Phantom Sexuality After viewing this masterpiece, I wrote a letter that I am reluctant to send, but will publish here as the best review I can come up with:
The only real power in this world is love, and Alma was all-powerful, and Reynolds was all weaknesses, with a relentless hiding in that weakness, in the game of being a great artist, the best place in the world for a man to hide his weakness. Made me think of Hemingway, who, after losing his power to create, his great hiding place, he blew his brains out, just like Reynolds trying to kill himself subconsciously with his powerful psyche when he started to lose his ability to create in the face of the power of love, what only his sister and Alma understood -- everyone else trapped in his grand weakness, a weakness so powerful, indeed, that it reigned over all the women in his life, yet crumbled so dramatically in the face of love, and only Cyril and Alma understood he had to die to it to be freed -- yes, a truly loving sister who helped Alma to kill him.
I have obsessed on this recurring notion that Hemingway was so radically weak, cowering inside his art, with those beautiful children and grandchildren who were there to free him into love, the only true meaning in his life, but he was, like Reynolds, too cowardly to free himself from his prison, way too terrified to be freed in love. Yet Reynolds takes the dive into love when he bites and chews the omlette that he is certain will kill him, and discovers enough trust in Alma that he will, indeed, die, but, as she promised, he would be resurrected into love and be freed from his life-sentence of no real love. Yes, he takes the great leap into death, the only door to freedom, whereas Hemingway chose to hide from love for all eternity in death, dying a coward's death. He was simply too terrified of love, which is far more powerful than raw power, which turned out to be nothing but a great hiding place.
I credit myself with wanting to die in love, and in great humiliation. That's the real story of my life, but no woman was up to killing me! You and I both never got to that place because of a flimsy surface hiding place, Trenton, that granted me all the time I needed to constuct a prison as artist. But I encountered three women after you that could have killed me to be born again, but each of them chose in terror to possess a man's power and the laughable freedom that goes with it, a freedom that utterly robs us of true freedom. And all three of them landed in the prison men constuct as hiding places.
I never ever put my art before my dogmatic search to die in true love. I was always willing to die for love, but no one would accommodate me. And I understand why. My real hope is not to be an artist, but a hope for humanity in this new this millennium, what can only come from women. It's long overdue. I won't be here to see it, but it is my true hope. Women becoming men who keep prisons like Trenton and success-oriented art intact are enslaved to the prisons of terror that men hide in, caught up in man's illusion of power and freedom.
When the doctors told me I was near death and I turned down a transplant to save my life, I had this unconscious belief that those I loved would not sccumb to trying to save me so I could remain in my prison of Terror, that they would let me lie flat on my back powerless and reach out to me in that moment in love and joy, but only my daughter and grandkids gifted me with that. My fiance at the time couldn't handle it and left me two weeks before our wedding, after having purchased the wedding dress and arranged for our marriage and reception. She told me to do everything the doctors told me to do and she would stay with me, but she didn't understand that she was offering to help keep my prison intact, and I was looking to be break free from that prison in love.
And when the door of death was about to open, I asked my daughter if there is anything I could do for her before I died, and she told me yes, to write out all those books and stories I had written over the years, for posterity. You see, I never typed a single letter when she was around, devoting myself to her in love at all times, and I was really shocked to learn that during all that time, especially after I put her to sleep for the night and I would go out and type, and she let me know that she knew I was doing that all those years, and to please type it all out and leave it to her for posterity. That is when I got serious about writing, for the art now would be in service to love, the only art that I see worthwhile, what PT Anderson understands, which makes him a truly great artist for this new millennium. And although at the surface of life I am still failing as an artist, I am being successful in love, and all that I will finish in my writing will be for love, a love for all of humanity. This is why Kafka was certainly the greatest artist of the novel in the 20th century, and Proust second (Joyce was Reynolds unredeemed), for it was all in the context of refusing to live a compromised love, instead providing the great autopsy on the human condition with a persistent refusal to engage a false escape into success to sustain a relationship of an apparent but doomed love for a wife, a notion that Reynolds first succumbed to, and heroically ending up eating the omlette to escape what Kafka refused to enter into, what Hemingway leaped into to sustain a false image of what love means, the big con that he believed would keep him safe. Alma and Reynolds are the great archetypes of this new millennium, and it can be applied in everything, including world politics, our only hope for the future.