Sunday, December 27, 2009

It's Good To See You

When Heraclitus speaks of law, when he speaks of necessity, it is the simplicity of the event of a becoming: there are laws: the "is" of a moment, which is un-alterable. We look at this from the vantage of the past, we see the contingency of the fact of the matter: we see how it could have been other than... We see the possibility of something different: we wish to reject from the simplicity of the event the sanctity of its law: of its necessity, there is only one thing certain: that it was, or, that it was thus willed. Vulgar practitioners of Fate, Calvin, for instance, see the future as though it were the past, the inescapable necessity of the law of being. If it is, then it must always have been, and thus it must always be--this is the feeble logic of the theological. To see the necessity of a moment, rather, may still be redeeming. Who would know such a salvation? Liars, cheats, artists--I would say philosophers, but they, too, are theologians these days: a belief in logic, in the laws of grammar, and of what is so undeniably close--all of this deadens the senses of the childish imagination. There is a sense in which law becomes something indiscernible from the imagination, from the terrible artist of the soul. Recently it is so very posh to denounce this savior, too, as just another snake-oil salesman. Ego, it is called, and all Lies, it is called. And those of us who mock Truth--as pleasure, as the negative (w)hole--we live these lies, with laughter. There is a monstrous artist in us, who violently shears off whole swaths of cloth, who stitches together the fabric of a cloak, of a veil, and our eyes gleam through these threadbare filaments, familiar to one another only as the unflinching eye. We are those who do not blink. And there is always a moral element--for we are humans (all too human, still--striving for more, or less) and it is this: the love of the veil, of the transformative moments that become flesh, that become a cloak, and home: to see the lies as the effect of an artistic moment of creation: We who laugh, we laugh together: at ourselves, our feeble stitching, and our desperate eyes--we know these well, and we do not spit like camels, nor do we roar any longer like lions: now we know a new sight. And what unspeakable beauty is to be found here, and there is nothing we can escape, nor do we wish to: I willed it thus, we say.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

That's the Way We Get By

When I was in Italy with friends a girl we were fond of said: when you're in love your cells change their shape, like puzzle pieces, and get used to the other person's cells. It made me think of the old myth from Plato's Symposium told by Aristophanes: two halves looking to be whole. And yet, its that or some sort of cosmic clock that allows two people to somehow get on a rhythm, move in some sort of syncopation. Last night, for instance, after watching the very, very long and silly "Terminator Salvation" to kill time while waiting for J. to call I thought, after looking at the clock, well, he's not gonna call. And then, the phone rings. Literally, as soon as I had ejected the movie and put it back in its case. It's like a cosmic clock that chimes our movements. An erotic metronome.

I was talking to the Vegan yesterday, and after letting slip the identity of the Writer--a secret I'd managed to keep for almost a year--I told him how, ironically, being in a relationship can be oddly de-sexualizing: when you go out, you are sized up, groped, you dance with beautiful men in suggestive ways, you're offered drinks, phone-numbers, quickies, ect. I don't think I'm the first to point this out, but whereas most would say, "But the trade-off is intimacy, comfort, security, ect..." I want to say that there is something profoundly weak about that counter-argument. Yes, intimacy, comfort, security, ect. But, still, I am a sexual being--which is to say, most gay men are rank narcissists and we live on the affirmation of others who look at us and say: I want to fuck you.

It's not that one cannot have such a thing in a relationship, indeed, I think I do! It was just a strange experience to be missing J. rather profoundly while also wanting to go out dancing, to go out and get that affirmation--that nice reminder that I am fucking hot, that while I may be out of the game, I still haven't forgotten how to play. This is also, no doubt, a reaction formation to the trauma of loss--I think that my experience with a near melt-down after breaking-up with my ex almost 2.5 years ago still haunts my imaginary.

I spoke to the Vegan about how much it bothers me that J. is still in touch with his ex, and that I keep finding out about his past lovers. By contrast, J. knew from the beginning where lovers from my past stood--the Vegan, the Writer, and the German--all neatly contextualized, all neutralized as "threats" to him, which was necessary, I thought, because I wasn't about to sacrifice my friendship with any of them. The Vegan says, well, at least he's not going to leave you to discover what he might be missing (which is what he did with his ex after four years). And the Vegan sympathized with my being bothered about J.'s ex. "The same thing happened with me, and I hated it!" I wonder if J.'s ex serves as that reminder for him, that he can still play the game even though he's off the field. I'm not nervous, or jealous. I just wonder what serves as that extra-relationship force for him.

Anyway, he calls. Just when he needed to. Just when I had given up on him calling. The pendulum of our erotic clock swung us back into place.

The down-side to rebounding from a mild anxiety attack is that the up-swing tends to hyper-sexualize me. And J. says to me the other night that I grind my teeth in my sleep. He understands why I'm an alcoholic now that he's taken my pills. If I was on those all day long all the time I would need a drink to take the edge off, too. Of course, there's something off about taking pills to get "on" only to then have to drink to take the edge off. The problem, perhaps, of harmony. I'll have to talk to my doctor about this. We shall see. But, anyway, knowing that I'm in a hyper-sexualized arc I'm not worried about the "truth" of my feelings. And, still, I wonder.

And then, as if my cosmic clock needed to sound the alarm, to rouse me from a stupor: in walks this man, a boy, that I almost made the mistake of sleeping with. Details aren't important. Needless to say, I was done with him before I met J. and he was after thought until this afternoon when in he walks to work. And he is so repulsive--not that he's ugly, and he's hung like a horse--but that his soul itself is offensive. It makes the skin rise on pin-pricks. He says, after finding out that I'm in a relationship, well just because you have a boyfriend doesn't mean we can't still hook-up. And I say, actually that's exactly what it means. And that was that. This sniveling, gossip, creep made me realize that I would never trade what I have with J. for anything, least of all that douche bag.

And J. is off to mass with his family. Off to get married, he jokingly says. And I say, that makes me your elicit "friend" which is fine with me so long as you name your first born son after me. He says, maybe not the first born... but who knows, maybe just 'junior'. And I'm horny as fuck. Wanting to see him kneeling at the alter for communion, imagining those perfect lips parting, the moisture of his tongue lapping up the sacrament with reverence...

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

They're the Kind that Will Talk Through the Wheezing of Coughs

A funny thing happened on the way through Wholefoods.
I ran into the Vegan, with whom I've spent the last 3+ hours.
And he's been topping, too! Indeed, pigs can fly, Hell is cold, and my little boy is now a full grown queen!
Also, a post to craigslist has proven to be easy and as cheap as one would imagine. It was an itch that started to ache when I realized I have no idea how my boyfriend used to cruise. The interweb... that's only for porn and scholarly articles, not love.
"She's American, and that makes her human..."--a gay man on Paris Hilton: wonderful: chauvinism is still alive and well amongst the fags. Good to know. I guess, since gays aren't afforded the full rights of American citizens, that gays aren't human...
A voice from the past--if only still the past!--made a pass. No thank you. But he's hung like a horse. One wonders...
J. is in the suburbs w/ his family.
I miss him terribly.
I hate that I come off so needy.
And yet, I don't.
I've come to that point where if he were gone I would be lonely and sad and feel incomplete. I know it would only last for so long, but I know I would feel it, and it would hurt. I wonder, how much of what we call "acts of love" are really "acts of self-preservation"?

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


"This Holiday Doesn't Mean Anything Anymore"

There is something beautiful about thinking about the body as an organic part of the world--an organism. In this context I mean to emphasize the ways in which the body has its cycles, like a weather pattern, almost. And, like the weather, especially here in Chicago, this shit can turn on the drop of a dime. Sunny and mild, now windy and overcast--my psychology as meteorology.

I'm tired now,
of trying to figure out how,
Sometime next week
it will come to me
Will it be too late?

Sometimes skies defy words
and it's all I can do to stare
I imagine you're in there
Always a sunset

"That's the Way We Get Down (or: On Artistry as a Way of Life)"

For Nietzsche modern man is sick, sick of himself--man makes himself sick, and is sick of being who he is, doing what he does. This condition, "ressentiment"--French for "resentment," but with clear illustrative power of "re-sediment," "re-sentiment"--is a turning back-upon, a doubling over, a re-coil, a bent-double in pain. For Nietzsche the "soul" or "conscience" is born of this process of turning emotion back onto the self, of inflicting pain onto one's own body rather than letting those emotions or passions flow out into the world. (For Freud, the "soul" is the super-ego, the "judge, jury, and executioner" of the Freudian psyche.) Nietzsche, as much as Freud, sees this "soul" or "conscience" as the advent of "humanity," the "moment" (which is never a single moment, and is itself anachronistic, resisting linear models of time) when, as Nietzsche writes, Nature gives herself the paradoxical task of breeding an animal with the right to make promises. Nietzsche's whole genealogy of morals is to show how the birth of the soul in and of itself is not a good or bad thing. Rather, how the soul functions is important for Nietzsche--what and how it does, and why: these questions are more important for Nietzsche than the simple fact of the soul.

Part of the problem Nietzsche identifies is that we come to understand ourselves late in life, after we already have a conceptual understanding of "I," of "self." The problem is simply that this is an "I" that was formed by forces, influences, and agents totally other than "I," but which now are inseperable from "I." Social constructivism is an interpretive lens that asserts the pervasive effects of culture on our lives--that we cannot understand ourselves outside of any given context, precisely because we are always already in a certain context. Nietzsche recognizes this phenomenon, and indeed is one of the first in the West to give it full articulation. As he understands the problem of modern man, man sick of himself, the context is seen to be total, as an unchanging, unchangeable _fact_ of reality. Thus, Christianity, for Nietzsche, is a religion (as almost all are) that gives a "reason" for suffering, for the violent re-doubling-back-on of re-sentiment (ressentiment): the priest says: the world is evil, and the body is fallen, impure, corrupt. Nothing can change this metaphysical fact of the world and only death and the afterlife promise happiness or "purity".

This kind of thinking, and the kind of life that lives this way, is only possible because of an act of will. Nietzsche writes, people would rather will nothingness, rather than not will at all. The important move Nietzsche calls attention to, however, is the denial of any act of will: modern man is sick of himself, but denies that he makes himself sick--this responsibility is projected onto the world and the body. For Nietzsche, modern man looks at himself and says, "It happened thus..." as if there were some sort of mechanistic necessity to the way the world unfolds. By contrast, the over-man, the man who tries to get "over" man, declares: I willed it thus!

Of course, this is a lie. But a necessary lie--a true fiction. It allows life to go on... the illusion of mastery, of some sort.


"The Queer Thing Is... (or: "To Fail to Represent Your Life As You Know It...[Is] To Create")

This afternoon, in the wake of a simply wonderful conversation with De Milo, I went to the local cafe and sat in the glorious sun reading an equally wonderful book, Drucilla Cornell's "Beyond Accommodation: Ethical Feminism, Deconstruction, and the Law". Her reading of Lacan, and especially her reading of Derrida's critique of Lacan, is superb and I'd like to take a moment to share with you some of the thoughts I've had in the immediate aftermath of these two incredibly stimulating intellectual encounters.

De Milo and I ran the gamut of topics, but we consistently returned again and again to the importance of resisting a reification of the structural binary that so easily insinuates its way into so many radical discourses. Dichotomies of man/woman, inside/outside, proper/improper, top/bottom, pure/impure, active/passive--dichotomies that by sheer force of repetition are now taken to be natural givens (or, and more to the point, "pre-givens")--are often taken at face value, and unfortunately taken at face value by the very folk who are to be ironically subverting--"queering" if you will--such rigid binaries.

This led me to wonder: Is there something about the very structure of sexual difference that leads us to slip into the metaphysical language of "proper position". Or, rephrased, What is it about our framing of sexual difference that seems to force us to speak of its presence only ever against a metaphysical horizon of absence or loss?

As I've said in other blog posts, the tendency in contemporary queer discourse to speak of sexual difference--and thus of sexual practices--within or against a horizon of immutable "positioning" can be traced to two distinct sources: Lacanian linguistico-psycho structuralism on the one hand, and Anglo-American "essentialist" feminism on the other. A paradigmatic example of the latter would be Catharine MacKinnon, who is treated rather charitably by Cornell, but who nevertheless, by operating out of a Marxian frame of critique refuses the possibilities of imagining a "beyond" to socially real-ized gender norms. Because, in a doctrinaire Marxian modality, the base is always already determined by the super-structure, "who" a woman or a gay man or lesbian "is" arrives as an absolute imposition of identity. There is no room for "queering" the scene because any performance is always already enframed by a rigid binary of sexual difference. This leave MacKinnon, as Cornell points out, in the position of having to disavow the feminine as a position of domination, and to unconsciously affirm the masculine as equivalent to freedom. That is, the revolutionary politics MacKinnon proposes amounts to little more than an inversion of the current configuration of subject/object positions, a redesignation of the feminine in the "masculine position" (viz. free), a move that effaces whatever specificity the feminine may offer and an unwitting acceptance of the very gender-hierarchy MacKinnon is purportedly is critiquing.

It should be noted, at least in passing, that MacKinnon suffers from a serious lack of imagination, and this because she sees the possibilities of the imaginary domain as always already "infected" or determined by patriarchy. Her vehement denunciation of such "flights of fancy" is in the service of stating what _is_, and thereby demanding a confrontation with the reality of gendered domination. But her insistence on what "is," coupled with her rejection of imagination, shifts her analysis out of the register of a _descriptive_ phenomenology of patriarhcal oppression, and into the tenor of a _normative_ assertion of what reality, in its totality, "is". This slippage is almost inevitable; her onto-epistemological claim, the "is," is marked by the very metaphoricity of language: "is" always already is written: "is like...". (This "is like..." "is like..." "is like..." when making ontological claims is the trace of _differance_ which marks every claim to present presence with the deferred, differed Other.)

Cornell does a superb job of showing how, in a sense, Lacanian linguistico-structural psychoanalysis suffers from the same slippage from the register of a phenomenological analysis of the structuring "realms" of psychic life (symbolic, imaginary, Real), to an instantiation of these realms on the foundation of sexual difference, of castration.

This Year To Save Me From Tears... (or: a Queer Holiday)

This will be the first time I spend Christmas with a boyfriend. It's not that big a deal, I know... But I guess what I've always liked about Christmas is the sense of tradition that it involves, not on a religious register, but that every year our family would get together and do stuff together--hang ornaments, go "elfing" together (my sister and I for our parents, my dad for my mom, ect...), and then of course waking up in the morning, eating freshly baked bread, drinking coffee, and opening presents in age order--no anarchic ripping wrapping paper willy-nilly, no siree!

This time around, it will be a bit different: I'll be in Chicago while J. is with his family(s), and I'll be with the Barister and his b/f and a friend from work--actually, something of a little brother. Then, J. and I go to NY. And he gets to meet my folks, my friends, and see my city (haha, "my!"). J. will become, in a way, a part of that tradition, even though that tradition is changing. But I like that. I like that the tradition can accommodate me, and J. That, even though we aren't the "traditional couple," we still are a part of this tradition.

Recently, the Writer wrote a bit of a rant against a father who refused his gay son. It is beautiful, and I thank him for his intervention. Silly as it sounds, these sorts of moments prompt me to reflect on how lucky I am to have a family, especially a father, as welcoming of me as they are. When it comes to issues of family and the private realm, I am something of a conservative--I do think that if we lose a space of privacy and familial intimacy we lose the foundations of our society. Obviously, I don't go down the route of many nasty social conservatives, but to the extent that my family has been a formative, and often times crucial bulwark against a lot of cultural detritus, I do think that the family is indispensable. That is to say, we need to re-imagine the ways in which we understand "familial intimacy" in radically more inclusive ways.

I'm proud of my family for being courageous enough to do the work of re-imagining familial intimacy. The conversations I've had with my Momma and Old Man in the last few days have been so reassuring--I don't think I realized just how nervous I am/was about bringing J. home--but talking to them has put me at ease. I know they'll be just fine, and I know i will be, too. And as much as I want everything to go well, I'm sort of just happy about the chance for the two of us to spend a week together, in NY, with people I love.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

You've Been Hit By a Smooth Criminal

This morning I woke and J. was just back from grocery shopping. He kisses me, pulls the blanket tighter around my ears, and tells me to keep resting and that there's food in the fridge if I'm hungry. He leaves. I realize he's just left. I go to chase him and he kisses me again and closes the door. I feel a bit empty, a bit lost, unsure of what is happening. I return to his room, curl in the blankets. And then I'm angry at feeling this way. I wake, I grab my clothes and then, under my watch, is a note.

