I lost myself there — my mind imaging what was under his towel and what I would like to do to him. – Emma
In the campaign of 1876, Robert G. Ingersoll came to Madison to speak. I had heard of him for years; when I was a boy on the farm a relative of ours had testified in a case in which Ingersoll had appeared as an attorney and he had told the glowing stories of the plea that Ingersoll had made. Then, in the spring of 1876, Ingersoll delivered the Memorial Day address at Indianapolis. It was widely published shortly after it was delivered and it startled and enthralled the whole country. I remember that it was printed on a poster as large as a door and hung in the post-office at Madison. I can scarcely convey now, or even understand, the emotional effect the reading of it produced upon me. Oblivious of my surroundings, I read it with tears streaming down my face. It began, I remember:"The past rises before me like a dream. Again we are in the great struggle for national life.We hear the sounds of preparation--the music of boisterous drums--the silver voices of heroic bugles. We see the pale cheeks of women and the flushed faces of men; and in those assemblages we see all the dead whose dust we have covered with flowers..."I was fairly entranced. he pictured the recruiting of the troops, the husbands and fathers with their families on the last evening, the lover under the trees and the stars; then the beat of drums, the waving flags, the marching away; the wife at the turn of the lane holds her baby aloft in her arms--a wave of the hand and he has gone; then you see him again in the heat of the charge. It was wonderful how it seized upon my youthful imagination.When he came to Madison I crowded myself into the assembly chamber to hear him: I would not have missed it for every worldly thing I possessed. And he did not disappoint me.A large handsome man of perfect build, with a face as round as a child's and a compelling smile--all the arts of the old-time oratory were his in high degree. He was witty, he was droll, he was eloquent: he was as full of sentiment as an old violin. Often, while speaking, he would pause, break into a smile, and the audience, in anticipation of what was to come, would follow him in irresistible peals of laughter. I cannot remember much that he said, but the impression he made upon me was indelible.After that I got Ingersoll's books and never afterward lost an opportunity to hear him speak. He was the greatest orater, I think, that I have ever heard; and the greatest of his lectures, I have always thought, was the one on Shakespeare.Ingersoll had a tremendous influence upon me, as indeed he had upon many young men of that time. It was not that he changed my beliefs, but that he liberated my mind. Freedom was what he preached: he wanted the shackles off everywhere. He wanted men to think boldly about all things: he demanded intellectual and moral courage. He wanted men to follow wherever truth might lead them. He was a rare, bold, heroic figure.
Like the most of you, I was raised among people who knew - who were certain. They did not reason or investigate. They had no doubts. They knew that they had the truth. In their creed there was no guess — no perhaps. They had a revelation from God. They knew the beginning of things. They knew that God commenced to create one Monday morning, four thousand and four years before Christ. They knew that in the eternity — back of that morning, he had done nothing. They knew that it took him six days to make the earth — all plants, all animals, all life, and all the globes that wheel in space. They knew exactly what he did each day and when he rested. They knew the origin, the cause of evil, of all crime, of all disease and death.At the same time they knew that God created man in his own image and was perfectly satisfied with his work... They knew all about the Flood -- knew that God, with the exception of eight, drowned all his children -- the old and young -- the bowed patriarch and the dimpled babe -- the young man and the merry maiden -- the loving mother and the laughing child -- because his mercy endureth forever. They knew too, that he drowned the beasts and birds -- everything that walked or crawled or flew -- because his loving kindness is over all his works. They knew that God, for the purpose of civilizing his children, had devoured some with earthquakes, destroyed some with storms of fire, killed some with his lightnings, millions with famine, with pestilence, and sacrificed countless thousands upon the fields of war. They knew that it was necessary to believe these things and to love God. They knew that there could be no salvation except by faith, and through the atoning blood of Jesus Christ.Then I asked myself the question: Is there a supernatural power -- an arbitrary mind -- an enthroned God -- a supreme will that sways the tides and currents of the world -- to which all causes bow?I do not deny. I do not know - but I do not believe. I believe that the natural is supreme - that from the infinite chain no link can be lost or broken — that there is no supernatural power that can answer prayer - no power that worship can persuade or change — no power that cares for man.Is there a God?I do not know.Is man immortal?I do not know.One thing I do know, and that is, that neither hope, nor fear, belief, nor denial, can change the fact. It is as it is, and it will be as it must be.We can be as honest as we are ignorant. If we are, when asked what is beyond the horizon of the known, we must say that we do not know. We can tell the truth, and we can enjoy the blessed freedom that the brave have won. We can destroy the monsters of superstition, the hissing snakes of ignorance and fear. We can drive from our minds the frightful things that tear and wound with beak and fang. We can civilize our fellow-men. We can fill our lives with generous deeds, with loving words, with art and song, and all the ecstasies of love. We can flood our years with sunshine — with the divine climate of kindness, and we can drain to the last drop the golden cup of joy.
