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Day 5 | pp. 106-129 (through “This woman had to be part of some hellish eternal recurrence.”)

July 12, 2021 by Paul Lisicky

What to make of Meng Sheng calling upon Lazi to witness Chu Kuang’s moment of anguish? That howl appears to require an audience member so that they can be “attuned to a common frequency.” Though the grief is real, Lazi watches as if it’s theater.

Strange that Meng Sheng tells Lazi the story of saving Chu Kuang from drowning while talking about him in the 3rd person and stroking his nose. As audience member, Lazi is enthralled by Meng Sheng’s simultaneous hardness and softness, his polarity.

Sex is rarely described in this book, but when it is, it comes at a significant dramatic moment. I’m thinking of Chu Kuang’s account of the minutes after being saved, sex itself being a shock to the system, part of a “will to live.”

Chu Kuang talks acutely of the dangers of loving too much, giving oneself to “a thing so dangerous it refused to be contained” in spite of sweetness. And what comes of that? Letting himself be treated badly.

Prescient moment alert: Lazi’s declaration that they’ve been “warped by gender labels” and her belief that they should found a “gender-free society.” Elation arrives with those words, as if they’re coming upon that idea together, in real time.

A very important and sly sentence almost buried, and easy to miss: “Secretly, though, I did sort of enjoy being a fucked-up mess.” Important to hold on to that wry wit when Lazi’s everyday experience begins to feel all too wretched!

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