Saturday, May 30, 2009

Oh look at the trees and look at my face (And look at a place far away from here)

Today was simply lovely.

I got paid my meager fee for services rendered as a tutor--In that regard I feel like Raskolnikov, Dostoyevsky's poor ex-student murderer "pale criminal," which makes Joseph or Matthias my Razumikhin I suppose. I imagine I am drawn to these figures, these guilty criminals weighed by bad conscience, because I see myself in them: guilty, alone in his deed, tortured by silence. These figures, all so many allegories of the self-overcoming man (ubermensch), baring their teeth, striking for the neck of Christian morality, igniting their very bodies to cast away the shadow of that murdered God.

Mik and his boyfriend Michael hosted a picnic at a park on the lake by their apartment and somehow I became grill-master. If anyone gets food poisoning, I apologize now--but really: I haven't "cooked" (unless one counts a microwave) in at least a year. And the whole operation was wholly ad hoc. But we had fun, and that was most important. We were graced with gorgeous weather and our bodies reveled in the vitamin D we absorbed. Positioned right beside a sign boasting the rules of the park we chose, in stead, to read the list of prohibitions as a check-list of Musts: open flames, unleashed dogs, and alcohol. At one point a little Eastern Bloc boy wandered up to us as said, "Is this a party?" And incapable of resisting the temptation, we gaggle of fags (for the lesbians had left at this point) splayed out on a blanket, offered him our wieners and a piece of fruit cake. His father, a very severe looking man--short, mustached, wary--quickly recalled his son to his side, back to safety.

As they departed to see "Hedwig" I stopped at Metropolis and sipped an espresso while soaking in the lewdly resplendent prose of Genet's "Querelle". They closed shortly after I arrived, so my stay was short, but I did not mind the reason to ride home while the sun was still out. As I rode into my little alley I spotted a book case, and as it looked in good shape and hadn't rained, I deposited my bicycle and hauled the load up to my apartment. I now can proudly declare that none of my books (save a trifling handful) are on the floor. I slowly inch towards respectability. It's taken two years to get book cases. But now I have them. The problem lies in this: as soon as school starts again, I will need more book-space, which means replacing a bookshelf for a bigger one. But that can be done easily enough.

This picnic also brought to the fore my subterranean desire for a boyfriend. There is a boy who, if he asked "Do you love me?" I would have to reply: "Something like that, yeah." But that's a question that won't be asked, and there is no point in looking for something that isn't there (... Shine a Light). I believe I was, with a sole exception, the only single person at this little gathering. Not that I am desperate for a relationship--My pride denies me the possibility of "settling" for anyone who I imagine beneath me. I long for an equal, an adversary who can match me: a man "like only to himself, liberated again from morality of custom, autonomous and supramoral (for 'autonomous' and 'moral' are mutually exclusive), in short, the man who has his own independent, protracted will and the right to make promises--and in him a proud conscience, quivering in every muscle, of what has at length been achieved and become flesh in him, a consciousness of his own power and freedom, a sensation of mankind come to completion." (Nietzsche, GM II, 2) With such a man love is intimate only to the extent it strives to actualize, embody, Heraclitus's cosmic struggle.

The mistake many make, I feel, when it comes to love resides in the confusion stemming from an ontological misunderstanding: What is loved, in reality, is who someone is, which--precisely because it is intangible by virtue of its status as a Da-Sein (a being-there, not a is-here), that is, as futurity as such--is mistaken, subordinated to the "present" attributes, qualities, descriptors that constitute solely what that someone is like, does/did, ect. Who is loved, that is, is he who is not yet. What then is recognizable? How can one, in essence, love nothing? One loves "nothing" in the sense that Sartre understands Nothingness to be the site of freedom and responsibility: One loves--desires, anticipates--the Other's self-creation. As far back as Plato and Aristotle, what binds friends and lovers has always been their shared ideals--difference in identity--plurality in unity: One loves the companionship of a fellow noble soul, a proud conscience. In Aristotle's understanding, another self, another self in the Nietzschean sense of being a who "like only to himself." The metaphysical prejudice that elides who someone will-be by privileging what they are results only ever in the reification of the Other, thwarted expectations, atrophy: the end of love.

Love, rather, is a dance--a tango, perhaps.

Like it, Daring (We Live the Opposite/Daring--Sappho)

On Walking Backwards
My mother forbad us to walk backwards. That
is how the dead walk, she would say. Where did
she get this idea? Perhaps from a bad transla-
tion. The dead, after all, do not walk backwards
but they do walk behind us. They have no lungs
and cannot call out but would love for us to
turn around. They are victims of love, many of
them.

Betwixt Thee and Me Let There Be Truth

     Despite his professed cult of youth and pleasure,
     he knows moral worry.

