The Haunted Heaven: Chapter Twenty Three: The Erotic and The Soul
By Michael Moriarty
The call of James Joyce and Stephen Daedulus!
I know that first sentence doesn't initially sound very erotic … but this chapter is not entirely about sex. It is about what James Joyce calls "epiphanies".
"An epiphany (from the ancient Greek ἐπιφάνεια, epiphaneia, "manifestation, striking appearance") is the sudden realization or comprehension of the (larger) essence or meaning of something."
Why the human orgasm seems to me an epiphany of sorts may very well be my heresy.
The film Nora, based on the life of Nora Barnacle, the wife of James Joyce, certainly doesn't dismiss such an idea. A sense of humor is an integral part of this epiphany.
Joyce and I have an increasingly long relationship.
Genius and Lust seems a much more applicable title for a treatise on Joyce than one on Henry Miller, whose "genius" does not even touch the range of Joyce's epiphanies.
My own sexual education came through the more high-toned erotic-porno-graphic writings of Joyce and Miller.
Sex without a prelude of eroticism, the kind of divinely erotic truth I find throughout the work of James Joyce, is a drama without a plot, wine without an aroma and, well, sex without love.
Perfect eroticism is the assurance of safety as one proceeds toward the intensities of passion.
Since I find no other metaphor more intensely memorable, I relate spiritual worship as the highest form of eroticism.
Ultimate selflessness, rising from a lustfully selfish body. The ultimate leap of faith.
A loss of self first experienced in sexual passion.
Of course, there is always Nora Joyce's famous description of her husband: "Oh, he had a filthy mind!"
Joyce's portrait of his wife as Molly Bloom, though … well … no … she obviously was not entirely Molly Bloom. Either that or her Victorian veneer was the first and most immediate response she had to the outside world.
A.M.D.G. Ad majorem Dei gloriam!
The Jesuits and alcoholism are the two most obvious things that James Joyce and I share. Oh, obviously, the Irish bloodline is a third! Exile is a fourth!! The fifth, in my opinion, is an indestructible tie to the Catholic Church.
Why has that tie existed?
A Jesuit education.
Joyce without the Jesuits is Shakespeare without iambic pentameter.
Ironically my closest direct connection to James Joyce was through the poet, Eli Wiesel. Mr. Wiesel and I had been friends for ten minutes. That ended, of course, over politics. He is Progressively Judaic and a great proselytizer for the United Nations.
However, he had spent an afternoon with the closest friend and literary brother of James Joyce, Samuel Beckett, who had been Joyce's secretary at one time.
Hmmm … apparently … and true to his own plays … Beckett sat there with Eli Wiesel saying very little for long minutes and possibly half hours at a time.
With both, as members of France's Légion D'honneur, they could afford the golden silences. Their marks on history had already been made.
Had I known Napoleon was the creator of the award, I would have stopped Mr. Wiesel's successful efforts to enroll me in the "Club". Jack Lang was the Nobel Prizewinner's intermediary at the time and, I presume, fellow member or "officer" of the Legion of Honor.
Odd that the well-known French Socialist, Jack Lang, should not spell his name "Jacques". Well, that is French anti-Americanism for you: love-hate. I presume that by now my name has been erased from the rolls of the Légion d'honneur.
Having just received an impressively large biography of Charles de Gaulle, I anticipate many lovely hours indulging in the typically prideful antidote to French Communism, Charles de Gaulle.
The love-hate is returned.
My first wife, Francoise, is French. My son, Matthew, half-French.
My love of Joyce is secretly an obsession with Paris. No, I never became fluent in French but I had fallen in love with my French teacher at Dartmouth. No, we never "got it on" as they say. I was, at that time, profoundly shy and she the absolute model of sensitivity and impeccable taste.
She was, however, a mentor, a supporter in my first, long year away from home in Hanover, New Hampshire.
"Michael," she would say in her loveliest of sounds, "You are a dream-air!"
"The world," she continued, "Needs dream-airs!!"
Our experience, despite my knowledge at the time of Henry Miller and Anais Nin, was sublimely erotic while never venturing into the pornographic.
That and the suspenseful moments we spent in her car before I got out of it. Why didn't I leap into her arms?!
Hmmm … I had already had an affair the previous summer with a rather well-known and similarly older female singing star at the time. That affair was not what I wanted. It was what the singing star wanted and my heart had been broken by tales about my true love back home in Detroit and my consent was … well … as you can imagine, my affair with the singing star didn't go well. Thoughts of that failure kept me from trying again with my French teacher.
Oh, I wish I had, though!! She could have taught me so much!
Having just "conducted" the finale of my Concerto For Orchestra" … on the computer! Well … as it is described, Allegro Furioso, I'm a bit worn out … and the movement is not even finished yet.
The wonderfully complete emotional cycle of this piece from a satirical movement – satire being the healthiest refuge for depressing realizations – with the oriental interlude of my second movement – all leading into a challengingly cathartic Allegro Furioso?
Dear Lord of the Holy Trinity, thank you!!
Nothing within me, as now a creative artist instead of an interpretive one, is excluded by my God, Jehovah!
I do find what one might call a mysterious aura actually collaborating on some of my editorials. Quite judiciously. Where those confessions and the words within them will lead either myself or my readers … uh … God only knows. However, to return to the themes of this chapter, the erotic and the soul, I think the two are inextricably linked.
In fact, the entire Universe is inextricably One with God.
What of Evil?
What of the Devil?
The product of the Almighty's generosity!
And his indomitability!!
He is not afraid of our free will!!!
Just finished listening to what I've created so far for my Concerto for Orchestra.
Yes, I must stay in touch with my whole life, including my musical eruptions in Manhattan which, considering my history with the Russian Emigré Orchestra and Nina Beilina's Bachanalia Festival Orchestra, was a glorious baptism by fire. The "fire" I had to endure, I must admit, was a lot less ferocious as a symphonic composer than it was as a jazz pianist, or as some of my fiercer critics described me, a "cocktail pianist".
Hmmm … John Wilson of the New York Times described the great Bill Evans with much the same lexicon. With such mistakes at such a high level by the illuminati of the NYT, I am flattered to even be consider a "cocktail pianist".
What has all this to do with the erotic and the soul?
The rages of life, I personally believe, are best poured into the inscrutable fantasies of a symphonic composer.
Within all that musical rage, there are always corners for the erotic and lust. God willing, such abandon is shared with an authentic loved one.
The greatest composers have been doing that with huge audiences for centuries.
Michael Moriarty is a Golden Globe and Emmy Award-winning actor who starred in the landmark television series Law and Order from 1990 to 1994. His recent film and TV credits include The Yellow Wallpaper, 12 Hours to Live, Santa Baby and Deadly Skies. Contact Michael at firstname.lastname@example.org.