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Author Topic: The Reunion  (Read 814007 times)

Offline Paul029

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Re: The Reunion
« Reply #4815 on: April 16, 2016, 09:07:16 AM »
But, now that you’ve asked me, you can expect an answer soon. In the meantime I’ll respond to your other points...
I look forward to your DE post.
Thanks, Marian. I’d like to get some more posts up about the reunion first.

We now have a thread devoted to the DE, I'm delighted to say. You'll find it here.
Yes, I know, and I’m also delighted Charlotte agreed that it deserved its own thread.
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Offline Ministering angel

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Re: The Reunion
« Reply #4816 on: April 24, 2016, 05:46:07 PM »
~snip~
Even the choice of the adjective to describe what they didn’t say is in keeping with the objective description of what Ennis and Jack were doing. The narrator makes this clear by describing their activity (i.e. what they did) not only as “quick (and) rough,” but also that there was “laughing and snorting, no lack of noises.”  We’re also told that “They never talked about the sex, let it happen.”

Ennis and Jack are teenagers with rampant hormones, totally engaged in experiencing the physical pleasures of highly-charged, testosterone-based “corn-holing”—with its associated smells of semen, sweat and shit (omitted from FNIT for narrative purposes, considering the activity which occurred “out of the blue,” as possibly constituting “information overload,” but mentioned later in the motel)—to the full. The alert reader# understands that “goddamn” words were not only unnecessary but irrelevant.


# Possibly male and homosexual, but who knows?
Who indeed.

Just a rambling response to this bit of your post. There were, of course, words used in FNIT, and in that one time when Ennis - for an unspecified but deducible reason - but the rest of the time there were none. I underline that bit because, as far as I'm concerned, it fits in the pattern of Ennis questioning Jack (or in this case just stating the fact as he sees it) and Jack responding. We have to understand the lay of the land right back on the mountain. (Oops, getting a bit geographical there.)  I think it's being established that Jack and Ennis did not talk about what was happening, either before or during sex, because of the issue of denial which was an essential part of the relationship. If no goddamn words are to be expected, then why bother mentioning the fact?

As for the last bit about alert readers, I don't think AP is explaining how teenage boys with their pants at half-mast and their hormones to the fore don't need words. I can assure you that straight teenage boys aren't generally great conversationalists when in flagrante delicto, and neither are teenage girls. (And for the record, straight sex can also be messy and stinky - try adding menstrual blood to the mix as well.)

Bottom line for me is, in this incredibly tightly-written story, words aren't wasted on unnecessary stuff like "Teenage boys don't talk much/at all during sex."

Offline Ministering angel

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Re: The Reunion
« Reply #4817 on: April 24, 2016, 05:52:10 PM »
Quote from: me
A quick google search will throw up several examples of "rolling your own" being a euphemism for masturbation.
All I’ve found were references to rolling cigarettes.
Try googling "roll your own masturbation euphemism" and you'll be spoilt for choice.

Offline Paul029

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Re: The Reunion
« Reply #4818 on: May 16, 2016, 06:02:22 AM »
If you look back you will see that I was answering your remark about Ennis's reluctance to embrace Jack face to face, as mentioned in the DE. You brought up the embrace in 1967 as an argument against that. You used "interjection" as a description, hence the confusion, perhaps.
I see, but as the dozy embrace is presented entirely by the narrator it’s not possible to describe “the knowledge that Ennis would not then embrace him face to face because he did not want to see nor feel that it was Jack he held” as an interjection, unlike the narrator’s interruption of Jack’s speech in the motel. I’ve also referred to “who had been riding more than bulls, not rolling his own” as an interjection a number of times, as well.

As I said, that Jack in May 1983 “knew” why Ennis wouldn’t embrace him face to face in the dozy embrace in 1963, conveniently ignores the fact that Ennis embraced him that way in June 1967, when he did see and feel “that it was Jack he held.”

My conclusion, that this “casts doubt on the veracity of the narrator’s interjection” in the motel was based on the fact that we don’t know what Jack thought about the dozy embrace at the time it occurred, but only what the narrator says he thought about it after the confrontation with Ennis at the trailhead parking lot.

In the motel the narrator interrupts Jack’s answer to Ennis’s question and tells us something which is neither supported by the text nor by what he says after the interruption. That the interjection not only interrupts Jack’s answer but also insinuates that he was lying, without any direct proof that this was the case, is a viable reason for “casting doubt on its veracity.”