At the boarder crossing all I could heard was your pulse
  and the wind combing along my earbone
     like antimatter

VII. BUT TO HONOR TRUTH WHICH IS SMOOTH DIVINE
AND LIVES AMONG THE GODS WE MUST (WITH PLATO)
DANCE LYING WHICH LIVES DOWN BELOW AMID THE
MASS OF MEN BOTH TRAGIC AND ROUGH
All myth is an enriched pattern,
a two-faced proposition,
allowing its operator to say one thing and mean another, to lead a double life.
Hence the notion found early in ancient thought that all poets are liars.
And from the true lies of poetry
trickled out a question.

What really connects words and things?
[...]

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Reflex-ions (or: You're Old Enough Boy, Too Many Summers You've Enjoyed)

I loathe money, not the actual thing of it, but how much I love having it. I love having money--the luxury it affords, the ease of life it enables, and the authority it bestows--so very much that I quickly get rid of all it as decadently as possible. Vestiges of bourgeois guilt, no doubt. This simply means that I am often broke. (Or a compulsive spender... and an alcoholic--drunk just sounds vulgar, like when people say I am "addicted" to cigarettes: hardly: I simply can't live without the sweet pleasure of always having release when I want it.)

This evening I attempted to write my first bad check--that is, a check I know would bounce--and I would have gotten away with it had I been the proud bearer of an Illinois state identification card or drivers license. But, I refuse to let go of my status as a New York citizen; I simply live in Chicago: when it comes to it, my body was formed in NY. Livid, and now panicked, I decided to recall some old tricks from my youth, from days when, broke but desperate to get to NYC, I would hop trains and hide in the bathroom while the conductors made their rounds. The thrill of hiding from these men in a cell reeking of piss, floors matted with moist and shit-smeared toilet paper--the pleasure of evading their gaze, the joy of stealing into the city to lead a deviant life: the beauty of a criminal at the apex of his anxiety.

But I've changed since, I suppose. Those furtive glances necessary for a petty crook to ply his trade, to dodge the call of Law, they do not come so easily any more. No doubt, the abjected life of a highschool kid terrorized by juiced-up goons equips one with the needed tension in the jaw, the constant to the point of soothing ache in hunched shoulders, the quickness of stride to adopt a criminal life. But, until recently, I haven't been called a faggot; I don't seek out in faces the momentary glimmer of violence that allowed me to survive. Now, should I even deign to look at anyone's face as I walk down a street, it is with a sneer or an indifferent contempt. Unless, of course, I'm in Boystown, in which case I also can conjure a seductive smile, but nothing permanent.

I made my way to work, though I didn't hide in bathroom stalls. Rather, by some small, quotidian moment of charity (more on that in a moment) the conductor ignored the fact that my 10 ride ticket was extinguished and clipped away at it anyway, adding as he slid the rumpled card into its slot, "This is used up now." His charity and my ticket. Punctured, shot-through: dead-now. The shame of poverty lies in its reliance on charity. Nietzsche writes, "The magnanimous person... strikes me as a person with a most extreme thirst for vengeance, who sees satisfaction nearby and drinks it down already in imagination...." In accepting charity one becomes a body to be drained by the vampiric desire for revenge. One must suffer the haughtiness of one's "benefactor"-- drink his "gift" (in German "gift" is "poison"--a transliteration that sustains the nobility of those people, and the feeble-mindedness of ours).

I lashed out--I was bold, reckless, daring: dangerous. As I boarded the train to come home I walked by a coterie of teenagers and snagged one of their tickets, like it was a low-hanging apple and I was bandit enjoying the redeeming shadows of twilight, skipping through an orchard outside the town where my victim would soon be discovered. The boy whose ticket it was saw my theft and just as I sat confronted me, but my pride repelled him, like heat casts away a moth from the glimmer of a flame. "You don't need it any more," I snapped matter of factly and he said something about knowing where I was at if he did. The conductor came round as I was fumbling to slide the stolen ride home into its catch and helped me get it in before continuing down the aisle of the train car. I bounded up, very nearly pranced down the stairs and into the adjacent car where this gaggle of children were sitting, and with a flippant "thanks for the loan" restored his ticket to its rightful place. As I made my way back to my own seat my fellow passengers lavished me with grimaces, sneers, and whispered condemnations.

The life of poverty, like the life of criminality, needs its poetry, it's particular poetics of style, an aesthetic jarring and horrific, and undeniably seductive. A life that learns to bare its teeth in a snarl when it smiles. The criminal, the poor man, is the last living Romantic--he has only the majesty of his imagination to robe his otherwise exposed body. His vices are his charms, his indifference is his futurity, his desperation solidifies his pride around him like a thick, leathery a(r)mo(u)r. 

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Don't Let Him Bleed Under Your Nails

The California Supreme Court issued a ruling today that many amongst us have gotten rather pissy about. It's worth looking at what the Court thought it's task was.

