Skip to content

Kevin Brockmeier

October 13, 2012

This story, which reminds me of Steven Millhauser stories, is about something that comes between the observer and a celestial body, the moon. It’s a ceiling and it descends further until it is just above the protagonist’s prone face. It is also about the things that come between a man and wife.

This sort of reminds me of the Barthelme story we just read where the car comes between the man and wife. This reminds me of something I wrote recently about a story I am trying to write: “Using the thing, the object, to hide behind, to place in front of the thing, something else, the real thing I cannot feel.”

I wonder if this is a male thing, to want to place something between ourselves and our feelings. I mean, in “The Ceiling” I guess the crushing ceiling is probably more symbolic of the man’s collapsing marriage. But still. There is this level of detachment. I’m going to go with it for a second, because these were the things I was thinking about as I read this story.

There is no male counterpart to feminism. And this seems somewhat debilitating. Because feminism is the empowerment of women, the unstated (or stated) corolary is that men are already in power. They don’t need a movement. But the weakness of men is that they are not allowed to be weak. This may sound petty, but it is not. Men are weak, and coming from a stance of expected strength, there can be no ownership of weakness like woman can/should own strength in resistance to traditional cultural/social roles. From a point of presumed and expected strength, the only place for a man to go is down into weakness (perspectively) which makes the man need to place something between himself and the things which cause him to be or feel vulnerable (emotions?).

I’m not bemoaning the loss of male power-slots. I’m not self-pitying about potential emasculation. The man in “The Ceiling” gets cuckolded, essentially, and he is forced to sit there as the ceiling descends on him and let it happen because he is no longer in a position of power. What is a man supposed to do anymore? I’m not a macho person by any sense of the word. I think there are definite social constructs that tell me I shouldn’t feel the way I do in order to maintain my manhood. It is no less valid to feel that and feel forbidden to feel that, and sort of being torn into an identityless, androgynous being, simply because I am a man and haven’t had the oppression of the patriarchal society inflicted upon me. Maybe I have.

In one of the interviews of one of the female authors for this class, it said that she resisted the temptation that had befallen so many of her male contemporaries, the lure of magic realism. And I think what magic realism offers men is an escape clause to plumb the depths of their own weaknesses without relinquishing their manhood. Or as “The Ceiling” puts it: “It was as if I’d opened my eyes to the true inward map of the world, projected according to our own beliefs and understanding.”

Next week’s story is “Escape Mushroom Style” by Trinie Dalton


From → Uncategorized

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: