Wednesday, April 29, 2009

One Bowl of Rice

“What is 'truth'? What is 'falsehood'? Whatever gives wings to men, whatever produces great works and great souls and lifts us a man's height above the earth - that is true. Whatever clips off man's wings - that is false." Paul
“The Last Temptation of Christ” Nikos Kazanzakis

There is a particular kind of dream which I have spontaneously sometimes, though it can be learned. Its properly referred to as a “lucid dream” and even forms an important component of Tibetan yoga and Native American sorcery. It is a form of dreaming often associated with astral projection, which if I had it all to do over again is one of those things I would have studied. A lucid dream is simply a dream in which the sleeper wakes within the dream and realizes he is asleep and dreaming. Think about what that means. If you’ve never had a lucid dream, it’s a wonderful situation to be in. Because it’s a dream there are no consequences to anything you do. You are the master of your universe, and can experiment harmlessly with any experience you might be curious about before you awake, even things that are impossible. You can feel pain and pleasure too.

See, I had this dream once. I woke up in my dream in downtown Panama City. There weren’t many people around and I realized I was dreaming. I had the whole universe to myself. A beautiful latina woman came jiggling down the sidewalk towards me. I swept her up into my arms and grabbing her breast in my hand, gave her a passionate kiss.

She shoved me into a building and punched me in the face hard enough to hurt.

While I held my stinging lip, she yelled at me. “Just because you’re dreaming doesn’t mean you can do anything you want!”

True story.

So, that’s about it. When it comes to love and lust, that sort of sums up my life experience in a nutshell. Sorry lady. Thought this was my dream.

I came into this world hungry, an intensely passionate and romantic soul. I was determined to be a lover and saint, carnal and transcendent. I find myself a middle aged frightened civil servant. What the hell happened to me?

I searched for God and quickly found religion instead. I think the biggest mistake I made, the one I steer my son away from, was not trusting my own passions, my own instincts. Allowing my life to be micro managed by others on the belief they knew more than I did. I did not find great love or great lust that way. I did not find God.

I think, if God exists in any way that matters, God is a lover of passionate souls, souls of great love and lust. Not necessarily pure or morally correct souls. The great figures of the world’s religions, were not the pious men and women, but the strong ones, the ones filled with great passion who sometimes made the most foolish mistakes. I think what God dislikes is the cowardly soul.

So there is this life, where now even in my dreams I get slapped. There is this inner solitude. What to do?

Freud observed that people do not fantasize about what they already have. They fantasize about what they covet and do not have. A man doesn’t fantasize great rough sex with his wife so much as with the stranger at the grocery store. I’ve done a lot of fasting in my time. I’ve fasted seven days on water alone twice. After the second day, you stop being hungry. Food becomes irrelevant. It’s really not that hard. I knew people who did forty days, like Jesus. The worst fast, the most difficult, is to eat one small bowl of rice every day and nothing more. Then the body doesn’t forget about food, it longs for it. You’ll fantasize about food the way a famine victim does, which is to say all the time. You won’t last three days before your will breaks down and your body seduces you into breaking your pledge.

A life where love and lust are sparse, and where God is only a painful disillusionment is like that one bowl of rice. You think about those things all the time. You’re never allowed to forget what you have only a little of. That’s when you become a writer of erotic stories.

I think the potentially most interesting writing, even if not always the most competent, comes from the bent up souls, the exiles. These are the people on the outside, who are obessed with certain ideas, whose former treasures are now guarded by fierce and resentful demons.

Then the writing isn’t about money. Its the exploration of obesession, the person questioning the things that can be denounced, or given up on, but never abandoned. It’s the lucid dream pinned to paper like a bug under a display case, labeled, defined but not yet understood and therefore magical, accessable only by sorcery, the invocation of magic words. I think erotica was a natural calling for me. Most of my stories are junk, I admit it freely, but no - not all of them. The good ones, and everybody who tries hard gets to have a few good ones, are the ones where I conjure the old angry ghosts, where the characters have difficult sex and are tormented by spiritual quandaries. I don’t write BDSM, I don’t even know how. But my best characters are tormented on the rack just the same.

