Second Encounter with Mrs. Jong

“I used to dream of a perfect man whose mind and body were equally fuckable.”
-Erica Jong, Fear of Flying

She’s back.

I met her again this evening. My idol. My daring woman. Erica Jong.

As cool as she was. I was surprised to see my heroine once more. Fear of Dying, I was just looking around the shelf and unintentionally my eyes met with this. The title sounds familiar. Then I looked at the name, and that’s her! That’s her, Erica Jong.

Less than two months ago I was reading her former book–Fear of Flying. I came across the book by accident. I was just browsing sort of recommended erotic-books-of-all-time. No. Actually I remember I was browsing books that are about “affair”. Fear of Flying was one on the list. That’s how I get to know Erica Jong. The book speaks everything on my mind but afraid to say them out loud. Sex is the subject of taboo. Affair is even more taboo. But Jong did it splendidly. How daring she is. She talks about it in a sharp, witty, funny way. The book is sexy–and truthful.

“We drove to the hotel and said goodbye. How hypocritical to go upstairs with a man you don’t want to fuck, leave the one you do sitting there alone, and then, in a state of great excitement, fuck the one you don’t want to fuck while pretending he’s the one you do. That’s called fidelity. That’s called civilization and its discontents.” – Fear of Flying

That’s truthful.

And this is sexy,

“…I am saying all the silly things you say while necking in parking lots, trying somehow to express a longing which is inexpressible—except maybe in poetry. And it all comes out so lame. I love your mouth. I love your hair. I love your ears. I want you. I want you. I want you. Anything to avoid saying: I love you. Because this is almost too good to be love. Too yummy and delicious to be anything as serious and sober as love. Your whole mouth has turned liquid”

Another truth,

“The best thing about making love with a new man after all those years of marriage was rediscovering a man’s body. One’s husband’s body was practically like one’s own. Everything about it was known. All the smells and tastes of it, the lines, the hairs, the birthmarks. But Adrian was like a new country.”

You. You had awaken in me the passion that was long gone. That’s why I looked for an erotic-book-of-all-time to read in the first place, which brought me to her. Thank you for your introduction. Me and Jong are getting along very well now.

This is feminist side of the book:

“I was furious with my mother for not teaching me how to be a woman, for not teaching me how to make peace between the raging hunger in my cunt and the hunger in my head. So I learned about women from men. I saw them through the eyes of male writers. Of course, I didn’t think of them as male writers. I thought of them as writers, as authorities, as gods who knew and were to be trusted completely. Naturally I trusted everything they said, even when it implied my own inferiority. I learned what an orgasm was from D. H. Lawrence, disguised as Lady Chatterley. I learned from him that all women worship “the Phallos”—as he so quaintly spelled it. I learned from Shaw that women never can be artists; I learned from Dostoyevsky that they have no religious feeling; I learned from Swift and Pope that they have too much religious feeling (and therefore can never be quite rational); I learned from Faulkner that they are earth mothers and at one with the moon and the tides and the crops; I learned from Freud that they have deficient superegos and are ever “incomplete” because they lack the one thing in this world worth having: a penis.”

Rewriting, retyping, quoting passages you like is like expressing your love for them. So I am putting here some of my favourite lines from the book. Erica, how I love your sharp tongue!

  • In Florence, Pia paraphrased Robert Browning: Open my cunt and you shall see Engraved upon it: Italy.
  • The women writers, the women painters—most of them were shy, shrinking, schizoid. Timid in their lives and brave only in their art.
  • “You’re an incurable romantic, Adrian. … Walden Pond and all that.”
  • In a certain sense, you do write to seduce the world, but then when it happens, you begin to feel like a whore. The disparity between your life and your work turns out to be as great as ever. (For me, I am not writing to seduce to world. I write to seduce you exclusively. – me here, not Erica Jong)
  • So, like all good nuns, I masturbated. “I am keeping myself free of the power of men,” I thought, sticking two fingers deep inside each night.
  • “Come up to my apartment and let me set your poems to music” and I always come.
  • Marriage could be lonely too. Marriage could be desolate. All those happy housewives making breakfasts for husbands and kiddies were dreaming of running off with lovers to sleep in tents in France! Their heads were steeped in fantasy
  • I only know that if I stop hoping for love, stop expecting it, stop searching for it, my life will go as flat as a cancerous breast after radical surgery. I feed on this expectation. I nurse it. It keeps me alive

It’s not just love and sex, the book also says things about arts–about writing, that any writer-wanna-be would like. Like these,

  • Life has no plot. It is far more interesting than anything you can say about it because language, by its very nature, orders things and life really has no order. Even those writers who respect the beautiful anarchy of life and try to get it all into their books, wind up making it seem much more ordered than it ever was and do not, finally, tell the truth. Because no writer can ever tell the truth about life, namely that it is much more interesting than any book. And no writer can tell the truth about people—which is that they are much more interesting than any characters.
  • ME: Think of Sylvia Plath! ME: Dead. Who wants a life or death like hers even if you become a saint? ME: Wouldn’t you die for a cause? ME: At twenty, yes, but not at thirty. I don’t believe in dying for causes. I don’t believe in dying for poetry. Once I worshipped Keats for dying young. Now I think it’s braver to die old.

This’s quite enough. Last word here: read Erica Jong yourself.


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