Welcome To Lolita-Land

 

Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Loleeta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta.

I remember a beautiful 13-year-old Korean girl with long black hair, a thick firm body and tiny little breasts who dressed in short plaid skirts, schoolgirl vests, and patent-leather shoes. A darling child pretending to be a woman.

She would press her lips together tightly and try not to laugh at my jokes. She would meet my glance and hold it, pretending she knew what I was thinking. She would keep me company in the high school auditorium while we skipped classes, sit behind me and massage my shoulders and recite the first lines of Lolita. She would tell me that she wanted someone to write words like that for her, to capture her youth so she would never lose it. I never did; just whispered them in her ear.

With apologies to my wife, if she was before me today, I’d rip into her with everything I’ve learned since, everything that’s weighed the thing down and dirtied it up. Back then she was just a girl I vaguely and wholly desired.

It has been 50 years since Lolita first soiled us, and while it is neither Nabokov’s best work (Pale Fire) nor his kinkiest (Ada), it continues to provoke. The other texts of transgression haven’t fared as well. Tropic of Cancer seems tame; The Eye comic; Lady Chatterly’s Lover campy, and it is impossible to see what made Ulysses obscene.

Lolita is obscene. It is a love story, but there is nothing redeeming in this love, only the all-consuming sexual obsession of our pedophilic hero.

Lolita Mpegs—Free Young Teen Movies… This site is dedicated to young slut movies… Lolita Mpegs is STRONGLY against all forms of child pornography…

This is among the Google results for Lolita. Nabokov didn’t invent pedophilia, but he did name the very young girl of the very old fantasy.

Lolita porn is all baby-doll lingerie, pigtailed hair and excited faces, curious and lacking in confidence. Their bodies are delicate and frail; their desire is to be protected. In Girl Scout or Catholic School uniforms, they revel in their new sexuality (or in their long whored-out emulation of it). Lolita has become a mask for women to wear.

Nabokov anticipated the masque where play pedophilia is almost acceptable, barely legal and utterly commonplace. It is performed on every catwalk and fashion shoot—12-year-olds dolled up, flouting what they barely have.

The modern world belongs to Lolita. When the book was published, we were in the midst of constructing the suburban dream. As the highways were laid down and the water pumped into the western deserts, it was shocking to have some Russian egghead delight in the slutting of a child.

This before thickly made up nine-year-olds shrieked for Britney & co., back when the eroticism of children was something to be subjugated, monitored and controlled. No one realized his vision was ours, just more fully realized.

Lolita, drawing on Russian folk tales that revel in tones of pedophilia and incest, treats the little girl as a limitless font of sexuality, no matter the scholarly blather about the book that circumvents and ignores this central fact.

It was the perfect story for a nation newly enamored with youth, still shell-shocked by a war that had cost an entire generation theirs.

It took Nabokov, a polylingual aristocrat and apolitical, profoundly elitist heir of Russia’s aborted democratic culture, to provide a literature for the sexually charged, antagonistic youth culture emblemized by rock and roll.

And we are still wiping off the sweat Lolita raised on our palms. Outside schools now stand flocks of Lolitas, clutching children’s lunch boxes and teddy bears, swaddled in high heels, belly shirts, piercings, painted faces and hot pants. No adult does much more than glance surreptitiously over or scowl in passing. Surveys of juvenile sex (the blow job is back; penetration is passé) are just passing tabloid items.

Nabokov’s nymphette is a channel of pure desire, unpolluted by self-consciousness, guilt or regret. She does not attempt to arouse; she is arousing. As we see the first awareness of guilt and pleasure dawn upon her, the force of realization makes her irresistible.

Her acolytes—uniformed in sneakers, “baby” tees and band-aids, or in skirt, sunglasses and knee-high socks—are well-aware of their character. It is a game that can be played poorly or well, and turn out sour or delicious.

Yet Lolita remains an attractive figure for many women. Putting on the role means setting off on the Quixotic quest for sexuality unbridled by guilt or experience. It is not just the desire to be the complete object of a man’s desire and obsession; it is also the desire to be subsumed in the intensity of one’s own passion. Lolita represents a woman’s desire to return to all-consuming childhood joys, to have every fiber of skin lit up like a fuse at just a glance. Lolita reminds a woman of what it was to feel fulfilled by putting her head on Daddy’s shoulder.