From the preamble:
 "Second, it also is necessary to understand that the legal issues before us in this case are entirely distinct from those that were presented in either Lockyer or the Marriage Cases.  Unlike the issues that were before us in those cases, the issues facing us here do not concern a public official’s authority (or lack of authority) to refuse to comply with his or her ministerial duty to enforce a statute on the basis of the official’s personal view that the statute is unconstitutional, or the validity (or invalidity) of a statutory provision limiting marriage to a union between a man and a woman under state constitutional provisions that do not expressly permit or prescribe such a limitation. Instead, the principal issue before us concerns the scope of the right of the people, under the provisions of the California Constitution, to change or alter the state Constitution itself through the initiative process so as to incorporate such a limitation as an explicit section of the state Constitution." (Cf. full opinion here--emphasis in original)

If we take the Court at its word (and I see little to no reason why we shouldn't), this decision had little, if anything, to do with the rights of gay people to marry. Rather, they saw the question before them to be: can people of California alter the Constitution through the initiative system? They ruled that citizens can, and to that extent, I agree with them whole-heartedly. Further, they go to great lengths to argue that their initial ruling on marriage rights for gays was made prior to the Constitutional amendment, and was thereby democratically "vetoed," if you will, by Prop 8. However, Prop 8 itself can be overturned through popular balloting, too.

Unlike many of my peers, I do not see this as a defeat, nor do I think that the Court betrayed any hostility towards the cause of equality before the law. Rather, they affirmed the right of citizens to change the law. (And very nearly encouraged California's citizens to take up the issue next year and put it on the ballot again when they wrote: "...our task in the present proceeding is not to determine whether the provision at issue is wise or sound as a matter of policy or whether we, as individuals, believe it should be a part of the California Constitution.  Regardless of our views as individuals on this question of policy, we recognize as judges and as a court our responsibility to confine our consideration to a determination of the constitutional validity and legal effect of the measure in question.  It bears emphasis in this regard that our role is limited to interpreting and applying the principles and rules embodied in the California Constitution, setting aside our own personal beliefs and values.")

The other side of this coin is that those who support the amendment effected by Prop 8 are gravely mistaken if they see this as a victory. The Court did very little more than affirm the initiative system; it did not uphold Prop 8 in itself. (Quite the contrary, given the Court allowed to stand the legality of all marriages prior to Prop 8's passage.)

I think, perhaps paradoxically, the Court gave the Queer community in California, and nation-wide, too, the necessary shot in the arm it needed. We have become too accustomed to judges issuing opinions that favor their cause rather than actually make our case to the broad public. The irony of our so very posh "Milk" fervor is that his actual political action is ignored: the man traveled the whole state and formed expansive coalitions that utilized grassroots outreach to defeat the Briggs Initiative (Prop 6). We need more of that, if in fact we want to have the right to marry, and less whining about how Justices are homophobes or confused or what have you. This is the time for real politics.

I Tell My Love To Wreck It All

He understood nonetheless the gravity of that stare, which at that moment expressed total human despair. But at the same time, in his mind, he was shrugging his shoulders and thinking:
"Faggot!"
He despised the officer. He kept on smiling, allowing himself to be lulled by the monstrous and ill-defined notion of "faggot" sweeping back and forth inside his head.
"Faggot, what's a faggot? One who lets other guys screw him in the ass?" he thought. And gradually, while his smile faded, lines of distain appeared at the corners of his mouth. Then again, another phrase drifted through his mind, inducing a vague feeling of torpor: "Me, I'm one too."
--"Querelle," Jean Genet

It is quite the contrast moving from the vacuity of "Kept Boy"--which I started only as a joke, really--to Genet. Why don't more fags read Genet? And what of the "band of outlaws" Genet was a prominent member of which included Foucault, Daniel Defert, Sartre, Angela Davis, and many other prominent (often queer) intellectuals? Then, I answer my own question: we are too busy reading "Kept Boy". I long for the university so that I can, again, move among my equals. While the Vegan is a dear, he refrains from moving on an intellectual level most of the time, unless necessary--and I don't fault him this compartmentalization. The German is wonderful, but we've often discussed our love-lives. It was, no surprise, with the Writer that I found intellectual and erotic stimulation. He has a boyfriend now.

A brief note on Sartre: he has a way of destroying what he values. For Fanon he destroyed the vitality of the negritude movement of Senghor and Cesaire, and for Genet--with the publication of "Saint Genet"--he stymied the author's confidence to such a degree that he was launched into a massive depression. Of course, the relationship between Sartre and Fanon is more comfortably bandied about than that of Sartre and Genet--a reticence on the part of many academics to approach questions of sex and sexuality, especially between men.

Capture the image: I am on the beach in Naples, FL surrounded by highschool Dude-Bros-in-training (it was Memorial Day and no one had school) laid out on my pink towel in my skimpy black swim-trunks reading Genet. Some guy walked by and with a mixture of disgust and wonderment asked, "What the fuck is that?" It was a little unsettling, but then, I think what was so disturbing was the image of a sexualized male body. When you think about it, men do not sexualize themselves--they do not expose flesh except for their biceps in "normal" life, and when on a beach, they actively work to cover their genitals and ass--sometimes by wearing underpants underneath their bathing suits. Hence the appellation, "that," as though I was something alien, unrecognizable and dangerous: the surging force of the male body, refusing atrophy.

I'm a bit tender from my time on the beach and so I think I'll take it easy today. I want to see the Terminator movie (Guilty pleasures: Christian Bale, senseless but visually pleasing violence, and post-apocalyptic messianism). We shall see if we can get Gramsy into the theater, for I am wholly broke--per usual. But at least I start my career as a "sex educator" when I get back which means pay checks, even if meager, and blog-posts! I have to come up with a lovely name.

Monday, May 25, 2009

A Brief Aside on Our Fast Approaching Suicide

One of the paper topics I assigned my students was to perform a Foucaultian critique of a television advertisement after a friend posted an advert on Facebook for Sprint's "4G Network." A number of them wrote stellar papers reading the insidious normalizing and regulatory influences of discursive power in the adverts they chose. It was, I think, something of a coup to get these students to start "seeing" what is barely under the surface of the culture they unreflectively consume.

I am reminded of a beautiful story in the Pentateuch where G-d orders Joshua to prepare his army by having his men drink from the river. Take only those men who cup the water in their hands before drinking it, and not those who simply slurp the water straight from the shore. This reduced his forces to a third of his men, but they still won the battle. The metaphor, I think, is striking: look at what goes into your body, know what is nourishing you.

I am proud of that assignment because, on our last day, I shared with my students that I consider myself successful if some of them, on occasion, don "Foucault's glasses" to see what is before their eyes. A number of them, with true excitement, exclaimed that, in fact, they had caught themselves doing just that in recent days. I beamed!

Last night, before bed, I watched some television--an episode of "Law and Order: SVU"--and was horrified by the technics of power operative in the show. The episode was about a pedophile and the comparison repeatedly made was to the "naturalness" of their desire, just like a homosexual's. For those of us who think it is a dangerous elision of politics and critique to retreat into a position of biological determinism this episode exposes both the prevalence of this ideological commitment, and the dangers associated with it: in the name of "science" we get a new nihilism: all is permitted, for all is "natural." (The Greeks, in their "superficial profundity," knew well enough to distinguish between what is convention and what is "by  nature"--we would do well to re-examine that profundity.)

And, of course, there is Fox News, which now boasts a show called "Red Eye" and last night they were "discussing" an 8 y/o transgender child for the purpose of denigrating the whole idea. What was so wholly terrifying was the following: the show featured a "panel" that included a puppet of the NYTimes, Andrew WK, a gay man, and a "via satellite" Dude-Bro (ostensibly the "voice of common sense").  Fox News is the face of what Sheldon Wolin calls "soft totalitarianism" in action, an ideological structure that creates a "mirror reality" inside the factual common world. We would do well to crack open Hannah Arendt's Origins of Totalitarianism and read it alongside Foucault's Discipline and Punish...

Sunday, May 24, 2009

I'd Give My Body To be Back Again... to be alone with you

The proverbial "shoe" dropped with my Gramsy tonight. It was somewhat ugly, but also civil. Her hypothesis ran something on the order of "molestation/rape leads to homosexuality." Needless to say, it is a wholly bullshit rationale, and I quickly told her so. It is strange: the man who "raped" me was himself gay, a youth pastor in his mid-thirties, very good-looking, but fundamentally tortured by his sense of sexuality. I don't know what the deal is with Catholic priests--and I resist totally any comparison: there was no imposed celibacy. But it is quite clear to me that this man, had he not been plagued by guilt over his sexuality, would have been an open gay man--maybe even happy.

I told her the history she did not know when I told her that God fucked him up, and not that he was simply fucked up--she objected to the idea that God could ever harm a human being. (When we passed a church sign that read: "The acid test of faith is obedience" she said, "Obedience to what?: love one another." It is wholly bizarre that for someone who thinks that also votes Republican--for PALIN!--and misses the many ways in which "God" has been used to hurt very many.... Not to mention: obedience is for dogs and slaves.)

I explained that my relationship with YP began because my parents wanted me to "see someone" to "help me "deal" with (read: "cure") my homosexual desires. Of course, YP was himself a closeted and deeply conflicted homosexual. The irony of our early morning breakfasts before he drove me to school lies in his attempts to prove to himself, not me, that homosexuality was a sin. As I mounted spirited and rather shameless counter-arguments (I've always moved on the register of the mind) it was clear that rather than convince me of the error of my ways, I was convincing him of the error of his.

When he made a move--and how timely to be writing about this, because it was Memorial Day weekend 1999, I'd just turned 16--I never said "No." In fact, I was excited by it--later that afternoon I sucked off another boy from church in the very bed I'd shared with this man, which, as it happened to be, was my cousin's bed. Of course, his advance was a misreading of my desire, and my acceptance was also a misreading of my desire. I didn't know I could say "No," or that I even wanted to--I felt something was "owed" to him for wanting me: that the risk of his advance had to be repaid with my acceptance of his advance. There are vestiges of this morality at play when I hustle drinks: I feel I owe the man who pays my time for the duration of my drink. In fact, I wanted the cute boy I later sucked-off; if he had simply said, "I find you attractive, and I'm sure others do, too" I'm pretty sure things would have worked out better for both of us.

