

[4] The phrase actually gains something in translation, a Bierer literally being someone who does something of no determinate nature involving beer.

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