According to the narrator’s objective description of the dozy embrace it could be accepted that Jack enjoyed the experience. It could also be accepted (as the narrator’s inclusion of the determining adverb “then” suggests) that Ennis embraced him face to face at other times on the mountain, but we’re not actually told his thoughts at the time of this particular embrace, “when Ennis had come up behind him and pulled him close, the silent embrace satisfying some shared and sexless hunger.”

Are we to accept Jack’s “knowledge” as accurate? If so, then it’s as suspect as Ennis’s regarding the manner of Jack Twist’s death. In both cases what each man believed he “knew” is an emotional, rather than a rational, conclusion. In the first case the belief is coloured by the trailhead incident, and in the second it’s unsupported by Lureen’s explanation.

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Offline Paul029

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Re: The Reunion
« Reply #4819 on: May 16, 2016, 06:56:51 AM »
Who indeed.

Just a rambling response to this bit of your post. There were, of course, words used in FNIT, and in that one time when Ennis - for an unspecified but deducible reason - but the rest of the time there were none. I underline that bit because, as far as I'm concerned, it fits in the pattern of Ennis questioning Jack (or in this case just stating the fact as he sees it) and Jack responding. We have to understand the lay of the land right back on the mountain. (Oops, getting a bit geographical there.)  I think it's being established that Jack and Ennis did not talk about what was happening, either before or during sex, because of the issue of denial which was an essential part of the relationship. If no goddamn words are to be expected, then why bother mentioning the fact?
I’ve already answered your suggestion that the narrator “stepped in with a subjective tone in an earlier part of the story,” as well as your interrogative final sentence. It’s noted that you chose not to respond to most of that answer but, instead, “snipped” it.

As for the last bit about alert readers, I don't think AP is explaining how teenage boys with their pants at half-mast and their hormones to the fore don't need words. I can assure you that straight teenage boys aren't generally great conversationalists when in flagrante delicto, and neither are teenage girls. (And for the record, straight sex can also be messy and stinky - try adding menstrual blood to the mix as well.)
You have a wonderful knack for focusing on a brief aside in order to develop, even if in parentheses, an issue unrelated to what I was saying.  We’re told nothing about teenage girls and their menstrual blood but about the results of two young men engaging in anal intercourse with each other—“semen, sweat and shit.” That you describe straight sex as also being “messy and stinky” is beside the point.

Bottom line for me is, in this incredibly tightly-written story, words aren't wasted on unnecessary stuff like "Teenage boys don't talk much/at all during sex."
The text of this “incredibly tightly-written story” directly contradicts you on this point—”They never talked about the sex.
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Offline Paul029

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Re: The Reunion
« Reply #4820 on: May 16, 2016, 06:57:49 AM »
Try googling "roll your own masturbation euphemism" and you'll be spoilt for choice.
I prefer to take your word for that, but it does seem to undercut your statement that the author “just liked the sound of the expressions and hoped her readers came along for the ride.”
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Offline Ministering angel

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Re: The Reunion
« Reply #4821 on: May 18, 2016, 07:45:59 PM »
^^^^
I don't think the two are mutually exclusive  :)  This is a rabbit hole I'm not going down  ;)

However, the bottom line for me is that from the very first time I read the story I interpreted the passage to mean that Jack hadn't been masturbating (although in reality I find that hard to believe). It was only when you began throwing up other suggestions to do with foreskins and cigarettes that I decided to go hunting for backup evidence for the masturbation meaning.
« Last Edit: May 19, 2016, 04:04:59 AM by Ministering angel »

Offline Ministering angel

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Re: The Reunion
« Reply #4822 on: May 18, 2016, 08:00:48 PM »
The text of this “incredibly tightly-written story” directly contradicts you on this point—”They never talked about the sex.
No, that's where you're wrong. Backtracking on this, you were saying that "not a goddamn word" wasn't indicative of anything other than the fact that two teenage boys engaging in sex really didn't need to say anything. However, when you take the passage as a whole it tells a different story.

They never talked about the sex, let it happen, at first only in the tent at night, then in the full daylight with the hot sun striking down, and at evening in the fire glow, quick, rough, laughing and snorting, no lack of noises, but saying not a goddamn word except once Ennis said, "I'm not no queer," and Jack jumped in with "Me neither. A one-shot thing. Nobody's business but ours."

Ennis is prompted to say something on a single occasion in the whole of their weeks of sex on the mountain, and what he says, followed by Jack's swift reply, is critical to the story. Why does he make that comment? Because he is in denial. It's the second indication after his quick response to Jack's opening move in FNIT.