Obviously, however, it wasn't as simple as receiving validation of my queer desire through his advances. Our Memorial Day morning also exposed his hypocrisy. And what was validated was something "shameful" in that it wasn't supposed to happen, and certainly not with him. It's only with this much time, and after much (necessary) analysis of the whole affair that I realize my rage at him stems from this three fold injunction that issued from his act: be ashamed, hide yourself in hypocrisy, and sex/desire is simply an exchange of obligations. I refused all three postures, though, as stated above, the last has proved hardest to overcome--and the most traumatic: for it was "rape" only insofar as he betrayed my trust and exploited the (Christian) moral imperative to repay all debts. 

He hanged himself in September; a mixture of fear that I would tell someone coupled with his own guilt led him to suicide. In hindsight, the guilt was no doubt two-fold: he knew, like I did, that he had abused the dynamics of our relationship, but he also gave into forbidden passions: his desire had become criminal. He did not flee legal prosecution (I had considered it, but didn't want to be a "victim"--his crime was "spiritual" or ethical, if you will, and a law court could never judge that)--rather, he fled being "outed" and having to confront that "truth" of himself. 

It's strange: the last time I was alone visiting my Gramsy once asked me in what I thought was a wholly perverse question when I would forgive YP. I told her, "Never." And though it is impossible to forgive him--he is not here to ask, and I don't think one can just "surface" to re-quest such a thing and then disappear again--I do now understand more of what must have been going on in his head. That is to say, I'm not as angry at him any more. In no small measure that is because, contra my Gramsy's terrible logic, I no longer stand under the full cast of his shadow: I am a proudly out gay man, I have cut God's throat and built a pyre in his tomb to dispel his shadow should he dare spectral apparition, I have many beautiful and loving friends, and I have a family that--more or less--is not judgmental of my life. And, perhaps most importantly, I have fallen in love--even if unrequited--and know that it is possible, not just a tantalizing phantasy (fuck jouissance!) as it must have been for YP.

(Concluding Unscientific Postscript: Sokrates was telling me about the bizarre "certainty" of most gay men he knows with HIV of how they caught the bug. "One listens to these men tell their (hi)stories and can't help but see the fantastic construction of the narrative they tell themselves." Like these men, I too am weaving a fantastic construction in this narrative. While quasi-confessional--I would add "therapeutic" but isn't that a redundancy?--I recently replied to a post of the Writer's that addressed the importance of "necessary fictions," that is: fantasy. Unlike the obtuse analyst or the priest I acknowledge that it is just a narrative I live by, one that has the power to bind my deeds to my words--my ethos--but which is contingent, plastic enough to allow for--and encourage when necessary--change: Nietzsche's insistence on the health of the body: a philosophy of life predicated on the "truth" of fiction. Rephrased: these is only so many words necessary to live--there is no Truth here; just a smile.)

Saturday, May 23, 2009

"He had chosen a life among thieves and spoke their argot."

It's good to know that NYC still has space for public play. Sokrates told me about the various exploits that would color Central Park in the 80's, and how Guilliani destroyed these ad hoc spaces by simply cutting back foliage. Well, the shadows of a walk-down stoop was my/our space Friday--and really it was Fate that this dark corner opened itself up, on my way to my mother's car no less (it would have been wholly embarrassing trying to explain why semen was on her passenger seat). A boy who undoubtedly is feverishly searching for my name on Facebook, knowing that there is a very short chain of bodies that connect him to me. And this, the incestuousness of the whole fucking endeavor, is perhaps why I have ceased to be moved by concerns on the order Sokrates raised last night. 

Last night I saw Sokrates at his regular Greek eatery and we spent a wonderful four hours together, though I felt like I did far too much talking--but then, that's typical of me, and I'm still unlearning student/professor dynamics where asking after one's private life wasn't really kosher. 

It was Morrissey's 50th birthday yesterday and to celebrate I met up with Joseph and Lucy and Lee at some queer bar (it actually said "QUEER BAR" in pink on the bottom of the door) titled, cleverly, "Nowhere". Now you can answer, "Nowhere is on the south side of 14th between 1st and 2nd." It was kind of a dead scene, actually, and apparently there are a number of "posh" "mixed" bars in this area (and mixed because fags are allowed, posh for the same reason--I loathe the degree to which a cute queer couple is so quickly transmuted--as if by the heterosexual alchemy of cultural capitalism--into the equivalent of a good DJ or drink special: just another reason the bar is worth going to).

