The Science Fiction of Being Marilyn

Many thanks to Chuck Hamsher for posting a reminder of the anniversary of Marilyn Monroe‘s passing on August 5, 1962.  She was a mere 36 years old when she died at her home in Los Angeles, her death ruled a probable suicide by consuming an overdose of sleeping pills.

Norma Jeane Baker

Several people commented on what made this woman so remarkable, and a common reference was to her “vulnerability.”  I’ve heard that word and variations of it used to describe Norma Jeane Baker my whole life, and not once — not once — has it rung true for me.

“Vulnerable” is a very popular and widely accepted way to label NJB.  And I will disclaim here that I know there is every possibility and probability that I just don’t get it; but I also don’t see it.  What I’ve always seen is a woman who, for whatever God-foresaken reason, became a sponge for what the rest of the world needed her to be.  She may be the most perfect reflection of a global codependent love story there ever was. 

NJB was in reality what in most human experience only exists in fantasy and story telling.  She was very much like a character from an old Star Trek episode called “The Perfect Mate.”  This character, Kamala, is described thus:

She is an empathic metamorph, a woman genetically-predisposed to suit the desires of any man she is with. She has the ability to sense what a potential mate wants, what he needs, what gives him the greatest pleasure and then to become that for him until she reaches the final stage of bonding, where she must imprint upon herself the requirements of one man, to serve as his perfect partner in life.

NJB was incredibly good at this, and that is why I think I’ve never seen her as truly vulnerable.  She impresses me as a woman who had an amazing talent in her relationships with other people, especially men, that allowed her intimate access to the likes of Joe DiMaggio and Arthur Miller — and my friends, that is serious range.

It is all unknowable now.  But I wonder if this lovely person did in fact connect with another individual above all others, knowing that in order to carry on her life she would need to suppress that connection and continue to meet the needs and dreams of many more in order to sustain her career.  That’s a story I can buy, and in the end would make her in fact vulnerable to only one person.


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