Mandarin: Two Young Men–1) Haley Road, Pickwick Park 2) Luria’s Fine Jewelry, San Jose Boulevard

by Tim Gilmore, 7/1/2012

1) Such an ordinary suburban house, some brick, some plaster, a lot of drywall, an attached garage, such an ordinary house, such an ordinary street, such an ordinary neighborhood where privacy is everything. It doesn’t matter as much that neighbors know each other—nice (or not) as they may be, he doesn’t—as it does that he has his own room in his own space in which to hide.

In which to indulge, in which to luxuriate in the things that ride up inside his mind and his abdomen and cut him up and apart.

His confusion nevertheless reminds him of a camellia. He was brought up Southern Baptist. His imagining of Jesus was something otherwise. Nothing was noble and beautiful like taking the sin of the whole world on your naked body, and that’s how he saw Jesus. Everyone else’s sin into your own sensitive skin. Jesus was a beautiful naked body covered in all the sin of all the world. Such a masochism. Jesus was a masochistic Narcissus, that lovely boy who fell into such captivation with the image of himself in a body of water, an image he had never seen before, that he couldn’t look away, could not move, so put down roots, and became the flower, the lily, the bulb now called Narcissus.

So Walter too, in his private world so abused, so desirous of being loved, so smart, so talented, so demolished, wants to make the most beautiful thing he might make. He envies Jesus and F. Holland Day and Robert Mapplethorpe. He wants to be loved; he wants to be a Messiah. The idea comes to do strange things for Art, to disavow clothes and cut his body. He would give anything he could give to be beautiful and loved. He would take the poison scourge of all the world’s sins on his mutilated, naked body.

Behind this most ordinary house façade of the proliferation of the suburban explosion of privacy, Walter martyrs his body for a world that doesn’t know him.

And this is the desperation of art. You want to live for someone. You don’t want to die for someone. You don’t believe in martyrs. But you want to put yourself into your art and have your art loved. The putting yourself into is dying. The having your art loved is living. So if you could instantly die into your art, you would do it for love. You would die this moment to be loved in the form of your art.

2) Scott was doughy, had a “soul patch” of hair below his mouth, his hair dyed orange, his head bobbing a little side-to-side-thing strangely arrogant, his eyebrows raised in mock-seduction, a thick gold rope chain around his neck. He was a jewelry store assistant manager, pushed himself up on and had sex with the new store clerk. He put a little rasp in his voice. Victoriously, he told smaller and probably smarter males, “You should getcherself some gold, getcherself a chain.” Then Luria’s went out of business. Tractors showed up and tore down the building. Scott moved back in with his aunt. He ate a lot of potato chips.