Writer's Rehab #20: The Rakish Rogue of Words and Hearts

I am over the hump with Madam Bovary and past the mid-point of the book. I am shocked with how much outrage this book caused when it faded to black during all the sex scenes, and managed to spend more time on surgery and the gangrenous aftermath to a poor farmboy's limb than any moment of heated passion and love.

Back in those days, gore and violence were still far more acceptable to show than love or sex, and I am struck with how little things change.

And the fade to black moments are way, way padded. We get no foreplay, very little touching, no pulling of blouse strings, no stroking of cheeks, no grasping of the haunches through silks and satin cloths, and nothing even remotely close to a bed upon which the two lie together in post adulterous bliss. No mentions of nipples or shafts, no moist dewy petals, no shapely thighs or full breasts, no rock-solid man-hoods, no entering anything, and not even a mention of staring at how the tight cut of her dress accentuates the hourglass curve of her buttocks.


We do get surgery though. Gory cuttings of sinew and tendons, blood lettings, incisions, rotting limbs, and eventual amputations leading to wooden legs. The wooden leg is the closest we see of any sort of wood in the book, and I suppose there is a metaphor here between sex and failed surgical procedures I am not getting.

Though the medical bill was still high. I suppose there is more that never changes in this regard.

And Emma, poor Emma. As delusional as ever, and at this point I feel slightly weary at seeing her delusions and now her chaste recovery at having lost the rakish Rodolph, her months-long woe-is-me sickness, and now her new-found fling with religion. I guess after being dumped she is going to become a nun, which I would see as a step up since there is little else redeeming to her character to my tastes at this point.

Unless she goes full-on fetish nun in a rubber habit. Then, we can talk.

Rodolphe though, the rake, the man smart enough to dump her, I have rather began to appreciate the roguish cur for what he is. He is the romance writer, the player of fools, the snarky and deceptive marketer we all have to be, and the one who pulls at heartstrings with fiction and pen, and then throws the last conquest all away and begins anew with the next meeting of loves and souls. He is the writer character, slightly aloof, safely detached, and above it all smiling as he makes his conquests and readers of love letters all the less based in reality and all the more subject to his carefully crafted words.

There is this part of the book where he writes his "Dear Jane" letter to Emma that is not to be missed. He writes a portion, stops and thinks about how it shall impact her, how it impacts his own actions, and then he continues on with the deception. With each continuance, he twists his words even more, trying to craft a narrative that shall achieve the intended effect while still giving him an out for the next romance he chooses to pursue. This is the craft of the romance writer. This is the dance we all do.

Admittedly, I think Flaubert was trying to show how the romance writers of the time were all flakes and hacks, and how they sit at their desks and lie out their asses to get the gullible and ignorant readers of such trash to buy their next book - but in my perception, it is quite the opposite. This man Rodolphe is a seasoned veteran of the written word of lust, he keeps boxes of love letters by his desk, and is organized enough to keep a record of his conquests so he can keep all the women he seduces organized and orderly. He writes what his audience wants to see. He is a seasoned practitioner of his art, and knows his craft well enough to make the Queen of France swoon at his every word and dalliance.

We hate him because we are secretly jealous. How things never change.

I feel Rodolphe is to be admired for all the hard work he puts in at being a man-slut. But more importantly, he is the romance writer, liar and lover all the same, and a weaver of words and hearts to be both reviled and respected in the same stroke. Ask yourself, which character in this book would I love to have coffee with? Yes, he would be constantly trying to get under my skirt...but the stories!

Oh, the stories he would tell.

If there was a book called Monsieur Rodolphe I would be all over that in a heartbeat. Hell yes. If it got into the sordid sex parts each and every time wash day would come early for me.

But alas, I move towards the end of the book at a steady pace, and through forcing myself to read every night I find myself becoming a better writer. It is a part of the rehab. Commit to reading and writing every day to reestablish that habit. Read the boring parts along with the exciting ones, and understand the whys of each. Keep on doing this, so I may do this better the next time.

But more importantly, it is a path of discovery for me.

To be able to wash away the crap and cruft in my mind that the lint-roller of social media sticks to my thoughts. To find my center. To be able to share my essays, just my thoughts and not to be taken as gospel, but just thoughts. To turn words into books and to be able to share again.

I had given up there for a time.

But after those moments, when it is harder than anything you ever knew to force yourself back into it, you find truths about yourself. This is what I love to do. Stupid and opinionated as I am, my words mean nothing. But they touch others from what I hear, and I expect nothing from sharing nor from any of the things I do. I can't. I am no saint nor am I anything close to being someone who can make or break a book.

I am but one voice.

My own, and these are my thoughts. Take them for what they are.

But I am not so sorrowful I can't have fun. Better days are yet to come. The future shall be great. the times in which we live, we shall live through them and laugh at our silly and pointless division years from now. A bit wiser and a tad older, we will know how dumb we were back then. But, ignorance is never a reason for sorrow and pity, it is a feeling that today is a better one, and yesterday should be left in the past where it belongs. Negativity and pulling others down does not build the future we seek, as we are merely delaying others' progress instead of making headway towards building our own dreams.

I laugh in the face of those who are doom and gloom, for they just do not get the meaning of these times. Addition and multiplication builds. Subtraction and division reduces. Now, which side do you want to be on? One that builds or one that destroys? What side do your words and actions place you on?

I choose positive forces and messages.

As I know the best is yet to come.

And it is up to us to make it happen.