HALLUCINATION FAILS THE MATRIMONIAL TEST
May 24 2012
“IF you give me five minutes,” he said the other night, “I’d like to
share with you one of my most secret pleasures.”
As some of you may or may not know, my husband and I don’t live
together but about 100m apart, in separate apartments. Our 10-year
wedding anniversary is coming up and, as he so truthfully explained,
he wanted to share with me what he watches when he’s around at his
place on his own.
I looked at him quizzically, wondering what I was in for. We were about
to watch Woody Allen’s Bullets Over Broadway, but he had another DVD
in his hand, with a red and black cover.
I already knew he had an extensive library of erotica and pornography,
with a particular concentration on 1980s porn star Christy Canyon,
who could discuss existential theory while also making a man happy.
“Only the first five minutes,” he said. “I promise.”
Curious to know what privately fascinated him, I nodded and said OK.
At first, all I saw was a grey background with foreign language
titles – all exquisite curves, arcs and dots, not quite Arabic,
not quite Russian.
“Armenian,” explained Louis, staring at the screen. I nodded again,
remembering that Christy was Armenian-Italian. Maybe this was a home
movie, an amateur garage video from before she went to Hollywood.
Three-and-a-half minutes into the DVD, titles were still appearing. I
felt a little sorry for Louis. With only 90 seconds left of the
promised five-minute limit, I hadn’t seen one frame of the story.
As it turned out, there wasn’t any story, or anything even resembling
a theme. And no, the lack of narrative had nothing to do with the
pornographic penchant for sublimating plot in favour of scoring the
Much to my surprise, the movie turned out to be not so much film as
hallucination, starting with an image of pomegranate juice staining
a white tablecloth, followed by three sardines dying on a chopping
board, then walls of wet books falling to the floor, and a Byzantine
woman wielding a puppet. “It’s by the great Russian film director,
Paradjanov,” Louis said. “An interpretation of the life of the
18th-century Armenian national poet, Sayat Nova.”
After 20 minutes of beached fish, dancing dolls and no plot, I asked
him to stop.
Sometimes, in a marriage, it’s better to retain a little mystery.