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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Unrequited Love and Our Modern Age

I was thinking recently about the nature of love and sex in the last few horror novels I have read. 

Love has changed, hasn't it? 

Today's writing doesn't reflect the love a character has as much as how good the sex is with their partner for that chapter.  There isn't any courting, dating or romance.  If there is any of that mushy stuff at all, it's only after the brain-blasting orgy, when every single bodily fluid has been thoroughly tested by every sense.  Only then does a character seem to give a shit about the other person. 

The days of unrequited love in fiction are gone.  Now if a person loves another, or even wants to be with them, they are shunned and ridiculed.  And for good reason, I expect many to say, because the hang-ups that got between a couple are gone.  From the moment of meeting to that explosive release, those fictitious people no longer have to jump through hoops, or even act like they give a damn. If somebody turns you down, move on to the next person, because finding that partner is easy. 

When I think about the last few novels and novellas I've read in the horror genre, there is no love, or even the imitation of it.  No infatuation either. 

Horror has turned into dark erotica with better plots. 

I'm not sure why this is but I have to say I've become bored and now skip over most sex scenes.  They don't even turn me on.  I've found them boring. 

Unrequited love is the reason a perfectly normal person turns into the killer, or the monster, or the Bad Guy.  That admiration from afar, the constant thoughts, can turn into a chorus of demons screaming at our protagonist.

Unrequited love is powerful--far more powerful than a couple that barely knows each other knocking boots an hour after meeting in the bar. The days of this being shocking, or useful as a tool of anything, are long gone.   In fact, I don't get shocked anymore by anything sexual.  I'm numb to just about all forms of it.  I recently finished Poppy Z. Brite's Drawing Blood.  My friends and I all agreed that graphic gay sex seemed more like an exercise in what the writer could get away with and didn't seem to add much to the characters or the plot. 

But then I asked myself if we thought that because we were straight guys.  I mean, straight men are repulsed by graphic gay sex--far more than women in similar circumstances.  And what I figured out for myself was that it wasn't so much that as it was how simply over-sexed most of us are in this land. 

Sex is everywhere.  Gratification is everywhere.  Release is now sold instead of the Path to Release. 

I once watched a couple on a subway hold hands.  They were young and very much into each other.  Their fingers were in constant motion, moving back and forth over each digit.  He would lightly trace an index finger down the back of her ring finger, slowly moving it around a knuckle.  She put rub her thumb on the back of his hand, between his thumb and forefinger, in slow circles.  After a few minutes they would let go and re-grip, then start over again, with different fingers in different patterns.  It was a sweet, delicate thing to watch and it went on for an hour until their stop came and they left. 

Holding gratification off, either by physical, cultural, or moral reasons creates tension and anxiety.  It is a natural tool.  The Twilight franchise doesn't hold a copyright on this.  And just because two characters aren't naked by the second chapter doesn't make your book suddenly about abstinence. 

The MC should be able to lean in to smell the object of his desire's perfume, or get caught looking at her from across the room, and not be labeled a "creeper" or worse.  If it is anything like real life, she will have no idea, and it will drive him insane.  The emotional storm inside of him will boil until it reaches critical mass and he has to Do Something!  To me that adds a greater dimension than just a bunch of grinding bodies. 

Unless one of them is dead.  Then the story is instantly escalated to awesome. 

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