Friday, December 5, 2008

Date Rape, Batman, and Man on Wire

I found the name of a man who date raped me more than thirty years ago. I read it in The Daily News. I hadn't thought about this man in a VERY long time. Now its true that I did write a slightly fictionalized account of this rape for, called By the Banks of Lake Michigan which also won a prize. but when i was writing about it i wasn't thinking about him at all, i was thinking about the girl. She was the girl in abstraction. but his name in the paper, unexpectedly, shook me up. that's a whole different kind of reality I wasn't prepared to face, so it really brought me down.

I worked hard to get back up again, I really did. even had dinner with a friend, two drinks in Tribeca. on my way to the restaurant after teaching my class, i was walking up Hudson Street in the rain, and my brain was just filled up with his name and thinking how in God's name can I shake this when I stepped off a curb and popped off the heel of my boot, they are ruined. I couldn't account for that happening--- his name--- in print--- a bolt out of the blue. of course it was tempting to think about the other three times i was date raped, but that didn't seem very productive. i mean why go down that road. after reading his name I thought great now I have to get through a 15 hour day and how am I going to do that.

I'm ok today and have great cause to celebrate. M. is going to be OK, he got a clean bill of health. so yesterday was a minefield of rain, and broken heels and broken heart, but today I can just be tired and grateful and I am grateful. I allowed myself to be an insect, live the insect life; no gym, no make-up, no bills, no phone calls, no email, no brushing of the hair or even taking off my pajamas. after I got the good news, I smoked a little and started watching Batman:

During the opening montage, a prologue, Alfred says something like are you really ready to be more than a man (meaning a god or a demi-god)? and I thought, yes, its the story of Faust. anytime a mere mortal, a man, attempts to transcend the boundaries of his/her earthly existence it is always in a pact with the devil and there is always a price to pay. anytime we mere foolish mortals attempt to extract fire from the hands of Prometheus aren't we punished, look what happened to Icarus. the movie however never entirely commits to the country of myth, I never buy that the city is in danger and I'm not sad when the "girl" dies.

Gotham looked too much like New York and I've seen real terrorism in action and frankly Al Queda still holds the bar on being evil. Heath Ledger is great but he's in it alone, no one's in the same room with him, so to speak, he inhabits his own place in the movie. I buy his character 100% but he's not the joker as the trickster which I think was the original trope. He's the more the golem or the goblin and that is very different.

But I saw was Man on Wire. that moved me to tears, that crazy frenchmen illegally stretching a wire across the twin towers in the early 70's was breath taking, every image broke my heart but also brought me joy. it is a complete love letter to the two buildings and the even the city. this is how I read it and I cried unabashadly. I think everyone in the theater was crying. I would love to have that image: the sun is just coming up and he takes he balancing pole, and steps out for the first time, into the clouds and onto the wire so high above the city. nothing could be more simple or more profound. perfect balance. the city in perfect balance and the contrast between what my eyes witnessed in 2001, and the delicate image of a man on a wire was a blesssing.

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