Katie Elli­son, The jour­ney (The Modes­ty Diaries)

The article you are about to read on the Modes­ty Dia­ries has first been publi­shed in a French ver­sion on my web­site dedi­ca­ted to ero­tic lite­ra­ture, La Bauge lit­té­raire. As the French still have dif­fi­cul­ties coping with the idea that there are things worth saying in other lan­guages than their own, this ori­gi­nal fea­ture on Katie Ell­sion and her Modes­ty Diai­ries has remai­ned without any atten­tion. Which is rather sad, as Katie and her excellent texts are wor­thy of being dis­co­ve­red by a lar­ger public. So I deci­ded to publish an English trans­la­tion in order to reach a big­ger audience, for the sake of these diai­ries, its sau­cy details and its human dimen­sion which extends far beyond the boun­da­ries of phy­si­cal love-making.

As you all know, lite­ra­ture is a kind of a game at the cross­roads of rea­li­ty and fic­tion. While some texts don’t seem to have any connec­tion what­soe­ver to the world we all live in, others try to ren­der it in the most accu­rate way or are des­ti­ned to give an account of someo­ne’s (for example the author’s) life and his reflec­tions on it. Regard­less of this consi­de­ra­tion, lite­ra­ture is always fic­tio­nal, never the real thing enti­re­ly. Conscious of this state of things, I was not able to exclude the idea of the Modes­ty Dia­ries being some kind of lite­ra­ry hoax. Some­thing rather com­mon and not to be rejec­ted as false or dis­ho­nest, just a way of making lite­ra­ture out of some­thing. Since the ini­tial publi­ca­tion of this fea­ture, I have chat­ted on mul­tiple occa­sions with this dia­ry’s author, and I am convin­ced now that the woman behind it all is in fact real. As for the actions rela­ted, I am of course not an eye-wit­ness and I can by no means gua­ran­tee the vera­ci­ty of eve­ry single detail, but I am convin­ced that the epi­sodes of her life she has cho­sen to inte­grate into this stun­ning text – those that have led the author on her path to an enligh­te­ned – and pro­found­ly human – sexua­li­ty – are indeed genuine. This being said, we should of course not for­get that, having been trans­for­med into lite­ra­ture, these expe­riences have acqui­red an addi­tio­nal dimen­sion  and a vera­ci­ty that extends beyond that of a single person.

*****

Those who come and visit the den of lite­ra­tu­re’s wild boar on a regu­lar basis know all about the ter­rible thirst of this beast of the Teu­to­nic forests for all things rela­ted to lite­ra­ture, a thirst that pushes it to trans­gress all bounds in its search for some­thing to quench the fire in its guts, a fire nou­ri­shed by its lust for lite­ra­ture and sex, a lust so mea­su­re­less that it makes him for­get all decen­cy, a lon­ging to push to the heart of even the stran­gest phan­tasms. You can easi­ly ima­gine that such a lon­ging is dif­fi­cult to satis­fy, and this is one of the rea­sons that pushes the wild boar to take a good look over the fence, to see what trea­sures there may pos­si­bly be in other lan­guages. After Bar­ba­ra Shum­way, an Ame­ri­can author pre­sen­ted recent­ly with two fea­tures, it is now the turn of Katie Elli­son, an English wri­ter that I met, just as Bar­ba­ra, on about.me, a site that built its busi­ness case around the notion of ego­tism, a kind of vir­tual visi­ting card that seems to exert a par­ti­cu­lar attrac­tion on wri­ters of erotica.

À lire :
Camille Sorel, Vacances en soumission

We should per­haps start by asking our­selves in what mea­sure Katie Ell­sion is about lite­ra­ture. Her texts are pre­sen­ted as excerpts from her dia­ry, first publi­shed on a blog des­ti­ned to be some kind of report of her dis­co­ve­ry of – and slow pro­gres­sion toward – poly­amo­ry and a swin­ging life-style, of her first steps in this new world whose doors so often remain clo­sed to the com­mon mor­tal, caught in the conven­tions of a socie­ty that pro­fesses some sort of serial monogamy.

« These extracts are not fic­tion, but real life accounts of her occa­sio­nal affairs, swin­ging adven­tures and encoun­ters over the past decade. » [1]Taken from the cover text of the firt volume of the Modes­ty Diai­ries

Having never met the author elsew­here than in her wri­tings, it is of course enti­re­ly pos­sible that this is some kind of lite­ra­ry hoax, some­thing rather com­mon since the roman­tic ages, a trick that consists in crea­ting fake bio­gra­phies with all the appea­rances of the real thing. Wha­te­ver it may be in this case, as we talk (almost) exclu­si­ve­ly lite­ra­ture in the wild boar’s den, and as this one has the habit of rea­ching out to those that offer him the pos­si­bi­li­ty to tra­vel the minds of wri­ters, we are going to give cre­dence to Katie’s sto­ry and delve into her texts, The Modes­ty Dia­ries, as if these real­ly were the true confes­sions of a woman ful­filled by the expe­rience of her open­ly assu­med free sexuality.

