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Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Anatomy of Desires

My favorite quote from the song “Let Her Go” by Passenger says “you only need the light when it’s burning low, only need the sun when it starts to snow”. Basically, Passenger is singing about the old saying “you don’t realize what you have until its already gone”. “The Anatomy of Desires” by John L’Heureux has this theme weaved throughout it. In a flashback, Hanley, a soldier, is captured and brought to the enemy general for punishment. The general turns out to be very fond of Hanley but nevertheless must perform his duty, so he spares Hanley’s face and genitals. When morning came, the enemy had retreated and Hanley was rescued. No one else but the ones obligated to care for him wanted to be near him because of his condition. One day, Hanley asked the nurse, whom was called Saint, “to love [him], possess [him]” (339).  Although she was looking for love too, she was hesitant to promise anything.  When she agreed to love him, Hanley wanted more from her, saying “Not just love me. Possess me” (341).  She tries to meet his needs and give him what he wants but he says, “I am in love and I am loved. Why isn’t this enough?” (341). He claims that he loves but is not possessed by love and wants to be surrounded by the nurse. The saint seeks to make Hanley happy by fulfilling his needs. Finally, Hanley tells the nurse that he wants her skin and she gives it to him.  When inside her skin, Hanley says, “It is my hearts desire fulfilled. I am inside you. I am possessed by you” (342). And then, while gazing into her eyes, he sees that the saintly nurse has given him everything she possibly could, and he realizes that love cannot be possessed. There is only desire. He then wept.

I grew up the youngest in a large family with a five year difference between the next youngest and I. Until I was six, the house was always full and lively.  My sisters were in high school and always had friends over, my brother was a troublemaker, and my parents were socially involved and had their hands full. I never fully appreciated having so many siblings at home until I reached high school. When I reached ninth grade I was the only kid left in the house. All the attention was on me. There was no one else for my parents to be distracted by, so my parents watched me like hawks. Not to mention they knew all the old school tricks of pesky teens. Needless to say, I could not wait to have the independence that college promised. But, now I miss those random yet rare Barnes & Noble visits I would make with just me and my parents for some bonding time. I thought I could possess my future, my life, in my hands much like Hanley thought he could tangibly possess the nurse’s love. To my regret, I found my beliefs disproved, only to be desires while I regret taking those precious moments of living and bonding with my parents for granted. 

L'Heureux, John. "The Anatomy of Desire.” American Gothic Tales. Ed. Joyce Carol Oates. New York: The Penguin  Group. 339-343. Print.

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