It would be interesting, if it were possible, to know how many writers of erotica and romance have excellent and satisfying love lives. How many of them get to fuck all they want? How many feel greatly loved just as they are? I’ll bet the number would be few.

Some of us who write about love and lust, our calling is be obsessed with the one bowl of rice, to be filled with ghosts of what we covet. Its how we work out our particular curses. And once obsessed and driven a little mad – to dream.

Fiction By C. Sanchez-Garcia


  1. Chris,

    You wrote: "I find myself a middle aged frightened civil servant. What the hell happened to me?"

    I don't believe that is ALL you are - and neither do you. Because you write and you write beautifully and passionately.

    You also wrote: "I came into this world hungry, an intensely passionate and romantic soul. I was determined to be a lover and saint, carnal and transcendent."

    I cannot speak to what God loves, since I mostly doubt his/her/its existence, but I know that a lot of destruction and misery has been wrought by performative passionate saints who.

    So, I think that being a passionate and romantic soul, carnal and transcendent in your writing is probably the very best you can do without causing a good deal of misery also.

  2. Garce,

    You're only middle-aged. And you are still intensely passionate and romantic. I can't escape the feeling that you are forging your own chains, denying your true self, by pretending that you and your life couldn't change.

    Anyone who is brave enough to write what you do (I'm particularly thinking about "How Paradise Comes to the Blind") has the necessary courage. It's a question of identifying your true desire.

    On the other hand, I have no idea what would happen to your writing if you could have mad, satisfying sex with anyone you wanted, any time you wanted.

    The question you ask, about erotica writers - from what I know (having talked to a few!), they are more likely to have had good sex lives than ones which could be compared to "one bowl of rice". Certainly, my own sex life, though pretty tame at this point, has been quite a ride.

    Still, most erotica (including mine) does not have the depth that yours does. So perhaps there is some truth in your theory.

    When I was younger, consumed by passion and suffering from unrequited love, I used to write lots of erotic poetry. Not long after I married, the flow stopped as if someone had turned off a faucet.

    Thanks for another wonderful post!


  3. This post spoke to me in such a way I had to respond. It was simply beautiful and so relate-able.

    I especially empathized with "I searched for God and quickly found religion instead. I think the biggest mistake I made, the one I steer my son away from, was not trusting my own passions, my own instincts."

    Years ago I did the same search, found religion instead and it took great effort to disentangle myself.

    Your stream of consciousness sounds so familiar it is eerie.

    Thanks again for the beautiful post.

  4. Hi Garce,

    I think you're spot on in your observations. While some writers may have had 'excellent and exciting love lives', there are some who write what stirs them. They write the lucid dreams, stuff they fantasize about, (well, the ones where they don't get punched in the face!)

    You're such an interesting person, I agree with whoever said once that you should be working on memoirs.

    Write on, buddy!


  5. I'm usually aware that I'm dreaming when I dream. But there again, I tend to dream from the point of view of an observer outside the world I'm dreaming out. It's a bit like watching a movie, so it's hard to confuse it with reality. I rarely actually feature as a participant in my own dreams.

    As for erotica writers personal lives. My guess is there are people from both ends of the spectrum and a lot of people in the middle :)

  6. Lucid dreaming I do frequently. Figured it for middle of evening "day dreams" within the context of the current dream. And yet, am fully conscious of morality while doing so.

    If it's thought, the though plants a seed and the seed an act. Even the fruits of lucidity will eventually be born in reality. Caution advised should you mete out revenge in such a state. The desire to do has thus been born.

  7. Hi RG!

    No, its not all I am. I was trying to be funny and serious at the same time. I guess I came out as grim.

    I just thought of a good theme to try out soon. "Plan B". I first heard this on NPR "This American Life", its a good subject. We start out in life thinking we're going to do this Something forever. And we end up onPlan B instead. Most people have fallen down to plan H and I and maybe Z by now.

    "...So, I think that being a passionate and romantic soul, carnal and transcendent in your writing is probably the very best you can do without causing a good deal of misery also..."

    Now that is a very true statement. As long as I keep the stuff out of sight from my family, its almost like lucid dreaming in a way. No harm done. Still, I wish it could be different.


