Saturday, April 09, 2005

Eleven Minutes - Paulo Coelho

Eleven Minutes - Paulo Coelho

In the drought of my life, the last theme I wanted to read about was love and sex. At a point where I feel that the light is fading from everything good in the world, all I searched for was the comfort and hope needed when walking down a dry and windy road. The Alchemist was the book by Paulo Coelho that saved my dreams from dying at a stage when I was told that I was not allowed to dream much less believe and follow those dreams. By reading this book, I recovered all the strength needed to preserve the very essence of my being, my light, and my dreams. Unaware of the context of the book, I hoped Eleven minutes would somehow add something to spark a dying flame.

“Childhood traumas” is such a psychological condition; a mouthful to those who say it and an easy excuse to those searching to cover their failures. But what do we really know about the effects of our little childhood failure? I bet you still remember what went wrong in your very first relationship and how it made you feel. In this book, Maria refers to a little boy who had asked her for a pencil and how at the time she had not been able to respond with more than handing him the object. She then goes on to explain how that incident brought about a change in her thoughts and attitude. Then there was that first kiss in which she hadn’t known the art of an open mouth kiss… all these little first times, tiny falls and insignificant failures… define our thoughts, our attitudes and in turn… the things we choose to believe in (or not).
The whole book is based on Maria’s insight into the world. Somewhat defensive from those tiny disappointments we all get from life; Maria soon saw how superficial the world truly is. Beautiful and attractive, Maria knew exactly which buttons to press and the reaction that they would give. Men were and are simply predictable.
At one point, a man offers her a job in Switzerland as a dancer, one that she accepts fully knowing the dangers and the adventure of the quest. Wanting more than a mediocre life, she goes to a foreign country intent on living the moments that are considered exciting in the town which she came from. Like many of us, she makes the mistake of falling in love with the wrong man who shatters her soul to the point where she believed that she had none and so, when there is no longer a soul to define moral principles: you do what you have to in order to gain what everyone wants: Money.
Good money without a higher education and keeping it in the legal system can only be found in prostitution. Without a solid intention, Maria found herself in Rue de Berne and in the most respectable whore house on the street. She was told that if she wanted to work, then she should start straight away, if she turned her back she would not return. And so, she accepted a drink, danced and opened her legs to earn 300 francs.
From there on, prostitution was her profession. The book did little to teach me anything new about the business of sex. However, what kept my interest, my intrigue was this woman’s insight and outlook on life. To her, prostitution was not just a means of payment, but a career one that also implied rules and regulations. She demanded respect from her surroundings and clients just as I do in my own, mediocre job.
I was fascinated to read her concept on competition and fair play. Like any woman in search of attention, she’d do her part in dressing and acting desirable, however she would never move in on a client, especially if he’d shown interest in another girl. The ritual in a whore house is that the man would first buy the girl a drink and offer her a dance before taking her to his hotel. Imposing respect on her client meant that she would not leave without him respecting her with this ritual, failure to do so meant that she’d be offended into politely declining his intentions. She also chose not to allow a man to kiss her, for there was more in a kiss than carnal desire and would not accept invitations to private homes as what they were paying for was a night of illusion with her and so reality was to be kept out of the business transaction.
In a year of prostitution, she made friends only with a librarian who had no clue of her profession. Despite her job, she reached no orgasm while being penetrated and like most women: she faked it. Why? Well, more for the benefit of the client than herself, a man can only feel like a man if he thinks he made his woman loose all control. If a prostitute can fool a man into believing that he gave her an orgasm, he’ll be coming back to her.
The more I read, the more I wish I could’ve met this woman. I realised that your profession can never define the person you are. Should Maria and Sunshine have met, they would’ve discovered that they were not alone in their train of thought. Despite the story I read, it was comforting to read that someone else thought the things I suspect.
What I did learn that was new was the definition of Sadist Masochism. Maria one day got what they defined as a special client that offered her a different form of sex. The positions didn’t differ, just the method. For 1000 francs, Maria was willing to allow herself to be sexually humiliated. She did not do this for the money, she did this in hopes of discovering a new sensation, something more real than the boring sex she was forced to sell. This new sensation is called pain. There’s a fine line between pleasure and pain. She found that being bounded and disgraced with dirty words was a form of letting herself lose control. In this way, she managed her first orgasm after working a year in prostitution. Although the definition was new to me, the concept was not. We all spend out lives controlling everything that happens around us that at some point, nothing that happens can so much as shudder the walls we build around us. Come what may, you don’t break… you drink, you smile but you don’t crack… until someone forces you to, until someone forces the words you silence in your head.
The smack or whip is bittersweet for the pain it inflicts relieves the pain in your soul. As if you were being rightfully punished for all your tiny failures. Humiliated to that point forces you to let go until you orgasm. Is perhaps the reason to the addiction of women who return to abusive relationships? Sadist Masochism.
Eventually in the book Maria meet Ralf Hart, a painter, an intellectual that is bored of sex and whore houses. This concept of pain and pleasure is not new to him, however it is one that he had overcame. What did this painter have to teach her about the art she knew all about? Nothing.
What he did was bring her and himself to rediscover the light we all are born with and that most of us kill with time…. Time and tiny failures.
The book ended with Maria discovering that the best orgasm is the one inflicted by love and the book ended like most romance novels: the painter and the prostitute together in love. Of course it ended this way! The book wouldn’t sell if it didn’t! Who the hell wants to read that their eternal desire and search dies with them? We’re all in search of that missing piece of our souls inside someone else, that is the pain: pleasure is finding them.

Thoroughly enjoying this book, I recommend all to read. It will give you a different perspective on love, sex and prostitution.
Unfortunately, it did not contribute much to the road I’m walking if not perhaps helping define it. No comfort is found in the lack of direction. Where do you go when you’ve been everywhere? A good friend of mine said to me this week “Good girls go to heaven, bad girls go everywhere” Where do you go when you’ve been everywhere? I wanted to ask him: I didn’t because I knew he’d have no answer for me, or perhaps the answer would be: “heaven”.
Love is what Sunshine truly writes about… read her columns, it’s there… in every word, in every sentence, in every topic. Sometimes I wonder if she doesn’t grow tired of desperately searching for that light and love in things and in people around her. Can’t she see that it’s fading? That people choose to kill magic rather than to suffer for its discovery?
I grow tired at looking at a desert, it makes one want to give in to the scorching heat and dryness and simply shrivel up and die. If it weren’t for the Sunshine that keeps my soul, it would long be dead along with empty bodies I meet everyday. Trapped within your body? We all feel this way, read this book and you’ll feel less alone.

(Thank-You my Norwegian friend that recommended it... I hope you find what you´re looking for)

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