by Guy Walker
The sun finally rose just enough to push through the beige tellurian blinds, the first ray of morning light shining through the dusty soiled bedroom, shining on the huge heaving butt cheek of the fat woman sleeping. Her breasts weighing down the bed, the blue veins beating slowly and tired, like each heartbeat was a victory. A fan in the corner oscillating over and over, blowing the long draping fern, then moving towards the sleeping woman, blowing all her starless sordid hair like she were really resting under a coastal breeze. A kitten was still waiting by its empty bowl, as it had waited there for most of the night, just waiting for the fat woman to stir, then wake, then feed him, then he could finally eat. But she didn’t stir . . . she just groaned as all the little robins sung outside.
Lots of time had passed. The room was now full of steaming light, and the woman rolled over onto her back, naked, little heads of sweat pushing from their pores. She opened her eyes finally, her eyelids encrusted with all that grossly golden night, and she was staring up at a huge and absurd paper mache of a dragon hanging from the ceiling. It just hung there, completely lifeless, the blowing fan not even making it stir. Like it were some recoiled memory of life, just hanging there in the middle of the room. The woman shoved that whole body of hers onto her feet, picked up these old enormous panties, and slipped her legs into them one by one. And then those great breasts into a bra, trying to contain the impossible. She stood up and walked towards her desk, making the antique floorboards creak. She didn’t eat, didn’t wash her face, didn’t piss, and didn’t feed the little kitten. She just sat into the deep cracking leather chair, opened her laptop, and began writing instantly, her fingers burning furious, page after page written. Outside, the wet temporal English countryside buzzing and spreading, but the fat woman never once looked out the window . . . her words were just too magnificent. She can’t stop, she is so inspired. Words and love and scenic delirium devour her. Her heart beats with more nerve and adventure than she has felt from all the real wanton intrigue she’s had in the bedroom. She writes her next sentence: “Holy crap! He’s wearing a white shirt, open at the collar, and tray flannel pants that hang from his hips.” She feels the poetry flood over her. It’s all too much. She’ll need a glass of water soon.
She is Erika James, EL James, and she is halfway through her life epic, 50 Shades of Grey. No one knows it yet, but Erika will excite and satisfy tens of millions of desirous desperate women seeking something far from their pallid arid landscape empty of any romance. In other words, Erika is going to sell books.
In its primitive and immature stage, it started as a Twilight fan fiction series named Master of the Universe, and her pen name was the extraordinary Snowqueen’s Icedragon. Unfortunate for us, He-Man, Prince of Eternia was cut from the original, and Master of the Universe was renamed to its current title, 50 Shades of Grey, a title of great enigma and enthusiasm. The book is nothing less than exceptional. Its prose is something that edges close to masterful, something that Tolstoy and Melville and Thoreau and Nietzsche and Joyce all writhe under envious graves that they did not come up with her words, or her bold original characters, or her complexly enraptured storyline: an average-looking young woman falls in love with a hot billionaire. And they have really hot sex together. In fact, our hero, Christian Grey, spanks the young woman, Ana. And she likes it. Then he whips her with a belt. Ana doesn’t like to be beaten that hard, so it doesn’t work out in the end. But in the midst of her libidinous appetite for abuse, we are graced with Erika’s natural talent for words, something that we as readers are forever in debt: “I pull him deeper into my mouth so I can feel him at the back of my throat and then to the front again. My tongue swirls around the end. He’s my very own Christian Grey-flavored popsicle. I suck harder and harder … Hmm … My inner goddess is doing the merengue with some salsa moves.” As an aspiring writer, I can’t focus on my own words anymore. I am completely aroused. My fully erect penis throbs for the next page. I read further and further, almost as fast as when Erika wrote the thing. This is as dangerous as Mozart’s Requiem. It’s something that has been sold to 90 million readers, in 52 languages, and read also by all the screaming shopping girlfriends who have borrowed the book from them. They’re all women of course. But the sorts of women who buy and read this shit come from all sorts of chivalrous conditions: single, divorced, widowed, married, prostitute, suicidal. All sorts. None of them have actually ever been in love, and none of them have ever even had reasonable sex, but they all read and dream and fantasize about being spanked on the ass. They like thinking about naughty stuff like penises but they would never dare to do anything about it. Quite seriously, women who join book clubs, and discuss over tea and biscuits the allure of being bitch-slapped is something akin to men watching hours of hazy porn as their eyes turn red under all that languid hopeless heat, their penises sweaty and tired and flaccid again. In other words, everyone is too coward to realize out their fantasies. Rather than having great sex with a great partner, the women who buy this kind of shit prefer to read a book in their sweatpants and drink green tea sweetened with three packets of Stevia as they text their girlfriends how much they hate their ex’s.
