657. Gathering together (XVI)
If you want to understand what women really want, read The Talented Mr. Ripley—read the whole series, the Ripliad. Tom Ripley is a man from a non-descript background with a talent for imitation; he attaches himself to Dickie Greenleaf, a playboy with greenbacks, and parasites off him—at a certain point, the relationship turns sour and Tom kills him. Ripley then assumes Greenleaf’s identity and forges his signatures to claim his fortune—he forges pretty much everything afterwards, becomes involved in the notoriously fake art world. This is the whole premise for the Ripley series: reverse murder mystery. You know who the killer is, you know how he did it—the question is whether he will get away with it. Really, Ripley stories are not murder mysteries; they are Hitchockian—they are suspense stories that involve mistaken identity and forgery.
Who could develop such a twisted character? A woman, Patricia Highsmith. You used to hear many complaints about men who “stalk” women; really, although some men become obsessed with particular women, it is women who are the stalkers. It is women who examine your mail and sniff your clothes for olfactory traces—they are like cats, an animal Highsmith adored; they stalk their prey—obsessively. If a woman really scents an alpha male, she will cruise past his workplace and call his home phone and hang up—it will be a total stealth obsession. As with Ripley, they will take on their target’s identity—become him, absorb his desires and his preferences.
Highsmith was a major butch lesbo, so she took it one step further—not only did she stalk her prey, she, as with a man, killed her prey and took on their identity completely. She came from Texas, she loved her guns and gold—and she had enough testosterone to go one further and kill her target. Be paranoid: women want to absorb your energy, to know what shirts you wear—to have your baaaabbbbbyyyy. Highsmith, one of the boys, wants to kill you: she has that Greek objectivity, marble statues—marble as cold as a body on the slab.
She ended her days in a Swiss chalet with very thick, cold walls; thick enough to keep out the humanity she despised—Switzerland, like Texas, values gold and guns. She sat there and entertained herself with whiskey and anonymous anti-semitic letters to the local press—sounds like an ideal life, no? For company, Highsmith kept snails—hundreds upon hundreds of snails; and these included giant African snails, large as cats, that she would cradle in her arms. The Swiss, fastidious as ever, banned the importation of snails—so she smuggled them in under her breasts. At parties, she would pop her snails out of her handbag “so as not be lonely”.
She was fascinated with snails due to the way they mated. See, the snail is also a hermaphrodite—dual-sexed, just like Highsmith; and the hermaphrodite is also the poet—the awakened one, the hidden God. Writer. She hated women in a way only a butch lesbo can do: hence she published Little Tales of Misogyny. The firm feminine-masculine hand on your shoulder, “You’re not a queer, are you?” “Er. No, Highsmith. I’m not a queer.” Haw-haw-haw (gruff, masculinised laughter). Highsmith’s dilemma was that she saw what women are from the inside, from her own femininity—and yet she was half man, so she could see her femininity with a certain objectivity; and what she saw disgusted her. Whereas ordinary men become infatuated with women in an innocent way, Highsmith had no illusions as to what a woman is—and that was why she hated women.
Hence people often say Ripley is gay; correctly, Ripley is a masculinised woman—he is an author surrogate, all characters written by women are author surrogates. He has the feminine cat-like desire to hunt—yet he has the masculine desire to kill, not mate with, his target; and he gives birth to images, just like a poet.