Art Criticism – SG Phillips

        Of course Miles, being a gentlemen of the noon-age of 40 years and so a fully grown and enfranchised property owning male citizen in the Roman Empire according to the old reliable Law of the 12 Tables (he had been fluent in Latin as a youth), had not imbibed the exquisite pleasure of masturbation in nearly 14 years. This being due partly to his overuse of amphetamines since his discovery of that magnificent breakthrough chemical when he was 26 years old, but, he believed this lack of onanism was more due to a breakthrough he had on that very first mission when the plunger pulled back just a little forming little red petals in the solution and then plunged those blossoms deep into his heart, sending him skyward outside our sphere of inner sense where he was then able to retrospectively view his entire life from the bird’s eye and project this map far into the future and adjust all habit accordingly. Masturbation, to put it bluntly, robs the young virile male of all essential nutrients be they spiritual, mental, or physical; when one masturbates they exude pheromones unconsciously sensed by all potential sexual partners (he referred to this as “the aura of Onan”). Every time one masturbates they descend one or two rungs of a never acknowledged unconscious hierarchy that we all are a part of and navigate each waking hour of the day and each moment of slumber (daily interactions being integrated and understood and all accounted for in all their subtle aspects when we dream). Even when one masturbates and then types a post on the internet the statement “today I have masturbated” might as well preface every sentence and be tattooed on their forehead: a simple typo, a slightly out of character tweet, an out-of-character grammatically correct sentence; any perturbation of the typical flow is always detected no matter how far the onanist might be from his interlocutor.

Not exactly the butterfly effect, Miles had long since differentiated the two: it was in fact the converse, that is, making one’s presence just slightly more irrelevant and easy to ignore; to be stepped on conversationally with no guilt felt whatsoever by the offending party, to be made inconsequential to others much like Onan himself. 

Does anyone remember the tale of Onan? Miles cannot remember ever learning about Onan as a youth, and Miles went to a Catholic School. Miles even took a course in college on the Old Testament, combing through a direct and literal translation of the Jewish old testament but he does not remember so much as a lecture footnote on this most moral of all tales (he believed this lack of engagement with the subject of Onan to be the very crack in Catholic church pedagogy that Martin Luther initially chiseled at). Looking through the Bible later on his own, he had found a little verse about a man who had spilt his seed and then was no more. He wrote this little poem for the man, The Ballad of Onan:


There once was a man named Onan,  

He was once but now he is none,

with cetaphil and jergens

he hunched and in slow jerked-

and in two or three verses

was gone.

Miles had never told anyone about this bit of verse he composed and held so dear to his heart. He sometimes thought of it and found fault in that it simply gave Onan too much attention; giving him too much attention and making him the main character of anything robs this story of its moral content, for Onan is Onan because we don’t really know Onan, who expelled his essence and disappeared. Onan was a man who had possibly descended this invisible ladder his entire life, and his final descent past that bottom rung below the ground of any notable hell was the notable thing that Onan, and only Onan, had ever done.

Miles believed this fault too glaring and obvious to share this poem with anyone except his sexual partner Chloe who, recognizing this fact immediately, really gave it to Miles about how stupid the entire charade of this so-called work of poetry was because of this most obvious of all facts. Chloe’s justified criticism and harsh tone made Miles feel a deep and everlasting shame at his inadequacies as a poet and he never spoke to her or anyone else about poetry ever again. In fact, he never spoke to her again at all. Chloe later gave birth to Miles’s son, although it was never recognized as such since she had taken this ghosting as a sign that if a loser like Miles had the ability to ghost her then she must get her life in order and she ceased all drug use and was married to her AA sponsor the very next month.


In spite of this setback, Miles had ascended this invisible ladder consistently. His hands held steadfast to this ladder of virtue that only he had been able to see, not once becoming idle and descending toward his crotch (more precarious the higher up one is). But today he decided that he, in presence of this alluring painting of a mysterious, possibly queer or sapiosexual woman smiling serenely at him specifically and not any of the vacationing American families gazing in the same direction as him in the glimmering sun made crystalline by the gridded glass skylight of the Louvre, could afford to descend a rung or two. He could do it right here, right now, and no one would stop him, due to the masculine aura he exuded at all times, this sub-symbolic Achilles. All men present would even thank him for changing their lives when they so vividly saw how far above them he was on this ladder of virtue that they never even knew existed. A hush fell over the audience as he began, and, as he approached ecstasy, Miles was approached by two men in blue jackets whose interlocution made his stomach churn, his lungs expel, and his vision feel defeat.