essays on man and woman

An Essay on Man
An Essay on Woman
Awake, my St. John! leave all meaner things
To low ambition, and the pride of kings.
Let us (since life can little more supply
Than just to look about us and to die)
Expatiate free o’er all this scene of man;
A mighty maze! but not without a plan;
A wild, where weeds and flow’rs promiscuous shoot;
Or garden, tempting with forbidden fruit.
Together let us beat this ample field,
Try what the open, what the covert yield;
The latent tracts, the giddy heights explore
Of all who blindly creep, or sightless soar;
Eye Nature’s walks, shoot folly as it flies,
And catch the manners living as they rise;
Laugh where we must, be candid where we can;
But vindicate the ways of God to man.
Awake, my Fanny, leave all meaner things;
This morn shall prove what rapture swiving brings!
Let us (since life can little more supply
Than just a few good Fucks and then we die)
Expatiate free o’er that lov’d scene of Man,
A mighty Maze! for mighty Pricks to scan;
A wild, where Paphian thorns promiscuous shoot,
Where flow’rs the monthly Rose, but yields no Fruit.
Together let us beat this ample Field,
Try what the open, what the Covert yield;
The latent Tracts, the pleasing Depths explore,
And my Prick clapp’d where thousands were before.
Observe how Nature works, and if it rise
Too quick and rapid, check it ere it flies;
Spend when we must, but keep it while we can:
Thus Godlike will be deem’d the the Ways of Man.
Say first, of God above, or man below,
What can we reason, but from what we know?
Of man what see we, but his station here,
From which to reason, or to which refer?
Through worlds unnumber’d though the God be known,
’Tis ours to trace him only in our own.
He, who through vast immensity can pierce,
See worlds on worlds compose one universe,
Observe how system into system runs,
What other planets circle other suns,
What varied being peoples ev’ry star,
May tell why Heav’n has made us as we are.
But of this frame the bearings, and the ties,
The strong connections, nice dependencies,
Gradations just, has thy pervading soul
Look’d through? or can a part contain the whole?
Is the great chain, that draws all to agree,
And drawn supports, upheld by God, or thee?
Say, first of Woman’s latent Charms below,
What can we reason but from what we know?
A Face, a Neck, a Breast, are all, appear
From which to reason, or to which refer.
In ev’ry Part we heavenly beauty own,
But we can trace it only in what’s shewn.
He who the Hoop’s Immensity can pierce,
Dart thro’ the Whalebone Folds vast Universe,
Observe how Circle into Circle runs,
What courts the Eye, and what all Vision shuns,
All the wild Modes of Dress our Females wear,
May guess what makes them thus transform’d appear
But of their Cunts, the Bearings and the Ties,
The nice Connexions, strong Dependencies,
The Latitude and Longitude of each
Hast thou gone throu’, or can thy Pego reach?
Was that great Ocean, that unbounded Sea
Where Pricks like Whales may sport, fathom’d by Thee?
Presumptuous man! the reason wouldst thou find,
Why form’d so weak, so little, and so blind?
First, if thou canst, the harder reason guess,
Why form’d no weaker, blinder, and no less!
Ask of thy mother earth, why oaks are made
Taller or stronger than the weeds they shade?
Or ask of yonder argent fields above,
Why Jove’s satellites are less than Jove?
Presumptuous Prick! the reason would’st thou find
Why form’d so weak, so little and so blind?
First, if thou canst, the harder Reason guess
Why form’d no weaker, meaner and no less.
Ask of thy Mother’s Cunt why she was made
Of lesser Bore than Cow or hackney’d Jade?
Or ask thy raw-boned Scottish Father’s Tarse
Why larger he than Stallion or Jack Ass?
Of systems possible, if ’tis confest
That Wisdom infinite must form the best,
Where all must full or not coherent be,
And all that rises, rise in due degree;
Then, in the scale of reas’ning life, ’tis plain
There must be somewhere, such a rank as man:
And all the question (wrangle e’er so long)
Is only this, if God has plac’d him wrong?
Respecting man, whatever wrong we call,
May, must be right, as relative to all.
Of Pegos possible, if ’tis confess’d