  8. Hi Lisabet!

    You're always full of kind words for me. Thank you.

    I've been thinking about your comment about forging my own chains. I hear little alarms go off inside and I think I should pay attention to that. Its not my goal in life to be happy. I want to go through whatever I'm going through and make the best of it. But you may have a point, I may be limiting myself too by pessimism. I need to be careful of that.

    See, I do envy you your wild ride. I envy it a lot. That's what I didn't get to have. I was celibate for over thirteen years when you were having your wild ride, having faith that it was all going to be worth it. The result was less than promised. That's why me and God have things to settle between us someday somehow. Writing is how I work it out.

    I am very glad you think my writing has depth though. Coming from you (and RG) makes me believe it.

    But isn't the sweet pain of unrequited love inspiring? I'm thinking of writing poetry just to learn craft, to learn language. My inner Lady Dainagon think's everybody should write poetry.


  9. Hi Lulu!

    You searched for God too, and had the same result. In my case I didn;t disentangle myself so much as drift away. That would be a blog post for another day "This I Used To Believe". I don;t know how it turned out for you, but in my case I'm not hostile towards religon. I understand the value of it, whatever the reality of God turns out to be. Religion is community, the public celebration of life's great events and tragedy. I lost my community, and for all of its flaws and failures, those were in many ways the happiest days of my life.

    "So Ist Das Leben."

    "What can you do?"


  10. Hi Jamie!

    Thanks for reading my stuff. I think my life could maybe be an interesting memoir in some ways. It's certainly been an unusual life, by anybody's standards. But I haven't got a way to go at it yet.

    Anyway, by God's grace I hope you have an excellent and exciting love life, as I wish all people would.


  11. Hi Kim!

    You have lucid dreams too? For me its like watching a movie too, except I'm in it. There are so many things I would like to do in a lucid dream. The last few times I've had one, I've tried to go to see the "Akashic Records" to see if I can find anything about past lives, but I always wake up too quickly.



  12. Hi Mia!

    You're fully conscious of morality during a lucid dream? Aw, that's no fun.

    There is one thing I agree with you though. Never have sexual fantasies about real people you actually work or associate with because it breeds temptation. It works some kind of magic you have to careful of.

    But when it comes to lucid dreaming - all rules are off. I get hit in the face a lot, but sometimes I get kissed too.


  13. Hi Garce,

    Another intense post from you and one I'm not sure how to respond to. I'm not religious, but I do have beliefs. So, I won't go there.

    About erotica writers having lousy sex lives, I don't necessarily agree, although I can really only speak for myself. In my lifetime, I've gone through periods where sex seemed to be happening every time I turned around. Satisifying, raunchy sex. Other times, it'll be weeks if not longer between bouts. I do think we tend to elaborate, or enhance what we've had. No matter how amazing it can be, there's always the thoughts of laundry to be done or kids in the other room or... well a ton of things. When we write, we don't have to put that in the story. The fetishes and genres, we write those with the empathic part of ourselves. I'm not a gay male, but I sink into the feelings of what it would be like, at least I do my very best.

    Sigh, a really interesting post. Thanks so much.


  14. Navel gazing is not my thing.
    I've lived a fair number of years; done many things, both good and bad; loved both wisely and well; and sometimes wonder about the stranger who faces me in the mirror each morning.
    Our children and grandchildren are friends as well as relatives and my life partner is the anchor that allows me to contemplate any venture I chose.
    None of these things happened by accident. I understood from the beginning that I would walk this way but once and that it deserved my best effort.
    When death inevitably comes, I shall face it with interest. If I'm right, it is nothing...but I'd love to be wrong.

  15. Mm. Yes, Garceus. Morality in dreamland is completely inappropriate.

    Sorry about the face punches, love. I for one am partial to an unexpected kiss from a dominant man. Very exciting. Your dream women are insane. However as they are your dream women, one must then conjecture the subtle, and not so (face punches rarely are), implications of your psychological state.

    Lay back on the couch. Tell Ms. Watts what it is about sexuality which has you conflicted...


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.