It was a moment of normalcy that I wasn't anticipating... My boyfriend, the grown-up, leaving a note for me while I slept. There is something protective about the whole thing, and something wonderful. I suppose I'm not used to being taken care of in such a way, I'm not used to having someone live and make me a part of that life... I dunno why the whole thing is so profound, but I guess it is on some level.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

I'll Lay Down My Glasses (if things go awry...)

The quarter ended on Tuesday--final papers submitted and all. About 50 odd pages of papers, the culmination of reading 24+ books and twice that number of articles in a 10 week period. This means that I can resume blogging on a more regular basis. I'm excited about this. I realized at some point a few weeks ago that half of the pressure J. and I were feeling was the simple failure of my ability to pre-process and or dispel some of the thoughts that were buzzing about in my brain. Academics, I think, are, by design, anal-retentive: we let nothing go, let nothing fall out of play--our skill, when working best, is to heighten the tension of a situation, to refuse to allow what would otherwise be repressed or denied disappear. This, as you can imagine, is a terrible way of being in a relationship, especially when you are in a relationship with someone who is as intense a person as you are. The MGMT (my new moniker for a new friend) has been riding me about getting worked-up about small things. Indeed, and his advice--which, to my credit I was able to heed--came at just the right time.

I'm in desperate need of a haircut, but costs being what they are, and my income being what it is, this will have to wait, or I will have to get a friend to do it for free. I'm trying to save as much money as possible for our trip to NYC. It will be so worth it to have money then, and so frugality--a concept and practice I have an incredibly hard time with--is the order of the next few weeks.

They are building a new back stair on my apartment. Poor guys: it's 4 degrees out!

Friday, December 4, 2009

A Man Like That Is Like an Unmade Bed

Tonight, after not hearing from J. all day, we finally spoke. We are seeing a show tomorrow night, and then maybe an "ugly sweater" party hosted by some of his friends. The last time I was out at a party with J. it was very nerve-wracking. I don't do well with people, I suppose, especially straight people when in a party setting. I can do fine when on my own, but with my b/f it was a bit strange. I didn't know exactly how close I should stand to him, whether or not to see the old guy who lurked near-by offering him a joint as somehow hitting on him, or what...

And there were TVs going in every room with music videos. I remember one especially: It was some heavy metal band. A man was in a car, wearing an orange prison jump-suit. But his face had multiple faces within it, like he was a schizophrenic. He was running away from something. Then his body, too, becomes like his face, only instead of being multiple bodies, this other body is a woman's body: this man is a schizo hermaphrodite (the third sex). And then a woman appears in the passenger seat and starts berating him. His mouth opens and a beam of light is cast onto the road ahead: it is an image of himself. The man w/ multiple faces is now both running away from something, and trying to run this phantastic image down.

I turn to J. and say: this is the insidious operations of power: the "mentally ill person" is a criminal on the run; he is mentally ill/criminal because he is gay. He projects his fears ahead of him after being shamed (by this woman), and tries to kill it, himself, his gay diseased criminal self. A Freudian-Foucaultdian reading.

Some times I see the world as through through the Matrix code, like Neo at the end of the first film. I see the coding that cultural artifacts are laden with; I decipher and I share this with people who half the time look at me and think I'm crazy. It's just a music video, they say: stop reading so deep into things! This makes me nervous. We are innundated with coding from every angle, and we rarely stop to think about how it infuences the way we think about the world, and ourselves within it.

Sometimes when J. and I talk about these sorts of things he gets angry and says, "this is why I'm leaving!" As much as hearing him say that, I can't blame him either. I sometimes wish that I hadn't committed myself to the life I'm in, but rather had held to the desire to just get away. As much as I know there isn't an "outside" to power, I also know well enough to see that things are different, and sometimes even better elsewhere. It's moments like that when I question my devotion to this country, to its future.

Anyway, tonight we finally get in touch. He's catching up on his work, and I'm proud of him for working so hard--he sets a good example. Tonight I'll be doing the same: I finish this Freud paper tonight or bust. I've three papers due Monday/Tuesday, which basically means that I'll be swamped and somewhat crazy all weekend.

But we have these plans. And then he says, "But I'll be seeing my family right after work." I begin to freak-out, and he begins to meet me there and then, suddenly, he defuses the situation: I can get my sister to drive me down so I can see the show. And I follow him: I'm sorry I made it an either/or thing, I say, I just will be so busy and won't be able to spend much time with you this weekend because of my work, and I really wanted Friday to be a night we could have together. He says to me: Pssh, I'll be around after your papers are done.

It was exactly what I needed to hear, though I didn't know I needed it until he said it. I didn't know to even ask for it. But it was there, under the surface, as it were, stirring around in my blood, putting me on edge. And maybe he didn't know it was there either, but I'd like to think he's beginning to learn my rhythms, I'd like to think that across the distance of tele-communication he was still able to see it in my voice and hear it under my skin.

I'm ambitious: I want work and love, like Freud. But it sometimes pulls me in two directions. And then I worry about neglecting the one for the sake of the other. He released me of that worry: do your work, I'll be here when it's done. And I couldn't have asked for anything else. Or needed anything more.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Baby Boy: Turn Me On With Your Electric Feel

It's safe to say that there are relatively few things in life that are "safe." This has become, for me at least, something of a guiding principle. Still, it's hard to affirm the radical contingency of life itself without at the same time, and through the same gesture, condemning oneself to a nihilistic cynicism or a destructive despair. To affirm danger is also to acknowledge the danger of such an affirmation. A double affirmation, one which tempers the other.

I've recently started to seriously thinking about thinking outside linear or teleological schemas of development or progress. In this effort, I've taken-up the (dangerous) task of thinking things in terms of turns, or tropes. It is an emphasis on the revolutionary possibilities of affirming radical contingency. If theories of development tell us that "we are making progress" or "from x, to y" such thinking presupposes a stable logic of inference and causality, but ultimately a logic of presence: if x, then y will be present.

Thinking outside the "if, then" conceptual schemata is difficult, mostly because it is the very structuring grammar of our lives. But also, because such grammar affords a comfort, a safety: If I work hard, then I will be provided for in retirement (the American Dream as a paradigmatic example of the way this thinking operates, and, as the recent debates around Healthcare Reform have demonstrated, how ideological such thinking is). If, then thinking is a logic that seeks to master the unpredictability of the world, as if the cosmos itself were governed by this grammatical contract (as if, for instance, pension plans were a "natural" and necessary fact of employment, and not the result of a historical struggle for workers rights).

Politically, such thinking is disastrous. But this thinking isn't just political. It dominates our thinking about just about everything--so much so that even the religious sphere, where resistance to such contrived grammatical edifices (idols) would presumably be most at home: even the miracle, the event that defies the causal order of nature itself, is assimilated into this grammar such that it reads: if you have faith, then you can move mountains (not, as it Biblically reads, that faith and its acts are simultaneous events).

I should start again, perhaps, to say that the event of this entry is also the event of the joys of thinking in terms of turns. J. and I spent a wonderful few days together, re-turning (to) a sort of care-free laziness that we enjoyed so very much in the summer. Lots of time was spent lounging in bed, alternating, in turns, between childish giddiness, intimate conversation, and life-defying sex.

In his turn(ing) I've learned so much about J. and about myself in the process of learning the angels that cut and refract him/me. Tomorrow we buy tickets to NY--or, rather, we talk to my Momma who will buy us tickets to NY (the best x-mas present ever!). A week in NY, a city he's never been to, where my family and friends are. Where the whole ideal of a world I wish for was born for me. And to meet my parents, to eat some home-cooking, drink some expensive wine, and smoke some killer pot. To get to know my family--I think, reader that he is, that he'll notice immediately how much of my father's son I truly am. But, also to see that though it isn't always easy, it's possible for one's family to be supportive of their gay son, to welcome him and his boyfriend with the same generosity of spirit that has always marked my parents.

I was somewhat upset that I wasn't invited to Thanksgiving with his family--and just generally hurt that his family seems to view me as a big, bad bogey monster. Being the sort of person that I am, I want so desperately to prove them wrong, to show them that I'm a good guy who loves their son, that I've got a good future, a supportive family, and that I'm good for their son. Maybe it's the Christian (still) in me, that desires the chance to convert them. And maybe it isn't even a matter of conversion (as if from a "pro" to a "con") as it is a matter of re-position the notion of homosexuality, of turning on its head the notion of what it is to be a homo. And if that is the case, then it is the revolutionary in me that desires the chance to meet them.

