Thursday, April 26, 2012

Love Letters. And a Total Non-Sequitur Alert.

True story *not* about the characters Layla and Majnun IN the book "Layla and Majnun by Persian poet Nizami:

"Layla," let's call her, quoted Baudelaire to pacify the lonely, lovesick "Majnun", let's call him, in an exchange once, with the following verse:
"Magnificent is space today!
Cast bridle, spurs and reins away
 And let us race on steeds of wine
To skies enchanting and divine!
As though two angels overcome
By fever's delirium,
Through morning skies of limpid blue
Let us that far mirage pursue!
Gentle the winging of our flight
As we the cunning whirlwinds ride
 In rapturous and shared delight."
(No, I don't know if either of them had a preference either way regarding poems that rhyme. Immaterial.)

This was before the texting/emailing age, back when people sent actual letters and postcards to one another. Layla felt tremendous pangs of guilt having led him on in such an overtly glorifying and promising manner in her (borrowed, not original!) poetic response to his earlier letter, as she belonged to another man at the time. Majnun was being tortured, physically (on heroin and drinking) and emotionally by her unresponsiveness to his pleas for her affections, despite his ambrosial attempts. Her silence was vociferous. He'd written her, oddly enough, on a torn-out front page of a copy of "Of Mice and Men,":
"dear layla,
for nothing more than the pleasures past i would sacrifice my family, my god, and my own existence, and still you will not move. i am at the end of my mind, i cannot go back and there is nothing in tomorrow (save you) that can attract me beyond today....
...if you don't want me, please break the spell that binds me. to cage a wild animal is a sin, to tame him is divine. my love is yours." 
Majnun went on to speculate, in his letter, what it was about him that turned her off: was he too ugly? A poor lover? Too weak? Coming on too strong? Not knowing what else to say, he signed it simply with a heart and no name. Layla knew it was from the beleaguered Majnun. (If nothing else, his handwriting in all small letters gave him away.)

There was nothing inherently wrong with Layla's husband, other than to say he was a workaholic who spent too much time with his religious buddies. Majnun really rather liked the guy, who was handsome enough, provided for her, was of equal talent and ability, though he was guilty of having a wandering eye from time to time, which Layla largely tolerated and besides, her eyes were wandering as well. But realizing the mixed signals she was sending Majnun, which began as secret rendezvous that really didn't amount to anything, and how it was slowly driving the poor man insane and embittered, after the Baudelaire, she sheepishly penned him a quick postcard apologizing for her suggestiveness. (Majnun received both the letter and the postcard on the same day.)

Knowing not what to do, both of them conflicted, Majnun replied to Layla with the following:
"i don't think, even if we were the last ones left alive, that you could be happy with me, and as for me i think i am content to remain alone until someday i am free to be discovered...i love you even though you're chicken.
p.s. baudelaire too, was ultimately a pessimist.
p.p.s. the thing about pessimism is that in most cases it's nothing more than a front behind which a body can hide its most sweet yet painful hopes. please forgive mine."
Baudelaire was a 19th Century French Symbolist, most famous for his prosaic volume of poems, "The Flowers of Evil," which was utter and complete scandal back in the day, for the poems were ultimately about sex and death. Perverted yet lyrical. He wrote about booze and lesbianism, profanity and sacredness. Beautifully vile. Hot stuff to whip a verse out of, there, Layla, to throw at this poor man who's head over heels for you. (Then again, name a woman who hasn't fucked with a guy's head at some point in time. Seriously.)

And yes, Baudelaire was a pessimist. I have to agree, ultimately, though, with Majnun about pessimism. "Sweet yet painful hopes." It's my firm belief that every hopeless romantic is ultimately a pessimist and not an optimist. If romantics were optimists, the moniker of "hopeless" would never have been attached. If things worked out EASILY, smoothly, where would all the passion be? One thing is true--there'd be a helluva lot less poetry and music out there if optimism and love jived.

Speaking as a fellow hopeless romantic, the hopes are typically doused with pain and disappointment in the end. The hopes are indeed sweet and stick like honey that's impossible to get off of your fingers and can go on seemingly forever. Is there such a thing as a happy ending? Not that I've seen in my lifetime. My ex-boyfriend was fond of saying, "Every man (person) has his breaking point." Not true at all. There are plenty of reasons why a person--no matter how beautiful, how smart, how talented, how spiritual, how enigmatic, how entrancing and soul-thrilling he or she might be--can fail just as Majnun was seemingly failing, though it was clear Layla loved him. I guess you could say I'm jaded enough to choose solitude too.

"I love you even though you're chicken." While not the most profound or poetic of Majnun's professions to Layla, it's the most spot-on. She *was* chicken. Cowardly. She knew, in her heart, that what she had going on at home wasn't working anymore, and instead of cutting the cord with her pretty-unaware-anyway husband, she kept both men--an atypical case where it's the woman who has her cake and eats it too. It's usually the fellas who make out like bandits.

What happened, in the end, to Layla and Majnun? Well, after relentless persuasion, she left her husband (again, this is a true story) and finally married Majnun. (They'd later divorce due to his alcoholism and wandering eyes extending far enough to conceive secret children that Layla didn't know about. meanwhile, she was infertile..) It was a happy ending for a while, extinguished. I can't help but think of this Elvis Costello/Burt Bacharach tune about the whole concept of lost love....


"Rhythms" has a new look because Blogger has a new interface that I could actually make heads or tails out of. Whatcha think? Too hard to read? My portentous inamorato once complained that the old background was "too flowery" or some such nonsense, when they weren't flowers at all. Anyway, I guess his larger point was that the physical style of the blog was inconsistent with my personality, but customization eluded all of us who utilize Blogger until a few days ago. If the page looks too "busy," I'm manic-depressive, what the hell do you expect?

As proxy servers go, there have to be gajillions of them out there, but I have to hand it to whomever comprises 5% of my overall reader base using when they should be jerking off doing something else, or, gasp, working at their jobs. In all seriousness, if you feel the need to hide your IP or use a proxy to go to the length to read my stuff, I don't understand why you don't just do it when you're free or what have you or what the inherent benefit is of reading me anonymously (unless you happen to be stalking me; in which case, I'm going to call you out publicly on your behavior, sans apologies). I appreciate the readership, well, from the vast majority of you, but there are still trolls out there who derive pleasure (or severe physical anxiety) from the blog, whom I've tried to thrust away, but who are still looking for The Daily Dish. To each his/her own and as always, Happy Reading!


Anonymous said...

Miss Thang I,
I wondered about why your blog had a new skin. Now I know! Too funny!

~Miss Thang II

Andrea Miklasz said...

Hide. My. Ass.

Smack. My. Bitch. Up.

What'll they come up with next?

Love and peace to you, Miss Thang II.

Miss Thang I