O thin men of Haddam, why do you imagine golden birds?
Do you not see how the blackbird walks among the feet of the women around you?
He first saw her statue in his basement.
He had not been looking for her–he simply was searching wearily for a wider wrench, among the crusty cobwebs, the scattering creatures of incredible shade.
After she materialized, he stood immortalized, immovable, imminent.
Later Pygmalion would say, that he was powerless to resist her. He would say he could not move; he had no choice. Of course he fell by instinct, under the design of some veritable Being–he was predestined to love her and impotent to resist.
But this was not so.
The truth is there existed a moment when Pygmalion could have turned had he willed it very much. There was a window, small perhaps, and murky, but substantial nonetheless–a window that offered him escape–a sliver of light, a whisper that he could overcome and push his lips from that forbidden fruit.
But this moment he would deny.
Galatea was not really beautiful–not as genuine beauty is understood to be. Her charm existed in her contradiction, in her being unrealistic and unnatural–both inaccessible and freely available, in her being difficult to conquer and yet incapable of refusing. There was no otherwoman like her, she was more thin, more gaunt, more impractical, and more painfully incapable than any real women are able to be.
But to Pygmalion, she was the epitome of beauty.
He thought of her often when away from her presence, she became his secret-almost his smug thrill. He supposed other men may have something like her, but Galatea’s exact being belonged to him alone.
Yet somehow, she did not.
Pygmalion returned to Galatea, once a week, a day, an hour. He bled such blissless adoration that he was sure he would posit some response, some blush, smile, sigh.
But Pygmalion received nothing as he lavished adoration, devotion, duty, and time. Her hand did not twitch as he lavished it with jewels, she took none of his food, his drink. And no one wiped his tears or kisses from her feet.
He waited for her to rise a mortal woman, believing the intensity of his love would invoke some Power to present her to him in the flesh. But no Diana, no kind goddess materialized to grant Galatea life. She did not become alive, and Galatea did nothing more for Pygmalion than to stimulate the lust of his eyes but offer no real respite, no consolation for the lust of his flesh she ignited.
The other women knew of Galatea, or at least suspected her, but never murmured her name. They had no weapon with which to harm her; Galatea was eternally out of their grasp, for she was made of the stones with which they would wound her.
Some imitated Galatea, hoping to draw disinterested eyes back to themselves. Most hated her, but with a fascinated, disgusted hatred. Yet not one murmured her name.
The first time Pygmalion saw Galatea she gave him great pleasure. But he never experienced that level of pleasure again. He visited her again and again, seeking it hungrily, wondering what could make that illusive joy return. But with each visit he left with less satisfaction.
As he found less pleasure in her presence, he pursued her more frequently. What witch’s trick, Pygmalion wondered, had Galatea performed to tease him with vacuity?
Yet even as Pygmalion’s pleasure waned and his dependence waxed, he would have no one take Galatea from him. As she made him less happy, he clung to her more. How pleasant scratching was, but if he could not scratch he must at least be allowed to itch.
She destroyed his appearance. He grew sallow, spiritually starved, shaken. In some strange way, Pygmalion began to resemble Galatea herself. He became the shell of a man. Galatea gave him nothing but addiction and buried self-hatred. He found no pleasure in healthy interests, he could not walk in the sunshine, take a flower, or be pleased to grasp a living, pulsing hand.
Pygmalion made his choice. And what shall be his end?
But enough about him. I have one question to ask. Let us consider Galatea, as we almost haven’t yet.
Tell me, Galatea, are you lonely, there, on your pedestal?