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Aphrodite Exposed

6 Comments 19 May 2010

Jude Law in Alfie

When I was in high school I wanted to be a movie critic.  As a matter of fact, I wanted to grow-up, move to New York City and take Rex Reed’s job at Rolling Stone magazine.  It was quite a leap for a chick from small town Mississippi.  It didn’t happen.  But I have always loved movies and always felt like the good ones had some morsel of truth in them.

I don’t really remember when I watched the movie Alfie (You know, it had that delicious Jude Law in it a few years back).  However, I will never forget the things I learned from it.  If something stikes me in a film, I will go back and write the quote down.  This is one I wrote down from Alfie, the main character.    He was a womanizing single guy who never settled down.  In the film he had a girlfriend named Nikki, she was the picture of perfection, but he was displeased with her because of her flaws, her damage.  This was what he said about her.

“When I was a boy at St. Alban’s Secondary School, the school took us on this cultural trip to observe art at one of the – One of those big famous London museums.  Anyway, when I was there, I came across this statue of a Greek goddess in marble.  Aphrodite, something like that.  Beautiful, she was.  Perfect female form.  Chiseled features.  Exquisite.  I stood in awe of her.  Finally, the teacher calls us all over, and I’m walking past it, and on the way I notice, in the side of this Greek goddess, all these cracks, chips, imperfections.  Ruined her for me.  Well, that’s Nikki.  A beautiful sculpture…damaged…in a way you don’t notice ‘til you get too close.”

I got a lump in my throat when he said that in the film.  Not because he was an ass, even though he was…but because I realized I was Aphrodite. I thought, that is the way I’ve lived my life, always trying to make myself look better than I am.  Always fearing that if someone gets too close that they will see what is behind the curtain…who the real “wizard of oz” really is, what she looks like – how full of cracks and chips and imperfections she might truly be!  The sculpture that I relentlessly put out there for people to see is a facade, or at best, she is a shined-up version of the original.

The Nikki (Alfie’s girlfriend) in all of us wants to be loved, damage and all.  We want to be known, seen up close and still treasured as our own version of Aphrodite, a goddess in our own right.  This idea that there is a way to go through life and only put our “Aphrodite” out there, only let people see what we want them to see or only be for them who they need us to be frightens me on one level because I have lived like that and because I still do to some degree.

Granted now there seems enough self-awareness to know when I am putting on that stone face, sculpting myself to be possibly better than I am.  I feel the exhaustion as it takes an immense amount of work to morph myself into a “beautiful sculpture,” trying to keep others from seeing my cracks. I know I want to be constantly moving towards accepting my “too close” view, my scuffed-up, cracked, chipped and flawed self, in order that I might be able to allow others to see the total me and learn to take their opinions in stride.

I don’t need to be worshiped by the masses, I only need to be known and appreciated by a few.  I need to be in true relationships and in true community.  That only happens when I allow others to get close enough to see the damage.  Learning to live with both my fortes and my foibles is a beautiful thing as it frees me from keeping others at arm’s length.  I long to be at a place where I am free to live with my failures, laugh at my foibles and learn from my mistakes.

Women are amazing at community.  I have experienced this community from childhood until this very day and I could not bear my life apart from it.  It is in this community, among those who do know my “too close” view that I am learning to live with who I am, fortes and foibles.

I think it is good to ask ourselves these questions:  Who knows your cracks, chips and imperfections?  Do you have anyone in your life that is close enough to see the damage?   If you find yourself living the exhausting reality of Aphrodite, consider who you might expose yourself to…who will find you just as delightful?

Or maybe you should ask yourself the flip side questions, which can also keep you from meaningful relationships:  Do cracks, chips and imperfections ruin it for you?  Are you willing to continue in a relationship once you get close enough to see the damage?

Expose your Aphrodite…it takes relationships to a whole new level!

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6 Comments so far

  1. Judy Helfand says:

    Jorja, You watched Jude Law in 2004 and I watched Michael Caine in 1966. I was 16, a High School Junior, and what I remember most about this Oscar nominated film was the theme song. It still resonates in my soul to this day.
    What’s it all about, Alfie?
    Is it just for the moment we live?
    What’s it all about when you sort it out, Alfie?
    Are we meant to take more than we give
    or are we meant to be kind?
    And if only fools are kind, Alfie,
    then I guess it’s wise to be cruel.
    And if life belongs only to the strong, Alfie,
    what will you lend on an old golden rule?
    As sure as I believe there’s a heaven above, Alfie,
    I know there’s something much more,
    something even non-believers can believe in.
    I believe in love, Alfie.
    Without true love we just exist, Alfie.
    Until you find the love you’ve missed you’re nothing, Alfie.
    When you walk let your heart lead the way
    and you’ll find love any day, Alfie, Alfie.

    I am thinking now of another film I saw a few years ago, “The Upside of Anger”. Did you ever see it?
    Here is the closing quote from that movie:
    “Anger and resentment can stop you in your tracks. That’s what I know now. It needs nothing to burn but the air and the life that it swallows and smothers. It’s real, though – the fury, even when it isn’t. It can change you… turn you… mold you and shape you into something you’re not. The only upside to anger, then… is the person you become. Hopefully someone that wakes up one day and realizes they’re not afraid to take the journey, someone that knows that the truth is, at best, a partially told story. That anger, like growth, comes in spurts and fits, and in its wake, leaves a new chance at acceptance, and the promise of calm.”
    In these days of recession, oil spills, earthquakes…I am just trying to survive and understand the journey, hoping to find that upside of anger. Do I let people in? Sometimes.
    Thanks for writing and sharing your thoughts.

  2. Kristy says:

    J, I’m in the throes of writing a novel (a children’s novel) right now about the holes and cracks and chips and imperfections in life. Your words fit right with what I’ve been mulling over. Thank you for this, sweets.

    • Jorja says:

      kristy, looking forward to that novel. i am glad to contribute, even on a tiny scale! write away! p.s. – have you read anne lamott’s bird by bird ?

  3. susi says:

    A lot of food for thought. I am sure as a southern girl I have not struggled with exposing my cracks and holes.

  4. Lola says:

    I agree w/ Susi that it is very hard in our Southern culture to live as Aphrodite Exposed. I sometimes make attempts at it (say in our church for example) and find that not only is it not welcomed, it’s certainly not reciprocated. I have to search really hard to find friends who are willing to expose their cracks and imperfections and with whom I’m safe enough to expose mine. This is good food for thought though, and I think I’ll think on this for awhile.


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things to make you wonder~

“I am a frayed and nibbled survivor in a fallen world, and I am getting along. I am aging and eaten and have done my share of eating too. I am not washed and beautiful, in control of a shining world in which everything fits, but instead am wondering awed about on a splintered wreck I've come to care for, whose gnawed trees breathe a delicate air, whose bloodied and scarred creatures are my dearest companions, and whose beauty bats and shines not in its imperfections but overwhelmingly in spite of them...” Annie Dillard

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