Friday, September 7, 2007

wrestling jacob

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leon bonnat, la lutte de jacob, 1876

"come, o thou traveler unknown,
whom still i hold, but cannot see!
my company before is gone,
+ i am left alone with thee;
with thee all night i mean to stay,
+ wrestle till the break of day."
--charles wesley, hymns + sacred poems, 1742

"so the two men entwined + wrestled with each other, working nearer + nearer. both were white + clear, but gerald flushed smart red where he was touched, + birkin remained white + tense. he seemed to penetrate into gerald's more solid, more diffuse bulk, to interfuse his body through the body of the other, as if to bring it subtly into subjection, always seizing with some rapid necromantic foreknowledge every motion of the other flesh, converting + counteracting it, playing upon the limbs + trunk of gerald like some hard wind. it was as if birkin's whole physical intelligence interpenetrated into gerald's body, as if his fine, sublimated energy entered into the flesh of the fuller man, like some potency, casting a fine net, a prison, through the muscles into the very depths of gerald's physical being.

"so they wrestled swiftly, rapturously, intent + mindless at last, two essential white figures working into a tighter, closer oneness of struggle, with a strange, octopus-like knotting + flashing of limbs in the subdued light of the room; a tense white knot of flesh gripped in silence between the walls of old brown books. now + again came a sharp gasp of breath, or a sound like a sigh, then the rapid thudding of movement on the thickly-carpeted floor, then the strange sound of flesh escaping under flesh. often, in the white interlaced knot of violent living being that swayed silently, there was no head to be seen only the swift, tight limbs, the solid white backs, the physical junction of two bodies clinched into oneness. then would appear the gleaming, ruffled head of gerald, as the struggle changed, then for a moment the dun-coloured, shadowlike head of the other man would lift up from the conflict, the eyes wide + dreadful + sightless.

"at length gerald lay back inert on the carpet, his breast rising in great slow panting, whilst birkin kneeled over him, almost unconscious. birkin was much more exhausted. he caught little, short breaths, he could scarcely breathe any more. the earth seemed to tilt + sway, + a complete darkness was coming over his mind. he did not know what happened. he slid forward quite unconscious over gerald, + gerald did not notice. then he was half conscious again, aware only of the strange tilting + sliding of the world. the world was sliding, everything was sliding off into the darkness. + he was sliding, endlessly, endlessly away."
--d.h. lawrence, women in love, 1920

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