Thursday, March 19, 2009

Taking-Up Ghazi's Challenge:

To write about how I write, in the space of 500 words. An exercise.
A disclaimer: I smoke when I write, so my lungs may not be ready for the intensity of this blitzkrieg.
466 words left. (Not quite.)
I write, as you can see, with disclaimers as my preface. Whatever you will read will have been qualified.
I also write to a “you,” an audience—sometimes nebulous, sometimes targeted and specific. If you find yourself in the web of my address, then watch the veins in your neck.
So I qualify myself twice over: this is me, but within these parameters, and: you—I’m speaking to you.
Typically the publicity of my writing determines my qualifiers; if I write about “truth” then I can speak over the heads of many eyes who will see my words—in this way my writing is elitist: except if you understand my meaning, in which case this is a love letter.
And then, my writing is determined by whom I address. For instance: to ____ I write in a prose that is playful, flirtatious, and never committal; to ___ I write with the stern voice of an offended suitor; and to you, I write with the closest approximation to indifference I can muster.
I’m sweating now. It’s the lights, and the interrogation of the question. I’ve failed this polygraph already, so you might as well stick me, or hang me, or what have you.
(I lit another cigarette.)
I stall: halfway there, and still nothing said.
I write, you see, looking back now, with an honesty that is uncommon.
It is to write my skin onto page, and to construct my body out of these lines.
You already know too much of me: 1) my pride; 2) my desperation; 3) my need for “you.”
I write to answer a question. Ask me, or let me ask myself. I’ve written over 200 pages on love for you who will never read them. I’ve written 500 pages on love for a “you” that doesn’t know to answer.
From a certain point on Miami’s shoreline you can see the call and response of warning-beacons. They blink in syncopation, but still to one another. I write like one of these beacons: to no rhythm but yours, and am only heeded if you sense danger.
This, too, is a warning—and a call home. Here is the shore, I write, and here is where you will run aground.
(I lit another cigarette.)
Tonight, Ghazi, I write for one person, and he is neither you, nor I. He remains a phantom, for my friends cannot know him—their eyes are too cold, their lips too quick to sharp criticisms.
(Yes, I write always and only for…)
I prefer my ears hear only him when he speaks, and not the bile of their objections.
I write because of what one chooses to not write.
And I live because of what I chose not to hear.
Or I would be broken.
With love,
Samuel.




Towards an Agonistic Homosexual Community: A Reading of Freud's "The Ego and the Id"

In the 1923 monograph "The Ego and the Id" Freud recapitulates a number of his findings first articulated in "The Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality" (1905) and "Beyond the Pleasure Principle" (1920). In "The Ego and the Id" we find a more mature Freud, a less biologically/anatomically determined Freud; that is, a Freud willing to play with himself (pun intended). Now there are very definitive limitations to Freud's theories of sexuality, and I don't mean here to posture as an an advocate for Freud. Rather, with the queer/feminist anthropologist Gayle Rubin, I'm concerned in what follows to take-up the provocative, often disconcerting assertions Freud makes, to interrogate their logic, and to--along the way--highlight the insights Freud offers to aid our shared task of theorizing community.

I signaled "The Ego and the Id" as my starting point, and that's where I now turn. In chapter IV, "Two Classes of Instincts" Freud devotes himself to explicating (and problematizing) the two opposing instincts: sexual instincts, or Eros, and the death-drive. Eros conserves life, represses the death-drive, brings about order and cohesion in the ego, and is--in "Beyond the Pleasure Principle"--responsible for the founding, maintenance, and increased development of civilization (a thesis that reemerges in "Civilization and Its Discontents"). The death-drive, by comparison, desires a return to that peaceful state prior to the invasive assaults of sensory data from the outside world; that is, death. (Lacan will develop this notion into his theory of "jouissance".) Freud then goes on to argue that it is quite rare to ever see either of these instincts in pure form. Rather, most often, it is the case that the two are "fused, blended, and alloyed with each other." (E/Id, 38) Freud's classic example of the death-drive in "fused" form is sadism.

As in the "Three Essays" Freud again identifies the "anal stage" of infantile sexual development with sadism. Shortly there after, Freud writes:
"In persecutory paranoia the patient fends off an excessively strong homosexual attachment to some particular person in a special way; and as a result this person whom he loved most becomes a persecutor, against whom the patient directs an often dangerous aggressiveness....
"In the case of the origin of homosexuality, and of desexualized social feelings as well, analytic investigation has only recently taught us to recognize that violent feelings of rivalry are present which lead to aggressive inclinations, and that it is only after these have been surmounted that the formerly hated object becomes the loved one or gives rise to identification." (E/Id, 41-42)
Freud then immediately adds to this that the "hostile rivalry leading to homosexuality [and at this point we have to add, with Freud: "and which sustains homosexual desire"] has no prospect of satisfaction; consequently--for economic reasons, that is--it is replaced by a loving attitude for which there is more prospect of satisfaction--that is, possibility of discharge." (E/Id, 42)

Now, let's unpack these dense passages: Freud links paranoia with homosexuality--the one I love is the one who I fear abuses me, slanders me, is out to kill me (or infect me). Love, then, is transformed into "dangerous aggression." Restated in Freudian terms proper, the erotic identification of the homosexual is to a persecutor, and this becomes the ego-ideal--or super-ego--I strive to emulate. Freud then immediately reformulates homosexual desire as a hostile rivalry. Of course, this (homosexual) hostile rivalry is the same as that among siblings, and--as Freud stresses in "Totem and Taboo"--the citizens of a newly founded state, tribe, or civilization vis a vis the founding father(s). (Here Freud borrows freely from Nietzsche's account of the origins of religion in the 2nd Essay of the "Genealogy of Morals," whereby debt to founding-fathers becomes "divinized," as do the founders, into something godly.)

That is, homosexuals have not gotten over the Oedipus complex, and the ego-ideal of the father is that of the persecutor; our relationships, one-night-stands, and friendships re-enact a hostile (sadistic) desire to fuck, be fucked-by, or both depending, the powerful father figure. This circuit of sadistic desire, Freud says, has "no prospect of satisfaction." --Each compulsive repetition of our reaction to a paranoid fear of our persecuting father fails to allow us to be done with the Oedipal drama.

Before we recoil from this reading of our particular neurosis, let's accentuate, and amplify, the brief aside Freud makes to his non-homosexual readers, namely: the same feeling of hostile rivalry that characterizes the homosexual _also_ captures the dynamics of "desexualized social feeling." Desexualized social feeling _is_ what first binds a community (E/Id, 34). In "Totem and Taboo" the story reads: Because I cannot vent my violent hostility onto my father/founder I direct it against my brother and sisters/fellow community-members. But this risks exile or death, so to remain within the community I identify with the father/founder (as do my peers), and we thereby co-exist.

Now, viewed from a certain perspective Freud's linkage of homosexual erotics and "social feeling" suggests, for us, the success of homosexual love relationships and the possibility of community are analogous phenomenon; perhaps movement towards one catalyzes movement towards the other? Restated, Freud here is suggesting that community writ large shares with homosexual desire the same obstacle: hostile rivalry, which threatens dissolution and violence. To my eyes this suggests that homosexuals are in a distinctly privileged position from which to theorize community: we know the obstacles that stymie the cultivation of community in quite intimate terms. It also suggests that we find ourselves in the unique position of being potential exemplars for our "straight" peers.

But, before we rush to become peaceniks, to "surmount" feelings of rivalry, let's look at a community defined by rivalry, competition, contest: ancient Greece. Nietzsche writes in the essay "Homer's Contest" that Greece was defined by "agonism"--friendly rivalry, competition, and contest. We know of the Olympic games as an example of this friendly rivalry, and we learn from Plato's "Symposium" that every year there was a city-wide competition to see who was the best playwright. This spirit of playful competition fueled innovation in the arts, science, politics, and philosophy. Greece, too, was--as the French philosopher and psychoanalyst Luce Irigarary contends--"hom/me/osexual"--love was only "pure" when between men, which reinforces the idea that ancient Greece promises an archetype for theorizing homosexual community.

In varied forms we see this agonistic spirit still alive in contemporary gay culture. Allow a single example to illuminate my meaning: Roscoe's annual drag-queen contest embodies the artistry, courage, glamour, and glory of performing before one's peers and winning recognition. This is a truly community-building event, even if not on the scale of the festival of Dionysus. And spectatorship, too, participates in this spirit: we judge, yes, but with the recognition that we ourselves cannot compete. Restated, we respect ourselves enough to form aesthetic judgments, while also respecting the performers for their daring. The point is, in this venue we can, and should, speak our minds, but we needn't be hostile or sadistic.

Of course, the spectacle of a drag show has its limits when it comes to serving as a paradigm of community understood as playful rivalry or agonism. Nevertheless, and again, in Freudian terms, the practice of performing or watching a performance cultivates a pluralization of ego-ideals. Importantly, one of these potentially cultivated ego-ideals is oneself: to be able to judge without withdrawing respect for the subject of judgment; to "criticize" without persecuting. In this way, perhaps, the Oedipal drama can be re-staged, creating the space and possibility for "an affectionate object-choice which has taken the place of the aggressive, hostile attitude." (E/Id, 34)

By way of conclusion I would suggest that it is precisely through these institutional practices of playful, agonistic rivalry that a culture of engaging one another without hostility will emerge. Freud is quite clear (and certain) that hostile aggressiveness--sadism, essentially--is a drive towards death, and to the extent that the environment in which we move is characterized by this violence, paranoia is not pathological or neurotic but rather a rational comportment towards ones peers. If community is our desire--the ability to live with and love others--then our task must be primarily aimed at creating the possibility to live with oneself, to displace or dislodge persecutory ego-ideals and supplant them with exemplars of play.

Of course, "I" cannot learn to live or love without "you"--come: let's play this out...

Unambiguously: An Address (or, A Dangerous Letter)

Unambiguously, An Address:
I begin with the ambiguity of "address."
Neither Butler, nor Cavarerro _give_ much attention to this ambiguity.
Let _us_ do what they have not...
An address is where one resides, where one is at home, private.
An address is also a calling-out, a moment of publicity intruding upon the private, a letter sent to...
Thus, I maintain this ambiguity.
For, who is called out of the safety of the private domain of "home" is unknown: in calling one steps-out as much as the one who is called-upon answers this call by stepping out.
That is, I am no longer in the comfort of my familiar home when I call you to step outside of the comfort of your private domain.

An address: )unambiguously(
I am honorable, virtuous: I know when it is time to say, "goodnight" and to walk away. I will not press you.
There is a moment in Plato's _Symposium_ where Agathon (who has no idea what he is talking about, we learn), says that love is democratic—Love cringes at violence or coercion: only what is agreed upon is just--that is, lovable.
Yes: I wince: knowing the truth of this assertion; shamefully, I tell you.
(I know tyranny.)

Add-res(t)s:
Let me be! I can't get you out of my head... (bittersweet): a plague, a promise.
I know well how memory can torment the mind—as if a swarm of thoughts (like locus’ on the harvest of my well-tilled calm).
Allow me the space to grow, under your gaze (perhaps), and flourish. Do not ask of me an answer, a bumper-crop, now… I’ve nothing but expectations to offer: sprouts, fertile soil, sweat, and calloused palms… I can only (ever) offer a promise.

A-mbiguously:
(I make “ambiguity” privative, even though this defies grammar.)
(The absence of contradiction, or question.)
: I’ve never laughed in this city with the joy you’ve heard.
: I’ve never moved to rhythms we shared until you saw my smirk, and my bobbing head, my tapping foot.
: I’ve never slept unafraid until in your bed.
: I’ve fallen for your hands. I love how they are birds, and silk.
: I’ve never been so bold (yes, this is my bravery—and it comes alive with the arch of your eyebrows).
: I’ve never been home in the last 2 years, until you laughed with me.
: I’ve never been touched with care—and then you reached for my hand.
: I become someone I’d like to be when I’m with you.

Unambiguously: An Address
I write to a writer—in no way do I pretend the conventions of my deployed prose hide myself. (For the first time.)
“You, I desire.”
It takes a writer, I hope, to realize the limits of the play of symbols—the limits of words—to ask: “What?”
And then—allow me to continue this phantasy?—I answer: not “what?” but “who?”:
I answer: “I desire who you are, who you will be, not what you have done. (Ask nothing more of me?)”

(Un)Ambiguously, an “Address”:
Language is beautiful.
I thought, colloquially, an address means: “home” or “sending-to-you”.
It means so much more, to which I address myself.

An address (n.): The action of making ready, the state of being ready, preparation; array, attire, dress; skill, dexterity, adroitness;
—or: directing a ship to deliver a message; inscribing or dedicating what has been written; (to a home);
—a formal style of approach; Dutiful or courteous approach to a person in position of power, or a beloved…

(Do not ask me what it took to prepare this address to you, nor what I am ready for; do not ask after the storms of my seas; do not exploit whatever power this address bestows.)

An address (v.): To put things straight, in order, to make right;
—or: to straighten-up, to erect, to raise;
—or: to right what is wrong, to redress (wrongs), to reform (abuses);
—or: to direct prayers, vows, a speech, words (to a person).
—or [interestingly]: to pay attention to ones address to the courted-Other.

(Allow me to right any wrongs of mine, either through silence or sloppy speech—Allow me to stand-up and speak to you with these words, and—knowingly—leave myself unprepared for your reply.)

Un(Address):
I do not write like this, because, as I said, I don’t like being open to the brutality of a former lover. It took immense cruelty to open-up again, and what hurts most in my body is the recollection of the perversions I had to impose on my past to make it something I could speak, breathe, and hold in my fist when I sleep. That is, I ache still at the violence of making my past something I can live--the stiffness of a sculptor's knuckles.
(An ache that is the possibility of my future…)
You asked me: So, you invest yourself in a relationship?
I didn’t know how to answer at the time… I didn’t know what you meant—that is, what you _wanted_—with your question.
Let me answer now, as if to a simple question, regardless of your desire for a particular answer.
My answer:
To be-in a relationship is to share a space (to be-there with...); it is also to move with this person, to revel at their growth, changes, and recoils; and to with-hold nothing from their questions.
To relate-to someone is to actively construct bridges that connect two very different people so that something shared may be enjoyed, pleasurable—and so that the painful and ugly, too, may be met at the apex of this bridge: confronted not in isolation but jointly.
A ship, it is true, is so only by virtue of it’s departure: but in a “relationship” one leaves the shores of one’s love, braves and weathers the lonely storms of the sea, and returns again to their love—as Homer wrote of Odysseus. May that the journey changes both Penelope and Odysseus!

An Address: (Un)Ambiguously:
You stated: I’ve no belief: I encounter these terrible men and I can’t believe they are as terrible as they say they are.
I say: you conflate “belief” and “trust”: I trust beauty, goodness, honesty, generosity, adventure—no matter where I see it.
It is easy, I find, to see where such trust cannot be cherished.
I've no faith, no belief--the trust in that phantasy is gone.
(I’ve fucked, and been fucked-by, many men who had no sense of beauty or goodness or generosity, and for whom “adventure” was exhausted in the play of eyes we danced.)
You corrected yourself regarding the conflation of guilt and shame: you saw how guilt was an internal, gnawing doubt: conscience (in the Christian sense); and how shame was public, shared, and visible to all. You saw how the one creates atomized, defensive people; and you acknowledged how the other could cultivate a shared sense of honor/beauty and shame/ugliness.
Do not, then, take for granted that I do not feel ashamed in this address. Here there is nothing ugly, nothing crude or dishonorable.
Trust my daring.

An Address: Unambiguously:
You’ve reminded me “I,” and for this I will never demean you.
You’ve lavished the utmost kindness upon me, and because of this I will never accept another indifferent advance.
You’ve laughed with me, allowed you hands to dance before me, and then rest within my own, and for this I will never touch another corpse.
You’ve shown me a world outside the narrow purview of my reticence to queer culture that I could respect, admire, and strive-for (in that cue you cautioned, we mustn’t become homophobes).
You’ve allowed your own vulnerabilities to appear, at moments, and for this I will allow that there may be fault-lines in the most bound “faggot” (a man waiting to be emulated).
You’ve given my fingers cause to pounce upon the singular symbols of my computer’s keyboard with the same ferocity Patricia Barber attacked the ivory of her piano.—You set my brain afire, and I delight in the blaze! It is harmony… and I still remember your eyes catching the light as they captured my own.
You cum with an intensity I can only compare to the insanity of my prose. To feel the slick of sweat in the curvature of your back, to hear—and want to elicit—the gasps of your heaving chest, to hold the quickening—and now recovering—tension of your body, to feel your shallow breath on my neck, and to be embraced—and then dispelled—as you finally ejaculate on my chest…
I’ve never seen anything like this, let alone lived it. I’m enthralled by your nakedness.

But see, please, how my body is still too clumsy, still too inexperienced to communicate my longing—and see how I transform my body into the “corpus” of my words.
(These words you read, too, are wet with sweat, and the meter of my prose is raspy, heavy—I am so close, but unable…[afraid]…to cum.)

(An) Address, (Un)ambiguously:
I do not wish the comforting confines of a name, with its four walls.
I simply wish the continued pleasure of your company.
Prepared, I call, and naked, I ask you to join me, an address.

Love's Fool: the Philosopher

I'm about to teach my student's the "punch-line" of Plato's _Symposium_, one of the greatest texts in the West about love, namely: there is no philosophical system that contains love. We have 5 speeches, all of which have built such beautiful edifices, and then in bursts Alcibiades, who obliterates the ethereal constructs of every previous speaker with his account of the sheer lived experience of being in (frustrated) love.

The conclusion I wish to draw: Plato purposefully leads us through an exercise in sampling our ideologies--ethical, legalistic, scientific, mythical, poetic, philosophical--and then collapses the possibility of extricating the lived tension of love from our thinking about love.
Plato was no fool, nor was he, however, a lover.

Nietzsche _was_ a lover, and a fool--and for this reason a brilliant writer.
"Our Ultimate Gratitude to Art:
If we had not welcomed the arts and invented this kind of cult of the untrue, then realization of general untruth and mendaciousness that now comes to us through science--the realization that delusion and error are conditions of human knowledge and sensation--would be utterly unbearable. _Honesty_ would lead to nausea and suicide. But now there is a counterforce against our honesty that helps us avoid such consequences: art as the _good_ will to appearance.... As an aesthetic phenomenon existence is still _bearable_ for us, and art furnishes us with eyes and hands and above all the good conscience to be _able_ to turn ourselves into such a phenomenon. At times we need rest from ourselves by looking upon, by looking _down_ upon, ourselves and, from an artistic distance, laughing _over_ ourselves or weeping _over_ ourselves. We must discover the _hero_ no less than the _fool_ in our passion for knowledge; me must occasionally find pleasure in our folly, or we cannot continue to find pleasure in our wisdom. Precisely because we are at bottom grave and serious human beings--really, more weights than human beings--nothing does us as much good as a _fool's cap_: we need it in relation to ourselves--we need all exuberant, floating, dancing, mocking, childish, and blissful art lest we lose the _freedom above things_ that our ideal demands of us.... How then could we possibly dispense with art--and with the fool?--And as long as you are in any way _ashamed_ before yourselves, you do not yet belong with us." (G/S, #107)

And:
"What has so far been the greatest sin here on earth? Was it not the word of him who said, 'Woe unto those who laugh here'? Did he himself find no reasons on earth for laughing? Then he searched very badly. Even a child could find reasons here. He did not love enough: else we would have loved us who laugh." (TSZ, "On the Higher Man, 16")

Nietzsche links love to laughter, and laughter to the artistic ability to see oneself as a fool, and to, from a distance, laugh and weep _over_ oneself.
Loving, I find, is predicated upon the ability to laugh at oneself, to be capable of playing the fool. It means, I think, to see oneself from a different perspective, to be able to play (like a child), with your memories, yourself.
How else, but for the "good conscience" to turn myself into an aesthetic phenomenon--to be hero and fool--will I ever be able to stand before you unashamed?

Comment From Matt Linck:
"But won't Socrates, Sam, be a problem for you, just as he was for Nietzsche? Does he not laugh? Is he not playful? And, I wonder, are you not in love with something like wisdom?"

My Reply:
"Of course Socrates is playful, and he laughs! I do think, however, that Plato is incapable of allowing Socrates to be a fool--he is, as Alcibiades says, always playing the game of irony, which may or may not be hiding profound contempt. (I'm having them read Irigaray's "Sorcerer Love" to see how Diotima/Socrates miscarry on their claim love is a mediator, a perpetual becoming. I think this mistake is remedied in _Phaedrus_.) The erotic joy of becoming is the pleasure of Nietzsche's artist, which brings Socrates closer to Nietzsche than to "Plato". Also, there is the trouble of the hierarchy of the mind and body in Plato, which I find troublesome (which I think might be at play in your question regarding my love of wisdom). I've been reading a lot of Freud, especially as regards the super-ego, with an eye towards Nietzsche and Plato re. exemplars.
(Thanks for the reply, Matt! Hope all is well!)"

A Series Conceived on St. Valentine's Night

"An Insight Born On St. Valentine’s Day":
One must, I find, confront disappointment with the deepest grandiosity.—The deepest, sweeping bow, with one arm holding the lapels of one’s coat, and one arm spread, showing the way by which to pass (which speaks: fare-well [good-bye, _and_ take-care, be-well]).
In this way one does not demean love’s grandeur.
And, often, the highest moment of intimacy is shared in this magnanimous parting.

"St. Valentine":
St. Valentine is also patron saint of bee-keepers. (I learned this at work—there is nothing esoteric here.) A customer, puzzled, said, “bee-keepers?” And it all made sense…
Yes, Love can either reap the sweetest, thickest, dissolver of all boundaries (have you ever stuck your hand into a pot of honey?), or it can sting the life out of you.
I’ve been teaching some of my students the “sweet-bitter” of love, all in an effort to transmute this primal, defining moment into the possibility of an ethics.
Not only with love, but with all people one begins to taste, one begins to dare the dangers of pain with--this can either afford the most decadent satiety or the most pronounced painful penetrations.
Love is like a honey-bee. And so, Sappho writes, in a moment of despair, “neither honey, nor the honey bee for me.” She writes this, we can imagine, covered with the inflamed welts of a former lover, the taste of happiness still coating her mouth.

"Where Have All the Faggots Gone?...":
I worked tonight, on this most “sacred” festival of love, and what disturbed me most was the pronounced _absence_ of gay couples. I saw at least two dozen straight couples, fresh from dinner, on to home, and…. But the only fags I saw were a) with a fag-hag, b) with a group of fag-hags, or c) on a first-date [and this was but one, and it was really quite cute to watch and catch snippets of].
I’m no sucker for commercialization, but still: we are a ritualistic people (humans, that is), and so this is the moment when we allow ourselves to lavish upon the one we love, in public—and thus, through masks/forms/structures—the affections we show in private. Why, then, were there no gay couples in our café tonight?
Yes, yes, yes! It is completely plausible that, in fact, a coffee shop is not where gay men go after dinner. And I am, by all accounts, a terrible fag, so I don’t know the rules governing the play of this ritual.
But still, and maybe this is my point, it was lonely for me to keep serving happy straight couple after happy straight couple, who would then sit down next to another straight couple looking equally doe-eyed. I wanted faggots to come in, cute couples, young and filled with the exuberance of love. I wanted to see, on this ritualized day of love, that we, too, are capable of getting lost in one another.
Maybe, of course, I was behind the wrong counter. But tonight was the first time in my 5 months working at the café that it wasn’t “queer” or even “gay” in tone and color…

"On Dating":
I’ve never dated.
A boy said, “Salinger,” and this is what helped him survive highschool.
I replied: Rimbaud, and I am still on his drunken boat.
I follow currents, I suppose. It is what one does when passenger on such a vessel. But they are subterranean rivulets, as if of gold in the cold of a mine.
I’ve three times dared take helm of this ship, and the first time nearly sunk me, the second made me bitter against torrential winds, and the third… well, of the third I still hold a certain hope for safe-passage, like a crew starved for wind on a ship that doesn’t even rock them to sleep with predictable rhythms—there is only stillness (and from e.e. Cummings: nothing surpasses the mystery of stillness). I hold to this course, even though my rudder may respond, there is no movement. But with knuckles white, I clench the spokes of my wheel, and will sink, starve, or drown by these choices. (For the first time.)
Dating, I tried to explain to a friend over drinks the other night, is first and foremost a matter of reading how constrained to structure the other boy is: does he reject wholesale these strictures? does he accept some, but not all of them? or is he bound by them? In each case, it is a matter of readership.
(This is a bias, of course: I've recently taken great pleasure in reading a boy nearly as prolific as I am...—and then promptly forget what I read once I see his face… That’s actually strange, now that I saw it aloud: I read him, and then care only for what I hear.)
[My friend Ghazi insists I read Dolar—philosophy of the voice—while my other friend Paula insists I read Cavarerro—philosophy of the voice—. The irony: they are estranged friends, and I am so preoccupied with writing and reading...]
The one is easy to understand: lose all structure and we agree upon a freely created discourse--which promises a lot of talk, when I may simply wish to kiss you. The other, equally easy: adhere to all structure, and I never speak to you again. It is the middle-course, of course, which fucks me. Because, as I think, there is no such thing as either extreme—they are phantasies. I err towards less structure myself, wanting the freedom to negate and re-create what I said, who I was. I will paint you a picture of myself, but it may be like a Picasso. (And this creates problems, because you, too, are like a Picasso, and I'd like to kiss you very much, but it's hard to find your lips...)
One thing, always, remains “constant” (like a highschool lab experiment): you. It is around you that I speak, move, dance, pause.
This, I agree, is exploitation: I like you as a constant, as a focal point for my movements, a safe harbor I can return to.
This is the (vulgar) relationship of author to reader: I give two-shits what you think when you read: I don’t do this for you, I write for me. (Nietzsche’s "narrow" Artist: I create for the joy of creation, not for the joy of your spectatorship.)
But I’m not so crude, so one-dimensional: I am a reader with aspirations of authorship. I write, yes, but I read your reading, and edit. I am dynamic. And I write, I think, based on what I read. I dance. And I need your body to move with mine, your words to address mine, your eyes to meet mine.
One thing remains constant: In a moment, I move around you, who move, also, in orbits outside of my own. The synchronicity of a shared moment is a miracle. Love, among other things, is born of this moment.
It is rare, I think, for two minds to write to an event independently of one another. I’ve read latitudinally and longitudinally—and I find the same ideas emerging in different voices over centuries.
We find ourselves, perhaps, at a moment in time where, to speak with Thom Yorke, “We think the same things at the same time, we just can’t do anything about it.” (Track 8, "Harrowdown Hill" off "The Eraser")
What, then, are we to do about it?
(An addendum: The same night I wrote this a similar question was posed: "What is it that is so difficult about making the connection?"--asked with regard to "missed connections".
With Holderlin: "Near is, and hard to grasp, the god. But where danger threatens, that which saves from it grows also."--I've this latter half on my arm. I'd be saved, I think, if only I allow someone dangerous enough.
For my own trepidatious effort at an answer, see my previous post: "Love's Fool: The Philosopher".)

"Love in the Age of Radiohead":
The magisterial beauty of sorrow alive in each song—the hatred, the anger, the betrayal, the longing, the desire, the hope, the weakness, the loneliness, the hatred, the hope…the love. We philosophers—of life, of love, of revolution—contemplate _this life_ composed of utter brutality and nudity. (Our late-modern selves in this new order.)
I find that art has become my lens. This is no new lesson, I suppose… surrealism, dada, fascism, French new wave cinema…Nietzsche, Plato…
But I am young, and my eyes still cloudy from so many births.
I learn now, amidst this populace of players, the role of the stage, of the artist’s eye, of the canvas, and the audience.
I learn now of politics, perhaps.
I learn now, perhaps, of love.

"Of Expectations":
Never read me when I leave only an empty sheet.
My emptiness is a womb, not a grave.
Never ask me my past with eyes that see through grids.
My past is a snake I charm, and it does not know right angles.
Never take my choices as sacrifices.
Allow me always the freedom of my pleasures.
Never presuppose my voice.
I speak only ever to a "you," and you don’t know how I hear you.

Adieu to Ricky

I met Ricky in the waning months of summer. Zachary had told me about his friend, about some of their shared history, about how Ricky was once going to be a priest. I saw pictures on Facebook--of a long-haired boy who always wore a smile. I once perked my eyebrows perhaps a bit too interestedly and Zachary pounced upon me, "He wouldn't be into you." I guffawed my way out of the complications...

The first time I spent serious time with Ricky was under the balcony outside Caribou Coffee. It was summer, and it was raining. Everything smelled like rain, and the air had the taste of pennies. We were sitting on copies of the Free Press stolen away from the racks in Caribou. I was smoking, eavesdropping on a cellphone conversation he was having. He was sipping some mushroom tea as he listened, occasionally looking over to me with a tired, bored look, saying with his eyes, "ugh." I can't remember what we actually talked about once he hung up, and before Mario met up with us, but I remember Mario seeing us sitting there talking, and his greeting was something to the effect of: "What are you two, beggars?" It had never occurred to me to be concerned with how we looked, Ricky and I, sitting outside this cafe--my NYTimes in hand, an espresso in arms-length, his bag spilled-out onto the sidewalk: magazines, scribbled pages, a book or two, and some vegan bits from Wholefoods.
There's a lot of ways to read this episode in hindsight, but these are the facts: it was raining, and we were staying dry, enjoying the thick air, and one another's company.

Ricky wears earplugs to dance clubs. This is a banal detail, I know, but I love it. Of all the people with whom we are a part, Ricky seemed the least likely to do something like this. Perhaps it was the mythos of him that prompted my surprise, but I laughed at the sight and not maliciously. It seems bizarre, I suppose. I love the overwhelming quality of music, to close my eyes and see only the arcs of sound moving my body. Yet here was Ricky, unashamed. I'm nearly deaf, myself, so I can barely hear what someone is saying, unless their chin is nestled in my neck. And I yell, preferring to hear myself--to make sure I got the ordering of words right when I spoke them. I didn't mind yelling with Ricky, through his earplugs.

Once Ricky said he was into the sort of sex where you can just punch the man who is fucking you in the chest. I shot-up straight at the idea, as a good Victorian might, perhaps. I had this image in my head of Ricky punching someone in the chest, and then cumming. It's not an explicit vision, and is mostly concerned with his face in the act of hitting his lover. It is my face, I think, I would fear most should I attempt something so bold--it would give me away: I didn't mean that, or I meant it... either, too strongly furrowed on my brow. So it was his face that fascinated me in this imagination. How do you look at someone when you punch them? I've never really punched anyone. Yes, I've been punched plenty of times--and the idea of my face at those moments, too, is embarrassing to think about--but I've never actually hit someone. Ricky's face seemed too serene for something like this.
Then Ricky suggested that perhaps my troubles sleeping in a bed with another man stem from a suppressed aggressivity that is only allowed free-play when the guard of my consciousness is down. This was a halting suggestion for me, and I've not yet amply taken-up the question. I take such pride in viewing sex as "first ethics"--the most cruelty I've ever lavished has been silence, prudently, so as to be dis-embodied (we both suffered). But it gives me pause, and cause to return to the desire Ricky once voiced. For myself I take it to mean (attempting to take up his challenge): Will you care for me, in this moment of my utter vulnerability, if I vent myself upon you?
(Is this a test? Or is it just the nature of this sex? Or is this displaced rage?--I don't know. I won't speak [ever] for Ricky, but for myself: the puzzle still needs working-out.)

Ricky is one of my best readers. Many people have left comments on my notes, but Ricky stands alone in speaking not to _what_ is written, but _who_ is written in writing it. Ricky, I feel, senses a poetry in life that perhaps overwhelms him, and gives him the grace I've come to love. I write for those with the grace, and discerning eye, to see me hidden within the syntax of my prose, and the clumsiness of my content. I have valued these expressions of recognition, and held-fast to them: they are light and heat, and I love nothing so much as these.

Early in knowing Ricky, perhaps in the first week of his arriving in Chicago, four of us gathered in my miserably sparse studio to eat pizza from Wholefoods before going out. It was Zachary, Ricky, me, and Paco (oh my, do you remember Paco!?). In a crass effort to impress Paco, offend Zachary, and stake my independence from Zachary in front of Ricky I grabbed hold of the pizza box Zachary was carrying to recycle, and hurled it in a dumpster. Zachary predictably pitched a fit, and I demurred with cultivated cynicism. Ricky's assessment: "If you can't come up with any new ideas of your own, you might as well recycle the garbage you create while repeating what other people have said." (I paraphrase.)
I laughed!: at the clipped retort, the witty mask, and the soft-fierceness I've never sought to elicit again. Ricky became, immediately, someone I could trust, and laugh with.

Last night was Ricky's "going-away party". This came as an utter surprise to me. I didn't know he was leaving--though I didn't know he was leaving when he left in the Fall, either. But this seemed conclusive in some way. I didn't like the idea. I don't like to say "good-bye". I said to Mik, as we were working, "let's go out for a drink, and then I'll go home and finish my lecture notes." I'd wholly forgotten it was Ricky's going-away. Then Zachary sent a text. And again, I forgot: "Mik, we should go to Kit Kat!" And then Joey came in to kill time before going down the street to the party, and I couldn't avoid the event I was so eager to avoid.

(I've been thinking about connections recently. I didn't spend very much time with Ricky, this is true. I can count on a few fingers the number of times we've been alone. But there was, always, when I was with him, a sense that I wasn't alone--not corporeally, but in spirit. Ricky, I think, has been the most naked of those I move among. He knew my references to music, books, films, theatre... I could speak with him in short-hand, as it were, and perhaps that's why I count every moment with him to be of the sort of connectivity I find only among my dearest friends in NY. [Perhaps, too, this was cause for my distance.])

Last night Ricky described Plato's staged moment of the philosopher staring at the Truth: most readers miss this, but I haven't: the philosopher stares at the "sun" of truth through a reflecting pool. Ricky was describing life at New College(?), and said he saw the Truth, but not directly, through a mirror, which made it bearable to see. I smiled, and wanted, instinctively, to say: "That's Plato!" I see now, and am grateful for holding my tongue, that Ricky is of that class who manages to live, and move, and see, and love like philosophers spend life-times trying to capture in stale letters on dried sheaves. I smiled, deeply, at his own artistic moment of narration, mostly noting the wildness of his beard, and how it seemed a fitting frame for his smile, reckless as it is.

Last night Ricky said he has something he wanted to tell me. What he said is not for your eyes. It was for my soul. What I told him in reply is not for your eyes, either. But what he needs to know is this: Your words tread on my deepest fear, the head of the viper curled in my heart.--You couldn't have known when you spoke your words to me, but I needed what you said--like light and heat and air itself.

"Who is Ricky?" Armando asked me when he overheard my plea to Mik that he come with me. Armando does brilliant work on demonology. I framed my picture as such: "If the arch-angel Gabriel were fallen, and queer, he would be Ricky." Armando nodded deeply, and then broke out into laughter with us when Mik asked if there would be gin.

"Sometimes life can be beautiful." I said this twice last night. First, when standing outside the cafe with Mik in our silly aprons and Caribou caps, staring at the "protected" pylons glowing under the coverage of gigantic condoms, while flurries hurried past, making us figurines in a snow-globe. The second time was when Mik and I were leaving Theo's apartment, and we had embraced Ricky for the last time, until... And then, as we walked to Addison, Mik said: "See, it was nice to be there with everybody." And I smiled, and nodded, and wanted to cry. It was beautiful to gather around a friend, and celebrate his impact on our lives by simply living who we are now, with his impression upon our voices.

Recently...

...It has been rather difficult to write.

I find I reach a fevered, frenetic pitch--I recently, allegorically, likened my body to coals fed too quickly onto the flames of genius--and when that zenith is attained, like a flood of fire the totality of my being pours forth, melting and scorching any desire for restraint or subjectivity. It is ek-static... I know Holderlin's madness.

But the body of my prose, the corpus, becomes too translucent and I am illuminated too thoroughly. I see myself, in the sinew of text, too suddenly, too violently, and must recoil. Nietzsche writes, untruth is a condition of life. In the waning of my fire, life must be veiled again.

I am exhausted.

[I did, however, note the reference... I just was teaching the _Symposium_, where Orpheus is featured (who lulled the beast to sleep--that is, conquered Hades--but did not trust his own beloved) and noted the trope of music Plato deploys--Socrates, too, is a pied-piper, only he doesn't need a flute: he uses his words. Perhaps, and this isn't me it's Plato, you need more philosophy in your life: "In fact, Simmias...the true philosophers practice dying and they fear death least of all men."
]

Tonight

It was unfair to have Radiohead as our soundtrack tonight. I got too drunk too soon on that music--it started to flay me alive. I began to lift my veils, and the flailing of my hands did not wave away you so much as my own impulse to succumb to the persistent plea of that dark rhythm...

The first time my bloodstream was poisoned with music was at a Radiohead concert in 2001. I was with a beautiful boy. The kids behind us let us take hits off their bowl. I stood there, next to him, as our heads began to lower, as if in prayer, but our feet beat demonically and then our heads involuntarily began to rock, and then our hips began to sway, and our arms started to yield as well. We danced because movement was survival. We moved because our bodies were not our own. And the lights and the persistent beating of that invisible sonic force against my chest... And there was Thom, flailing around on that massive stage like a man in the throws of frenzy... He was mad, and free. He punched buttons on his little black beatbox, a satyr leading us all to that Bacchic plane of existence where right and wrong do not exist, where I and You dissolve, where there is only the immediacy of movement, of light and sound, and the pleasure of a singular body whose edges are blurring into infinite plurality...

I used to chase this ek-stasy, this frenzy, this beside-myselfness at Berlin, where the climax of a packed dance floor allowed the initial solitude of anonymity and then the massive expanse of loss of selfhood as music and darkness absorbed me into is clutches. I used to dance with beautiful shadows, men whose names I cannot summon, whose faces never really appeared, and I used to fuck these phantoms, still crazed with music and drink and Dionysiac pathos behind those thin walls, under stairways, in the shrouds of thick August air.

At some point, however, perhaps when I learned there were rules to the dance floor, the poison of blared dance-music failed to stir my bloodstream, and I started to lurk at the lips of the bar, drink in hand, suveilling the scene, with measured intentions clouding my ability to dance. I would advance, but the froth of saliva was too thick on my breath, and the glint in my eye unmistakable.
I did not damn those boys who saw clearly, but I was ruthless with those who failed to see, those who were too punched-up to read my intent--this is will be violence, my lips sneered, and they blankly blinked and giggled.

Not to my friends, nor to my father, nor to my mentor did I dare admit that I’d allowed the festival to become a sacrificial alter. But there was too much blood; too many ghoulish faces drifting somewhere in my dreamscape. I needed to walk away, and then the first snow fell like mercy.

I asked: Is it possible for the Dionysian intimacy of music, drink, light, bodies, sex to appear in the singular… is it possible to love? Not so many unknown bodies, but one body to hold but never exhaust or extinguish; not the night of a dance floor, but the dark of a bedroom for the play of bodies; not the intoxication of sonic pulsation, but the dizzy loss of breath barely recaptured in the curve of his neck; not an infantile, Imperialist “great-game,” but a tragedian’s immortal poem.

A boy twice mistook my meaning, not recognizing my overcoming, and I do not hold it against him, except until he began to glean the shifted prevue of my horizon and attempted to ingratiate himself into it. This, of course, was nothing but bad faith and false promises, and I discovered I needed to learn to read the difference between a charlatan’s hastily adorned costume and the rags of a boy impoverished by the limits of language. (After all, this poor boy is a philosopher: “He is a sort of barefoot waif who goes out under the stars seeking out an encounter with reality, the embrace, the knowledge or perhaps a shared birth, of whatever benevolence, beauty, or wisdom might be found there.” [Irigarary, _An Ethics of Sexual Difference_, 24])

I became a writer, and a reader, and a professor of philosophy (adjunct). And you met me, for a third time, one night when my daring was born of a misrecognition too profound to articulate save by acting, with boldness. My first address, it is true, was a renunciation, and your body across the table from mine the following night was confirmation of my capacity to overcome (unknown heretofore in this incestuous, circumscribed, ghettoed community).

I became a writer, and a reader, and a philosopher. I sculpted my courses around the monumental questions I wrestle with: Can queers create an agonistic, democratic political space apart from insidious regimes of heteronormativity? Is there “true” friendship in this community--accepting Aristotle’s distinction between a) friends of use, b) friends of pleasure, and c) true friends? Of what does intimacy consist in this community? is it the fleeting fuck of a drunken evening? or can queers risk release to the vulnerabilities of inter-and intra-personal intimacy? How does this intimacy manifest itself?—is it perhaps like that of the Oracle at Delphi, neither speaking nor concealing, but giving signs?

I am a reader first and foremost, and a writer second, and always a philosopher-poet. I have been long been fascinated with Nietzsche’s concept of a “pathos of distance” (BGE, Sect. 257). The other day, while preparing my lecture notes on Heraclitus, I read Philip Wheelwright’s introduction to the fragments and _testimonia_ and found this gem: “The attitude [of Heraclitus] is shaped by what Nietzsche has called a ‘passion of distance.’ By this phrase, which can serve as one of the main keys to the Nietzschean philosophy, Nietzsche means to include at once the ‘Dionysian’ passion…and the ‘Apollonian’ power of self-overcoming, of utter serenity in the midst of battle.” (PS, 67)

The true philosopher--and I take this to mean: the Heraclitean, Nietzschean philosopher--is both passionately beside himself, while also affirming ordered self-hood. The true philosopher is an artist, swept-up and yet somehow channeling, shaping the pathos of creativity.

My trepidatious first swipe at the coiled Gordian knot of questions I lay before my own passage may be articulated as such: We must destruct the myth of immediacy if intimacy is to be possible… Our ethics must consist of patience, of not insisting on a hasty, vulgar nudity, but rather of the play of veils—now revealing, now hiding, and always speaking in signs. It is an ethical intimacy of readership, and it demands the daring of a writer’s pathos, and the philosopher’s keen, judging eye.

I realize that perhaps my hesitance over sharing that I’ve read you emerged as shame because I wish a reader as scrupulous as I myself am. Yes, ashamed... whence my veils (or, Victorian propriety)? Is it asking of (a) "You" too much? May I (finally) voice my desire to have the corpus of my prose handled with care by (a) "You," so that I may allow (a) "You" to care for the poetics of my body? This is my armor, my amour--so many hinges, so many revealings and concealings, and always the faint scent of a conversation that has ignited my imagination.

Indeed, I recoil at the "moment of truth" because my truths cannot be contained in the stilted sputtering of my lips and tongue. I wave it away, like it were a malevolent spectre, a ghastly presence, Bergman's bearer of the Seventh Seal--and I refuse to play his game of chess. The question itself cannot be answered: it desires finality, the cessation of movement. But hands are birds, and I enjoy watching their flight too much to have their flitting grandeur alight on an answer so crude.

Yes, my bloodstream is poisoned—with the vestiges of gin, 4 cups of green tea, 20mg of amphetamines, and the playlist I document below. It is, perhaps, the only way I could ever endure to publish something of this sort.
Music!


*1) There, There-Radiohead--"In pitch-dark I go walking in your landscape... Broken branches trip me as I speak... Just 'cause you feel it, doesn't mean it's there... We are accidents waiting to happen..."

2) Faust ARP-Radiohead-- "dead from the neck up, I guess I'm stuffed, stuffed, stuffed...we thought you had it in you but no, no, no... exactly where do you get off... is enough, is enough...for no real reason"

3) You And Whose Army-Radiohead--"Come on, Come on: You'll think you'll drive me crazy?... you and whose army? You and your cronies? Come on, come on if you think you can take us all... You and whose army?"

4) Karma Police-Radiohead--"For a minute there, I lost myself..."

5) Up On a Ladder-Radiohead--"Watch me dance, I'm a puppet: you can almost see my strings" ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pt1xCLJYtxQ&feature=related )

6) We Suck Young Blood-Radiohead--"Are you sweet? Are you fresh? Are you strung up by the wrists?...We want the young blood... Won't let the creeping ivy/Won't let the nervous bury me/Our veins are thin/Our rivers poisoned... We want the sweet meats... We want the young blood"

7) Creep-Radiohead--"I don't care if it hurts/I want to have control/I want a perfect body/I want a perfect soul/ I want you to notice when I'm not around/ You're so fucking special/ I wish I was special... But I'm a creep..."

*8) The Eraser-Thom Yorke--"Please excuse me, but I've got to ask: Are you only being nice because you want something?... The more you try to erase me: the more, the more, the more that I appear..."

*9) Harrowdown Hill-Thom Yorke--"We think the same things at the same time, we just can't do anything about it."

10) I Can't-Radiohead--"Please forget the words that I just blurted out/ It wasn't me, it was my strange and creeping doubt/ It keeps rattling my cage/ And there's nothing in this world that'll keep it down..."

11) Reckoner-Radiohead--"You are not to blame for/ Bittersweet distractor/Dare not speak its name...Because we separate like ripples on a blank shore/...Reckoner.../take me with you..."

12) Sail To The Moon-Radiohead--"I sucked the moon...I spoke too soon...And how much did it cost?"

13) Thinking About You-Radiohead--"Been thinking about you, and there's no rest, shit I still see you in bed. But I'm playing with myself, and what do you care, when the other men are far, far better."

14) Let Down-Radiohead--"don't get sentimental, it always ends up drivel. One day, I'm gonna grow wings, a chemical reaction, hysterical and useless..."

15) I Will-Radiohead--"I will, Lay me down, In a bunker, Underground. I won't let this happen to my children. Meet the real world coming out of your shell. With white elephants, sitting ducks. I will rise up. Little baby's eyes... eyes, eyes, eyes..."

*16) The National Anthem-Radiohead--"Everyone...Everyone around here....Everyone is so near...I'm so alone..."

*17) Like Spinning Plates-Radiohead--"While you make pretty speeches, I'm being cut to shreds...You feed me to the lions, a delicate balance.... And this just feels like spinning plates..."

18) Talkshow Host-Radiohead--"I want to...I want to be someone else or I'll explode...You want me? Fucking well come and find me. I'll be waiting with a gun and a pack of sandwiches... And nothing...nothing...nothing. You want me? Well come on and break the door down. You want me? Well fucking come on and break the door down... I'm ready. I'm ready. I'm ready..."

19) Bulletproof...Wish I Was-Radiohead--"Wax me, Mould me, Heat the pins and stab them in. You have turned me into this...I just wish that I was bulletproof."

20) Paranoid Android-Radiohead--"When I am king, you will be the first against the wall, with your opinion (which is of no consequence at all)...You don't remember, you don't remember why don't you remember my name? Off with his head, man--Off with his head, man... I guess he does..."

21) Street Spirit (Fade Out)-Radiohead--"This machine will not communicate/ These thoughts and the strain I am under."

*22) Skip Divided-Thom Yorke--"I'm known to bite in tight situations... Yeah you are a fool, For sticking round... I tried every trick in the book... I tried to look at you..."

*23) The Clock-Thom Yorke--"It comes to you begging you to stop: wake up!...You make believe that you are still in charge."

24) Life in A Glass House-Radiohead--"Well of course I'd like to sit around and chat... (But someone's listening in...)"

*25) Idioteque-Radiohead--"I'll swallow until I burst...Here I'm allowed everything all of the time."

*26) Bodysnatchers-Radiohead--"I do not understand what it is I've done wrong, Full of holes, Check for pulse, Blink your eyes, One for yes, Two for no...I have no idea what I am talking about... I am trapped in this body and can't get out...//Has the light gone out for you? Because the light's gone for me.... (It is the 21st Century!)...I'm a lie."

27) Lucky-Radiohead--"I'm on a roll. I'm on a roll this time. I feel my luck could change..."

28) Blowout-Radiohead--"In my mind, and nailed into my heels...All the time, killing what I feel...Everything I touch turns to stone...I am fused just in case I blow out. I am glued just because I crack out."

*29) Myxomatosis-Radiohead--
"the mongrel cat came home
holding half a head
Proceeded to show it off
to all his new found friends
he said "i been where i liked
i slept with who i liked
he ate me up for breakfast
and screwed me in a vice

and now i don't know
What I feel
So don't tell...

i sat in the cupboard
and wrote it down in neat
they were cheering and waving
cheering and waving
twitching and salivating like with myxomatosis
but it got edited fucked up
strangled, beaten up
used as a photo in Time magazine
buried in a burning black hole in Devon

"i don’t know why
i feel so tongue-tied

don’t know why
i feel so skinned alive."

My thoughts are misguided and a little naive
I twitch and i salivate like with myxomatosis
you should put me in a home or you should put me down
I got myxomatosis
I got myxomatosis

"now no one likes a smart ass but we all like stars"
that wasn't my intention, I did it for a reason
it must have got mixed up
strangled, beaten up
i got myxomatosis
i got myxomatosis

"i don’t know why
i feel so tongue-tied"

*30) 15 Steps-Radiohead--"How come I end up where I started? How come I end up where I went wrong? First you reel me out, then you cut the string."

31) Climbing Up the Walls-Radiohead--"I am the key to the lock in your house, That keeps your toys in the basement, And if you get too far inside, You'll only see my reflection... It's always best when the light is off, I am the pick in the ice, Do not cry out or hit the alarm... Either way you turn: I'll be there, Open up your skull: I'll be there... (Thom : "This is about the unspeakable. Literally skull-crushing.")

*32) 2+2=5-Radiohead--"It's the devil's way now/There is no way out/You can scream & you can shout/It is too late now/Because/You have not been... paying attention."

*33) Jigsaw Falling Into Place-Radiohead--
"Just as you take my hand
Just as you write my number down
Just as the drinks arrive
Just as they play your favourite song
As your bad day disappears
No longer wound up like a spring
Before you've had too much
Come back in focus again

The walls are bending shape
You got a cheshire cat grin
All blurring into one
This place is on a mission

Before the night owl
Before the animal noises
Closed circuit cameras
Before you comatose

Before you run away from me
Before you're lost between the notes
The beat goes round and round
The beat goes round and round

I never really got there
I just pretended that I had.

What's the point of instruments?
Words are sawn off shotguns

Come on and let it out
Come on and let it out
Come on and let it out
Come on and let it out

Before you run away from me
Before your lost between the notes
Just as you take the mic
Just as you dance, dance, dance

A Jigsaw falling into place
So there is nothing to explain
You eye each other as you pass
He looks back and you look back
Not just once
and not just twice
Wish away your nightmare
Wish away the nightmare
You got the light you can feel it on your back
[A light,] you can feel it on your back
Your jigsaw falling into place"

( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=naCAdshYVTA )


34) Weird Fishes/Arpeggi-Radiohead-- "I'd be crazy not to follow... follow where you lead... your eyes... they turn me.../Turn me onto phantoms I follow to the edge of the world and fall off...Everybody leaves, if they get the chance...and this is my chance: I get eaten by the worms and weird fishes...(I hit the bottom...I hit the bottom and escape)."

*35) I Might Be Wrong-Radiohead--"I might be wrong. I might be wrong... But I swore I saw a light coming home. I used to think... I used to think that there was no future left at all... I used to think... Open up. Begin again. ...And never look back..."

*36) The Gloaming-Radiohead--"Genie let of the bottle: It is now the witching hour... Murders, you're murders--we are not the same as you. Genie let out of the bottle, funny how? funny how? When the walls bend, when the walls bend with you breathing (with you breathing)... They will suck you down to the other side... To the shadows blue and red (and your alarm bells... should be ringing)."

*37) Videotape-Radiohead--"When I'm at the pearly gates, this will be on my videotape. Mephistopheles is just beneath, and he's reaching up to grab me. This is one for the good days. I have it all here in red, blue, green. You are my center when I spin away, out of control on videotape. This is my way of saying goodbye, 'cause I can't do it face to face--I'm talking you on videotape after it's too late... No matter what happen now you shouldn't be afraid, because today has been the most beautiful day I've ever seen."

38) Planet Telex-Radiohead--"You can force it but it will not come. You can taste it but it will not form. You can crush it but it's always here. You can crush it but it's always near. Chasing you home saying: Everything is broken, Everyone is broken...Why can't you just forget?"

*39) Dollars and Cents-Radiohead--"we are the dollar and cents, and the pounds and pence, the mark and the yen...We are going to crack your little souls"

*40) Where I End and You Begin-Radiohead--"There's a gap in between. A gap where we meet. Where I end and you begin. I'm sorry for us. The dinosaurs roamed the earth. The sky turns green where I end and you begin. I am up in the clouds. I am up in the clouds and I can't come down. I can watch but not take part, where I end and where you start. Where you, you left me alone. "X" will mark the place like a parting of the waves. Like a house fallen in the sea... I will eat you alive... There will be no more lies... I will eat you alive."

*41) Cymbal Rush-Thom Yorke--"Don't turn away... don't turn away..."

*42) Atoms for Peace-Thom Yorke--"No more talk about the old days: It's time for something great... I want you to get out, and make it work."

43) How To Disappear Completely-Radiohead--"That man, that's not me: I go where I please. I walk through walls, I float down the Liffey... (I'm not here... This isn't happening.)"

44) No Surprises-Radiohead--"A heart that's full up like a landfill. A job that slowly kills you. Bruises that won't heal... You look so tired, unhappy: bring down the government: they don't speak for us. I'll take the quiet life, a handshake of carbon monoxide, with no alarms and no surprises..."

45) Exit Music (For a Film)-Radiohead--"Breathe, keep breathing: I can't do this alone... (And you can laugh, a spineless laugh... we hope you words and wisdom choke you)."

*46) Black Swan-Thom Yorke--People get crushed like biscuit crumbs, laid down in the bed you made...You have tried your best to please everyone, but it just isn't happening...And it is fucked up."

47) Motion Picture Soundtrack-Radiohead--"Cheap sex and silent films help me get back where I belong... I think you're crazy... maybe..."

48) Just-Radiohead--“You do it to yourself, and that’s what really hurts…”

49) Knives Out-Radiohead--"I want you to know he's not coming back. Look into my eyes.
I'm not coming back... If you'd been a dog they would have drowned you at birth..."

50) Last Flowers-Radiohead--"Cause I can't face the evening straight... you can offer me escape. Houses move and houses speak... If you take me then you'll get relief... relief, relief, relief, relief... It's too much, Too bright, Too powerful..."

*=songs you might particularly enjoy, as they are primarily groove oriented… the sort of songs you can tap your foot to, nod your head with, and begin bouncing upon—even if ever so slightly.

** Haruki Murakami, "After the Quake: Stories"
http://www.amazon.com/After-Quake-Stories-Haruki-Murakami/dp/0375713271/ref=sr_1_16?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1235389482&sr=8-16

"It compels me to speak as though I were Two." (or: A Chat with Cate)

"...I delude myself as to my solitude and lie my way back to multiplicity and love, for my heart shies away from believing that love is dead. It cannot bear the icy shivers of loneliest solitude. It compels me to speak as though I were Two." (Nietzsche, PTG, 18)

Today I spoke with Cate after too long a silence. I was at the Red Dragon after teaching, nursing my third gin and tonic--the boy Miko makes them doubles, which is quite nice (though he saw me watching his pour and sheepishly looked up and asked if it was too much and whether or not he should pour some out... I disabused him of the concern that there is ever such a thing as a drink "too strong").

It was her first day as an "Intelligence Analyst" for the NSA at Fort Meade. Before you begin to panic and fear I am a narc, please take a moment to note the hippie chick holding up her arm to show off the ridiculous sleeves that adorned our equally ridiculous gowns. Though, Cate's mom insisted I iron mine before going to the ceremony, and I heeded her advice and I am sure this made my own mother happy, because she would have been distraught over wrinkles in my gown.

There is, it turns out, a rather thorough vetting process for potential NSA Intelligence Analysts, and I one day in the Fall of '08 got a call from a man with the Dept. of Defense asking to set up an interview so he could ask me about Cate. I did my best not to compromise her integrity, and I succeeded, obviously, but there were a series of 25 or so questions at the end--"simply pro forma"--one of which was "Do you consider Cate to a patriotic American?" I didn't quite know how to answer, so I said something to the effect of, This is her home, and where her family and friends are, I don't think she would ever do anything to harm us. And then I asked if my interviewer could feel the chill of McCarthy's ghost run up his spine, too. He smiled and said "simply pro forma".

You can't see her nose rings in this picture because it's too small (the picture, that is), but apparently she doesn't have to take them out, and she gets to wear blue-jeans and skirts to work. Cate has "Classified: Top Secret" clearance and so when I asked her how her first day went and what she did, she replied, "I actually can't tell you." I then cursed the fact that blinking once for yes and two for no is useless over the phone.

I told her about the limbo status of my applications and she said that if I'm not accepted into a program this year she will have lost faith in the Academy, and will want nothing to do with it. She said I am bold, and daring, and imaginative, and brilliant--and she never uses that word. She said my work carries my voice, and is ambitious, and I am not afraid to take risks, like writing a paragraph-long historically accurate series of homoerotic sexual puns based on Thucydides as the lead-in for my statement of purpose, for instance.

This is the third time someone has recently said something to me along these lines. It's rather difficult, however, to feel any sense of confidence while awaiting a verdict on my ability to actually _do_ what may simply be the one thing I am quite good at, and love.

Yet, I lamented, it's very lonely. I fear I intimidate or worse, bore people, that I need to learn to stop always speaking in the voice of a perpetually awed student. And she scolded me at this, But that's who you are, it's how you see the world, and you want to share it with people, to have others see what you see.

(This is true of Cate, too: she would regularly interrupt me if something I'd said reminded her of a word she'd just learned in Arabic or Persian, and would go off about how in varied contexts it means x, y, or z, but in another context it means k or l, and sometimes m.)
Of course, she's right. And apart from feeling muzzled, I'd feel like I was depriving someone of just the coolest thing ever.

And I brought up "X" and admitted that brief affair might have been the most stimulating, satisfying relationship I've known. And she said it made perfect sense and then laughed and said, "Yes, brain sex!" In fact, he warned me when I was still so terribly hung-up and seeping life over Rachel that "We academic, intellectual types, need that--and it's very hard to find."

It's not only that I'm one of these academic, intellectual types, but everyone who has ever thought seriously about love insists that it must remain dynamic, in motion, responsive if it is to sustain the erotic tension that first gives it life. This, too, is how I understand the life of the mind--it must remain fluid, ever-curious, and eager to engage--itself and others. And isn't this just Freud's (purported) understanding of psychic health: to work and love (anangke and eros)? Freud apparently wrote a letter to his wife, Martha, expressing a desire I share (though, not for Martha, but for (a) "You"): "Couldn't I for once have you and the work at the same time?" (21 Oct. 1885)

I suppose I mention this, perhaps again(?!), because I fear I won't find someone I with whom I can have both work and love until I am in the throws of graduate studies, and that seems a long way off--and, again(?!), remains a future not yet guaranteed. There are of course interests, but having never done this before I'm quite terrible at the art of suave pursuit. I imagine I appear, well... like a student: too eager, too conscientious, too effusive. There is very little I can do about this: feigning disinterestedness reeks of Kant ("That is beautiful which gives us pleasure without interest"--but I say with Nietzsche, "Compare with this definition one framed by a genuine 'spectator' and artist--Stendhal, who once called the beautiful _une promesse de bonheur_.... that the beautiful _arouses the will_ ['interestedness']"
) and I like it when my "will" is aroused.

Anyway, it was wonderful to talk to Cate again. It was a terrible loss last June--not only the play of school work, but my friend, with whom I could spend hours talking, after one of us knocked on the other's door, as we did every day. I actually met one of my neighbors this weekend, and she, too, is a film-buff and lent me a box-set of Beckett's plays on film boasting top-notch actors and stellar directors. (Movie night anyone?) I actually have yet to leave a thank-you note on her door, and should probably do that today...

It is very exciting to think about Cate working for the NSA. I could imagine no one else I'd trust more with vital security information than her. And the mental image is delightful, too: Cate at a big, official-looking desk, I can't believe her feet manage to reach the floor, on a military base, with her nose-rings and long flowing skirt, looking over intercepted wire-taps.

Indeed, sometimes life is quite grand!


In my body, and a voice I care to hear bangs on the stone of my damn three times (not twice, like god ordained) and I pour forth

Before I broke my last "D" string in the unfortunate cold of this winter I obsessively recorded my "repertoire" in the closed-door echo chamber of my bathroom. After so many months of not hearing myself, I can say, I'm not half bad. Least offensive, surprisingly, is the intonation of my own voice. (What? My father vindicated?! I love the sound of my own voice!)

I grow to appreciate the daring and solitude of Nietzsche more and more. You (no scare quotes) said that you couldn't believe that people were actually the way they are. I haughtily thought at the time: you conflate trust and belief--the punch-line ran something like this: I've no belief, but I trust people are what they say/show/insist they are. Perhaps I believe, despite myself, because I refuse to believe it, and my trust is shaken.

Italians, at least from this particular town some of us know, laugh via Facebook chat as follows: "ihihi"
(and a particular italian offered to suck me off in my sleep. a few years too late, but i still appreciate the sentiment. he also says "hello!")

A perfect sentence: "Brothel paragraphs housing sentences needing diaphragms."

Whenever I listen to music through headphones while my Facebook page is up I sporadically hear the "blip" of a new chat message. An auditory hallucination, perhaps. But then, the bathroom off the foyer of my parent's condominium has a fan that replicates the sound of their telephone ringing. My sister hears it, too. Or she used to.

J.S. Mill commands no grasp of elegant syntax. His essays are so many pus-ridden, scabied anuses. One needs a ventilator to dare them, and a hot shower afterwards. I've made my first mistake as a professor in assigning him, which edifies two ways: 1) read first what you will be forced to teach later, 2) I was right: having now read Mill for the first time I can confidently affirm all that I charged last year--the man is a sniveling punk, a crony with ambitions of grandeur scuttled by an unresolved Oedipus conflict. (This is addressed to you, Greg.)

I am not ashamed of my judgments, nor my capacity to judge, but I do not like making people wince. I am not a Liberal--or any of that sorcery, which conjures Rights and Equality: I've ascended too high to be clawed down by guilt, and my wings have just now begun to fully expand. Not Truth, not Justice, but Beauty: an artist's experiment re-(re)staged: "Here lies one whose name was writ in water."

Once Alcibiades was about to get thrown in a wrestling match and he bit the hand of his opponent, who exclaimed: "Alcibiades, you bite like a woman." "No," replied Alcibiades, "like a lion." (From Plutarch)...
"Best rear no lion in your city, 'tis true;
But treat him like a lion if you do."
--"The Frogs" (a line delivered-over by Aeschylus, the Fritz Lang of Aristophanes' Hellenic New Wave "Contempt".)
Forget the Commic and the Old Guard, it's (un)time something new: I'm going to become a child soon, innocent and necessary.



I'm still listening to the archives of my "repertoire" but I seem to have forgotten that I spoke to the recorder as if to a live audience. For instance, "Well...uh, that was a kind of a... The majority of these songs are going to fall between one of two poles... Uh... Either, uh, the 'you broke my heart...please, fix it?' pole or the 'you broke my heart and I wish you were dead!'...haha... pole. And then there're a couple I wrote before... you broke my heart. Anyway, umm... And then there are some that I wrote when I was in love with you and changed to 'but then you broke my heart' and that's one of these..." (12.09.08--between "Open House" and "S/he Says," recorded in my bathroom). At another point I compare songs to a pair of jeans, saying, "you can just keep the jeans and buy a new sweater." I don't know what that was supposed to mean: moral: I can be too profound for myself, also.

Tonight it's been Magic Hat's seasonal "HI.P.A"--the first time in months beer and not wine. It all started at Little Jim's--why do all the "dive bars" in my life (in Chicago) bare a version of James--my father's nomen--for names? So I bought an old guy a beer. Yup, subverting normalizing regimes of power. He was a man whose cheeks resemble Voldemort's in the 4th film--waxen sheen and everything, and agitated eyes dodging between two TV screens as he made small talk. When Bobby Jindal came on screen he used a derogatory slur to ask who he was, but I didn't catch the epithet and replied, "The only Republican who can attack Obama without the risk of the taint of racism... and he wants to run for President in 2012."

Oh, and there's 10 dollars or so worth of a Mexican cuisine-styled antipasto in my fridge because I made it to Wholefoods before they closed--the first time in months I've had something in my fridge other than that square of butter: breakfast.

Myxomatosis (I twitch and I salivate)




Introduced in the UK and Australia to decimate indigenous rabbit populations in the early 50's, the Myxoma Virus is generally fatal, sporting such symptoms as: "lumps (myxomata) and puffiness around the head and genitals, then acute conjunctivitis and possibly blindness... The rabbits become listless, lose appetite, and develop a fever. Secondary bacterial infections occur in most cases which cause pneumonia and purulent inflammation of the lungs. In typical cases where the rabbit has no resistance, death takes an average of 13 days." (Thanks, Wikipedia!)




There is something perversely wonderful about the idea of humans introducing a virulent, cancer-causing virus into the world for purposes of "population control" fresh on the heels of the ghastly effort known as the Final Solution. Brecht said, "Grub first, then ethics." I suppose... but his was a sardonic quip, no?

The other day I was in a foul mood, which happens less and less frequently--which yielded a particularly concentrated cathexis. The topic of conversation was (specifically) the sorts of people one wishes to be around and (implicitly) whether or not one ought to aspire to inhuman(e?) virtues of hardness, distance, coldness, flight.
Though it is true, I was terrible, I also refuse to cede the capacity to drawn myself apart. In flattering language, this amounts to a willingness to call-out people like Fred Phelps of "g-d hates fags," or G.W.Bush for being a fascist, or Ratzinger for being an anti-Semite, ect. ect. No one balks at this ability, nor this practice, when it is directed at "safe" targets--those people "we all agree" are "bad/evil/ugly/ect" people.
My friend Paula and I occasionally return to the use of Foucault for politics. We agree, "sloppy scholarship, generally poorly developed arguments, and incendiary pronouncements for the sake of celebrity." But, we both agree with Frank (our mutual former professor) that once you read him, you wear his glasses, as it were, and can't see events/history/politics the same way again. Perhaps the onslaught of Myxomatosis.
What Foucault allows me, I can say, is the ability to read the commonly accepted as intimately bound-up, even to the point of perpetuating, the same power relations fought-against in insidiously new guises.
A point in case: gay marriage. Faggots and Dykes are not liberating themselves with this campaign. Rather, they are further enmeshing themselves in the fabric of a state, medical, and moral straight-jacket... Equality here amounts to the leveling of difference. (You hear this, too, in the counter-argument, supposedly "pomo": "we are destroying the difference between straight and gay partnership by demanding marriage.") What is lost, I fear, is the specificity of the queer figure, and the styles of life that color that experience. A friend works on gentrification, and we must learn to see culture--more strongly: our psyches--as threatened by the advances of everything the "nuclear family" represents.
That is, I refuse to cede difference, my own, my virtues. This came out poorly in conversation, mostly because I was exhausted, and in a foul mood--which happens less and less frequently. And yet, it's true: I would let the majority tear each other apart, a terror-stricken look in my eyes, but an ironic smirk on my lips.

It's about, I think, the courage to accept the vast out-put of socio-political jargon so many haplessly regurgitate without a moments pause is just so much poison, and to literally cut all ties, sever the umbilical cord that feeds us narcotic platitudes, and danger the brutal atmospheres of critique--that is, thinking from great heights without banisters.

I write this because often I topple from these heights, an Icarus who swoops too high, and I sound vulgar. I apologize for my vulgarity, and my exhaustion, and my foul mood.

Also, Track 12 off "Hail To the Thief," Radiohead's 6th studio album--subtitled, "Judge, Jury, & Executioner".

On Awkwardness: (or, An Open Invitation to Create a Word)

I've recently begun to hold the opinion that it is typical of the English language to be lacking in a word that adequately captures "awkward". Certainly, there is "awkward" but this invokes a beakish sort of person with acne and a squeaky voice who manages to say the silliest things at the most inopportune moments. That certainly isn't me, because I can be quite charming when in my element, and am certainly _not_ beakish, nor do I have a squeaky voice.
It must have something to do with context, I insist!

The OED is of some help, but for being the bastion of language I hoped for more.
For instance, as an adverb, "Awkward" suggests "Upside down; hindside foremost." That is, ass-backwards. Yes, that makes some sense, and probably accounts for why I always feel like an ass once the awkward social exchange has passed. But the image suggests moving backwards, as if blind, and this, too, makes sense, for upon reflection I always wonder why on earth I didn't see how what I'd said was wholly ridiculous and deserving of contempt.
As an adjective, and regarding persons, "Awkward" denotes, "Ungraceful, ungainly in action or form; uncouth." Yes, as ungainly as someone walking about ass-first trying to describe what is before them... But also, surprisingly, "Dangerous to meddle with." This makes no sense, because I can't imagine how my bungling a perfectly ordinary social interaction is dangerous, except unless of course one thinks metaphorically, and what it endangered is the possibility that I will ever be addressed in public again?...

Yes, this has a historical horizon. The Writer appeared, as if an apparition, and upon seeing him I hadn't the faintest idea how to address him. When the exchange finally initiated I managed to babble on about a toothache for entirely too long, and then--genius I am--suggested I am an alcoholic of such proportions that 3 days of sobriety prompted a bout of delirium tremens--which in hindsight is wholly impossible, and was, as I hastily attempted to add, in all likelihood my fever breaking.
Yet, what on earth compelled me to this line of conversation, I haven't a clue. I insist, it must be a matter of context.

This makes some sense. My friend Joseph is a relative "social butterfly" whereas I am, by all measures, relatively terrible at social situations. This may come as a surprise, but I insist, again, on context: you know me in roles, always already prescribed--The Barista, the Professor, the Provocateur, the Poster-of-These-Notes, the Date, ect, ect. Within the confines of these clearly defined roles, I am completely free, and indeed, revel in the capacity to render them somewhat malleable.
But, when the roles aren't established, or when they intersect like two live wires, I am--to quote the OED: "lacking dexterity or skill in performing their part." But with no part staked out, no mask painted, ready to be adorned, I am a miserable social actor. Yes, it is about acting, and acting well--or convincingly.

And I insist: it is about context! The OED does a shoddy job of establishing this, save the brief hint quoted above about stiff acting.
What word would capture this momentary lack of symbolic context? No, the Lacanian "Real" carries too much the valence of psychosis--though I must have sounded mad, it should be admitted.
So, an open invitation to help fabricate a word that captures the feeling of not being able to perform for lack of a discernible stage and/or script.
(Any smart-ass submissions of "freedom" or "potentiality" will be automatically disqualified.)

Also: I am not wanted by the AFT for bumming cigarettes. Your crude tubes of shredded cardboard, with your vulgar filters, disgust me, and I would rather chew off my left pinky-finger than bum a smoke from you. No offense.




Mirror, Mirror...

Apparently, according to two separate studies, bloggers are happier because they feel a closer and/or deeper connection to their friends and family.

(See Peter Sagal of "Wait, Wait... Don't Tell Me!" for the view of friends and family:

javascript:NPR.Player.openPlayer(101284777,null,%20null,%20NPR.Player.Action.PLAY_NOW,%20NPR.Player.Type.STORY,%20NPR.Player.Mode.LIVE) )

But, bloggers are also more likely to be depressed, anxious, and stressed--thus their purpose for turning to blogs. Apparently they tend to have highly cultivated super-egos, which find voice in their blogs--directed either internally, or externally.


http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2009/02/16/can-blogging-make-you-happier/

http://www.theage.com.au/news/web/bloggers-feel-more-connected/2008/03/04/1204402430340.html

"I Stand Before You As a God-Fearing Young Man" (who is 10 y/o, and also your Preacher)

I only caught the tail-end of this report, but it was so strikingly perverse, that I decided to listen to the whole thing (only what I heard wasn't exactly what I found online, but still, the idea is the same).
Apparently there is, in America, a growing population of pre-pubescent preachers. Some "chap" from the "Beebs" came over to do a report.
Most frightening in this report is the 8 y/o child pleading with women about to get abortions, "don't do this... God loves the little children... Repent!... We want you to go to heaven: THAT'S WHY WE'RE HERE!" (That last bit in full on "tantrum".)

One has to wonder where we have landed as a nation when our fellow citizens entrust their (spiritual) lives to 8 y/o children "preaching" the "word of god."
And then, remembering that these people vote, I propose the following piece of legislation:

If you answer "Yes" to the following question, you lose the right to vote and/or stand for office: Do you believe the Bible is the literal word of God?
It is a first step, I agree, but I figure if you can work with allegory, then there is the possibility of actual discourse.

In the version of the report I heard, a gentleman was making a fairly decent functionalist argument to explain the staggering, exponential growth of Evangelical Christianity, namely: if offers a spirit of community, and quite simply, in a Church people are more likely to be cared for, and in our country, where the is no universal healthcare, people flock to the comfort a Church offers.
Of course, we needn't, and mustn't divinize the State--that would be a nightmare of totalitarian proportions--but lack of political structure and authority yields in turn an increase in "private" structures and institutions, now apparently headed by children (and their rather twisted parents).
This is, as always with me, a political problem, and so it is necessary to begin formulating an adequate political response. This is decidedly _not_ about culture wars, and in this case live and let live is _not_ the prudent response.

The scourge of Christianity on our politics can only be eradicated by concerted political warfare (which must be subtle, and cunning). The "religious Nation" is a historically determined (Cold-War era) phenomenon, as was the more "modern" and cynical deployment of religion by conservatives, especially Reagan, to champion (white/conservative) economic (capitalistic) "self-sufficiency" over-against (black/liberal) economic (welfare) "parasitism" [and fags are included in this: our AIDs rallies were about demanding State funding for research and treatment].

A realizable political first-step is universal healthcare, and a second thereafter--though admittedly a more difficult action for our peers--is to insist on the severe separation of Church and State--which for queers should amount to defying the Congress to reform the tax code regarding the legal status of single v. married people; to refuse marriage and insist rather on a strictly "civil" recognition--or no recognition at all--of _all_ partnerships; and to ourselves step-away from the bait of fighting "straight, homophobic religion" with "queer, accepting religion" and depoliticize religion in our own community.

The fact of children preachers strikes me as bizarre as, no doubt, gay preachers must strike these same children preachers. Entrenched in two ideological beliefs... well, we remember WWI, and that didn't work out so kindly for anyone.
Politics, Schmitt writes, is about friend/enemy distinctions: choosing one's friends, and facing one's enemies. We have, as a community, forgotten what politics means. Our shared enemy is the growth of religious fervor in America--the numbers are simply against us--and those religious queers among us aren't exactly our friends, not, at least, insofar as they perpetuate a system of politicizing religion.

I recently had two different conversations with two different people. The first, with the Writer, regarded an invitation he received to some Secular Humanist conference, and, upon hearing they were "tolerant" of believers, promptly stated, (I paraphrase), "Fuck that, I'm not tolerant of you." The second conversation was so saccharin in its insistence on toleration, acceptance, and compassion (though, mind you, wholly intolerant of my intolerance), that though I didn't make the cheap rhetorical move (by this logic you must, too, accept and tolerate Nazis, the KKK, abortion-clinic bombers, ect, ect.) it was clear that had I, the point would have been lost anyway.
I am, of course, partial to the Writer's reply as it betrays my own desire to dispense with the niceties of Liberal guilt, and get down to business.

I don't typically write about religion, yet something about the idea of children preachers chills the bones. Democracies, sadly, are about numbers, and they have more babies than we do, and now their babies are at it. It is nice and all to rest happy on our laurels and congratulate ourselves for electing Obama, and thus far he has done an exceedingly brilliant job of disarming the Religious Right--the Rick Warren coup was genius--but the Religious Right are known for their patience (cf. "The Clinton Chronicals" [1994]--a film made by religious political players, which essentially laid the ground for later allegations of Clinton's immorality: the very lines W. ran on, viz. to "restore honor and dignity to the White House."). With a Democratic Senate, House, and Executive, and with Federal judges being appointed, our time to act is now.


[An addendum: Richard Dawkins spoke at Chicago last year, and the tone of the audience was much too reverential; and Dawkins, with his perfectly quaffed hair, seemed too much like the snake-oil salesmen he rails against so fervently. I am no fan of Dawkins, that is.]

http://richarddawkins.net/article,2483,The-Child-Preachers,John-McCarthy-BBC-Radio-4
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wVoaMlzvGIw&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sDT3FCJ3RcE