The Aesthetics of a Bad Afternoon
It has been a bad afternoon.
Getting off the train tonight from the working crowd, I smelt the stale smell of men sweating into the aluminium of their carcinogenic deodorants, their rancid lamb chops and coffee bitters leaking into the cotton of their business shirts; I smelt the rotten flowers and putrid spices of the female perfumes conceal the outrageous failure of vaginal hygiene in western women, a yeasty and bloody bloom of which three or four whiffs rose which would make a libertine celibate for a week; I smelt the schoolchildren with their smell of old tomato and soggy lettuce, a mysterious musk of chalky rancidity covering the freshness of their flesh, not yet contaminated by the shit-waves and mud-storms of testosterone and ostrogen.
My gorge rising, I got off and separated from the group as quickly as I could, wishing only for the nausea that the smell of westerners inspires in me to diminish, longing for the company of sweet vegetarian South Indians or the pleasant spice of any other races. By the railway many roses bloom, and I inhaled and held my breath as the last woman stinking of rotten perfume left, her obnoxious high heels and sickening stink of hygiene finally fading in the whole smell of the rose. My nausea faded.
Miserable, I rounded the corner to my house and saw the sunset. The western sky was pink and blue, and suddenly I cried and couldn't contain my relief at the sight of a simply inhuman beauty. I immediately thought of an image...
The sky looked as if Venus were rising as the sun, her pink flesh rosy with love, and murdered before more than he thigh could touch the horizon, so that in the sweet living pink flesh of the goddess was interspersed a morbid blue of dead meat. At once I felt cheerful, as this image reminded me of the dead woman in The Great Gatsby and how Fitzgerald had depicted her with her right breast ripped off. This sadistic touch symbolises the lack of inner nurturance of the jazz generation; it was Fitzgerald's way of biting off the nipple that he had drunk milk from, a symbol for Fitzgerald the alcoholic's loss of soul-milk.
The pleasant contemplation of the sickness of great art, and the awareness of my own perversity, both cheered me enormously, and I wanted only to come home to record the relief with which my numb and weary hatred for the merely ordinary stink of humankind converted into a sense of the actual experience of being alive. It is for such ends that literature makes effective use of violent and sexual imagery: sometimes, to shock the numb and self-centered awake from the nightmare of the ordinary, only violence and sex with suffice.