Wednesday, 7 June 2017

On Men

It is sometimes said that women inhabit their own image, that it’s women who drape over themselves each morning this image that clings to their own clothes and skin and walk around in it all day, slipping away into true nakedness only on the threshold of sleep and sometimes not even then. But each man puts on an image-body, clamped to his actual body, hard and crunchy like an exoskeleton: rough hands, shinbones big and shiny like propeller blades;  “ripped,” with a bunched and hard abdomen or, alternatively, barrel bellied and stout, a big bloke called Phil. Each man strokes his jaw in the morning, solid and smooth like an anchor or covered in abrasive fungus. Each man licks and rubs his own coarse lips and his body brutalised and made stronger by whisky, smoke and violence. Each man has an arsenal of words like “buddy” or “fella” or “mate” or “bollocks”, and a lexicon of phrases like “nice one” or “fuck that for a lark” which sit snugly in his throat and taste of salt and tobacco. Each man sipping his pint, sits inside the image of a man sipping a pint, feels it envelop him like a jumper, and light up his core like a log fire. Each man, putting on his suit, plugs himself into a vast impersonal symbolic power, a whole image-repertoire of men in suits stretching over time and space, and as he puts on this suit he will also feel the Man-word "sharp" envelop him like a membrane, and his "mates" will dress him in this word also: "looking sharp, looking sharp". And every man who drives identifies with the car’s brute mechanical power, and is happy, for the duration of the journey, to be an adjunct to the machine, a mental expression of the car’s steel body.