The Rise of Catherine Tramell

video: One of my favorite scenes from Basic instinct.
It shows how much Catherine and Nick are at ease with each other.

This is a letter to my creativity coach Sara
Before our call I always give her a headsup..

This post contains spoilers for Basic Instinct (1992)
You can watch the movie on Netflix.
Dear Sara,
Forgive me Father, for I have sinned.
The flesh is weaker than the conscious mind.

Where flesh stands for still following the news day after day, despite making daily resolutions to stop following the news entirely.
And where flesh stands for writing an entire blogpost – twice!- about my real thoughts on Covid.
But before I get to the tricky part, of writing about Covid without creating things I delete, I want to first get back to the part where I changed my mind.
After my last letter to you.
My intention was to stop living so hermit-like, and go out more.
Take more risks.
I was so sick of staying within my (social) boundaries, and could not stand the thought of living in fear of well “people” I think.
Not fear of the virus, just to be clear.
I knew this “daring” new lifestyle would probably cost me my productivity. That I would be so out of whack every time I had seen a friend who had a cold, or had been in a car with someone who then got tested the week after and so on;
And yet, it was worth it.
Then fuck being productive.
Or so I thought.
But reality was a lot more stubborn than just a rational decision to stop being such a pussy, and rock that social life.
Time and time again I was caught off-guard, and I think I now know why;
Because you know what, Sara?
Most people SAY they live according to Covid regulations.
So this is what the world looks like to me Sara:
FIRST , “they”, society, science, all the scared people, all the dutiful entrepreneurs and organisations, all the healthcare professionals who had to deal with so much death and so on-
They tell me Covid is a real threat and that therefor there are these rules in place.
THEN, “they”, society, science, all the scared people, all the dutiful entrepreneurs and organisations, all the healthcare professionals who had to deal with so much death and so on – 
do not obey their own rules.
The other half of society, alternative news channels, and people who are less scared, the entrepreneurs and organisations who are less dutiful and everyone else who did not have to deal with all the deaths and sick people, also don’t obey them because they don’t believe it’s a real threat.
In other words:
I m living in a world where from the people who have not stayed indoors for 6 months;
No one obeys the rules.
Half of them despite endorsing them.
They go out coughing, share hand towels, equipment, food, elevators, cars.
They do not keep a 1,5 meter distance, or meet indoors without having any reason to believe the place has some kind of premium ventilation technique.
And yet at the same time, with half of them, it is NOT because they do not endorse the rules;
But it is because unlike me, they never had to internalize what hygiene is, because they were never aids phobic.
My estimate is that unless you’re a surgeon, you’re not going to understand surface and air contamination.
Because if you did, you would immediately see that the preventative measures may be more than a drop in the ocean;
But they’re far from safe or sterile circumstances that will prevent you from getting anything.
And that is IF you obey the rules.
Which like I said: I have (hardly) seen anyone doing, not consistently at least.
So here I was, for the past 6 months, in a world where half of the population endorse the rules and don’t diligently follow them, and the other half who do not endorse the rules and also don’t follow them.
And yet I have been feeling like the villain for concluding that apparently the rules only have the function of giving the impression that “something is being done”.
They should make people FEEL safe, when even if the rules would be executed perfectly, they are far from safe.

As the surgeon and the woman recovering from an aids phobia would have been able to tell you.
Yet this whole “playing by the rules” act has been my MO for the past 6 months, and I was like: “Whatever. I’ll sit this one out, and I ll cope.”
But at the back of my head, still, there was this voice that it wasn’t about following the rules;
It was about not catching or spreading Covid.
Which if it is as contagious as they say it is, means you cannot do anything where you touch the same surface as someone else, nor go indoors anywhere.
A situation that was only facilitated during the lock down, although our stores stayed open.
For the past 6 months I have not been stressed out by the rules, but by knowing that the rules are not enough to keep it from spreading.
As long as the supermarket, the plane or the movie theater are not clean enough to have an open heart surgery, you can still catch Covid there.
That’s how I see it. 
In the first months I felt angry, but eventually it died out.
And I became apathetic.
I was checking the news sites (sinning) but basically all I did was checking if there were any signs of land.