...What I have denied and what my reason compels me to deny, is the existence of a Being throned above us as a god, directing our mundane affairs in detail, regarding us as individuals, punishing us, rewarding us as human judges might.When the churches learn to take this rational view of things, when they become true schools of ethics and stop teaching fables, they will be more effective than they are to-day... If they would turn all that ability to teaching this one thing – the fact that honesty is best, that selfishness and lies of any sort must surely fail to produce happiness – they would accomplish actual things. Religious faiths and creeds have greatly hampered our development. They have absorbed and wasted some fine intellects. That creeds are getting to be less and less important to the average mind with every passing year is a good sign, I think, although I do not wish to talk about what is commonly called theology.The criticisms which have been hurled at me have not worried me. A man cannot control his beliefs. If he is honest in his frank expression of them, that is all that can in justice be required of him. Professor Thomson and a thousand others do not in the least agree with me. His criticism of me, as I read it, charged that because I doubted the soul’s immortality, or ‘personality,’ as he called it, my mind must be abnormal, ‘pathological,’ in other, words, diseased... I try to say exactly what I honestly believe to be the truth, and more than that no man can do. I honestly believe that creedists have built up a mighty structure of inaccuracy, based, curiously, on those fundamental truths which I, with every honest man, must not alone admit but earnestly acclaim.I have been working on the same lines for many years. I have tried to go as far as possible toward the bottom of each subject I have studied. I have not reached my conclusions through study of traditions; I have reached them through the study of hard fact. I cannot see that unproved theories or sentiment should be permitted to have influence in the building of conviction upon matters so important. Science proves its theories or it rejects them. I have never seen the slightest scientific proof of the religious theories of heaven and hell, of future life for individuals, or of a personal God. I earnestly believe that I am right; I cannot help believing as I do... I cannot accept as final any theory which is not provable. The theories of the theologians cannot be proved. Proof, proof! That is what I always have been after; that is what my mind requires before it can accept a theory as fact. Some things are provable, some things disprovable, some things are doubtful. All the problems which perplex us, now, will, soon or late, be solved, and solved beyond a question through scientific investigation. The thing which most impresses me about theology is that it does not seem to be investigating. It seems to be asserting, merely, without actual study....Moral teaching is the thing we need most in this world, and many of these men could be great moral teachers if they would but give their whole time to it, and to scientific search for the rock-bottom truth, instead of wasting it upon expounding theories of theology which are not in the first place firmly based. What we need is search for fundamentals, not reiteration of traditions born in days when men knew even less than we do now.[Columbian Magazine interview]
Whilst writing all this, I have had in my mind a woman, whose strong and serious mind would not have failed to support me in these contentions. I lost her thirty years ago [I was a child then]--nevertheless, ever living in my memory, she follows me from age to age.She suffered with me in my poverty, and was not allowed to share my better fortune. When young, I made her sad, and now I cannot console her. I know not even where her bones are: I was too poor then to buy earth to bury her!And yet I owe her much. I feel deeply that I am the son of woman. Every instant, in my ideas and words [not to mention my features and gestures], I find again my mother in myself. It is my mother's blood which gives me the sympathy I feel for bygone ages, and the tender remembrance of all those who are now no more.What return then could I, who am myself advancing towards old age, make her for the many things I owe her? One, for which she would have thanked me--this protest in favour of women and mothers.
It made me shiver. And I about made up my mind to pray, and see if I couldn't try to quit being the kind of a boy I was and be better. So I kneeled down. But the words wouldn't come. Why wouldn't they? It warn't no use to try and hide it from Him. Nor from ME, neither. I knowed very well why they wouldn't come. It was because my heart warn't right; it was because I warn't square; it was because I was playing double. I was letting ON to give up sin, but away inside of me I was holding on to the biggest one of all. I was trying to make my mouth SAY I would do the right thing and the clean thing, and go and write to that nigger's owner and tell where he was; but deep down in me I knowed it was a lie, and He knowed it. You can't pray a lie--I found that out. So I was full of trouble, full as I could be; and didn't know what to do. At last I had an idea; and I says, I'll go and write the letter--and then see if I can pray. Why, it was astonishing, the way I felt as light as a feather right straight off, and my troubles all gone. So I got a piece of paper and a pencil, all glad and excited, and set down and wrote:Miss Watson, your runaway nigger Jim is down here two mile below Pikesville, and Mr. Phelps has got him and he will give him up for the reward if you send.HUCK FINN.I felt good and all washed clean of sin for the first time I had ever felt so in my life, and I knowed I could pray now. But I didn't do it straight off, but laid the paper down and set there thinking--thinking how good it was all this happened so, and how near I come to being lost and going to hell. And went on thinking. And got to thinking over our trip down the river; and I see Jim before me all the time: in the day and in the night-time, sometimes moonlight, sometimes storms, and we a-floating along, talking and singing and laughing. But somehow I couldn't seem to strike no places to harden me against him, but only the other kind. I'd see him standing my watch on top of his'n, 'stead of calling me, so I could go on sleeping; and see him how glad he was when I come back out of the fog; and when I come to him again in the swamp, up there where the feud was; and such-like times; and would always call me honey, and pet me and do everything he could think of for me, and how good he always was; and at last I struck the time I saved him by telling the men we had small-pox aboard, and he was so grateful, and said I was the best friend old Jim ever had in the world, and the ONLY one he's got now; and then I happened to look around and see that paper.It was a close place. I took it up, and held it in my hand. I was a-trembling, because I'd got to decide, forever, betwixt two things, and I knowed it. I studied a minute, sort of holding my breath, and then says to myself:"All right, then, I'll GO to hell"--and tore it up.
There was an image in my mind—an expectation of what it would be like when I finally gave myself fully to a man. It wasn’t like this. It was always at night with candles flickering lazily, music filling the air with a sexy melody, and maybe a bubble bath. But no. It was infinitely better, and there was no froo froo, stereotypical scene that played out. It was incredible. Brilliant. Amazing. Indescribable, really. Like all the planets in the galaxy aligned for a perfect moment in time. As if this was the beginning of time. From now until the rest of eternity, everything finally had meaning.
Now in my eleven years of conventional life I had learned many things and one of them is what it means to be convicted of rape--I do not mean the man who did it, I mean the woman to whom it was done. Rape is one of the Christian mysteries, it creates a luminous and beautiful tableau in people's minds; and as I listened furtively to what nobody would allow me to hear straight out, I slowly came to understand that I was face to face with one of those feminine disasters, like pregnancy, like disease, like weakness; she was not only the victim of the act but in some strange way its perpetrator; somehow she had attracted the lightening that struck her out of a clear sky. A diabolical chance--which was not chance--had revealed her to all of us as she truly was, in her secret inadequacy, in that wretched guiltiness which she had kept hidden for seventeen years but which now finally manifested in front of everybody. Her secret guilt was this:She was Cunt.She had "lost" something.Now the other party to the incident had manifested his essential nature, too; he was Prick--but being Prick is not a bad thing. In fact, he had "gotten away with" something (possibly what she had "lost").And there I was at eleven years of age:She was out late at night.She was in the wrong part of town.Her skirt was too short and that provoked him.She liked having her eye blacked and her head banged against the sidewalk.I understood this perfectly. (I reflected thus in my dream, in my state of being a pair of eyes in a small wooden box stuck forever on a grey, geometric plane--or so I thought.) I too had been guilty of what had been done to me, when I came home from the playground in tears because I had been beaten up by bigger children who were bullies.I was dirty.I was crying.I demanded comfort.I was being inconvenient.I did not disappear into thin air.
I’m fifteen and I feel like girl my age are under a lot of pressure that boys are not under. I know I am smart, I know I am kind and funny, and I know that everyone around me keeps telling me that I can be whatever I want to be. I know all this but I just don’t feel that way. I always feel like if I don’t look a certain way, if boys don’t think I’m ‘sexy’ or ‘hot’ then I’ve failed and it doesn’t even matter if I am a doctor or writer, I’ll still feel like nothing. I hate that I feel like that because it makes me seem shallow, but I know all of my friends feel like that, and even my little sister. I feel like successful women are only considered a success if they are successful AND hot, and I worry constantly that I won’t be. What if my boobs don’t grow, what if I don’t have the perfect body, what if my hips don’t widen and give me a little waist, if none of that happens I feel like what’s the point of doing anything because I’ll just be the ‘fat ugly girl’ regardless of whether I do become a doctor or not.I wish people would think about what pressure they are putting on everyone, not just teenage girls, but even older people – I watch my mum tear herself apart every day because her boobs are sagging and her skin is wrinkling, she feels like she is ugly even though she is amazing, but then I feel like I can’t judge because I do the same to myself. I wish the people who had real power and control the images and messages we get fed all day actually thought about what they did for once.I know the girls on page 3 are probably starving themselves. I know the girls in adverts are airbrushed. I know beauty is on the inside. But I still feel like I’m not good enough.
My dreams were always the same I could see myself laughing . I was standing somewhere in a forest a raindrop rolled down a branch and fell on my nose . My hair was a sparkling red color and I was wearing a white flowing ball gown made from silk. I could feel him the one I loved staring at me intensely . His eyes as gold as the sun . I could hear him saying my love Fleur .. you are everything to me. His fingertips lightly shivering as he touched my face beckoning for me to come closer. I don't know what I would do if I lost you . "Are you sure you want to be with me?" My body protested as I fought for him to stay but he never did. As soon as I woke up his presence was gone.
I close my eyes, ashamed that what he's saying is right. Its true. What the fuck is the matter with me? I have no answer. I can give him or myself, so instead, I focus on his face. That serious and focused expression looks so fierce as he moves above me and inside of me, stealing something integral, from my being with every delicious stroke of his hips."I think you're the one getting confused who's here," he explains. "Because I know exactly who I'm inside of.
I heard him sweeping with the broom, and then he suddenly stopped.I had obviously got his attention, and he was looking.Take a good look, honey, I thought. Take a good look at what I’m offering.I liked the sound of that silence. Do you know what I mean? Have you heard that silence yourself? I love that silence you get, when a man who you fancy notices your body. In a weird way, it’s so loud, it’s deafening. It could be because of the way you sway your hips, your legs, or thrust your breasts. And you just know his erection is talking to him, about what he’d like to do to your body. How he’d like to have his delightfully wicked way with you, undress you, smother your naked skin with hungry urgent kisses, and thrust his hard and moist cock deep inside the pouting red lips of your mouth… I think you get my drift. There’s a lovely tension in that moment; I call it the lust moment. When a sexy man sees what you’ve deliberately put out on offer, and he stops in his steps as his lust lights up his mind, and puts him on a new track.