Upset, but (as has been the case) not incapable of talking it out with J. Indeed, that is the joy of our relationship: we seem to have the brilliant ability to talk, to listen and respond (dare I say, our response-ability?). I said to him last night, when he asked about my time with my ex, that in fact it wasn't a relationship: we tried to obliterate our differences, I said, as if we could become one person, so that there wasn't a "we" so much as a "super I". This is the first relationship I've attempted, I continued, because we actually respect our differences, and rather than try to cover them over, we make space for them, we negotiate them, we actually _relate_ to one another. It was hard to stay upset. I can see things from his perspective, and he can see things from mine, and though they may not always overlap, we are able to figure out a manner of positioning ourselves such that these differences aren't crippling but rather constitute our interests (our inter-esse, the things we have in common, that are between us as the Latin suggests).

When we spoke of the possibility of living together, we actually articulated our fears, the chief two being a) loss of personal time and space, and b) that if living together didn't suit us that this would be a "referendum" on our relationship. The first isn't so much a concern to the extent that we will both be keen to acknowledge the others need for time and space. The second, however, is somewhat frightening. Often, I think, living together is seen as "the next step," a "step" in the development of a relationship: if we're in love, and if we spend time at the others place, then living together is the "natural" next step.

When talking this out I suggested that it isn't the only way of thinking about things: that in the first place, the concern isn't over living together so much as it is "is our relationship strong enough/ready/et cetera" for this increased degree of intimacy (qua proximity and, well, sharing a bathroom is a rather intimate sort of thing). It would be a mistake to over-freight the change; rather, we should look at it like we did all the other changes that we navigated. It simply takes some of the pressure off. Indeed, it would be the Christian in me to look for the big moment, the conversion point that definitively tells the "truth" of a thing. And supposing that living together wasn't our cup of tea? Certainly this doesn't mean that our lives together are some invalidated, over-ruled by this.

But all of this is to get ahead of myself: I haven't even decided whether or not I want to leave my place, curb my excess furniture, et cetera. I haven't decided whether or not I actually _do_ want to live with J., though I am rather confident that I could live with him.

We will see how all of this turns out. But then, that's the challenge, to attend to the turns and re-turns--to dance, dance, dance--and love the pleasure of the movement itself.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

On Ghosts and Such

It is fitting, as tonight is Halloween, to speak of ghosts. Ghosts of memory (we are haunted by memories), ghosts of our dreams and phantasies (what Freud called "wish-fulfillment"), and the specters that disturb the vitality of our meanings, that scare the wits out of any deepest intention.

I refer in the last instance, of course, to the ghostly "quality" of our language. What we breathe into life with speech is haunted also by a g(h)as(tly), presence. The terror of the absence of a secure, tangible body of meaning to hold, which casts our speech cast-away, derelict, waifish.

When we speak what we mean we mean more than we wish. And less. Our language itself, our grammar and its laws, is possessed of itself, and in itself always bear the mark of a a history beyond (but within) the singular unity that is spoken when we say what we mean. When it says more than we mean as we speak. As I write.

Nietzsche reminds of this, exposes this to us--for we always knew it, and our love sprang from this polysemia. Nietzsche loved too deeply to let the lie persist, upon which time he realized he couldn't love any longer.

We are introduced to a new concept, which emerges for the first time with Nietzsche, and in another context, with Kierkegaard: the concept of the will to power, which is nothing more or less than the will to belief, or, what is the same, a will to fiction, to the profoundly superficial, to Baubo's mystery, to laughter.

And to language. Many commentators on Nietzsche do not understand the extremely creative manner of Nietzsche's prose, of his lyrical ping-pong match of meanings that resound throughout the corpus of the sheaf that is the envelop of Nietzsche's meaning. What does he mean, after all?

Nietzsche is the first person who wites for us to ask this question, with the trembling apprehension of a lover.

We shouldn't be surprised. Love is spectral, phantastic, hauntingly possessive, terrifyingly intrasitive; profoundly narcissistic. Love delivers our messages, but never to anyone other than ourselves, the ghosts of meaning that are intangible, but which elicit the electrification of our skin, our hair stands on end, our spine wavers. We sent these devils away without question itself: we exorcised ourselves of them.

And when you allowed the tighly bound appendage to remain mummified, the bone one eats around, then the ghosts seemed to have evacuated the burial ground of my love. The dry, dead earth chaps whatever friction might have generated heat, and the gasp of the ghastly rasps its way out of parted lips. Heraclitus' heat banishing moisture, drunkenness, Dionysus.

And I was left with parted lips, with the return of the question, of the phantastic wheeling-back-upon of the repressed, which refused to be condensed, rarified; entombed. The death of narcissus, the death of the cicada.

The death of love, when that ghost is exorcised--or what is the same: when it re-possesses in the return of the repressed: the haunting of memory--this is the moment at which point Nietzsche takes up his spur and writes (the trace). As if to conjure back those life-giving specters.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

I Need You To Pretend That We Are In Love Again (or: It's been a while.)

Fragility is utterly terrifying. I realized last night, while with J., that I avoided what I imagined was a hostile reception at school, a knowing reception. I claimed sickness, and stayed home. Sleeping, mostly. Recovering from a weekend spent running around Manhattan and Brooklyn, trying to keep up with my friend, the Pearl Diver, and presenting a paper before an unsympathetic "analytic" audience. I barely slept. I barely was able to think on my feet. I was still able to dance. This is what is so frightening: when reduced to the ultimate bare minimum degree of functionality, I still can dance. Shoot a question regarding Plato, I parry; again with a volley on Aristotle, I deflect, absorb, pause... then fire. A deep breath, the fire of reckless daring, and I fire. The question, so triumphant, so haughty in its knowing conceit... it limps now, shot through the knee: unable to swagger. I smile, a drunken smile--tinted green and hazy (I want to be, after all, a sailor--and a murderer, and a poet).

I am afraid of revealing before J. the weaknesses that make me fundamentally human. The notion that after seeing and hearing such abjection he would be so thoroughly repulsed, so wholly put-off... I fear and loath my own frailty. Without sounding too presumptuous, I think it is impossible to fully divulge oneself to another human being and have that wholesale outpouring received, reciprocated, and loved. Fundamentally, we are ugly creatures. We adorn ourselves with some many trappings, so many disguises, so many postures--all to conceal what we most fear.

It is, I think, more likely that we allow ourselves to, as if in a peek-a-boo box, flash those moments of disgusting human frailty. But these moments are dispersed--not only in time, but in space: we reveal certain moments of ourselves to others--but only so much.

I think this is why we need friends. Nietzsche writes, of the friend, "A friend should be a master at guessing and keeping still: you must not want to see everything. Your dream should betray to you what your friend does while awake.//Your compassion should be a guess--to know first whether your friend wants compassion. Perhaps what he loves in you is the unbroken eye and the glance of eternity. Compassion for a friend should conceal itself under a hard shell, and you should break a tooth on it. That way it will have delicacy and sweetness."

And, "You do not want to put on anything for your friend? Should it be an honor for your friend that you give yourself to him as you are? But he sends you to the devil for that. He who makes no secret of himself, enrages: so much reason have you for fearing nakedness."

And, from The Things People Call Love--"... Here and there on earth we may encounter a kind of continuation of love in which this possessive craving of two people for each other gives way to a new desire and lust for possession--a shared higher thirst for an ideal above them. But who knows such love? Who has experienced it? Its right name is friendship."

Friendship, for Nietzsche, is the 'venue' in which the slivers of despair may be exposed, to be shown so as to be ridiculed, mocked, laughed into oblivion. For lovers who one trusts--with one's body: such laughter is curative.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Brief Relexions

Reading again, like a mad man. She assigns only 50 pages, but from a book I should have read long ago. I read the whole thing. I read with an audience, always already, in my mind: my archivists, myself in 3 weeks, 3 months, 3 years, and my peers who will hear my reflections based on these readings. I become increasingly fevered, increasingly critical, increasingly self-critical--I am slowed in my reading: everything says too much. I hear the reverberations of all those prior books, the matrix begins to adjust, to incorporate this book, too, into its web: the connexions are re-strung, new resonances ring: I am full of noise, like a mad-man; a Rite of Spring: a riot ensues.

And there is J., who in his innocence I simply adore and grow simply more and more fond of, more indebted to, more alive with. It was hammers and nails tonight as he worked, and when I arrived with his requested sustenance we retreated from the storm to the fold of an awning and lavished one another with the banalities of our days that I have come to see as the "stuff" of our life together--these tenuous threads that only ever get woven (again) when the sun rises (like Penelope at her loom): our fabric. There is J., who is so admirably accepting me, as a mad-man, in the throws of a riotous re-stringing, of all this tension and contortion. That he can find concord in this discordance is a miracle: the miracle of being welcomed, which can neither be earned nor explained.

My miserable neighbor, who earlier this morning (1am) was incapable of getting into his apartment (again), and who I had to help into his apartment (again), only this time with the boy he brought home--he was just denounced as an asshole by this same man, who hurled it behind him in the time it took for the screen door to open and then slam shut. I heard this from my desk, through my door, at 3.34am. Miserable because he is a rank alcoholic, a sorry example of the sort of homosexual who cannot be intimate with another man unless drugged or drunk, and who, thus, cannot be intimate with himself. I return, again, to Freud's insight: the homosexual as the paradigmatic example of civilization's discontents: a hyperbolic case, to be sure, but an apt one, too.

The Rhetor (my new moniker for my long-time friend now in Canada) is having troubles with his g/f. I love them both, though I will always "side" with him, I suppose. Out of loyalty, out of shared experiences, out of fraternity(?).

And then there is J. What an anomaly in my life! A mad-man, himself, perhaps. There is, as Nietzsche writes, always some madness in love, but also always some reason in madness... I am pleased with the madness, and need not look for the "kernel" of reason. That is, I am happy with the love.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

I Suppose I'll Fly As I Fall

I just remarked to myself of the self-indulgence of this undertaking. I turned to it to alleviate the pressure, to release my anxiety by mastering it, by enframing myself in a reading (or a writing--Derrida would say, "In a word..."). Derrida would ask after my double-gesture, my acknowledgement that, while enframed, the frame is not totalizing. He does this by looking to the text, rather than, as Sartre did in Being and Nothingness and look to the subject (of Humanism), because, as with Heidegger, Derrida recognizes that Humanism is, itself, just another ideology, a totalizing erasure of differance, the margin(alized subjects) that is/who are deferred/different, that give the lie to (belie) the ideological text, the gramme. Sartre participates in this, after all, when he positions a "being" and a "nothingness". Though "nothingness" cannot be "enframed"--and thus, this is what makes the "nothingness" every subject already is the site of freedom--it still is not. Sartre, in thereby positing an "outside," "freedom," he misses that he subverts his own desire for freedom (authenticity) by making it a "nothingness." (Lacan in the same way posits jouissance as the site of freedom--from the reifying strictures of the Symbolic--in the "nothingness" of Woman, in the desire for reconciliation between the lost, desired Object and the always already castrated Law of the Father: the "oceanic" dream of knowledge of the Absolute Truth (in the Hegelian sense) that having the penis means being the phallus--(a truth mediated by, but "subsumed" "over-against," the Mother.) Heidegger's charge against Sartre, which is also Derrida's against Lacan, is to be found in the insistence that Humanism, no matter how knowing, remains a foreclosure, an inappropriate propriation of, Being on the one hand, and multiplicity on the other. For Heidegger, Being is elusive: it comes to us. Thus, to claim that one has "discovered the inherent greatness" of any appropriation of the communal world, one inauthentically denies the courage to confront the communal world on one's own, which also means confronting one's place within it: individuation; the glimpse of Being in the angsty response to the call of conscience, "Here I am!" For Heidegger, this call elicits an acknowledgement that, in fact, one is never "properly" "Here," but always a "being-there": between two poles, the past and the future, divided by that most lonely of loneliness: the moment a daimon issued a call of conscience. Derrida, however, inverts the insistence Heidegger makes on a singular "Being of beings" and emphasizes the multiplicity of possibilities that always already are deferred/different (differance) from the "enframing" of the world picture: the very metaphoricity of language denies the absolute truth of a text: within the text, itself, there are slippages, parapraxes, puns, plays on words--but most importantly, metaphor. The truth is only to the extent that it is like this or that as well. These metaphors, in traditional metaphysics, however, are "subsumed" into the logic of meaning being "present," self-evident in the text itself: metaphors only "present" the Truth, like a gift, but the Truth is distinguishable from the metaphors. In this sense, the critics of deconstruction wish to claim that the passenger is distinguished from the carriage. Perhaps--though, doesn't the quality of her petticoat speak volumes of her carriage. It is necessary to add to this account that differance is not "contained" to the text itself: the "nothingness" of Sartrean freedom and Lacanian jouissance is, in fact, "there". I say "there" so as to avoid the temptation to revert to metaphysically laden conceptual schemes, but to also imply that the margins are not pregiven empty spaces, "nothingness," but erased text, foreclosed text: they are "populated" with the traces of what metaphor "subsumes". This is the Freudian unconscious, the 'well-spring' of imagination, and of the necessity for repression. But repression, symbolically enforced through phallogocentric Law, is just that: a repression, a compulsory denial. Thus, if Lacan imagines the impossibility of a reconciliation between the Symbolic and the Imaginary, it is because he implicitly accepts, and thereby perpetuates, a radical, insurmountable binary--one which his own reading, ironically, lends itself to the project of exposing as hegemonic rather than essential such a binary. That is, if Lacan goes "back to Freud" (like Husserl went "back to the things themselves"), he regresses too far: he elides Freud's insights into the contingency of any given psycho-sexual enframing, or, in a words, scripting, and insists on a radical and decisive rending of the sexes, of the symbolic from the imaginary, of, that is, love itself: the subject is always already a "barred" subject from the subject of desire (oneself, the other, et cetera). Derridean differance is a reminder of the remains of the unconscious, of imagination, its impossibly erased, but hegemonically marginalized, possibilities that can still write (on a subject "not yet").

So where is my "double-gesture"? Where is my acknowledgement of the tension which "always makes this dual gesture, apparently contradictory, which consists in accepting, within certain limits--which is to say never entirely accepting it--the given-ness of context and its stubbornness." Derrida immediately adds: "But how without this apparent contradiction would anything ever be done?" I'd like to point out the literary Derrida himself makes with this turn of phrase "anything ever be done?": it calls to mind both Freudian "termination of treatment" and Nietzsche's ubermensch, "adyspeptic": it is the contradictions that enable civilizations and their pleasures: the space of multiplicity, of a proliferation of "there's," a Dionysian excess. Isn't this moment, this writing (which is always already ahead of itself) of self-indulgence the moment of excess that exceeds the enframing of my "intent" (which was to "confess" my anxiety over "starting" classes tomorrow, meeting my cohort, professors, and so on...): enframed as I was (as I am) in my anxiety, this, too, is de-limited, not Fated: "the structure thus described supposes both that there are only contexts, that nothing exists outside context, as I have often said, but also that the limit of the frame or the border of the context always entails a clause of non-closure."

J. is asleep in my bed. I'm in at my desk typing. It is crazy, this: I can "relax" with him when I am at his place--going to his place meaning only that I don't have to do anything in the morning... When he's at my place I've always something else on my mind.... I can't just fall asleep... This, too, will need to change.

That's Why I Said I Relate (or: Back from Miami)

I'm back from my business trip to Miami's South Beach. It was, well, hectic--lot's of work, a multiplication of responsibilities that I hadn't anticipated. The weather was atrocious--humid 90s--and the scene very touristy. I did my job, though, and quite well. It was an honor to be sent as an emissary, to take charge of a chaotic situation and make it orderly, take account, and write a report of my efforts there. I would thrive, perhaps, as a consultant, or an economic "repair man". If only I could find any passion in it, or, rather, if only I were able to successfully extract the passion I have while doing it from what it is I am actually doing: making calls about people's lives and money. There is no space for passion in the cold calculations of capital. It is a brutal logic, and I am a lover, a Romantic, a martyr.

Seeing J. again when I got back was a relief, but not in the sense of "oh, good! you're still here!" I knew he would be there, he said so, and the relief was almost that there was no need to be relieved. Am I starting to take him for granted? I don't think so. I think, instead, I'm becoming more comfortable with the idea of him in my life as something that won't abruptly disappear. I think we both are.

J. had a good time at his Michigan festival, which was also the last time his band will perform as a band. He is upset about this, and I understand, now, why. Without a band you are just a lone performer on a stage, no context, no grounding. But he's diving into the scene that school is providing for him: lot's auditions for plays, et cetera. This is a good thing, I think. We will both be abundantly busy, which I also think is a good thing: we can be one another's "fresh air," the proverbial "cork". And, with pleasure.

Orientation begins tomorrow. Finally. I register for classes, I begin my regular commute to Hyde Park. I'll see a friend from NY while I'm down there. And the German, too, probably.

At a cocktail party in honor of a friend defending his dissertation I had my first taste of what it will be like to attend parties with academics. What a profoundly insecure type! My Old Man asks me how I found myself handling the dynamics of perpetual cock-measuring. I said, "I take a page out of Riviere's 'Womanliness as Masquerade': I know how to be deferential, and how to subvert that performance without destroying the fantasy of the structure."

I had wanted J. to come along with me, but I was, in hindsight, glad he couldn't make it. He has absolutely no practice interacting with people like these, and he would have felt terribly out of place--and they would have encouraged him to feel that way, too. Still, he was there in spirit. I've decided it is important for me to be "out" while in this program. On the one hand it is a matter of integrity. On the other, it will become abundantly clear given the nature of my work and interests. Academia is such a "boys club"--and as a homo, I'm not really included in that club (after all, the logic goes, he takes it like a woman!). Part of J.'s "spirit" abiding with me meant that his fiercely oppositional character--he is my Nietzschean Lion--was evident in my own posture. Demure, certainly--these are your professors and senior peers--but don't submit: redeploy, subvert, mock--and with a smile, a dancing spirit (like a woman, who only ever loves a warrior!).

I've been speaking with my dear friend from NY, who, interestingly, does not have a "Nom de Guerre" for this blog (I'll have to think ask him what he thinks it should be), and he's adjusting to life in Canada just fine, though life in NY is a bit shaky. He left behind his love, and that means he is stretched along two poles. We will see how that works for him, if it works for him. When I was doing my MA I, too, was in the same position, but the object of my desire was nothing more than a phantasy, and so never was "there" but always "here". We will be reading the late Heidegger together. Heidegger, who changed the game, and who we have yet to reconcile ourselves to.

I'm back in Chicago, which is to say: I'm home. It is very, very satisfying to say that: these streets I recognize, this grime which I familiar, these bums, slums, and squealing taxi brakes, this man's love, this man I love, this apartment's smell, this community I am known in, these friends who see me and love me... this is my home.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Upside To Being Thrown Off A Train (or: A Reading of Marx)

A philosophical critique of Marx's youthful '44 Manuscripts might seek to expose the ways in which Marx assumes the existence of a reality in and of itself that is proper to Man. For that matter, a philosophical critique of these texts might also call into question what appears to be an implicit gendered designation of the masculine as the neutral universal--thus, "ontologically" man is the species-being who produces his own world: a man's world? A philosophical critique of these strident and earnest analyses might also synthesize these two lines of approach and ask if the reality of man that is ontologically secured is more than this appearance--namely: a world where the reality of man is created by man (or men) for himself, for himself as the neutral universal.

Thus, what is at the heart of the matter is the assumption of an implacable ontology befitting for Man. But, precisely because Marx designates this real-being as the real-being of Man the heart of the matter seems to demand a necessary supplement, a distinction between Man and...?

There are two (at least!) possibilities that stand in for the Other to Man when thinking seriously of the ontological claim that Marx makes in the essay "Estranged Labor". On the one hand is the animal, and on the other is Nature. In the first instance the trope of consciousness infects Marx's thinking: as much as man is the animal that labors, that produces actual objects in and of the material world, Marx can only value this doing by making it a conscious doing, a Hegelianly reflected upon doing; a doing that reflects the distinction between need and desire, immediacy and mediation, animal slavishness and human freedom.

The other Other is Nature, which houses Marx's text like a womb, like the world of the species-being that lives-on Nature by consuming and destroying it, and forcibly manipulating it into his image. Marx wishes to say that this labor on the inorganic body of Nature--which is his own body insofar as "intercourse" with Nature is necessary for survival; yet which is also Nature acting on itself (herself?) as man is "part" of nature--is the reality of the ontological status of species-being, of man as the universal. Yet precisely because Marx holds to such an ontology of the species-being Man as reality he effaces the power of his own assertion that man is a producer, an artificer, an artistic creator--perhaps: a narcissistic idolator? The reality of man ontologically, on Marx's terms, and the very "property" that makes him potent, is his imagination: Man is the animal that forcibly renders Nature in his image, thereby making it real.

This capacity of man, to be distinguished from an animal by his consciousness, is why man lives on Nature, as if over-against Nature, and not in Nature. To live in nature, to be an animal, is to live immediately, to live with no image of nature--to be in reality? Marx positions man on Nature, superimposing himself on nature, enframing nature, into reality. Man has reality by living on nature. Man has universality from the vantage of being on nature.

Man in relation to nature, is like money in relation to man. Money extracts from man his properties, renders the real an image, and an image into reality. "I am ugly, but I can buy for myself the most beautiful of women. Therefore, I am not ugly, for the effects of ugliness--its deterrent power--is nullified by money." I am an animal, but I can produce for myself the most useless of objects. Therefore, I am not an animal, for the effect of animality--its unmediated power--is nullified by frivolous production. Man overpowers Nature with the hostile image of his world, just as money overpowers alien being with the image of its possession of propertied properties.

What, then, does Marx identify as the true power of money if not its inverting power; that is, its power to superimpose an image onto the image of the reality species-being has superimposed onto Nature? An image onto an image that does not reflect the "reality" of the image of species-being.

Money, Marx writes, is the alien, external, indifferent, hostile force that establishes the tenor of human life. Alien, external, indifferent, hostile--antithetical. Have we already arrived in Hegel's civil society? Money as the negation--the Freudian negative--of species-being's position on Nature: in a word, competition.

Marx plays the game by decrying the rules. He knows the rules: "We address ourselves not to other men's humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities but of their advantages. (Wealth of Nations, Bk I, Ch. 2, cited in Marx, '44) To accept the rules, after all, is to cede to the image of reality money produces a reality as real as the image of reality produced by labor. Marx positions the reality of "humanity and necessity" as the negation of the reality of "self-love and advantage": the position of the image of reality (or the reality of the image) shifts: the position is the negation (or the negation is the position of the image of reality)---the choreography of this production is really poorly imagined!)

The ontological reality of species-being is thus haunted by an image, a specter, that threatens to expose species-being as itself a product: a specious-being.

What does Nature have to think of all this? Or isn't it so immediately present that Nature is base, unthinking, does not have an image? Only man would bother to imagine such a question: for man, species-being is part of nature, living-on nature, for pro-duction, pro-creation with the inorganic body of the material (maternal?) world. Money is indifferent to Nature as its materials are the products of labor, labor itself: species-being. Money does not care about the object of production because it produces producers as its objects (or does it?). Money sees itself in its duplication--its interest rate--just as the laborer sees himself in his duplication--his objectified production.

Money interrupts the intercourse of species-being and nature, it objects to this image of man's reality. "In tearing away from man the object of his production, therefore, estranged labor tears from him his species-life, his real species objectivity, and transforms his advantage over animals into the disadvantage that his inorganic body, nature, is taken from him." Money tears species-being off nature, takes his object, and re-images it: the reality of production is the property of money. Intercourse with nature moves through the valuation of money, and is always deprived of its object, its produce. Labor labors but never can be private with nature, have nature properly again, as his property. The union of species-being and Nature is torn asunder.

Isn't this a mirror image of the reality of the Oedipal drama? Of an image of a union which was always already a re-union insofar as it is an image--of a reality of being on top? The child's fantasy of the mother as always giving, always replenishing, his to fashion. The harmonious symbiosis of species-being as a part of nature such that his imaginary is Nature's imaginary: desire as the remainder of the demand for love once need is satisfied. Money interjects itself into this fantasy, its value, its image is reality: money effects a loss that was always already lost: it insists upon its image, its fantasy, as the mediation of man to nature. Man loses his object and receives the symbol of the object in its place. Thus, labor as jouissance: the always and ever futile pursuit of the Real of species-being, the Real of production (understood through the infantile image of having intercourse with Nature).

That is, Marx writes as the castrated child subject to the prohibition on incest. His defiance--his denial of castration and ambivalent projection of castration onto Money (it makes impossible and impotent imaginations into reality)--does not erase this structural parallel. The economy of the loss of the Real of jouissance circulates in the currency of species-being estrangement.

The alienation of species-being is reconciled through the reflection, the recognition, of the laborer in the object of his production--the happy consciousness. Estrangement through the mediating value of money demands the laborer resolve this alienation through reflecting upon himself under its image, to see himself recognized in the symbol of the lost object. "Estrangement is manifested not only in the fact that my means of life belong to someone else, that my desire is the inaccessible possession of another, but also in the fact that everything is in itself something different from itself--that my activity is something else and that finally (and this applies also to the capitalist), all is under the sway of inhuman power." Whereas species-being resolved the difference between itself and its object by seeing production as a matter of reciprocity--the fantasy of man's doing unto Nature as nothing more than Nature doing unto itself (consent, in a word)--is, under the value system of money denied, barred: species-being is a split subject (always already).

Not that Marx necessarily understands his own negation of money to be a position akin to it, related to it, familiar with it: he maintains the Real of labor. But his critique of the fetishization of money is an unconscious projection, deferral, of the reality that the ontological status of Man qua species-being is guaranteed only by the forcible superimposition of his image onto Nature through labor. Marx remarks of money's inhuman power the way Nature must remark of man's unnatural (mediated) power.

The unconscious projection of an un-negateable position (living on nature) on which to found the ontological reality of man is expressed in this dismay, and allows Marx to (unconsciously) see his own project of ontology in the logic of capital: it produces itself as real and then denies that it was produced: an ideology, an image that frames reality. The ontology of man Marx proposes is an ideology insofar as the productive capacity of man is limited to, stops short of, the affirmation that this ontology, too, is the produced "real image" of the reality of man. Such emphasis on the productive capacity of labor to re-produce itself with variations and slippages (parapraxes?) potentially distinguishes it from money, which only ever appropriates the properties of the property it possesses (and is thereby possessed by).

The trace of labor always marks the real image of money, then, to the extent that there can be no absolute erasure of the real image of production: labor is the specter of money, the imaginary of its symbolic value. To affirm in the inverse, too, is to melt the ideology of Marx's youthful ontology.

To the extent, then, that Marx's critique of money issues from an Oedipal relation it is also possible to read Marx against himself and to thereby recover from the reified ideology of ontology an affirmation of the disruptive power of production insofar as this production disseminates a "real/image" beyond the valuations of capitalism...

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

"Never Heard a Man Speak Like This Man Before"

It's been a while since I've posted, and I lament that this infrequency will become more the norm as school starts up. I've been very busy, but it seems like "busy work" rather than sustained, focused labor (to invert the meaning of the terms, perhaps even to make work something flighty and give weight to the process of labor, of giving birth).

J. has started classes--this is his second week. He has a packed class schedule, and a play in the works, and his job on top of it all. A week ago things seemed dicey, a bit of ambivalence about commitment, I think, as he was beginning to live the competing demands that life makes on a person, rather than (as I always do) think them out first and stress a priori. Two eruptions of frustration, two ambivalent resolutions, and then a night that ended with a decided(ly ambivalent) decision: "Maybe I do need time away from you..."

A restless night, tears, self-remonstration, utter exhaustion gave way to a dawn and then to a day at work which was graciously interrupted by a text message: Are you free Friday? he asks. I don't know what motivated him to think he should send out an olive branch. I don't think I could have done the same: I am so very skilled at working my way against a brick wall and then burrowing a way through it rather than turning around and walking-back my own stupidity. Instantly I made myself free and replied that, Yes, I'm free. He took me to see The Mars Volta. Friday night at the Congress Theater.

It was a perfect set list. It was a perfect night. He reached out for my hand as we made our way into the crowd, held it proudly, and we danced like a couple of kids in love with life, one another, and the music that we first made love to. (Yes, he played "De-Loused" the first time we fucked... it would have been scary if he wasn't so caring as a lover...) I met his friends from home as his "boyfriend" and they were wonderfully welcoming and happy for us both--I wasn't expecting such a warm reception from his home-town friends, but then: I've come to learn that with J. it is easy to make false assumptions: and I love him for this: he is complex, fluid, mocking of any one determination: I'd like to think we share this in common: and perhaps my own anxiety stemming from living "Am anfang war die Tat" lies in the uncanny resemblance his life, his style, his posture, his masks, bear to mine.

When we made it back to his place, after a delicious fuck, we started up some small talk and then, much to my dismay, and despite myself, this small talk swelled into a full-blown argument. I stopped myself, I slowed down, I realized that "the point" wasn't worth staining the night we'd just shared. He was less receptive to my attempt to walk-things-back, but then, as if out of no where he says (and I paraphrase and add dramatic flourish): "Don't be jealous but this afternoon I found a letter I wrote to my ex..." (a letter he never sent apparently), "and in it I apologize for arguing with him all the time. It's funny because I don't remember arguing with him over anything important, only theoretical bullshit" (at which point I interrupt: "theory isn't bullshit" and he smiles and demurs, "I know, but you know what I mean...")... "I guess it's just the way I relate to people, my Dad is like that, too..." To this I say, "I'm not jealous: I'm relieved: it means it isn't me, that you aren't disagreeing with me because we are incompatible..." He says that he ripped up and threw away that letter for fear that I would find it. He probably didn't need to do that. But it was interesting that he added this fact: that relationship, it's as if he said, is over and it means more to me that you not feel jealous or nervous if you ever saw this letter, this artifact of my feelings for that man, than preserving a record of those feelings.

J. and I have this brilliant capacity to talk around the "real" issue that dogs us, and to then talk of that issue "through" some other issue. My mistake, so often, is to correctly read that something else is at stake, but to then presume that I can rightly diagnose the "real" issue. Instead, whenever I've tried such a tact, J.--who is no fool--throws my pretensions in my face with the full forcefulness that I would myself muster against any such haughty condescension. What I've found, rather, is that when we simply try to walk-back our own fervor and remind one another (and ourselves) of our love... then, at least thus far, the "real" issue suddenly comes to the fore.

This isn't always easy for me: language is my weapon, and my best defense: I can tear anyone apart, or at least keep myself from getting eviscerated: I can go toe-to-toe with the best, and I have, with fear and trembling, and with defiant pleasure. But J. has the capacity to frame things in such a way--a way that affirms that with him I can be less guarded--that allows me to hear what he says not as a criticism, but as an insight, not as an indictment, but as a welcoming. My challenge--and no doubt it will remain my challenge for the foreseeable future at least--is to remain receptive to those moments of insight and welcome, and to extend to him the opportunity, to help open a space between us, where he can feel open for the same sort of receptivity.

This isn't, of course, anything that can be prescribed. As I have affirmed in other contexts (just recently with my friend "the Church Girl"--a monicker that doesn't do her justice by any means), life itself is a "process", a conversation rather than a conversion: there is no "The Moment" when everything clicks absolutely and finally into place: shit changes, and we must be capable of changing with it.

After this change in tone, in "mood," the "thing" that sat between us--that threatened to wedge us apart again and throw us back into a cycle of ambivalently made promises and ambivalent ruptures of those self-same promises--was no longer a "thing" that separated us, but which brought us together: Let us be certain: there is always a "thing" in-between any "us"--a mediating third point in the triangular structure of any relationship. This "thing"--too complex to reduce to language--was all that is contained in the concept of "commitment," but especially a sense of shared relief that we could relate to one another in a multiplicity of modalities without thereby effacing the common-ground that keeps us together. We made love again, and fell asleep in one another's arms.

It's as if that night was an exemplary "scene" of the face of things to come: the joy of sharing a wonderful night together, the ever inescapable complexity of human defenses to human trauma, and an affirmation of desire in the face of the manifold challenges that simply "being-with" another human being must negotiate. I think, when I reflect back on this night, that we both were immensely grateful for it: it served as a moment of realization for us both (one of many already experienced, and one of many to come) that we can do "this" if we do it together and not against one another. Often, for me at least, this means also, doing it with him against myself--I am so very talented at being my own saboteur!: give me a wall and I will pin myself against it and try, through alchemical osmosis, to force myself into and through it... I am learning to love the absence of walls.

Tomorrow I head down to Hyde Park to meet with a professor friend, to set for myself the proverbial "Thousand and One Goals" that will guide me through the next five-to-seven years of my academico-intellectual life. I am so eager to begin! In der Tat, in the beginning is the deed! Being in Hyde Park, on that campus again, walking down those halls... I came to realize after my year at Chicago that I "belonged" there. Not in any sense of "belonging": the place reeks of Ivy League privilege and pretension--but I "belonged" there because it was the first time I was really critically challenged as a scholar, intellectual, and human being. It is the place, I found, where I was most finely honed, and a part of my body's purpose is to be a weapon: perfectly weighted and balanced, finely cut and tested, sharp and quick. A weapon that can dance: nimble and delicate, like a lady: a stiletto.

J. wrote to me, "finally home and pretty much all ready for school". It took a week to catch-up, to establish a rhythm of step that could feel comfortable: he's all registered, his computer arrived, his books are on his desk, and I'm there with him in a way that doesn't obfuscate those demands: I "fit in". No doubt when school actually starts for me there will be yet another adjustment, yet another series of negotiations that will need to be performed. But, and here is the crucial point, the point that gives me hope and confidence: we've performed such negotiations already, and while not perfectly, we addressed ourselves to the changes that were rippling through our lives. We performed it once, and we can perform it again. I'm not worried.

This relationship, unlike my only other, has been fraught with doubt, with ambivalence, with "fear and trembling" in the face of another human being that refuses to settle into a simple confining context. But it has also been so utterly immensely satisfying for these very reasons! In my first relationship all the questions, doubts, hesitations, and conflicts were buried underneath the sheer volume of accumulated pronouncements of "love"--we never allowed ourselves or one another to figure out what the hell we wanted, and who we could be individually within the context of our relationship, until much too late, when any such assertion of selfhood seemed like a betrayal and the inevitable dissolution of that relationality. J. and I are, now, in the beginning, establishing our hesitations, our doubts, our ambivalences, our "fear and trembling" so that when these same challenges confront us in the future they do not confront us as alien entities, betrayals, but as that which has always been there, as part and parcel to "being-with-in-love": to the very person that each of us is and the dynamics of our relationship.

I'd say that I feel "so grown up!" saying such things, but the truth is, as I joked with my Momma, it's only been because of J.'s ability to let me see myself, and what we're up to, in this light that I can make such mature proclamations: "Either he is 25 years old psychically, or I am 20--but most likely we both exist somewhere in-between." She laughed at this, and said that it didn't really matter as long as we were able to maintain the necessary tension that comes-between and holds-together any couple. Still, I do feel "grown-up," and I include in my narcissistic valuation, J.: I'm able to relate to another human being on an intimate level that heretofore was unimaginable for me, and he is in no small measure a main contributor that that process: with him it is desirable to risk the danger that might also promise salvation (to quote a poet's poem). I gave him a book of e.e. cummings' work: "Deeds cannot dream what dreams can do" a single verse reads. I never allowed myself to see the inter-animation of ideas and action in the profound sense that I do now: if Cummings gives voice to my aspirations (I wish for a better future, my actions are guided by this messianic hope), then J. counters: "dreams cannot do what deeds can dream"-- a reversal that throws emphasis on the act itself, on the deed itself giving ground for dreams, from which dreams can launch.

J. and I, we exists, in our love, in the in-between of this perpetual reversal: the play of deeds and dreams. We dance as we follow the flips of polarity, sometimes missing the beat, needing to re-catch our step, but we have learned to, in such moments, hold onto one another, to feel the tempo of the other's body, and to regain our rhythm. I've been reading a lot of Murakami this summer on J.'s urgings, and he emphasizes again and again in his fiction the importance of the "flow," the "dance"... "Dance, Dance, Dance"... And, with J., I never heard a man speak like this man lives before.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

on your back with the stacks you load

That weight in my chest, curled like leaden vipers coiling around my lungs... it's back. That clenching in my shoulders and my neck, that dull ache in the back of my head.... they're all back. Something like a gravity too dense for this planet that covers my skin making it hard to move, hard to think, hard to breathe. Too much to bear, but not enough for it to overflow. It sits, like stagnant water, heavy and thick. This weight.

my mystic writing pad drafts the deeds before i speak them. the director yells cut, but i like the take. the mirror in my trailer is missing a bulb. the shadow makes my eyes look dark and intent. i'd love that man if he weren't so miserable, so afraid. no amount of reassurances could ever soothe him. my mystic writing pad gave those lines to the mirror, spoken out the side of its missing bulb.

There is a moment when everything seems incredibly clear and laid out before you. From this moment of clarity, you turn and flee. If I had a bottle, I'd empty it. If I had a cave, I'll contort my body into its crevices. If I had another chance... Wouldn't I flee?

i don't know what i'm doing. to try to think it makes me crazy. too many forks in the train line and my mind can't keep up. i race around like a lunatic. like a frantic man in a burning house who can't decide what he needs to take with him. his hands are empty when they find his remains.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Get Up (Boy, You Must Be Dreaming)

So a blog post instead of hanging out with J., which was what we had made plans to do. Something rather irksome about this, actually.

Somehow "I'm all yours" carried with it an unspoken ellipses: "I'm all yours... as soon as I'm done hanging out with my straight friends who I am closeted to (which prevents you from staying the night when they are around), and my drug-dealer... I'm all yours around 2am--maybe--even though I've known you've been done with work for 5 hours, even though I know you're exhausted after a sleeplessness night of writing... I'm all yours so long as you will wait for me to be ready... All yours, except when I'm not all yours, except when someone or something else comes along... Yours, J."

The second time, now, that I've been blown off by him in as many days so that he can hang out with his straight band mates. Forget that I wanted him to meet and spend an evening with my friends. No, that might be too damning in their presence: my gay friends, of course: and then the jig is up...

In moments like this I begin to wonder whether or not I am simply deluded. If, in fact, I called it those two months ago (which seem to contain more time in them than two months would allow) when to the German I said, "I know this is simply a summer-time distraction..." Maybe when I said that I wasn't speaking so much about myself, but rather of J. Perhaps then I intuitively gleaned what is becoming abundantly clear: the boy is simply still a boy: he doesn't take anything seriously because he takes everything too seriously: everything, still, is too close and he doesn't yet know how to assert himself in the face of so many demands, most especially, in the face of those demands that issue from his own desires. And, though I thought at the time that the Vegan was being self-protecting, maybe he was right to say that these younger men have no clue. This, still, despite their best intentions.

I'm 25, an ambitious-as-fuck PhD student about to embark on the training that will sharpen and hone me into an intellectual capable of taking the world by storm, I'm rather good-looking (though one is never pleased on this front, are they?), and I'm very fucking attuned to my sexuality, my desires, and the socio-psychical challenges entailed therein. That is, there is absolutely no reason why I should be happy to be dicked around.

I said to DeMilo this evening that no more than 6 months ago I viewed with distain queers who remain closeted. As a phenomenon it struck me as cowardly, self-serving, and yet, paradoxically, totally self-denying. What happened to that refusal to compromise on such a principled position of mine? Is it that I'm gaining nuance and attending to the complexity of a situation that I had been inclined to view in black and white terms? Or is it that I was slowly drifting away from myself as I drifted towards J.? And, if the latter, what was the quality of such "drifting"? Was it escapism--the "distraction" I thought this would prove to be little more than--or was it something like allowing myself to open-up to the perspective of another I was growing to respect, and love?

And of course my pride begs me to say the latter--to deny that I imported more into a relationship with a 20 y/o, a sophistication and depth that wasn't really there; to deny the charge so many of my "acquaintances" have hurled at me: can't handle a "real man," huh? And if I can't? Which is not to say I think there is something every remotely resembling "a real man". I suppose I would measure a "real man" by their capacity to floor me with a sentence that curls like a plume of smoke, nimble and subtle, but which seeps into the very blood of who I am. Someone who can hold their own and then some with me in intellectual conversation--who will never say, "You're just smarter than me" as if to belittle themselves. Someone who can make me cum with my whole body, who can make me laugh, and, I suppose, who can make me cry. Does that sound "real" enough? Because I know plenty of 40 y/o men who can't read their way out of a paper bag, who see "Project Runway" as high culture, who are miserably unhappy people. I know plenty of my peers who are lonely, unable to articulate their desires, or who "lack the courage for what they know" (as Nietzsche once beautifully put it), who can only stand to be seen by other men as sexual when drunk or doped up.

I'm done with this writing... I'm pissed and this is going nowhere. What am I even trying to say? This much is clear: I'm fucking pissed. I'm doubly pissed because to say I'm pissed seems to pose a referendum on our relationship: am I over-reacting? am I placing too much stress on a foundation that cannot hold under its weight? But what weight is this anyway?! Nothing more than his own promise! And maybe that says more than I want it to.