If there was hope.
And the reason it was so bad for my mental health was because I realized this would stay until at least mid 2021 if not longer.
I ve deleted another four paragraphs of medical information;
Suffice to say, I have not been able to combine my Covid related stress with giving myself nor my cats the right medical attention.
And it was something that was recently added onto that “I ll sit this one out” pile of delayed medical attention for my entire household (me and the kitties), combined with the six month emotional roller coaster of reading dreadful Covid related news, and being freaked out by many social interactions, that sparked a new thought;
“What if it never goes away?”
What if the conditions that are causing so much anxiety in my social life, and that have made me decide to avoid medical care, are permanent?
What if social distancing stays indefinitely?
What if Covid testing is here to stay, like Chlamydia?

What if a cure for Covid doesn’t come until 2034 just like the one for aids/hiv didn’t come until 1994;
And there will never be a workable vaccine but only something like Prep, for those at risk of getting Covid?
Then what?
And everything fell into place.
It was the breakthrough I had been looking for.
Of course I wasn’t going to watch the news anymore, now that I realized that it may very well stay like this for the upcoming decade and a half.
Just like gay men in the 80s, we might be in for a very long haul.
For the first time in months, I immediately knew what to do.
I sent an email to my dentist and the VET, both explaining my issues with the current situation as well as asking or suggesting ways how we could pick up treatment (safely) for myself (dentist) and the cats (VET).
For now I will keep my ban on the GP and specialists, but I’ve more or less always had that.
Dental care and the VET are really the only forms of health care that are “aligned” for me.
It’s not that it’s going to be easy, or immediately solved or anything.
But I felt very empowered to pick those ones up, instead of postponing it to some unforeseen future.
And finally The Vision came, of who I am becoming.
And this was also something that had been dangling in and out of focus, for a very long time. It was as if I just couldn’t fully grasp it.
Or was afraid to leap.
Until now.
In the 1992 movie Basic Instinct, Sharon Stone plays Catherine Tramell.
And although right off the bat, I was totally into her, she also seems to be perpetually growing on me.
Catherine Tramell is not just the type of woman who I think I truly am, and the only writer I have ever really felt connected to;
She also embodies the “role” I feel I currently have, in society.
She’s the one who everybody believes to be evil, when she’s really not evil at all.
Just strong, misunderstood, and refusing to explain herself.
Identifying with her is my ticket “out of here”.
Where “here” is after six months of playing by the rules and missing out on all the fun. And health care.
Basic Instinct, as I see it now, contains an alternative story or theme, that was recognized by at least one other person at the time!
By Sharon Stone herself.
On the special edition dvd, she speaks favorably about her character Catherine Tramell, and the story of Basic Instinct.
Yet last week I heard her talking about her background research for Catherine Tramell (in interviews for Netflix series Ratched) and it was almost as if she looked back at Catherine Tramell as really having committed the murders.
As really being a serial killer.
I thought:
“She’s lost “her”! Even Sharon Stone no longer remembers who Catherine Tramell really was.”
Maybe I misunderstood the interview she gave last week or the interview on the 1992 recording.
But Sharon Stone seemed to no longer support a more
favorable version, which she offered in that interview from the early 90s.
That Basic Instinct was a love story.
And this is how I see that story:
Catherine Tramell and Nick Curran, were both fascinated by playing mental games.
I am reading the book for the first time, and Catherine is explained like this;
“Writing teaches you how to lie,” she said crisply.
Oh, Jeez, thought Gus, all the ice was thin around this woman.
Every word she uttered was loaded with some double meaning.
But what was too much for Gus, was exactly right for Nick Curran;
He was looking forward to see how much she could be pushed
–and how she would push back.
Nick and Catherine played together because no one else understood the game. 
Catherine was not violent, not in a physical sense. But she did have a fascination for people with a history of violence.
Like Nick.
An incident where he had shot two tourists when he had been undercover, had made Nick Curran emotionally wounded and reckless. He was always drawn to violent situations. As if he longed to be punished for what he had done.
For the mistakes he had made.
Or, as his partner Gus called it, Nick felt so guilty that he “tried to wiggle his way into an ice pick”.
So I do not see Catherine Tramell as a killer;
But she was surrounded by them.
She sought their company a
nd seemed to have given them ownership over who they were...
Roxy could accept she had killed her brothers.
