Standing by while my partner performed in the explicit film, Intimacy, I experienced a strange kind of controlled jealousy. I was her voyeurby Alexander Linklater / July 20, 2001 / Leave a comment
I got my first serious taste of jealousy when I was 18. Just like falling in love, first time jealousy plunges you deeper into yourself, and is harder to comprehend than any sexual experience that will follow in a lifetime. It is unrepeatable. But of all animal emotions, jealousy is the purest excruciation. It is the knowledge of nearly possessing what you desire most on earth, then watching as someone else enjoys it instead of you. The watching is important, whether real or imagined, because jealousy works its cleverest tricks with visual distortions.
In Shakespeare’s Winter’s Tale, the king, Leontes, sees things which are not there. He sees his wife doing things she is not doing. He plans to kill his best friend who, in fact, has done nothing wrong with his wife. But, as Leontes hisses, “Is whispering nothing? Is leaning cheek to cheek? Is meeting noses?” There follows a delirious litany of betrayals which have not occurred. For Leontes, however, the unreal things he has seen are everything: “Is this nothing? Why, then the world and all that’s in it is nothing.”
What’s odd is that the neurosis of envisioning an entire world saturated with humiliation is exactly the same when the betrayal is real, and you do see it. Late one night, 14 years ago, outside a small town in east coast America, I was being driven back to the accommodation block of a theatre called Shakespeare & Company, where I was acting minor parts in, among other plays, As You Like It. Driving the car was the sexy, worldly, 24-year-old dancer from Manhattan who I had fallen abjectly in love with. To my green as cut grass 18-year-old self she seemed incandescent; it was a tentative relationship, but I was concussed with infatuation. In the play she had the small role of Audrey, a country girl who is seduced away from her devoted simpleton boyfriend, William. The seducer, one of Shakespeare’s best wits, is the fast-talking cynical clown, Touchstone. I had the walk-on part of William. In the back of the car was the bald, wisecracking, 40-year-old New Yorker playing Touchstone. He was fun, and I liked drinking with him.
But this was theatreland, and a clich? was begging to be fulfilled. I got out of the car and hurried upstairs to my room. We had rehearsals early in the morning, and we’d all see…