The good news is that my cousin--also a fag--was across the street and I was able catch up with him, the first time for us as two out boys. It was wonderful when I asked how his mother took the news, as she is a bit of a fundamentalist loon (at most times). He said she felt guilty for making him feel like he couldn't have been more honest with her. For everyone else in the family it was an open secret, except with me, for whom it was a shared confession we had exchanged so many (10!) years ago. I think it's good that my aunt felt guilty. She was so deep in her myopic bullshit, and was so hellbent to convince me that in fact I had just succumbed to "a phase"--conversations she had with me in front of her son.

It's funny because if I hadn't simply been mad as fuck in highschool I would have retreated into a posture of assimilationism. I properly met the younger, and now out, brother of one of my main antagonists when I was in highschool. It was so wholly perverse. He began apologizing for his brother--standard doer behind the deed metaphysical nonsense--and I had to interrupt him by informing him, "I don't talk about high school any more." But I had Rimbaud, and I just met another friend--Jean Genet. I know it is wholly perverse to be an intellectual queer and not have read Genet yet, but I am, alas, largely illiterate when it comes to literature: the world is the text I read. But I've started "Querelle," and I love it. It is sort of anti-Billy Budd, which made me think of the Writer. (I need to stop doing that.)

My mother wants to come visit me. I am reminded of a passage from a French novel "Dans mon chambre" in an essay of Bersani's where the quasi-autobiographical narrator says of the gay ghetto where he lives, (and I paraphrase), here everything is allowed, except perhaps working and one's family. It's true, too, I think. The countless times I've seen anxious fags with their parent(s) at the cafe, looking around furtively, hoping not to encounter a former lover; while the parent(s), with equal anxiety--though of a different type--glance around wondering which sort of man is "harming" their son... It's a bizarre scene, and not one I wish to enact. I'll have to talk to the German to see if anything can be done about it--if a plan of action is workable that does not entail traipsing about Boystown.

Anyway, in Florida, and the air is gloriously heavy and hot. Off to the pool!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Wednesday night was spent in the East Village with Ghazi and Joseph and their respective girlfriends, Charmane (sp?) and Lucia (Lucy), making it a night of reunions and introductions. I also met Ghazi's main interlocutor at NYU--more on Anna in a moment.
The bartender Eyrn (add "NIS" and she is a Fury!) was phenomenal and made me a Negroi that was to die for (actually, two). Then, towards the end of the night, she whipped up a martini using Bols Genever--a forerunner to our gin. The Writer would like this stuff, I think, because it has the faintest hint of an earthy sake finish, while being a smooth gin going down.



After the bar we picked up some coffee and Bali Shag--the tobacconist in my parent's very, very vanilla town--the town where I grew up--ceased to carry my brand after I left--and we all went for a walk down the East River. Lucy and I had some good bonding time together as we walked, much to Joseph's discomfort, though he should have known better than to think I would ever malign him.

Thursday started with a drive down to Penn Station to drop off the sister--she's back in DC and our family reunion is over. But before we left we had a grand old time playing "Apples to Apples"--which only made me think for Adam 4 Adam. To our horror my Mother and I share a distinct sensibility when it comes to metonymy--perhaps this is why I still have to work so hard to overcome my past. *And no, that does not imply a Hegelian-structuralist dichotomy between "untamed," natural Woman/orderly, spiritual Man--simply: my mother is a paranoiac neurotic to the highest degree.*

After unloading my charge, I drove down to the West Village and spent 45min. traversing the old Dutch cobblestone streets in search for free parking, which I finally found. The whole episode proved to me that I could never live in a city with a car. I missed my bicycle in those minutes.

After leaving my car to the Fates I met up with Anna and her girlfriend in Washington Square Park. Anna, Ghazi's good friend in their department, is simply wonderful, and her g/f, Alexis will be going off to MAPSS in the Fall and we shot the shit about the program, Chicago, queer theory, transgender politics, and countless other wonderful distractions. It was a wonderful afternoon spent with two amazingly intelligent and simply good people--a rare combination. Alexis will do really well in the program, I think. She knows what she wants and has no inflated expectations--plus, she is hip to petty academic politics.

Paula met us in the park and whisked me away for Indian, which was incredibly generous of her. She looks well--gorgeous, actually. Running has been good for her overall well-being, I think. It was wonderful to see her again, and when we are both well. We tried, once, to do the "I'll take care of you if you take care of me" thing to distract ourselves from our own bullshit, and maybe I am responsible for pulling-out of that arrangement, but it didn't work very well. What has happened instead, however, where we both take care of ourselves, has served to be quite effective.
I really hope she and Ghazi reconcile, soon. It's clear she misses him, and it's equally clear that she's miles away from the head-space she was in when they fell-out. One can hope.

Walking back from the East Side to my car entailed a second detour through Washington Square, where I saw two former lovers. Apparently NYC is small, too. Though, one of them was with a beautiful boy, and that made me a bit jealous: there is nothing more unforgivable, I think, than a beautiful boy paired with a mediocre looking chappie. Perhaps why I am still single: I refuse to be part of an unbalanced relationship--and yes, my narcissism is quite profound: Nietzsche's ethics: do unto others, only if they are worthy of doing unto you. But then, that's also Lacanian/Freudian "desire": desire is for being desired, and one only wants to be desired by the best.

Fully sated on korma and nan Paula and I tried our best to keep up appearances, but she had run all day (6 miles! or more!) and I was still tired from the night before and spent all day baking in the park, so we finally gave up and I drove her home before promptly crashing once I got home---though not before chatting with a boy who found me on FB: very pretty, and a NYC partisan. And then there is this absolutely adorable and shy boy... We will see when I get back to Chicago. In the meantime I'm going to see Morris, celebrate Morrissey's birthday, and get a tan with Gramsy (pronounced "Gramsci").

I'm going to miss NYC--though I've realized what a wasteland my hometown is: yes, very rich, but no sense of culture: the boorish, gaudy Bourgeoisie. It's the smell of piss that flavors a random street corner, the incessant movement, the shell of artificial light that illuminates the night, the spontaneity of a park--multiple bands, chess games, beautiful people reading philosophy or history or queer theory, a big-band dance floor under the Washington Square arch, the ad hoc blend of chic and gutter punk feet away from one another... None of this can be found in Chicago: NYC is truly a polis.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Crawling on Your Knees Towards Him...

In The Plague of Fantasies Zizek, in his charming Puckish way, suggests that homosexual fist fucking is the closest "fallen" man [sic] can get to Edenic sex (following Aquinas' assertion that there is sex in Paradise). It's about the intensity of opening that which typically reacts with closure--the anus as a metaphor for the psyche. The closure ideology attempts (the banal heterosexual male's posture towards anal penetration in the form of homophobia) when confronted with the $ (barred subject, by necessity always already split, displaced, decentered). Thus, the pleasure of sex as a woman the prophet Tiresias attests to (recalling a Greek man could never assume the passive position in sexual intercourse) is, in Lacanian terms, precisely the pleasure of exploiting the constitutive "gap" of subjectivity. 

Well, it wasn't a fist per se, but I was blissfully opened. It's actually been quite terrible how, in recent months, all of the boys I've fucked have either been a) unable to get it up or b) not the sort of person I would let fuck me. Which is, to a certain extent, fine--I don't mind playing the top, and I think that as a good bottom I'm quite caring and responsive in that role. But, it is important to have that wonderfully unrivaled experience of ultimate vulnerability.

Last night Joseph came and gave me a ride on his Vespa--my first time on the back of a motor-something  (it's not a "scooter" proper since we were going 65mph down the Saw Mill Parkway). I wore his scarf which I made sure fluttered triumphantly behind my back, like a banner. When we pulled in Pleasantville some Dude-Bro nearly cut us off and, forgetting that there are no doors on a Vespa, my "douche bag" was audible, upon which the Dude-Bro demanded, "Do you know who I am?" And I started to laugh, as did Joseph... but I did clutch his stomach a bit tighter. "I'm making the turn," the guy said. "So am I," Joseph replied, "my blinker is on." But this guy wasn't going to let it go, so I demanded, with a flair that would make Zachary proud: "Do you like my Isadora Duncan scarf?" and flung the long, flowing wrap over my shoulder. The guy looked utterly perplexed, but managed, "It's cool, my family has lots of gay friends..." at which point the light mercifully changed, and Joseph sped off.

What was brilliant about the whole thing, I think, was the way redeploying this guy's exploitation of two skinny boys, one clutching the other, on a pistachio green Vespa proved a victory. Make the implicit power dynamic explicit: This guy would never have tried to pick a fight with a Dude-Bro his size, but he figured that a pair of queers (so far as he knew) were easy targets.... but words are hotter than flames and wetter than water. As Zizek claims, ideology works on the level of the implicit, unacknowledged (or with wink-and-a-nod disavowal) fantastic framing of discourse. So long as this guy wasn't called on his framing of the power dynamic he could act with impunity. 

Tonight I'm going to meet Lucy (Joseph's girlfriend) and see Ghazi again for the first time in months! I can't wait! Hopefully I'll get to see Paula on Thursday, and then Morris on Friday. And then it's off to Florida to get a tan. I bought very cute little swim trunks that should turn some heads in a county that voted over 85% for McCain/Palin (my gramsy actually campaigned for her!), and will get my pasty body nice and golden again. If only my mother would stop feeding me... I need to still fit into the damn things!

Monday, May 18, 2009

"One's Just the Taller Eerier Version of the Other..."

The Old Man and I went out drinking after our family dinner last night. We got good and snoggered. Played three rounds of pool--he won each time, and then two rounds of darts (again, he won both times). But we had a good time. Even when he started hitting on the barmaid--"feel my back," as he demonstrates tai-chi/standing meditation. My impulse was to run, and I did, but I got only as far as across the street before I realized things between us are different. I went back and got stoned with some guy who is about to get married blah blah blah.

