Sally O'Neil a now forgotten actress from the 1930s. Pic from Mark Viera's Sin in Soft Focus
Saturday, February 25, 2006

Beautiful Objects of Desire

Maybe it's because I’m getting old and hear time’s winged chariot hurrying near, or maybe it’s because I’m a Cancer, and Cancers, at least according to my wife, like to live in the past, but lately I’ve been doing a lot of reminiscing about people and places that went before. Every once in a while I get to thinking about people that I knew back in high school.

I graduated from in high school in 1964. I went to my high school reunion in 1974, and since then haven’t had much contact with the old crowd. I did sign up for the alumni group, and visit the web site every once in a while. I remember the girls from high school as being impossibly pretty, and when I went to the reunion in 1974 I mistook this one pretty girl for one I’d gone out with a few times in my senior year.

In 1964 we were 17-19, and were all in our late 20s at the reunion. When the 40th reunion rolled around we were all pushing 60. I’d put on a few pounds, lost a good portion of my hair, and the little that remained had gone from blonde to white. Did I really want to see people that I remembered as young and attractive and who had turned old and soft? Wasn’t it better to remember the attractive young people, and I’m thinking mostly of the girls, as they were so that the beautiful objects of desire remained just as they were?

When I was in high school I used to be friends with a guy who had the nickname of “Wild Bill.” He was short and stout, if I recall correctly. He’s now a lawyer, and a grandfather. From “Wild Bill” to lawyer. Wild Bill, come back, Wild Bill.

I also used to hang out with a guy who was the son of a senator’s aide. There were 10 children in the family. Recently I came across a picture of them taken in 1999 or thereabouts. It was a family of ectomorphs gone to seed. They’d all put on weight, one of the daughters, who used to be a pretty redhead, had gone white, and put on weight. She was a hippy hippie. The others were all aging, decaying hippies. As far as I can tell they’ve produced 2 lawyers, one of whom is a bureaucrat in DC, and none of them look like they’ve accepted middle class values, such as shaving, or getting haircuts.

It also looks like their politics haven’t changed, or have gotten worse. One of their web pages is devoted to Bush hatred. I can understand not liking the man, or disagreeing with him. What I can’t understand are the rants. The interesting thing is that they still believe the war in Vietnam was immoral. I used to believe that, but realized I was wrong when S. Vietnam fell, and Cambodia became a tragic nation. That’s one reason my politics moved to the right. Perhaps William Blake was right when he wrote “The man who never alters his opinion is like standing water and breeds reptiles of the mind.”

But that’s just another beautiful object of desire. Let it go.

Despite nostalgia and the longing to return to yesteryear there is no going back, and time’s winged chariot has now been turbocharged. I used to think the quatrain that follows was about censorship and the artist’s grim determination to proceed despite all sorts of opposition. In a way though I think you can see the moving finger as also the finger of time.

"The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,

Moves on: nor all your Piety nor Wit

Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,

Nor all your Tears wash out a Word of it.”
" Oh, and the beautiful object of desire above is Sally O’Neill (10/23/1908-6/18/1968) as shown in a picture in Mark Viera’s Sin in Soft Focus. I haven’t really read the book. I bought it primarily because of the pix from old movies. I picked Sally’s pic because she’s pretty, the pout is rather sensuous, and because the pic wasn’t too sexy for a blog that’s supposed to be more or less devoted to spirituality.

And a word about the word object. The word is what some academic types call polysemous, i.e., it has many meanings. Most academics and even some feminists know this. Its meanings express both the thing that is desired, and a grammatical subject/object relationship, i.e., “I desire you.” The grammatical relationship does not deny the personhood of the person desired, it actually emphasizes it, since the person would not be expressing that desire to a mere thing that is interchangeable with another thing.