Then the same sort of thing happens in the motel: Ennis denies, Jack complies.
« Last Edit: May 19, 2016, 08:10:09 PM by Ministering angel »

Offline Paul029

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Re: The Reunion
« Reply #4823 on: June 11, 2016, 09:42:11 AM »
Bottom line for me is, in this incredibly tightly-written story, words aren't wasted on unnecessary stuff like "Teenage boys don't talk much/at all during sex."
The text of this “incredibly tightly-written story” directly contradicts you on this point—”They never talked about the sex.
No, that's where you're wrong.

Your argument appears to be that information such as “Teenage boys don't talk much/at all during sex” is unnecessary, and that when such information is included in the story it’s a waste of words.

Yet the text clearly states that these two teenage boys “never talked about the sex.” It therefore could be accepted that the provision of such information “in this incredibly tightly-written story” was considered to be important, rather than a waste of words.

It’s certainly pertinent to what we’re told a little earlier, which explains, importantly, not only why, for the rest of the summer, they never talked about the sex but also why the sex in which they engaged was quick, and rough.

The mechanics involved in their first sexual encounter are described in a brief, basic manner. We’re told only that Ennis shoved his pants down, hauled Jack onto all fours and entered him, that “they went at it in silence” and then it was “out, down and asleep.” Not only was the act quick, and rough, but they didn't talk about it. Not during the sex itself, not once it was over, and not the next morning, when we’re told “without saying anything about it both knew how it would go for the rest of the summer.”

This is a tacit agreement between them that what occurred in the tent would be the template for their subsequent sexual activity. It was understood that what they’d done would be repeated the same way, that this was “how it would go," which is confirmed by “As it did go.“

The sentence describing their subsequent activity elaborates upon the events in the tent by expanding on what we’ve been told. “Without saying anything about it” becomes “they never talked about the sex.” The “few sharp intakes of breath” becomes “laughing and snorting, no lack of noises.” The description of what Ennis and Jack did in the tent is now confirmed as being as “quick” and “rough.”

The few words which are uttered during FNIT, and at some unspecified time during the rest of the summer, might appear to contradict the conditions of the tent template as regards “talking about the sex.” But I disagree that this is the case.

For a start, Jack’s “choked gun’s goin off” is brought about by the physical sensation of imminent orgasm, a physiological sensation over which he has no conscious control. The analogy of a gunshot once a gun’s trigger has been pressed is apt, as once that’s happened its action cannot be reversed. Ennis’s penile stimulation of Jack’s prostate and anal/rectal nerves, and his own stimulation of his erect penis, lead to a situation in which his heart rate and blood pressure increases, his breathing becomes more rapid and his anal and sphincter muscles contract and pulsate. His ejaculation is both spontaneous and unavoidable.

Talking about the sex,” requires the involvement of a conscious mind, but Jack’s “choked” exclamation is an excited utterance. His verbal response is as uncontrolled, and as involuntary, as his ejaculation. As such, it does not constitute “talking about the sex.”

The second exception occurs at some unspecified time during the rest of the summer. In this case Ennis and Jack’s conscious minds are involved as they talk, not “about the sex,” but about their sexual orientation. The condition that “they never talked about the sex” is therefore honoured.

What we’re told is not “unnecessary stuff” and it’s not “a waste of words.”
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Offline Paul029

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Re: The Reunion
« Reply #4824 on: June 11, 2016, 09:43:09 AM »
Backtracking on this, you were saying that "not a goddamn word" wasn't indicative of anything other than the fact that two teenage boys engaging in sex really didn't need to say anything.
No. You specifically asked me why “goddamn” was used in the sentence. I explained that the adjective was an appropriate choice and, in accordance with what we’re told they were doing, that “goddamn” words were not only unnecessary but irrelevant.

It’s also in keeping with what we’re told earlier, as I said above. They said nothing about the sex in the tent the next morning and they both knew that the sex would continue the same way—quick, rough and without it being talked about—and neither tending the sheep nor talking about the sex would interfere with, or affect, what they intended to do.

Your point about the story being tightly written is well illustrated by the inclusion of the short noun phrase “no lack of noises.”  This supports the statement that “they never talked about the sex” but also indicates that the noises they made were not restricted to laughing and snorting.

Although we’re not told what form these unspecified noises took it could be argued that, as their levels of sexual arousal intensfied, they included grunting, gasping and groaning. The sensations produced by the physical stimulation they each received during anal intercourse would be transmitted via their spinal cords to their brains, flooding them with surges of neurochemicals. As Jack and Ennis were overwhelmed by the resultant feelings of euphoria and a lack of physical control reversion to non-linguistic vocalisations (rather than words) would intensify their levels of sexual arousal by exciting and encouraging them to further strenuous efforts. Such vocalisations are also processed by the brain more directly, and more immediately, than through linguistic vocalisations and are therefore paid more attention than would have occurred had words been used. As their conscious minds “took a back seat” Ennis and Jack could be said to revert to an almost animalistic state of being, one where all that mattered was to single-mindedly focus on the task at hand.