These modern-day Lolitas share a combination of submissiveness and sadism. They are submissive in their desire to be led into iniquity, to be educated in the sensations of the flesh, to be held and protected. They are sadistic in demanding what they desire completely. They manipulate with the skills of a Renaissance prince and punish ruthlessly. They know their state, but still they are drunk with the amorality of youth. Gilles Deleuze says it is the masochist that trains the sadist. I would add that this training happens much as a child trains a parent—without pity.

Still, Lolita is not new; her young flesh hangs tightly on her classical skeleton. We have been making comedies about older men and younger women for at least two thousand years. Be it the Comedia dell’Arte or Billy Wilder, the story remains the same. The older man who has abused his role as a young girl’s protector now wants to marry her, but is thwarted by a younger man with the help of a harlequin. The young couple is married and the old man is driven out of the community. All of this is in Lolita; what sets the novel apart is Nabokov’s merciless nihilism.

Lolita’s marriage is a pitiful thing: Quilty’s harlequin is threatening and egoistic, the young man is a worthless idiot and it is Humbert, the old creep, who is the sympathetic figure. We see her through his eyes and we participate in his passion. His pain justifies his actions, and his story validates his crimes.

Still, today’s Humberts, whether they are sitting in their strip clubs, jerking off to a Delia’s catalog or searching for innocent pictures on the Internet, are not thinking of anything about which Nabokov would have even remotely cared.

They are thinking dull thoughts about hot young girls and what they could do to their bodies and souls. In every strip club, old fat men watch the runway like lions watch gazelles in the Serengeti, and the girls come out, one after another, never showing sorrow or concern as they stride down the runway sucking on lollipops.

It is odd from a biological perspective. Not only is a 12-year-old girl’s body not prepared for sex, but the act of birth itself can lead to infection and death.

The ugliest of the truths Nabokov laid out is that the desire for a child is, at least from one perspective, the triumph of civilized impulses over animal ones. It is a triumph over what is programmed into us (the need to reproduce, in this instance)—the liberation of desire. It is an older model of decadence in which the Great Few (the child-fuckers, in this instance) are allowed to indulge their whims upon the great many of no special worth or consequence.

What the child-fuckers are after is the limitless desire—all potential—of halting kisses and unsure hands instead of the developed and experienced fulfillment of desire. In my memories, I can see my Lolitas with pursed lips hovering about mine like some sweet fruit, ripe and heavy on the branch. Girls dancing in the summer rain, pulling me out of the bus shelter to get wet with them. Girls shooting me sideways glances, waiting for me to put my arms around them.

Seeing a woman shudder as a finger passes across the inside of her forearm or the passing glance of a child wondering at my presence is enough to conjure up my long-ago Lolitas.

Beyond the grim hideousness of sex with children, though, is the joyous reality of sex with adults. Older women are far more sexual, both biologically and, far more crucially, in terms of their sentimental education. A woman with fully developed sexual characteristics and tastes should be the preferred standard of beauty.

The problem is that a real woman wants, needs and demands; a real woman knows how to have sex, while a child has to be taught, is only capable of being the object of desire. It is in this way that sex, or even desire, becomes a way of taking instead of giving. The desire for the girl in the catalogue is finally vampiric.

Like Humbert, we are not attracted to the woman, but to her youth. We change Dolores into Lolita by covering her with our desires and debauching ourselves in the purity of her sexual discovery. And so when we find Dolores as a woman of sixteen, we are no longer in love with her. Every Lolita casts the shadow of time because she will age, and the men who desire her will not be able to steal enough youth to stave off death.

Our desire for Lolita is not an all-consuming passion; it is the desire for an all-consuming passion. In our boredom we want to be chewed up and consumed by a merciless lover.

It is a trick of the light; the forbidden love is always the all-consuming love. The desire for Lolita remains masturbatory, narcissistic.

I am old enough to have had my Lolitas in front of my eyes years later. With every giggle I see the years fall off their faces to reveal the little girls beneath. I am restored; I see my youthful face reflected in their eyes.

Sucking in my gut and covering my thinning hair, I have seen the women who once ruled my mind as they have become. I have spoken with them over drinks and at chance meetings. Words are exchanged about the years that have passed. What have you been up to? Are you happy?

I catch as many discreet glances of their bodies as I can, so I can see what I’ve been missing, what I have lost. I prefer their bodies now, with their curves and womanly grace. Sometimes I crack through the defenses and catch a glimpse of a little girl who looked up into my eyes with joy and wonder.



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