J.D Salinger may have forbidden any film adaptation of Catcher in the Rye, but E.L. James is smarter; she knows that her story is too important to keep from the masses of moviegoers, and so she sold the rights for $5 million. Hollywood makes great films about our most exigent ponderous heroes–American Sniper for example, about the smarmy brittle character of a man, casting his Châtiment de l’Orgueil across the deserted landscape by killing any brown male between the ages of 16 and 65. 50 Shades of Grey is opening on Valentines, which is just perfect timing if you and your date like watching sadomasochism but not actually taking part in it. You can watch a girl being tied up and beaten, and eat more popcorn while holding your girl’s hand. It’s something that hits right at the heart of a serious philosophic inquiry, something that Gilles Deleuze argued didn’t even exist as a real term. Sadomasochism is of course the combination of one’s desire to be bear pain through sexual acts, and another’s desire to inflict the pain. For Deleuze it’s something else. In his essay Coldness and Cruelty, Deleuze argues that the sadist actually attempts to destroy the ego in order to unify the id (the human’s basic instinctual forces) and the super-ego, while masochism alone is the desire that intensifies because of a delay of sexual gratification; its sexual frustration is ‘rewarded’ as ‘unwavering coldness.’ This is known as The Contract: the process of controlling another, and turning them into someone cold and cruel and callous. In other words, because a man is sexually insecure or unsatisfied, he will be more prone to tying up girls and whipping them in order to feel a little better about himself. This is something every sex-related serial killer has in common with Christian Grey—they all need to assert their dominance over their named inferiors. Gary Ridgeway, the Green River Killer, for example, had an insatiable sexual appetite; he would charm women (mostly prostitutes) with a picture of his son, then he would have sex them, then he would strangle them—seventy-one of them in fact—and then he would dump their dead bodies in the river. Or David Berkowitz, Son of Sam, a New York serial killer in the late seventies who shot and killed several couples; whether they were kissing in their car, or having a picnic in the park, David didn’t enjoy seeing couples in love while he had nobody to share romantic company. The most exemplary failed masochist of all is Elliot Roger, the 22-year-old who couldn’t get laid so he decided to kill six people, targeting young women. Elliot Roger was Christian Grey’s imperial predecessor: wealthy, the son of a movie director, somewhat good looking, and sexually frustrated. In his last video before his killing rampage, he says, “I’m 22 years old and I’m still a virgin. I’ve never even kissed a girl. I’ve been through college for two and a half years, more than that actually, and I’m still a virgin. It has been very torturous. College is the time when everyone experiences those things such as sex and fun and pleasure. Within those years, I’ve had to rot in loneliness. It’s not fair. You girls have never been attracted to me. I don’t know why you girls aren’t attracted to me, but I will punish you all for it. It’s an injustice, a crime, because… I don’t know what you don’t see in me. I’m the perfect guy and yet you throw yourselves at these obnoxious men instead of me, the supreme gentleman.” Elliot was as much of a gentleman masochist as Christian Grey, the only problem was that he didn’t have anybody to turn cold and callous, so he just killed them instead. His masochism was so confidently intact as he waited outside a Dominos for hours and hours waiting for a girl to walk by and smile at him so they could start talking and eventually fuck in a glorious fashion. The only difference between Christian Grey and Elliot Roger is Christian actually fucked. In the masterpiece 50 Shades, Christian Grey loves a gentlemanly dominance as much as Elliot: “I don’t make love, I fuck…hard.” In other words, Christian is empty of any human empathy. He feels absolutely nothing except for his throbbing aching penis and his alpha carnality for dominance. He is basically a complete vacuous fuckwit. Again to Ana, he says, “I don’t know whether to worship at your feet or spank the living shit out of you.” According to Sigmund Freud’s Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality, Christian Grey is probably just an incredibly guilty piece of shit who wasn’t breastfed enough. Freud argued that inflicting pain on another during sexual intercourse is “the most common and important of all perversions,” and that masochism is a form of sadism against the Self. Guilt, he continues, is very much a part of masochistic sexual tendencies, originating from an incorrect development of the child.
As much as people love discussing whether a pernicious chewing individual was born that way or the society they grew up in molded them that way—the old stupid debate about nature or nurture—it doesn’t really matter for Christian Grey. Christian was one lonely fantasy of one lonely woman. What is impressive is that 90 million women are desperate enough to go out and buy a book to quench their muted doloric utopias of being tied up and beaten by a hot rich guy. Master of the Universewas the perfect title. Its only problem is that its meaning is too straight forward. People love their subtleties.
Across the road from where Erika is writing her epic, there is a cherry blossom where a nest is shaking and the mother bird is peering down. Beyond that there is a garden, full of pretty flowers, still covered in morning dew. And beyond that there is another tall house. Inside, a fat man in a stained white wife-beater is sitting back in his sad porcine couch, his hand wrapped around his sweaty throbbing penis, tugging on it madly as the man on the television gets whipped and whipped again, naked, screaming for more. The fat man is almost there, he’s so close. His face contorts and freezes. Everything is silent for a second. Erika pauses for the first time in hours, thinking of her next word. She looks out the window. Outside, a group of pheasants erupt from the tall grasses. The fat man leans forward in the dim opaque room, coming all over his coffee table. Erika smiles, and then writes, “Why is anyone the way they are? That’s kind of hard to answer. Why do some people like cheese and other people hate it? Do you like cheese?”