Because he sounded so lost-the Eric I knew had never been one to do anything other than assume others should serve him-I patted around under the covers for his hand. When I found it, I slid my own over it. His palm was turned up to meet my palm, and his fingers clasped mine. And though I would not have thought it possible to go to sleep holding hands with a vampire, that's exactly what I did.
I landed on my side, my hip taking the brunt of the fall. It burned and stung from the hit, but I ignored it and struggled to sit up quickly. There really was no point in hurrying so no one would see. Everyone already sawA pair of jean-clad legs appeared before me, and my suitcase and all my other stuff was dropped nearby. "Whatcha doing down there?" Romeo drawled, his hands on his hips as he stared down at me with dancing blue eyes."Making a snow angel," I quipped. I glanced down at my hands, which were covered with wet snow and bits of salt (to keep the pavement from getting icy).Clearly, ice wasn't required for me to fall.A small group of girls just "happened by", and by that I mean they'd been staring at Romeo with puppy dog eyes and giving me the stink eye. When I fell, they took it as an opportunity to descend like buzzards stalking the dead. Their leader was the girl who approached me the very first day I'd worn Romeo's hoodie around campus and told me he'd get bored. As they stalked closer, looking like clones from the movie Mean Girls, I caught the calculating look in her eyes. This wasn't going to be good.I pushed up off the ground so I wouldn't feel so vulnerable, but the new snow was slick and my hand slid right out from under me and I fell back again. Romeo was there immediately, the teasing light in his eyes gone as he slid his hand around my back and started to pull me up. "Careful, babe." he said gently.The girls were behind him so I knew he hadn't seen them approach. They stopped as one unit, and I braced myself for whatever their leader was about to say.She was wearing painted-on skinny jeans (I mean, really, how did she sit down and still breathe?) and some designer coat with a monogrammed scarf draped fashionably around her neck. Her boots were high-heeled, made of suede and laced up the back with contrasting ribbon. "Wow," she said, opening her perfectly painted pink lips. "I saw that from way over there. That sure looked like it hurt." She said it fairly amicably, but anyone who could see the twist to her mouth as she said it would know better. Romeo paused in lifting me to my feet. I felt his eyes on me. Then his lips thinned as he turned and looked over his shoulder. "Ladies," he said like he was greeting a group of welcomed friends. Annoyance prickled my stomach like tiny needles stabbing me. It's not that I wanted him to be rude, but did he have to sound so welcoming?"Romeo," Cruella DeBarbie (I don't know her real name, but this one fit) purred. "Haven't you grown bored of this clumsy mule yet?"Unable to stop myself, I gasped and jumped up to my feet. If she wanted to call me a mule, I'd show her just how much of an ass I could be.Romeo brought his arm out and stopped me from marching past. I collided into him, and if his fingers hadn't knowingly grabbed hold to steady me, I'd have fallen again."Actually," Romeo said, his voice calm, "I am pretty bored."Three smirks were sent my way. What a bunch of idiots."The view from where I'm standing sure leaves a lot to be desired."One by one, their eyes rounded when they realized the view he referenced was them. Without another word, he pivoted around and looked down at me, his gaze going soft. "No need to make snow angels, baby," he said loud enough for the slack-jawed buzzards to hear. "You already look like one standing here with all that snow in your hair."Before I could say a word, he picked me up and fastened his mouth to mine. My legs wound around his waist without thought, and I kissed him back as gentle snow fell against our faces.
I have only to contemplate myself; man comes from nothing, passes through time, and disappears forever in the bosom of God. He is seen but for a moment wandering on the verge of two abysses, and then is lost.If man were wholly ignorant of himself he would have no poetry in him, for one cannot describe what one does not conceive. If he saw himself clearly, his imagination would remain idle and would have nothing to add to the picture. But the nature of man is sufficiently revealed for him to know something of himself and sufficiently veiled to leave much impenetrable darkness, a darkness in which he ever gropes, forever in vain, trying to understand himself.