Friday, October 30, 2009


There is a woman who is a modern day Helen of Troy. She realizes the power she has over men, which is to get attention by giving it. Despite the transparency, her victims are totally prostrated by her dark gaze. There is a bit of mockery in that gaze, a sense of déjà vu, an unearned familiarity. Marlowe described Helen in The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus as “the face that launched a thousand ships and burnt the topless towers of Illium.”  Men of great experience are willing to relinquish everything for nothing. They are totally conquered by her, and would easily make Paris’s mistake, sacrificing their own lives and those of their comrades for a phantom. They literally fall for her.
Helen travels up and down modern skyscrapers and plies her charms amidst jihads, health plans, and G20 talks, amidst sophisticated wine tastings and designer fittings, amidst Esalen hot tubs and wilderness rehab sweat lodges, amidst particle accelerators and Hubble telescopes, amidst securitized mortgages, TARP funds, and credit default swaps.  Her perfumed fingerprints grace the legacies of Jane Jacobs and Robert Moses alike.

Wagner’s Bayreuth and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater are monuments to the power of the demiurge, what George Bernard Shaw called the Life Force. Goethe said at the end of his Faust, “the eternal feminine/ lures to perfection,” though this latter-day Helen plainly lures man to disaster, the same way the Sirens, Scylla and Charybdis lured the unwary traveler in Odysseus’s day.
This Helen lives on among proficiently demystifying sexperts who ascend the mountain of safe sex, a testament that certain longings have not entirely passed from the world, that science is not totally triumphant, and that disenchantment has not overtaken the multiverse. Helen makes no sense, yet armies of her admirers still fall both for her and the Trojan Horse. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.