Letters from an Alien: Compartments (aka The Sermon from The Box)

Posted: February 22, 2011 in Uncategorized


I have just started reading The Naked CIvil Servant it has broken my heart already.
That kind of honesty is so rare. I can’t think of one  person who is alive today who is that honest.

I worked out why these ‘compartments’ irk me a little. It is because when you compartmentalise sex/love/principles/secrets etc you also have to compartmentalise your politics/theory

Monogamy needs secret lovers to survive; it is what it is built on.

So arguing against monogamy whilst shoring it up, helping it survive, is contradictory.

My relationships and sex life have transformed my politics, which have then caused me to change my approach to relationships and sex.

Like you said, this way of doing things ‘ruins the sex’. But  I think for me, sex needs to be ruined if I want to change anything. I think Foucault was coming round to that idea too- with his ‘end of the monarchy of sex’.

I am ridiculous I know. To have such ‘standards’ of myself, others and my ‘heroes’ Roland.
It doesnt make me happy. But it helps me think more clearly than I did when I have been more immersed in those compartments.

The thing is it easier for me because I am a woman. And the fact is, when you are a woman- sex is a bit crap. If I was a fag I think I’d spend more energy ‘preserving’ the monarchy of sex. But being a woman means, as Mr Crisp said, you are basically screwed. All those stupid feminist ‘sex positive ‘ bitches are really just stamping their feet and wailing ‘it’s not FAIR!’ I used to myself. But I  got over it. And that really really pisses them off.

That is my sermon from my wooden box with the airholes.


Four Chambers

1985. Biology class. Our young hormonal bodies are trapped under the bell jar of our schooling. We want to escape outside and explore our own biology. We are fascinated by the differences between ‘Boy’ and ‘Girl’, ‘X’ and ‘Y’, ‘Sex’ and ‘Love’. But we are stuck behind big wooden tables, forced for the next painful 90 minutes to listen to the droning of the teacher.

Today’s lesson is about the heart. Apparently, the heart has four chambers. The two ventricles (right and left) are muscular chambers that propel the blood out of the heart (the right ventricle to the lungs, and the left ventricle to all other organs). The two atria (right and left) hold the blood returning to the heart, and at just the right moment empty into the right and left ventricles. The four heart valves (tricuspid, pulmonic, mitral and aortic) keep the blood moving in the right direction through the heart. According to our dog-eared text books, Life itself is dependent on the efficient running of the heart. Should the walls of those chambers dissolve or move and let the blood and love and emotions, mix, we would surely die.

To illustrate her point, the teacher fetches a real cow’s heart from behind her desk and places it on the table at the front. We crowd round expectantly, waiting for her to cut it open with a scalpel. The heart that has been ripped from a poor dead cow is purple and bloody and dark. The teacher looks nervous as its blood stains her hands, and her own blood rushes to her reddening face. More blood spills onto the desk and the tough tissue of the beast’s vital organ resists the slicing of the scalpel. Girls scream and boys hide their eyes. Our hearts leap to our throats. I suddenly think of Warren Chapman as I do approximately every four minutes. He is the first boy to take my heart, and turn it into a mess of blood and love and emotion. Thinking of him, his long dark hair, and big eyes, his manly hands on the fret of his bass guitar, makes my heart turn somersaults and causes me to feel nauseous. That time he kissed me on New Year’s Eve, the room spun and my heart left my body and flew into the air. I swear it. This ‘four chambers theory’ is not working for me. One last glance at the bloody, chopped up remains of that cow and I feel sick. I run from the room.

Now I have accepted science for what it is. A rigourous and honourable method that only partially explains the world and how it works. But some folk have taken science too much to heart. I meet grown men who cling on desperately to that notion of four chambers. They move very gingerly, scared that the delicate balance of their hearts will be disrupted. Their hearts’ chambers are labelled precisely: ‘wife’, ‘love’, ‘sex’ ‘fantasy’. They focus all their energies on keeping the compartments intact. They seem to actually believe that when they use one chamber of the heart, no-one knows the others exist. It is this kind of belief system that causes incidents such as a married man to search the internet for a woman to fulfill his sexual fantasies. It does not even matter to him whether his wife understands him or not; she is safely locked away in chamber one, while he is off playing out his fantasies in chamber four (hoping they might be realised in chamber three).

I am very careful with how I approach these men. They can be dangerous, especially to themselves. I know that when I speak to them, I cannot tell them about the cow, about Warren Chapman, and how the heart really flourishes through its mixture of love and blood and emotion. I can’t tell them that reality is in fact much messier than our science teachers told us. If I did it might kill them, as their hearts exploded in a bloody mess of mixed up fucked up feelings. They survive on the delusion that ‘Life itself is dependent on the efficient running of the heart’. My heart knows different.

Sex Without Love

by Sharon Olds

How do they do it, the ones who make love
without love?  Beautiful as dancers,
gliding over each other like ice-skaters
over the ice, fingers hooked
inside each other's bodies, faces
red as steak, wine, wet as the
children at birth whose mothers are going to
give them away.  How do they come to the
come to the  come to the  God  come to the
still waters, and not love
the one who came there with them, light
rising slowly as steam off their joined
skin?  These are the true religious,
the purists, the pros, the ones who will not
accept a false Messiah, love the
priest instead of the God.  They do not
mistake the lover for their own pleasure,
they are like great runners: they know they are alone
with the road surface, the cold, the wind,
the fit of their shoes, their over-all cardio-
vascular health--just factors, like the partner
in the bed, and not the truth, which is the
single body alone in the universe
against its own best time.
  1. Heresiarch says:

    “And the fact is, when you are a woman- sex is a bit crap.” So Teiresias was wrong, then?

    Perhaps sex is really a bit crap for everyone. Perhaps that’s the Big Secret no-one’s allowed to talk about.

    • maybe it is! I think there is something though about sex between men that is kind of cool. probably because I can never experience it. its very impossibility for me is what makes it so interesting.

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