The sheep be damned, and words as well.
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Offline Paul029

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Re: The Reunion
« Reply #4825 on: June 11, 2016, 09:43:52 AM »
However, when you take the passage as a whole it tells a different story.

They never talked about the sex, let it happen, at first only in the tent at night, then in the full daylight with the hot sun striking down, and at evening in the fire glow, quick, rough, laughing and snorting, no lack of noises, but saying not a goddamn word except once Ennis said, "I'm not no queer," and Jack jumped in with "Me neither. A one-shot thing. Nobody's business but ours."

Ennis is prompted to say something on a single occasion in the whole of their weeks of sex on the mountain, and what he says, followed by Jack's swift reply, is critical to the story. Why does he make that comment? Because he is in denial. It's the second indication after his quick response to Jack's opening move in FNIT.

This is all very interesting, but unfortunately has little to do with what we’re actually told in the sentence.

Putting it another way, the issue of Ennis’s “denial” and Jack’s “quick agreement” might indeed be relevant to your interpretation of the story but they’re not relevant to what we’re told about them saying not a goddamn word—the issue you originally raised on this thread (despite it not being about the reunion.)

By overlooking the importance of the main clause in the sentence you’ve side-stepped the sentence’s meaning to introduce another issue.
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Offline Ministering angel

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Re: The Reunion
« Reply #4826 on: June 11, 2016, 06:23:27 PM »
For a start, Jack’s “choked gun’s goin off” is brought about by the physical sensation of imminent orgasm, a physiological sensation over which he has no conscious control. The analogy of a gunshot once a gun’s trigger has been pressed is apt, as once that’s happened its action cannot be reversed. Ennis’s penile stimulation of Jack’s prostate and anal/rectal nerves, and his own stimulation of his erect penis, lead to a situation in which his heart rate and blood pressure increases, his breathing becomes more rapid and his anal and sphincter muscles contract and pulsate. His ejaculation is both spontaneous and unavoidable.
Quote
Although we’re not told what form these unspecified noises took it could be argued that, as their levels of sexual arousal intensfied, they included grunting, gasping and groaning. The sensations produced by the physical stimulation they each received during anal intercourse would be transmitted via their spinal cords to their brains, flooding them with surges of neurochemicals. As Jack and Ennis were overwhelmed by the resultant feelings of euphoria and a lack of physical control reversion to non-linguistic vocalisations (rather than words) would intensify their levels of sexual arousal by exciting and encouraging them to further strenuous efforts. Such vocalisations are also processed by the brain more directly, and more immediately, than through linguistic vocalisations and are therefore paid more attention than would have occurred had words been used. As their conscious minds “took a back seat” Ennis and Jack could be said to revert to an almost animalistic state of being, one where all that mattered was to single-mindedly focus on the task at hand.

This (and other passages which I've observed over time) may be taking mainsplaining to a whole other level on this forum  :D

Bottom line (no pun intended) is that I'm fairly certain you don't agree with my interpretation of much of the story, and I don't agree with much of yours. I think I shall draw a tent flap over (my side of) this conversation at this point since it has largely devolved into "but you said back in 1957 that....".

Offline Paul029

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Re: The Reunion
« Reply #4827 on: July 06, 2016, 05:41:52 AM »
This (and other passages which I've observed over time) may be taking mainsplaining to a whole other level on this forum  :D
I see you’ve not lost your fondness for red herrings in order to avoid addressing the issue I was discussing, nor your ability to cherry pick by taking my comments out of context.  ::)

The posts which contained these extracts were responses to your statement “No, that’s where you’re wrong,” which you announced with great certainty when I pointed out that the text’s “They never talked about the sex” contradicted your assertion that words aren't wasted on unnecessary stuff like ‘Teenage boys don't talk much/at all during sex.’

The writer evidently believed that the story’s readers needed the information that the sex was never talked about, and that such information was anything but “unnecessary stuff,” or “wasted words.”

I also showed that the few words which are spoken observe the writer’s condition that “the sex” was “never talked about.”
Jack and Ennis didn’t talk about “the sex” either during FNIT or during “the rest of the summer.”

In the first case Jack’s excited utterance, rather than a comment about what he and Ennis were doing at the time, was an involuntary response to the physical pleasure he felt as he ejaculated; and, in the second, both Ennis and Jack talk about their sexuality, not “about the sex.”

Bottom line (no pun intended) is that I'm fairly certain you don't agree with my interpretation of much of the story, and I don't agree with much of yours.
That you disagree with “much of” my interpretation of the story is presumably because I refer to the text itself.
It is the ultimate source of objective information, and the one from which I draw my conclusions, rather than relying on, for instance, what the writer has said about the story after its publication, or on a subjective interpretation which overlooks the information provided in print in order to satisfy a personal interpretative template.

Perhaps you believe that your interpretation is unassailable. That’s all very well, of course—and you’re entitled to think so—but it does tend to constrain the free exchange of ideas when your opinion is presented as “the final word” on the story. This has occurred a number of times recently, usually to counter some text-based point of my own, despite your responses having little to do with the actual issue under discussion. That you also recently told me that I was “wrong” about something stated in the text (referred to above) indicates that you were not only opposed to my point of view but also, in this case, to what the writer herself had written.


In 1859 the English philosopher John Stuart Mill wrote (in his essay On Liberty) that,

Those who desire to suppress [an opinion] of course deny its truth; but they are not infallible. ... To refuse a hearing to an opinion, because they are sure that it is false, is to assume that their certainty is the same thing as absolute certainty. All silencing of discussion is an assumption of infallibility.


I think I shall draw a tent flap over (my side of) this conversation at this point since it has largely devolved into "but you said back in 1957 that....".
Referring to a poster’s previous comments in discussion is appropriate when one wishes to understand another person’s point of view, and certainly so if discussion is to continue.

Your use of hyperbole to overstate this point suggests that you found my doing so to be somehow inappropriate, and even irksome.
That you linked this with your decision to exit the conversation certainly supports such a conclusion.

Nevertheless, your drawing of a tent flap over your side of the discussion is heartily appreciated.
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Offline CANSTANDIT

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Re: The Reunion
« Reply #4828 on: July 17, 2016, 10:34:24 PM »
In reading the last few posts I'm not really certain what the point is that is being made-? In terms of the canon or short story , were it considered a general truth that teenaged (GAY) boys don't talk about sex then she'd have no need to say they never talked about it, except the one time. So therefore if she brought up the exception to what happened all summer then she is making a point. This may be what was meant regarding not wasting words. I'm not positive.
I am curious about the motives behind the rather gratuitous descriptions about the basic mechanics of sex between men..??   I think it's fair to say not only we  adults all have a pretty good idea of biological functions; but I believe the nature  of what they did not talk about would not be wisely interpreted as being literally about sexual mechanics. But rather would likely be more about what actually was discussed in the Reunion scene, ie, how they felt about each other and the nature of what the sex meant-which is discussed at great length 4 years later. And Ennis is still in denial:  'I'm not no queer' and then in the hotel, ...'I know I ain't-? '. The only thing more stunning then the proverbial gush of emotions and confessions in that scene is Ennis' stunning denial and Jack's sad willingness to go along.  There is no other relevant explanation for the lies and admissions AP refers to in the final trip.  Why? Because there is little else acted out between them . They live separate lives and see each other less and less. Sex was always the glue as it often is. It is their desire for each other that keeps getting examined followed by the protagonist's-Ennis'- reaction to that desire.

Offline Ministering angel

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Re: The Reunion
« Reply #4829 on: July 18, 2016, 06:55:10 PM »
Casting my mind back, I think this tangent happened because I brought up "not a goddamn word" as a possible example of the narrator stepping in on an occasion other than when that narrator remarks that Jack "had been riding more than bulls". The bottom line for me is that in a whole summer of not talking about the sex and of not talking during the sex (because in that long sentence about it, AP separates out the two things - it's an odd sentence construction) there is that one exception, clearly labelled as such - "...except once Ennis said..." - and as a reader I ask myself why she did it. And as a reader I answer my own question by concluding that there may well have been a trigger for that statement by Ennis. Why else would he say it?

As for the narrator's information about Jack "riding more than bulls", I'm certain that's a subtle nudge in the direction about the truth of Jack's sexuality. The two are connected, of course; in both cases Ennis denies the truth and Jack responds accordingly. It's an ongoing theme in the story, the denial and lie which create and sustain the whole tragedy. Each piece of it - not no queer, riding bulls, the neighbour's wife, etc. - can be argued against individually but when taken together they form a clear pattern. That pattern is created by the actions of the two fathers - Mr del Mar making his kid terrified of knowing himself, and Mr Twist beating down his son and denying him recognition so that young Jack falls into a pattern of trying to make it right with the alpha males in his life. That's the story. IMHO of course.  :)

I'm rambling again.