Thursday, July 15, 2021

Abnormal People

Sally Rooney’s Normal People is really about abnormal people or psychology. It’s also about aspiring for the undefinable dream of normalcy or simply fitting in. Her main character Marianne likes to be hit during sex; she models for a Swedish photographer blindfolded with her wrists bound. Her paraphilias are what separates her from her best friend and sometime lover Connell. In one scene,  they’ve gotten back together after many ups and downs. They proclaim their love for each other. It looks like they’re finally ready. They’ll become a couple, until she says "you can do anything you want with me" and asks "will you hit me?" The way Rooney masterfully writes the interchange underscores the fine line between bonding and self-abnegation. The romantic yearnings segue almost seamlessly into fetishism. Marianne had previously been in a relationship with a character named Jamie who beat and choked her during sex and she has an abusive brother. Connell pulls away in flagrante; it’s a decisive moment since he can’t tolerate what she’s revealed. Her emotions swing from passionate love to a feeling of emptiness and desolation, though it’s the almost seamless tie between the two that's disconcertingly being described. Passion in German is Leidenschaft. The prefix means suffer, for instance like Wagner's  doomed lovers, Tristan and Isolde.

Read "The Seven Ages of One Man" by Francis Levy, The East Hampton Star

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