Thursday, March 19, 2009

Reply to a Reminder (which always remains)

"too frequently we forget those we engage with. they should never become mere faded memories, for each is vital to our experience..."

The first person with whom I slept, once it was clear I needed to--and wanted to--fuck again, was also a man I had the pleasure of actually loving. The actual word, "love," is overstatement, because in reality we were (and remain) two friends, good-looking, attracted to one another, and things fell into place as they did.
I would, perhaps, still be sleeping with this man, save that almost every act of care or affection conjured in my mind traces of the intimacy I had once lavished on my ex. His expression of intimacy was filtered through that screen, and I often was conflicted when lying in bed with him--seeing and smelling and touching his body, but haunted by the memories of my past.
Two things afflicted me: 1) I did not wish to loose the specificity of that previous relationship by engaging in intimacies that seemed to mimic it--I did not want the imprint of my ex to be covered-over by the actions of this man. 2) I was not ready for intimacy yet, nor did I really want it: I wanted to fuck, many, many people.--To learn new ways of being intimate, of being sexual--ways that did not bear the trace of the past.

The writer asked me if I invest myself in relationships after I shared how devastated I'd been by the actions of my ex. I was surprised by the question: of course, I should have said, love lives only and ever on the illusion of immortality. It is true, however: you allow a person in quite deep over so many shared experiences, you integrate them into your life, and you make them a trustee--as it were--of the future. My ex knew this, and made me bleed--something about revenge.
I told him, I'm not ready to bleed again, and the prospect of allowing someone under my skin in such a way as to give them access to my veins is wholly terrifying.
It will happen, as I know it will, and I welcome this vulnerability. But I haven't allowed it yet, and it won't be with just anyone.

I make a terrible fag in many respects, but in one pertinent respect in particular: I am quite terrible at the prolonged fuck-buddy arrangement. I do one night stands with ease, or I begin to fall in love.--But I can't fuck you, and withhold (or reveal) only some of myself: that seems most disingenuous. (This seems to be, so far as I can tell, what many gay men mean by "dating"--and understanding of the practice quite alien to me.)

So I fucked, and was fucked by, many men, most whose names I don't know. It was a simple affair, always, transacted with eyes, mediated by drink and dance music. And what I loved was not the body of the boy, but rather having successfully read the scene: I got to pass "Go" and collect my $200: it was a game, the rules of which intrigued me, the rules of which I mastered, and which ultimately bored me.
Before that ultimate boredom, however, I enjoyed the thrill of entering an erotically charged space alone, knowing, however, that I would find someone. It didn't matter who: it was playing the game that aroused me.

I call these men, poetically, my ghosts. They have left their traces--no two bodies are alike--but they lack substance, names, or any real specificity. To say the memory of them has faded is already to mis(s)-speak: they never existed as anything other than already faded memories: beings who I never saw, never really spoke to, and never really remembered.
What endures of that summer, rather, is my own body: pristine, confirmed in its beauty and desirability, versed in new ways of cumming and making cum.
(And yes, all of this in the humid air of alley-ways behind Berlin.--I value public sex, not only for the thrill it engenders, but also for the opportunity to experience, in public, moments of vulnerability and nakedness otherwise barred in gay communal life--and especially in heteronormative society. Here drunk Wrigleyville boys can hurl half-empty beer bottles at you, or a voyeur may pause, watch and jerk off, or some boy may come and join in.--All this happens, and there is no predicting it: it is the revolutionary moment, perhaps: to begin something in public, the scope of which cannot be contained.)

I pause, occasionally, and especially when reminded of the vital role each of these "ghosts" has played in my own (new-[re-]born) self-understanding to consider the ethical dimension of my time with them. Is it a failure on my part to deny them memory? Sappho and Heraclitus both damn those they consider enemies to oblivion: no one will remember you, they swear. Was my time with each exploitative?
I do not, as you know, and might have further gleaned from my comments in class tonight, believe that sex is the pursuit of the orgasm. At least not exclusively. But the line I draw, namely, intimacy, creates a hierarchy between the sex I have had--and would like to have again--with people I care for and about, and the random, anonymous fucking I enjoyed last summer.
There was an intimacy in play, as I said, only it was directed towards myself: an affirmation, if you will, that the orgasm confirmed: a series of "little deaths" (to quote Freud) that solidified the life I was stylizing.
I'd like to think, however, that sex is also capable of speaking on two registers simultaneously: as both self-affirmation, and affirmation of the pleasures of the Other. In that regard, sex becomes a means of communication (cliche)--that is, political, and capable of erecting relationships of intimacy, that is: of ethical care.
Friendship, I would argue, is this relationship sans the sex--or with it, though I've yet to brave those rapids.

I am, as I said tonight, a pessimist, a Nietzschean pessimist: There is the possibility for something new--perhaps, and of course, redemptive--but this possibility is very small, and constantly diminishing. So too, are my memories, and the multiplicity of names, faces, and slight arousals that might have caught my attention for a quarter of an hour. This is necessary: I will be done with things, finally, and not become a dyspeptic: for what I forget allows me to remember something new: a limited economy always, lean, and not bloated or constipated with memories.
Further, my body bears these memories implicitly: I never knew their names, but I learned how to make them cum, and it has not forgotten this. Just as I know--from memories my muscles knot into their sinews--how the hands suddenly become birds, or how my brow carves itself into a furrow when again a student: these memories have no names, or they have too many names, too many ingested lessons--subtle and insidious--that nourish me.

There is a certain irony regarding the authorship of the above quotation, though I cannot share. But yes, we give life, hoping always that it will not be killed, or maltreated, or simply ignored. And what of accepting a gift--the gift of being stimulated in life itself?
Indeed, an economy of gifts, through not in vulgar commodities, surpluses, and properties (proprieties). How does one "re-pay" the gift of the pleasure of feeling fully stimulated in aliveness?
A question of intimacies, of so many questions, all with unique voices: and these I never forget.

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