That Wisdom infinite must form the best,
Where all must rise, or not coherent be,
And all that rises, rise in due Degree;
Then in the scale of various Pricks, ’tis plain
God-like erect, BUTE stands the foremost Man,
And all the Question (wrangle e’er so long)
Is only This, if Heaven plac’d him wrong?
Respecting him whatever wrong we call,
May, must be right, as relative to all.
In human works, though labour’d on with pain,
A thousand movements scarce one purpose gain;
In God’s, one single can its end produce;
Yet serves to second too some other use.
So man, who here seems principal alone,
Perhaps acts second to some sphere unknown,
Touches some wheel, or verges to some goal;
’Tis but a part we see, and not a whole.
When Frogs wou’d couple, labour’d on with Pain,
A thousand Wriggles scarce their purpose gain:
In Man a Dozen can his End produce,
And drench the Female with spermatic Juice.
Yet not our Pleasure seems God’s End alone,
Oft when we spend we propagate unknown;
Unwilling we may reach some other Goal,
And Sylphs and Gnomes may fuck in woman’s hole.
When the proud steed shall know why man restrains
His fiery course, or drives him o’er the plains:
When the dull ox, why now he breaks the clod,
Is now a victim, and now Egypt’s God:
Then shall man’s pride and dulness comprehend
His actions’, passions’, being’s, use and end;
Why doing, suff’ring, check’d, impell’d; and why
This hour a slave, the next a deity.
When the proud Stallion knows whence ev’ry Vein
Now throbs with Lust and now is shrunk again;
The lusty Bull, why now he breaks the Clod,
Now wears a Garland, fair Europe’s God:
Then shall Man’s Pride and Pego comprehend
His Actions and Erections, Use and End.
Why at Celaenae Martyrdom, and why
At Lampsacus ador’d chief Deity.
Then say not man’s imperfect, Heav’n in fault;
Say rather, man’s as perfect as he ought:
His knowledge measur’d to his state and place,
His time a moment, and a point his space.
If to be perfect in a certain sphere,
What matter, soon or late, or here or there?
The blest today is as completely so,
As who began a thousand years ago.
Then say not Man’s imperfect, Heaven in fault,
Say rather, Man’s as perfect as he ought;
His Pego measured to the female Case
Betwixt a woman’s Thighs his proper Place;
And if to fuck in a proportion’d Sphere,
What matter how it is, or when, or where?
Fly fuck’d by Fly, may be completely so,
As Hussey’s Dutchess, or yon well-bull’d Cow.
Heav’n from all creatures hides the book of fate,
All but the page prescrib’d, their present state:
From brutes what men, from men what spirits know:
Or who could suffer being here below?
The lamb thy riot dooms to bleed today,
Had he thy reason, would he skip and play?
Pleas’d to the last, he crops the flow’ry food,
And licks the hand just rais’d to shed his blood.
Heav’n from all creatures hides the Book of Fate
All but the page prescribed, the present state,
From boys what girls, from girls what women know,
Or what could suffer being here below?
Thy lust the Virgin dooms to bleed today,
Had she thy reason would she ’skip and play?
Pleas’d to the last, she likes the luscious food,
And grasps the prick just rais’d to shed her blood.
Oh blindness to the future! kindly giv’n,
That each may fill the circle mark’d by Heav’n:
Who sees with equal eye, as God of all,
A hero perish, or a sparrow fall,
Atoms or systems into ruin hurl’d,
And now a bubble burst, and now a world.
Oh! Blindness to the Future, kindly given,
That each m’enjoy what fucks are mark’d by Heaven.
Who sees with equal Eye, as God of all,
The Man just mounting, and the Virgin’s Fall;
Prick, Cunt, and Ballocks in Convulsions hurl’d
And now a Hymen burst, and now a World.
Hope humbly then; with trembling pinions soar;
Wait the great teacher Death; and God adore!
What future bliss, he gives not thee to know,
But gives that hope to be thy blessing now.
Hope springs eternal in the human breast:
Man never is, but always to be blest:
The soul, uneasy and confin’d from home,
Rests and expatiates in a life to come.
Hope, humbly, then, clean Girls; nor vainly soar
But fuck the Cunt at hand, and God adore.
What future Fucks he gives not thee to know
But gives that Cunt to be thy Blessing now.

