One of 10 items cross-posted from SEMIONAUT.
It’s the bottom lip that does it. The son – we know it’s his son because the evidence of inherited genes is so strong – betrays physiological and psychological traits the father has long learned to control (or suppress). Too full, sensual, prone to tantrums – the lip is already commanding. Touch, taste, speech – its right to consume and direct is supreme. We are rendered mute in turn as we witness this triumphant transition of biological property through the medium of the absent mother. Not the compassion of the Mother and Child; instead, something much harder. Not the heroism or pathos of the single parent, but an imperial re-versioning of the Self. A perpetual, ever-refining upward upward movement, accompanied by the discreet tick-tock of an eternal clock mechanism.
The greyscale of it all, the muted fugue in fascistic elegance, the hint of panelled room (the boardroom, the hallway of the Hamptons house, the suite at the Waldorf, the reception corridor of the INSEAD business school?). The readiness of the photograph to succeed to a line of imagined painted portraits (imagined, because the stress on ‘Begin Your Own Tradition’ cannot hide the pained newness of the dynastic ambition here).
Father to Son: Protection, grooming (not in an unhealthy way, we hope), schooling (private, West of England, Swiss, East Coast – all the connotations of Privo-land), all-governing, rhizome-like networks, the senior accomplice in dealing with Mama and all her issues/pills/limited female brain, the hope that he will emulate and speculate. The unspoken expectation that the son is to be the father’s perfecting mirror.
Son to Father: loyalty (for now), admiration mixed with some useful fear (of bank accounts being frozen, perversities exposed, onerous, even weird family rituals being exacerbated), the disciplined, invisible hands and wrists (masturbation/trembling pathologies kept temporarily at bay), the still-growing boy-into-man saga (will he bypass the ‘rebel’ stage?), the binding of wills to serve one fascistic purpose.
Chronos (chronometer) kills Saturn; reborn, Saturn in turn eats his young (consuming lips) and Zeus in turn kills Saturn. The cycle is assuaged by the promise of inheritance, one that measures eternity in bloodline updates.
Original publication date: June 2010.