The Existence of Loss

“To deny the existence of red is to deny the existence of mystery. The soul which does so will one day go mad.” (105) Red can be passion, anger, love. It can be intense, soft, or staining. To deny the existence of his emotions, his struggles, and his unresolved tensions is to deny the right to explore who he is. This will eventually lead one into an identity crisis, to which we see Geryon trying to find books about self enlightenment in the philosophy section. The act of being is complex and when Geryon finds another book that states “…to the oblivion we call health when imagination automatically recolors the landscape and habit blurs perception and language takes up its routine flourishes.” (107) We see that Geryon has constantly found himself in situations where his interests are met with challenges. Geryon makes decisions based on desires for love and long lasting intimacy but fails to accept reality for what it is. The book takes us on the journey of love and loss with Herakles but it is through the heartache that Geryon comes to realize he, like Herakles, isn’t the same person they were when they were younger. Perhaps we can tie this to his unmet needs from his family. Is what Geryon longs for, genuine happiness or reconciliation for an unfortunate loss he endured? 

In the show, How I Met Your Mother, the protagonist Ted is in love with a woman named Robin, it leads him to make grand romantic gestures until she agrees to be with him. They dated for a year and then broke up because they had different visions for their future. However, throughout the rest of the series Ted continues to pursue her while she moves on and eventually marries his best friend. Ted’s friends persistently tell him that she is not “the one” and that they’re not as compatible as he believes they are. In one episode, he reminisces on his college days and how he set his life out that by the time he was 22 he would be married. This episode occurred in 3 year intervals, with different realities of Ted almost reliving past breakups and failures. By the end Ted is disappointed with the reality of not being married or having kids. This episode and the entire series, makes me go back to the question posed earlier, did Ted want to be happy or was he looking for reasons to make his lover “be the one.” It teaches the difficulties with letting go and the heartache that comes with finding coincidences to be signs from the universe. For Geryon I believe that he was holding onto an idealized version of Herakles, someone who he could explore his identity and sexuality with. After he has sex with Herakles, he’s later confronted by Ancash who asks Geryon if he is still in love with Herakles. He answers with “In my dreams I do. Dreams of the old days.” (143) Then later says having sex with Herakles was “degrading.” I think this being the ending of the book says more about Geryon acknowledging and diminishing this romanticized version of Herakles than it does about him just feeling bad for the affair. One might see this moment as pitiful but I believe it can be seen as a moment of reclamation, to note that Geryon holds himself accountable for his mistake, but that he understands he can be afforded some mistakes because to deny the existence of red is to deny the art of letting go.

2 thoughts on “The Existence of Loss”

  1. Your analysis and ideas about Geryon and his relationship with Herakles I think can be applied to Written On The Body. The narrator from Written On The Body is traveling through relationships and we follow them out of order, skipping around. I understood it as the narrator is in the present and when something occurs they think back to another relationship. The narrator continues to look back at their past relationships with a halo effect and it is most evident with Louise. The narrator is holding onto the idealized version of Lousie like you argue Geryon is doing. Longing for a loss and what could have been. Where I think they deviate is Geryon by your words “[H]olds himself accountable for his mistakes…” while I am unsure that is applicable to the narrator from Written On The Body.

  2. This post reminds me of the question posed at the opening of Written on the Body: “Why is the measure of love loss?” (Winterson 9). Your point that “it is through the heartache that Geryon comes to realize he, like Herakles, isn’t the same person they were when they were younger,” I think emphasizes one way we can measure love and loss and growth over time. Losing a love can spur realizations about one’s identity, desires, and needs for future relationships. It takes a certain level of growth and understanding to, as you say, learn the art of letting go– especially of a love so central to your (Geryon’s) journey of self-discovery.

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