Some notes on the life of pleasure
Chloe sails on – in her wake, June lands in the hospital, alcohol poisoning, stomach pumping imminent. The relation between pleasure & pain apparently separates the strong from the weak. This is nature working the work of tyranny. June loves Chloe’s daring pleasures.
Let us attend to her: There’s a party at the mayor’s mansion. Let’s get someone impeached. But Chloe rules over the drunk alone. A sober June would be a judging Judy, which she won’t have. Chloe, a great believer in leadership by example, believes even more, like all such heroes, in people following her example. For the sake of democracy, we are spared the sight. Robin saves June’s life at the hospital & recounts her own fall, several years before, at a fashion party. Chloe’s brilliance creates imprudence in her votaries. They neither see the price there is to pay, nor do they become capable of paying it.
June was a very dedicated student, a great believer in the challenges of high-school study, as if the ordering of the parts of knowledge in a school has any relationship to the motions of things… Obviously, such naivety is rare, but it typifies education. That’s what June means when she says she was the school mascot. School mascots are laughable because schools are laughable.
June’s rise to the rarified peaks of New York has been a fateful reversal. Now, she is one of the blessed few, for whom life is wine. She is also proof that most do not have what it takes for that life. This is the strangest thing about New York: It is the exemplar of unjust happiness, but the reason it is called the Empire State comes down to commerce. The purpose of business cannot possibly be promiscuous pleasure.
June’s adoration of Chloe proves, however, that the middle class has come to an end. This smart, moral girl makes a deal with the devil for the sake of fun. This prepares the other quiet joke: Chloe’s hiding place for comic books is called a structural flaw. Public adoration, it emerges, is a dubious ground for divinity or immortality. It is not an accident that Eli & June discover this: This is the revenge the many take on the few.
James explains why Chloe wants to feel immortal, being aware of the passing nature of celebrity. – Her attack on morality is in fact a desperate attempt at self-preservation. – Chloe explains why James wants the biggest dressing room: The desperate attempt to turn honor into advantage. Call it the rationalization of politics, the attempt to ground rule in nature. James learns to forgive Luther’s mistake & to appease him – the few must allow the many to adore them.