— Alexander Pope

monday nothing

The Fugs, named after Norman Mailer’s euphemism punctuating the pages of The Naked and the Dead, were conceived in a former kosher meat store on East 10th Street in late 1964, when 26 year old Ed Sanders published 42 year old Tuli Kupferberg’s poetry in his highbrow literary journal, Fuck You: A Magazine of the Arts:

We drew inspiration for the Fugs from a long and varied tradition, going all the way back to the dances of Dionysus in the ancient Greek plays and the “Theory of the Spectacle” in Aristotle’s Poetics, and moving forward to the famous premier performance of Alfred Jarry’s Ubu Roi in 1896, to the poèmes simultanés of the Dadaists in Zurich’s Cabaret Voltaire in 1916, to the jazz-poetry of the Beats, to Charlie Parker’s seething sax, to the silence of John Cage, to the calm pushiness of the Happening movement, the songs of the Civil Rights movement, and to our concept that there was oodles of freedom guaranteed by the United States Constitution that was not being used.

Ed Sanders and Tuli Kupferberg photographed by Richard Avedon in 1967
The Fugs consisted of three members: Tuli Kupferberg, native New Yorker and “one of the leading Anarchist theorists of our time,” Ken Weaver, humorist and poet, and Ed Sanders, fellow poet and leader of the group. Their inspiration was irreproachable. Their performance was parodic. There were musicians, there were noisemakers, and then there were The Fugs. “From now on nothing holds us back, cacophony forever”, crowed Ed Sanders during a 1964 recording session. The form suited the subject. Nothing is Kupferberg’s inspired paraphrase of a Yiddish potato folk song into a supreme ode to negativity:

Monday nothing, Tuesday nothing
Wednesday and Thursday nothing
Friday for a change a little more nothing
Saturday once more nothing

Sunday nothing, Monday nothing
Tuesday and Wednesday nothing
Thursday for a change a little more nothing
Friday once more nothing

Montik gar nicht dinstik gar nicht
Mitvokh und donershtik gar nicht
Fraytik in a noveneh a gar nicht kuggele
Shabes vayter garnicht

Lunes nada martes nada
Miércoles jueves nada
Viernes por cambio poco mas nada
Sábado otra más nada

January nothing, February nothing
March and April nothing
May and June a lot more nothing
Ju-u-ly nothing

29 nothing
32 nothing
39, 45 nothing
1965 a whole lot of nothing
1966 nothing

Reading nothing, writing nothing
Even arithmetic nothing
Geography, philosophy, history nothing
Social Anthropology nothing

Oh, Village Voice nothing, New Yorker nothing
Sing Out and Folkways nothing
Harry Smith and Allen Ginsberg
Nothing nothing nothing

Poetry nothing
Music nothing
Painting and dancing nothing
The world’s great books a great set of nothing
Arty and farty nothing.

Fucking nothing, sucking nothing
Flesh and sex nothing
Church and Times Square all a lot of nothing
Nothing nothing nothing

Stevenson nothing, Humphrey nothing
Averell Harriman nothing
John Stewart Mill nihil nihil
Franklin Delano nothing

Karlos Marx nothing, Engels nothing
Bakunin, Kropotkin nyothing
Leon Trotsky lots of nothing
Stalin less than nothing

Nothing nothing nothing nothing
The whole scene’s a whole lot of nothing
Nothing lots and lots of nothing
Nothing nothing nothing nothing NOTHING NOTHING NOTHING

Nothing nothing nothing NOTHING nothing
Lots of it

Nothing nothing nothing nothing nothing
Not a Goddam thing.

Here’s wishing Tuli Kupferberg a whole lot of Nothing.

Tuli Kupferberg and Ed Sanders photographed by Bob Gruen in 2003

the next round

The last time my father stood next to me, he was ringing your doorbell and telling you that we loved you. The next day you scraped our child out of your womb.

