Remembering makes me understand—I mean really understand—the malignancy of the world I grew up.

The modal attitude of other people towards my experience of the world was indifference. Some people (my dad) relished my suffering. Many people didn’t know, but weren’t terribly motivated to find out. The vast majority knew and didn’t care.

Their desires were more important than my needs.

It was more important they feel a rush of something or other than that I had a life with a bearable level of agony.

I knew this, but had not completely seen that.

I had not seen that other human beings seemed, by and large, to be brutal, heartless, and cruel. Some people come to see the world as malignant because important relationships are with people like that—your dad is heartless and the importance of that relationship makes it seem like everyone is. I had that going on. There was also just the matter of sheer numbers.

The sheer numbers of johns. There sheer numbers of potential viewers. I don’t know much about the distribution end of Yuri’s film study, but I remember a room full of tapes somewhere. I remember contemplating the implications of that.

I remember understanding what the profit side of the business meant.

I keep going back to Natalya’s love for me, because in my world the capacity to love that way was a complete aberration. The fact of having a usable, functional, compelling voice of conscience was noteworthy.

I had kind people in my life. I had teachers and neighbors who would go out of their way for me. They didn’t go beyond that. I am not saying they didn’t exist or that everyone I knew was evil.

But they were only step to the side of indifference. Natalya stood on the other end of the scale. She stood on a side of the scale I didn’t know existed or was possible.

Natalya made me call my view of other people into question in a way that nothing else needed to.

She is important now because I loved her, because she shaped who I am now, but also because she breaks my head in a way that I need it to be broken.

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