"She might very well love him and yet--he shuddered and threw down his drink--be groaning on some leather couch under the weight of Ellis." In the end I appear to have been fortunate in love, but the person who is overly susceptible to such feelings and is not equipped to cope in some productive way with potential catastrophes is going to invariably lead a limited and second rate life compared to those peers who attain a degree of mastery over the romantic prerogative.
"She had embarked on a voyage which might end years from now in some horrible villa, near a blue sea, with some unspeaking, unspeakably phallic, Turk or Spaniard or Jew or Greek or Arabian. Yet, she did not want it to stop. " Probably because it wouldn't really be all that bad. The Mediterrean villa as a repository of sexual decadence so pronounced, so fantastic and so masterful as not to be contended against by anybody wandering in out of ordinary life was a popular theme at this time, the prospect of being caught up in which obviously titillated and terrified in equal measure the more rulebound, conventional set in the era.
"...the three youths were giggling and covertly watching the dark man and the pasty girl; and if this evening ended as all the others had, they would presently drive off to some haven and watch each other masturbate." This is not my usual fare.
There is a discussion about Franco at one point. The Fascist era in Spain has always rather fascinated me because it artificially preserved a kind of society and way of life for quite a long time, well past the point of exhaustion and dead end. Obviously the old Iron Curtain countries offered a similar fascination, though Spain is unique in the ideas of sort of endless centuries of priests and haying carts and bulls and afternoon bottles of wine under the shade of a tree that play on the imagination, all of which has just abruptly come to an end within my actual living memory. I am sure what I imagine here is not true either, and of course the governments of all stagnant countries are by necessity repressive and horrible, but people are fascinated by these kinds of places where the world or 40 or 50 or more years past is as preserved in amber, as they are with Cuba and North Korea today, because sure as heck nothing remotely like this phenomenom ever happens here.
"They were both, as it were, racing before a storm, struggling to 'make it' before they were sucked into that quicksand, which they saw all around them, of an aimless, defeated, and defensive bohemia." One thing about this book that is somewhat interesting is that it is clear Baldwin reached the point in his life, around his mid-30s, which most non-geniuses usually do in spite of themselves, where he realized that the people who actually made everything happen in New York, and the world in general, were the ones who primarily cared about and directed all their waking efforts towards making money in a big way, and that 99% of the people who thought themselves writers and artists were not only kidding themselves as to their having any value in society, but were wholly dependent on these awful capitalists even to support their alcoholic poverty in some semblance of a style.
Americans, white ones anyway, are globally renowned for their unique ignorance of suffering, which in the case of ordinary people especially is considered to be wholly attributable to luck, real suffering being something one cannot choose to forego, but which engulfs one so as to mark and inform every facet of his character. The hour when this imbalance is corrected, being perceived as necessary to the progression of history, has been often predicted, though to no end as yet.
"'A woman who admires you will open her legs for you at once, she'll give you anything she's got.'" I don't know why I am writing this down. A part of me always wanted to talk like this, I guess. It's a bit crass, perhaps, but in the real world most people who have sex a lot really are quite crass, the girls too.
In Book III, Chap. 1, the male gay sex kicks in in earnest. I'm desperate to be accepted as a friend among the most civilized people, so I'll just say I really enjoyed reading about it.
"The physical pain he had sometimes brought to vanished, phantom girls had been necessary for them, he had been unlocking, for them, the door to life..." Do I need to say that the guy who has taken on all these women is really gay. There really is a lot of life on this planet but I'll be danged if...but all this will do is make people think 'he wanted the gay sex', because that's how people make themselves think nowadays. Most of the women are apparently astounded that people they don't like would have the audacity to even think about taking them to bed, which, for the most part, the inferior men are so cowed and tamed that they actually don't.
While we were on the subject, I was going to write about the worst gay sex image I have had the misfortune of coming across, but it will just show my eternal immaturity. The key words however were "rancid Crisco".
I commented that the characters in this book don't really come to life, except maybe Yves, the French guy. I also observed that it was not clear why anyone would be in love with any of them. I wanted to like Cass, the depressed alcoholic white lady who though a mess herself understood what was going on where other people were concerned, but she was ultimately too repulsive even for me.
"You begin to see that you yourself, innocent, upright you, have contributed and do contribute to the misery of the world." Jeez, you're in bohemian New York--Man-f-ing-Hattan at that--in the 50s. Savor the moment for me at least. Just kidding. I actually like this sentence.
"'Hope? No, I don't think there's any hope. We're too empty here...This isn't a country at all, it's a collection of football players and Eagle Scouts. We think we're happy. We're not. We're doomed." In my note I was clearly still traumatized by the explicit gay sex, because I wrote that 'that isn't helping, I don't think'.
"How I hated them...their little weak, white pricks jumping in their drawers...they wanted to do something dirty and knew that you know how. All black people knew that. Only, the polite ones didn't say dirty. They said real. I used to wonder what in the world they did in bed, white people I mean, between themselves, to get them so sick." Man am I tired.