Leonardo da Vinci, Feto umano nell’utero, 1511

That was nearly five years ago. Now you complain that I am harming you. You have failed at forcing the issue. You are begging me to desist. But I am not doing anything wrong. Nor am I harming you. If you want me to do your bidding, you must understand my reasons and convince me of your understanding. If you can feel remorse, we may benefit from conversation. If you stand on your rights, we have nothing to discuss.
    You offer my survival in some good memories. You offer kindness and a possible friendship. But how you remember me is your business. Your kindness last screeched at me amid 57th Street. Neither of us is good at friendship. I am sorry to hear about your father’s recent death. I offer you my condolences and appreciation of your effort to be responsible. But your responsibility is impossible without remorse. You will be responsible for people who love you; you are sorry if you have hurt me; you are deeply sorry for the baby; but you obsess about your reputation. You will say anything to forget our catastrophe. Is that what you call making peace with the past? You seem to be susceptible to shame. Think of it as your medicine meant to elicit remorse in regard to our common history.
    There are two innocent victims in our story. Neither of us is one. But my guilt is not an issue in what you want from me. Refusal is my right. You have two ways of getting past it: either persuade me that satisfying you is the right thing to do or offer me something I want in return. You want to move on. You claim that my account deters you from doing so. It does nothing of the sort. I am nowise deterred by Usenet libel claiming that I fucked a dog. You are displeased with my versiculi. But pleasure is not your right. And I am nowise obliged to concern myself with whatever pleases you.
    You need to be jarred from complacency. You have cancer of the soul. Your anguish is its symptom. I live with your disparagement. You could likewise live with my diagnosis. Your discomfort stems from recognizing its truth. You suffer from a spiritual malignancy. Seek to cure the disease, not to palliate the symptom.
    I mean to be therapeutic for both of us. I could be wrong. But you haven’t begun to persuade me of my error. As to your offers, I doubt that you have anything I want. But it doesn’t hurt to try. This is not an issue of sexual deviance. Your love of pain was entertaining. Its frustration of your own aims did not stand between us. Nor am I concerned with your failure to live up to your role models of Sex in the City, that bevy of time-worn bags traipsing around Manhattan in search of a steady regimen of penetration. You relate to women even more tenuously than you do to men. You could have friends through interest in people for their own sake, or through interests shared with other people. Neither of us is good at caring for people. But you also lack concerns that might ally you with others. You fail at concentration. Your attractions are notional. You imagine yourself in life and work without realizing any role. You have dabbled in marriage and yearned after motherhood, just as you have dabbled in design and yearned after commerce. You avoid sustained effort. You must work for a living, and you are content with the minimum of work that will keep you alive. Millions of others live like that. Unlike them, you refuse to make peace with mediocrity. You admire the drive towards betterment but fail to keep up on its path. Things get too complicated. Progress is too much to bear. It’s fun to whine about aimlessness and regret childlessness. It’s a drag to create a business or stay the course to become a mother.

Johanna Schwarzbeck, AFTER ABORTION, 1993

You might look up Johanna. She is your kindred soul, supplementing sex in the city with syringes. Even closer to your home comes a movie about a Chinese woman who seeks to reverse the effects of aging by consuming her own foetus. The only side effect of her success is a fishy body odor. George Orwell observed that “in the West we are divided from our fellows by our sense of smell”. As an exile from ideology, I prefer to divide myself from the advocates of class struggle and gender privilege. Tyranny stinks. I accept the attribution of foetal cannibalism to domination by the Chinese Communist regime. The party rules you to this day. In your doctrinary moods, you always had issues with my material comforts. But the roots of your resentment may be more ancient. Think of Euripides’ Medea, the tale of a woman who kills her own children in order to punish their father Jason for trying to start a new family. Medea addresses grieving Jason at verse 1396, which David Kovacs translates as: “Your mourning has yet to begin. Wait until old age.” The Greek original is twice as concise:

