Thursday, April 15, 2010
The Erotism of Playing Pinball (in the words of Umberto Eco)
Image from http://i.games-here.com/pinball.jpg
From page 222 of Foucalt's Pendulum, by Umberto Eco (USA, 1988):
You don’t play pinball with just your hands, you play it with the groin too. The pinball problem is not to stop the ball before it’s swallowed by the mouth at the bottom, or to kick it back to midfield like a halfback. The problem is to make it stay up where the lighted targets are more numerous and have it bounce from one to another, wandering, confused, delirious, but still a free agent. And you achieve this not by jolting the ball but by transmitting vibrations to the case, the frame, but gently, so the machine wont’ catch on and say Tilt. You can only do it with the groin, or with a play of the hips that makes the groin not so much bump, as slither, keeping you on this side of an orgasm. And if the hips move according to nature, it’s the buttocks that supply the forward thrust, but gracefully, so that when the thrust reaches the pelvic area, it is softened, as in homeopathy, where the more you shake a solution and the more the drug dissolves in the water added gradually, until the drug has almost entirely disappeared, the more medically effective and potent it is. Thus from the groin an infinitesimal pulse is transmitted to the case, and the machine obeys, the ball moves against nature, against inertia, against gravity, against the law of dynamics, and against the cleverness of its constructor, who wanted it disobedient. The ball is intoxicated with vis movendi, remaining in play for memorable and immemorial lengths of time. But a female groin is required, one that interposes no spongy body between the ileum and the machine, and there must be no erectile matter in between, only skin, nerves, padded bone sheathed in a pair of jeans, and a sublimated erotic fury, a sly frigidity, a disinterested adaptability to the partner’s response, a taste for arousing desire without suffering the excess of one’s own: the Amazon must drive the pinball crazy and savor the thought that she will then abandon it.