As one would expect in a dia­ry, eve­ry­thing is writ­ten from a first per­son pers­pec­tive. As one fol­lows the plot, one dis­co­vers a woman that nothing seems to make any dif­ferent from the ordi­na­ry twen­ty-first cen­tu­ry woman, mar­ried with kids, doing well in the job and at home. A woman whose first steps in the dis­co­ve­ry of the sen­ti­men­tal and sexual aspects of life are those of the big­gest part of her contem­po­ra­ries. Up to the day where she starts (or lets her­self get into) an affair, with all those mixed fee­lings that come along with it :

“Someone else found me attrac­tive ! Wan­ted me ! Arou­sed me ! Exci­ted me ! I just couldn’t help myself… even the com­plete fee­lings of guilt and shame in the after­math, couldn’t stop me. I enjoyed it… and yes, I wan­ted it, I nee­ded it.” [2]The Modes­ty Ablaze Dia­ries, Part One, The Begin­nings

A not very ori­gi­nal expe­rience that many have lived through, torn bet­ween ful­filment and shame, and that many have not been able to prevent from let­ting it des­troy their mar­riage. But here lies the dif­fe­rence : The main cha­rac­ter of this very inti­mate dia­ry had the chance of being mar­ried to a man that not only unders­tands her but acti­ve­ly encou­rages her to take more lovers, at the sole condi­tion of tel­ling him eve­ry­thing about it, up to the most sau­cy details. And that has been the start of a series of encoun­ters that the author has cho­sen to present on her blog, which has later become the basis of the three volumes of her Modes­ty Dia­ries.

The epi­sodes ins­pi­red by the rich sexual life of Katie E. (yes, this should remind you of the work of ano­ther famous sexual ego­tist, The sexual life of Cathe­rine M.) have all one thing in com­mon (at least in the first volume I just fini­shed rea­ding), a cer­tain nai­ve­té that, des­pite the open inde­cen­cy of the cha­rac­ters and cer­tain of their prac­tices, makes for a refre­shing sense of inno­cence. An inno­cence that lar­ge­ly contri­butes to make even more cre­dible the alle­ga­tions of the chief pro­ta­go­nist who pro­fesses the extra-lite­ra­ry, non-fic­tio­nal cha­rac­ter of her­self and her texts. The things hap­pe­ning bet­ween Modes­ty (aka Katie) and her lovers are not out of the ordi­na­ry, and eve­ry per­son with a heal­thy sexua­li­ty is sure to have enjoyed it in some form : Modes­ty loves to suck cock, gets her nipples played with, enjoys head-jobs and pas­sio­nate french-kis­sing. As I said, nothing out of the ordi­na­ry. There are no trans­gres­sions apart from the main one that lies at the heart of the mat­ter, poly­amo­ry (ren­de­red even more spi­cy by a big dosage of cuckol­ding). Apart from that, the sexual habits of Modes­ty Ablaze are those of about 99% of the popu­la­tion, and no-one would find any­thing wrong with that.

À lire :
Danielle Grévineau, Sexe sur la plage

So, nothing spe­cial as for this mat­ter, if it were not for the sin­ce­ri­ty of the nar­ra­tive that contri­butes to make Modes­ty Ablaze a real human being, a fel­low, a per­son one would love to meet, not only to enjoy her open-min­ded­ness and her excel­lence in all mat­ters sexual, but to bask in the all-to-human warmth that she irra­diates, a warmth so conta­gious that it makes excep­tio­nal beings out of those who just cross her path, beings that get into the rea­ders” heads and conti­nue to live there. All thanks to the wri­ting skill of Katie Elli­son. And I hope you unders­tand that this is an exploit so outs­tan­ding I just had to single it out.

If I have cho­sen to present to you, my fai­th­ful rea­ders, the works of Katie Elli­son, it is first and fore­most for the pro­found huma­ni­ty that lies at the heart of her wri­ting, a huma­ni­ty we all have a great need for in these times of obs­cu­ran­tist ter­ror, a huma­ni­ty that expresses itself pre­ci­se­ly by what makes us human in the first place, ten­der­ness and love, fee­lings that lead us into the arms – and bet­ween the legs spread wide open – of our fel­low humans. This being said, I can­not stress enough how much the indecent encoun­ters of Katie E. can be arou­sing ! A rea­ding adven­ture that guides those who let them­selves be temp­ted from sexual heat to human warmth, an exploit that makes the dia­ries of this woman – a woman in the most pro­found of ways – such a remar­kable read.

Katie Ellison, The Modesty Diaries, part one

Katie Elli­son
The Modes­ty Ablaze Dia­ries
Part One « The Jour­ney« 
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Réfé­rences

Réfé­rences
1Taken from the cover text of the firt volume of the Modes­ty Diairies
2The Modes­ty Ablaze Dia­ries, Part One, The Beginnings

2 Comments

  1. Thank you for such nice words Thomas.
    It’s always nice when someone says nice things about one … but espe­cial­ly in this case as your wri­ting here, and also in your other English-ver­sion posts on Amber Jahn, is so pas­sio­nate, intui­tive and descriptive.
    I am tru­ly flat­te­red … and it has ins­pi­red me to try and find the time to com­pile a new ver­sion of some of my more update dia­ry entries!!!
    Xxx – Katie

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