Μήδεια: οὔπω θρηνεῖς: μένε καὶ γῆρας.
Medea: [not yet adv] [sing a dirge, wail verb 2nd sg pres ind act]: [await, expect verb 2nd sg pres imperat act] [and conj] [old age noun sg neut acc]

You may have fancied yourself unwittingly, Medea to my Jason. Perhaps you deserve to address me as ψευδόρκου καὶ ξειναπάτου, breaker of [my] own oath and deceiver of a stranger. For my part, I broke nothing and deceived no one. Perhaps you fear running out of chances upon reaching your fifth decade. For my part, every day brings new beginnings. Your dirge is unripe. Oupô thrêneis: mene kai gêras.
    Perhaps Latin will suit you better than Greek. In his speech for Aulus Cluentius in 66 B.C., Cicero recalls a certain Milesian woman convicted of a capital crime for an abortion that she brought on by medicines, having been bribed to do so by those who stood to inherit the father’s estate in the absence of his unborn child. And rightly so, says he, inasmuch as she had abolished the hope of the father, the memory of his name, the supply of his race, the heir of his family, a prospective citizen of the republic. But as the great orator wrote to Atticus seventeen years later, in the midst of a civil war that doomed his republican cause, ut aegroto, dum anima est, spes esse dicitur. It is said that for a sick man, there is hope as long as there is life. Set aside the rest of the story, from Pompey’s flight from Italy to the ensuing display of Cicero’s hands and head on the Rostra in the Forum. You may yet redeem your errors. If you could save three lives, you would restore the balance. Let me know how it goes. If you can take my help, I will give it.

ой мама роди меня обратно

Вставьте мне в сердечко звёздочку, звёздочку,
Вместо ушек вставьте ракушки, ракушки,
А заместо глазок — шарики, шарики,
Вместо брючек дайте штаники, штаники,
Положите меня в ясельки, в ясельки,
Чтобы я лежал бы в люлечке, в люлечке
И пускал из носа сопельки, сопельки,
Издая при этом вопельки, вопельки.
А потом постройте радугу, радугу,
Чтоб по ней бежали гномики, гномики
Чтобы в ней бы жили кошечки, кошечки,
И кормите меня с ложечки, с ложечки.
Но вы этого не можете, не можете.
Ну так что ж вы блядь меня не уничтожите?

Шиш Брянский

amours de voyage

     cum suis vivat valeatque moechis,
quos simul complexa tenet trecentos,
nullum amans vere, sed identidem omnium
ilia rumpens;

nec meum respectet, ut ante, amorem,
qui illius culpa cecidit velut prati
ultimi flos, praetereunte postquam
tactus aratro est.

     Memoria teneo Milesiam quandam mulierem, cum essem in Asia, quod ab heredibus secundis accepta pecunia partum sibi ipsa medicamentis abegisset, rei capitalis esse damnatam; nec iniuria quae spem parentis, memoriam nominis, subsidium generis, heredem familiae, designatum rei publicae civem sustulisset.
I recall that, when I was in Asia, a certain Milesian woman was convicted of a capital crime, because she had brought on abortion by medicines, having been bribed to do so by the heirs next in line; and rightly so, inasmuch as she had abolished the hope of the father, the memory of his name, the supply of his race, the heir of his family, a prospective citizen of the republic.

 — for Rachel Yumei Wang    

City bustle. Fading light.
You’ll have company tonight.
At your service, all your men.
They will make you whole again.

Rig your hopes and tell you lies.
Bust a nut between your thighs. 
Fart and snore and pay no heed
While dreams dwindle and recede.

Others not so long ago
Lit you up and made you glow,
Nights fulfilled you, but the dawn
Found you wan and woebegone.

Lest your gloom ensued in spawn
Its conclusion got withdrawn:
Scrape the foetus from within,
Glom more solace for your skin.

City bustle. Fading light.
You will sleep alone tonight.
One good woman, no good men.
Love can’t make you whole again.

Amours de voyage I have allowed myself to call them, as distinguished from the love we may have for localities wherein our everyday lot is cast.”

— Vernon Lee, Genius Loci, 1898