Hazel Dobkins could accept she had killed her family.
Nick could accept he killed “those tourists”.
And all three did those things, long before they met Catherine.
Her presence, her willingness to look them in the eye and be able to be with them despite or maybe even because of what they had done;
It’s what drew them towards her, as if for one brief moment, they didn’t have to carry that burden alone. 
But Beth Garner, who studied at Berkley at the same time as Catherine did and who became San Francisco’s police psychologist?
She could not cope.
In all probability; Beth Garner was no killer, until she met Catherine and lost her sanity.
Yet Beth Garner was viewed as the “good” one.
In the final scenes of the movie, it is revealed that Beth was the killer, of
Johnny Bozz, and of detective Nilsen to whom she gave Nick’s psychiatric file;
She killed Gus, and in all likeliness also their mentor at Berkley and her own husband.
But because of one final shot, with an ice pick under Catherine and Nick’s bed, it is also ambiguous if all that was true.
To this day director Paul Verhoeven, and now apparently even Sharon Stone herself, claim it was Catherine Tramell, not Beth Garner, who killed Johnny Bozz, Nilsen and Gus.
And then Catherine would also have to be the one who killed the mentor, and Beth’s husband.
In my opinion: She wasn’t.
It really was Beth.
She got into a deep identity crisis from meeting Catherine Tramell and as a response to not being able to really connect with Catherine and feeling inferior to her, Beth “became” the evil she accused Tramell of.
But that was never there. 
In 1992, I didn’t know the two story lines, both that Beth did it and that Catherine did it, had both been fully developed.
So naturally, I thought if you would dissect the movie, or if I had paid more attention, I would have seen who had “really” done it.
I left the theater with the ending that Beth Garner had done all the killing, but nevertheless Catherine had an ice pick under the bed.
Which she ultimately did not use, she didn’t kill Nick. 
Frustrated, I asked my then boyfriend what that ending meant.
If Beth had done it, why did Catherine have an ice pick and had considered using it on Nick?
I will never forget what my boyfriend said, and especially now that I know the movie is so complicated, I think he gave the best explanation of the movie I have ever heard:
“Maybe she was so used to having the people around her being killed, that when the killer was caught she felt she had to do it herself.”
And that’s why I know, this crisis will never be over.
If the virus is gone (the killer is caught), we will be so used to having it around us, that we’ll either keep it around by our thoughts, refusing to let it go.
Or we’ll create a new enemy thought.
Ten days ago one of the major news sites had three articles on legionnaire’s disease;
Maybe that will be the new enemy if Covid is behind bars.
Maybe that will be the ice pick under our beds we’re tempted to use because we’re so used, and attached, to having death and mayhem around us.
The movie made me see that there is no right or wrong in this crisis.
There are multiple story lines which you can follow, and they’re all complete.
The whodunnit from Covid will, just like Basic Instinct, always be a matter of preference.
Do you want to believe the good doctor Beth Garner was set up by the femme fatale?
Or do you want to believe that the mysterious writer Catherine Tramell just decided to play along? 
“I don’t make the rules, Nick. I go with the flow.”
After six months of pretending to be a Beth Garner, I realize I chose the wrong part.
I m changing my position, and picking up the Catherine Tramell part, just like I have done for years.
My three websites, my three blogs of the past ten years, are filled with blogs just like this one. Where I realize there is a part of me that has only been represented by her.
A very big part.
But I think I knew even earlier. I think I chose right there in 1992, who I wanted to become, or perhaps had always been.
I don’t make the rules, Sara.
I go with the flow.

~Suzanne/ Lauren
An Unexamined Life is Not Worth Living

Curious to read what else I wrote about Catherine Tramell?
Most of it was on this site!
Just search on her name in the search box.

And next to that
there are two articles you can find using the search box of my oldest blog,

and I got one hit on my Dutch site.

Books LS Harteveld/ Lauren

Lauren’s books are available at LULU
New books will also be added to Lulu, as sites are being curated.


I am Suzanne, the real name of Lauren Harteveld,
Lauren/ LS Harteveld was my second identity under which I wrote about sex, relationships, pop culture, from 2006 to 2020.
Lauren is now in 1995, so she will write offline for us.
Her first year 1994-1995 is available online:

coming soon: new books

1. Reboot – a hero’s journey. Diary 2017-2020
3. Big Mistress – confessions, columns and sex advice from the other woman
Blote Kont- (Dutch)
5. ALL THE THINGS – unpublished work 2010 – 2020

The best way to receive updates on when these books are ready is to follow this blog. The subscription button to this blog is on this page, probably on the right.
Nederlands blog: