Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Desire is a house

“Listen. Look. Desire is a house. Desire needs closed space. Desire runs out of doors or windows, or slats or pinpricks, it can’t fit under the sky, too large. Close the doors. Close the windows. As soon as you laugh from nerves or make a joke or say something just to say something or get all involved with the bushes, then you blow open a window in your house of desire and it can’t heat up as well. Cold draft comes in.” 

—Aimee Bender, Willful Creatures

I don't fully grasp what that passage means, and yet I understand it intuitively, in a way I cannot quite articulate. I will try anyway. I think the passage is saying something about the authenticity of connection, the absolute commitment needed to sustain desire, the ability to keep all that presses in somehow light, lest it create stress fractures where desire can leak away, quietly, sneakily, or all at once in a whoosh through a window blown open by a wind in the bushes, by life itself. Desire, it turns out, can be a fickle guest, a fragile ghost—unlike love, which can fill up a house and is not undone by the limitless space outside of walls. It could be this makes no sense at all. But I do like that house, the windows glowing warm in the twilight as we drove by on the highway, the cold draft at bay. 


  1. I am not sure how in the world we COULD maintain this level of desire. Which comes first? The nervous laugh, the involvement with the bushes or the slip of tiny bits of desire into the ether?
    How could we ever do what needs to be done when desire's purpose has been fulfilled and there is a family?
    But I take the point. Oh, how I understand. Don't we all yearn for those hot-flames of desire from we first met our beloveds?

  2. I don't have the energy now for the desire I had back then. It must have leaked out. Love still fills the spaces though.

    I like to look in windows or at lit windows in the dark, or near dark, and imagine what lives are happening there.

  3. It makes me think of what happens when desire leaves -- you have a haunted house.

    I think.

  4. lovely writing, angella--yours, not Benders, although nothing wrong with hers. my take is that desire exists on a different level, belonging more to fantasy or another dimension. which does not mean that it lacks authenticity, but perhaps a rarified atmosphere, climate controlled. love, in contrast, is not a hot-house flower but grows wild in any habitat providing you give it plenty of room, fresh air, light, and time.

    wonderful photograph: i love driving or walking down streets in the early evening, the lights on inside other peoples' houses.

  5. What an interesting quote. Stay focused, I think it says. I like your distinction between love and desire...

  6. Ditto what Susan said, your commentary trumps the passage that inspired it!