Readers of this blog may have noticed an odd confluence of reflections on Raymond Carver as well as various citations from the television show The Bachelor. It is possible, Carver wrote, to write about commonplace things and objects using commonplace but precise language, and to endow those things – a chair, a window curtain, a fork, a stone, a woman’s earring – with immense startling power. It is possible, he continued, to write a line of seemingly innocuous dialogue and have it send a chill along the reader’s spine.
Like Carver wrote about commonplace things with commonplace language, The Bachelor presents commonplace sexual relationship with the same innocuous, albeit redundant, zeal. This is not to imply that the producers of The Bachelor do any of this knowingly – or indeed with any craft – but that the participants, like Carver’s lost and lonely characters, surrender themselves to the process, seemingly unaware of how stupid and damned their lives must be.
There is something remarkably terrifying about the ABC network reality TV show, The Bachelor. A man searches amongst 26 pre-selected women for the one who is on the show for the “right reasons” and wants to “take it to the next level”. Adding to the difficulty of this quest, all of the candidates proclaim their love for this man and their desire to be with him for the rest of their lives.The process itself is laborious, involving group dates, cocktail parties, hand-holding, heart-to-heart talks and awkward sequences of kissing. Although the show is predictably structured – with pathetic story arcs, villains and insidious repetition – there are some moments which amuse and surprise. Tierra LiCausi, the villain of this season, blurted out a ground-breaking deconstruction of the self near the end of last week’s show. In defending her position on how she might have been seen by others when she raised an eyebrow in an insulting manner, she explained: “Raised eyebrow? That’s my face! I can’t help that…I can’t control my eyebrow. I cannot control my eyebrow. I can’t control what’s on my face 24/7.” There was no sense of irony, no sarcasm in her position; this was in fact a bold statement attempting to establish a startling new possibility that the face is an independent entity. Dissatisfied with the simplistic notion of the duality of mind and body, Ms. LiCausi sought to shatter the self into billionths, every cell and corpuscle independent of each other, only of itself, self-governed, self-determined, rarely, if ever, attuned to the body and mind as part of a whole. Ms. LiCausi continued, “I know in my own skin that I am not rude…If I could walk around with a smile on 24/7, I would. But my face would get freaking tired.” In other words, it is a virtual impossibility for another to understand the consciousness of Ms. LiCausi, or as she refers to it, her “sparkle”. Other selves, or “sparkles”, can only assume and thus interpret; they are incapable of capturing the essence of another sparkle simply because of the face’s independent notion of self and potentially abrasive manner. Predictably, Ms. LiCausi’s revelations left the other faces and bodies on the show dumb-founded, including that of the Bachelor himself, who decided to reject Ms. LiCausi, eyebrow, face, sparkle and all.