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Hideous Desiderata

This is a sample chapter from Supervert's book Necrophilia Variations, a literary monograph on the erotic attraction to corpses and death.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Love is blind. One man's goddess is another man's shrew. Everyone has sex appeal for someone, or many of us wouldn't be here... Platitudes! Beauty is relative, you say — but perhaps you should be cautious. Perhaps you have not really thought through the consequences of your words. Beauty is relative — right! Do you realize that that, if true, is a veritable abyss? Beauty is relative — but might it be so relative that some of us plunge right through to the very bottom and end up finding downright ugliness appealing?

What I'm going to tell you about is the systematic reversal of my libido — or rather what I learned as a result of this reversal. Don't try this experiment at home.

Like anyone else, I naturally wanted beauty — prettiness — loveliness — charm and allure made flesh. I lived in a culture indicted for its shallow worship of supermodels, beauty queens, starlets and cover girls — and I liked it. I thought it set a standard of gorgeousness by which everyone would do right to abide. In the most mundane advertisements for lipstick and eye shadow, with their pure white backgrounds and precise pictures of exotic hues, I saw a moral value — a lesson — an incitement to strive for excellence and perfection. The superficial world of appearances, I thought, was the product of a subterranean world of effort and drive. Beauty was relative not just to the person who beheld it, but to the one who produced it as well.

Accordingly, I took great personal pride in my appearance. I kept fit. I went to the gym. I swam especially, since I thought it more appealing to be lithe than to bulk up like a weightlifter. I went regularly to a nutritionist, a barber, and a masseuse. I dressed in a manner that was fashionable yet classic. I avoided fads and casual wear in favor of well-made, rather expensive suits. I was — I admit it — rather dashing — a man about town if not a downright cad.

I had my way with women. There was no need to call beauty relative in the presence of my lady friends. Any man would have slobberingly agreed that my women were ravishing. But let me tell you a little secret. The man married to the most beautiful woman in the world? He's bored of her. B-o-r-e-d — bored. He cheats on her with crack whores. He goes behind her back with pre-op transsexuals. Why? It's like a famous crooner said. On his wedding night in Las Vegas, he asked one of his handlers to get him a hooker. The handler was astonished. "A hooker? But why? It's your wedding night! You've got one of the most beautiful women in the world waiting for you upstairs!" The crooner looked at his handler. "Yeah," he said, "but she's my wife."

Get it? At some point the Law of Diminishing Kicks sets in. You go out with an actress — and then you want a model. You go out with a model — and then you want a supermodel. You go out with a supermodel — and what do you want then? A super-dupermodel? Tough luck! When you're intimately involved with the most beautiful woman in the world, there's nowhere to go but down — down, down, down — down into the abyss of relative beauties. First you go from a supermodel back to a model, or perhaps to a mere screen queen. Then from there you plunge and keep plunging — a cheerleader. A hairdresser. A waitress. A female construction worker.

But where is the bottom?

By the time I'd tired of the construction worker, with her body that resembled a bull terrier, I'd started to understand something very fundamental about the libido. When you try to outdo yourself, the Law of Diminishing Kicks exerts itself — you want more, better, sooner. And yet you are exhausted — bored — weakened — faithless. Conversely, when you play the Law of Diminishing Kicks backwards — when you stop trying to top the last kick and voluntarily turn around to descend through the depths of the nether thrills — something very surprising happens. Listen. You feel stronger — better — harder. Imagine! The libido is a muscle: it grows stronger through repeated exposure to resistance. And what, to the libido, is resistance? Ugliness.

Friends were no doubt shocked to see that, after the construction worker, I moved on to a fat woman — and I do mean fat. They saw me with my thin marathoner's body and wondered what it was that I admired in this portly paramour with the plus-size panties. You, no doubt, now know — you can see clearly what it was that they could hardly divine. My obese odalisque was a drill instructor to my libido. She made it lift the barbell of disgust and run the treadmill of repulsion. She made it sweat out its narrow aestheticism and steel itself for erotic encounters with an ever-increasing range of hideous desiderata.

Next was a deformed man — an amputee — and after him, a dog. In bestiality, I felt as though I had neared the bottom rung on the ladder of relative beauties. I was prepared to take a final step — down — down into a realm so far from normal human sensibility that, unlike adultery, homosexuality, and bestiality, it was not even proscribed in the bible. Who would have thought to forbid an act — a perversion — that already seemed so inherently repellent? Even for me it remained repulsive — and yet that was precisely what I was after: something to provide resistance to my increasingly potent libido.

It couldn't be anything too reminiscent of — normal life. It needed to be fully itself, with no pretense or gesture of compromise toward the natural predilections of the male libido. It couldn't be a mere simulacrum of sleeping beauty, Juliet in her tomb with the blush of youth still masking the effects of a lethal poison. I needed something — sick-making. Something not just dead but so very dead that there could be no mistaking it for anything else.

And do you know what I discovered? Rigor mortis, pallor, rot — these too can be sources of exquisite sensation. Flesh that is — shall we say, overripe — can provide a soft, snug embrace, even in places where formerly there was no orifice. And maggots, however appalling it may at first sound — and I recognize that it does sound appalling — maggots, when they crawl or scamper across your organ of pleasure, send delightful tickles through your nervous system, like little fingers or a vibrator.

But where do you go from there? Necrophilia is where the relativity of beauty butts up against a limit: death. What could possibly be uglier? You can't go any further down, any further away from innate human sensibilities. From there, you can only turn around and begin climbing your way back up the food chain of beauty — but listen. Once you've been there, once you've touched bottom in the abyss, you will be forever after condemned to see beauty through a lens of ugliness. For the rest of your life, it will be impossible to see the clitoris of the most beautiful woman in the world without feeling astonished at how much it resembles a maggot on her cadaver.

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Necrophilia Variations