Thursday, July 17, 2008

Objectively Speaking

While immersed in my daily reading of sociological trends, geopolitical strategies, cultural indicators, ecological reports, and financial analysis, I happened upon this photo:

Not many women would wear such swimwear at 63. But Helen Mirren easily pulls it off, so to speak.

I don't write that often about sex, sexuality, pornography, and related pleasures, which is odd given that at one time, that's pretty much all I wrote about. My comic-nightmare novel "Beautiful Lies" is filled with explicit sex scenes and reveries, as the book's narrator, Kevin, is addicted to porn, sexually attracted to his adopted sister, playfully named Cousin, masturbates to anything remotely arousing, including TV commercials and old Hollywood films. Massive amounts of booze is the only brake on his fevered imagination before an aborted fetus becomes his Jiminy Cricket, guiding him to a somewhat saner life. When my then-agent read it, her only comment was "Wheeeew! What the hell's inside your head?"

Clearly, not chick lit.

I seriously doubt that if I went back to that type of writing, most of you would stick around to read the sordid results. Besides, American political culture is semi-pornographic anyway, so straight up fuck posts would be timid by comparison. Still, the above photo of Mirren made me think about her fabulous portrayal of Ayn Rand, where Mirren made the Objectivist troll physically alluring, if philosophically crazy and emotionally rigid. I once dated an Objectivist for a time, a cute Italian girl from Jersey who loved Rand's work. Needless to say, we argued quite a bit about politics, sometimes nastily, but it usually ended in great sex or something near it. Not the healthiest relationship I've ever had, yet there were some bright spots amid the anger and infidelities. Through her, I read a lot of Rand's stuff, though it never came close to swaying me. Too Stalinist, humorless, turgid. Interminable speeches by cartoon characters. Endless paeans to smoke stacks and glass skyscrapers. Tortured reasoning. Not my cup of psychedelic punch. But something tells me that if Rand looked like Helen Mirren, I could be persuaded.

"Yes, Ayn! Yes! Selfishness is indeed a virtue! Capitalism is truly the unknown ideal! Atlas may shrug, but baby, you got my full attention! Let's do it on top of your latest manuscript! Reason dictates that we must!"

She didn't call it The Fountainhead for nothing. Honk. Honk.