Only bizarre moment was when he felt compelled to point out my curtsy when the guy's fiancee (who also got stoned with us) called me adorable. Real men also curtsy, Dad.

Friday, May 15, 2009

"...a band on iron which holds them so tightly together that it is as though their plurality had disappeared into One Man of gigantic dimensions."

Many of you know that I am not a supporter of "gay marriage," and while many would like to see the recent decisions in various states to legalize gay marriage (as though it were a contraband "substance"--the full metaphysical weight of that word implied) as cause for optimism, in fact, no, we are not yet equal citizens, even in those states.

As NPR contributor Nancy Goldstein recently wrote "The media's primary focus on the morality debate around same-sex marriage means that most of the public, gay or straight, knows little about the very real economic costs of inequality." This is because, she continues, the Defense of Marriage Act (1996--that's right, Bill Clinton! who didn't even both to veto the bill because "I remain opposed to same-sex marriage. I believe marriage is an institution for the union of a man and a woman. This has been my long-standing position, and it is not being reviewed or reconsidered."--interview in the Advocate) Even Barak Obama is back-peddling on his position regarding the full repeal  DOMA, a crucial part of his campaign for wooing queer voter (but then, he could have said anything because we weren't voting for McCain, and Hilary made next to no overtures to our bloc). In hindsight, the spectacle of the symbolism of two fags or two bull dykes kissing at the alter gave him ample smoke and mirrors to remove that language from the White House's "Civil Rights" page.

Goldstein continues, however, noting that through DOMA "the federal government denies to legally married same-sex couples the 1,138 federal protections and benefits it extends to all other married couples." She cites the anecdotal example of Melba Abreu and Beatrice Hernandez: "They've been together for 32 years and have paid nearly $20,000 more in taxes since their 2004 marriage than if they had been able to file a joint federal return." $20,000 in 5 years!? That's outrageous! (Fuck closeted congressmen--this is an outrage!)

Goldstein's point is well made: "DOMA doesn't just hurt our pride: It undermines our ability to take care of one another. Neither Joan [her partner] nor I have the right to take family medical leave from our jobs in the event that one of us becomes seriously ill. In couples where one spouse is a U.S. citizen and the other is not, the citizen cannot obtain a visa for the noncitizen or sponsor him or her for citizenship. And forget about inheritance. If you're in a same-sex marriage and your spouse leaves her estate to you — for example, the house you shared — you'll be forced to pony up as much as 50 percent of her estate's value in taxes. Price tag for federally recognized married couples? Zero."

The vapidity of so many queers who support gay marriage--"It's about equal rights..." and so on--is summarily exposed by this article: real equality isn't granted by a hostile State, nor does it come from symbolic but ultimately meaningless gestures, however proud we wish to feel about now having the right to be further embedded in the cultural rituals of heteronormativity.

I do, however, hold out some hope: there are some of us who see the real problem as the imbrication of Foucaultian bio-power (if you will) with Statist juridical authority. To not launch a political campaign that confronts both registers of this oppressive harmonics is a grave mistake: we wind up with marriage, but the band we get to wear is ever more constricting. The extent to which we can transform critique into actionable politics hinges on our willingness to assault the cultural assumptions that are reinforced in their here-to-fore uninhibited (re)production. Perhaps a good starting point might be by raising the question, Why is the State in the business of regulating our relationships--queer or straight--in the first place?

In My Head There's A City At Night

I taught my last class of the semester yesterday, and in honor of the event we had a few photos taken. The first is of most of the class, including the two sign-interpreters, and then the second is of the few who were still hanging around, one of whom had a camera.

What I love is that it is almost impossible to distinguish me, as professor, from the rest of my students, which leads to today's theme: age.

In an oft cited passage from Walter Benjamin's "Theses on the Philosophy of History," he analyzes Paul Klee's painting, "Angelus Novus" (which happens to serve as the backdrop of my desktop):
"A Klee painting named "Angelus Novus" shows an angel looking as though he is about to move away from something he is fixedly contemplating. His eyes are staring, his mouth is open, his wings are spread. This is how one pictures the angel of history. His face is turned toward the past. Where we perceive a chain of events, he sees one single catastrophe which keeps piling wreckage upon wreckage and hurls it in front of his feet. The angle would like to stay, awaken the dead, and make whole what has been smashed. But a storm is blowing from Paradise; it has got caught in his wings with such violence that the angel can no longer close them. This storm irresistibly propels him into the future to which his back is turned, while the pile of debris before him grows skyward. This storm is what we call progress."

Today I turn 25, not as one turns a page, but as the debris continues to pile skyward. It is interesting that Benjamin--perhaps under the sway of Western metaphysics--sees in the "single catastrophe" so many fragments that need to be made whole. When I had aspirations to be a poet, that is, when I was 17 and met in the poems of Rimbaud the only boy I could ever love and the only world I could ever survive in, I wrote, in praise and despair, myself as so many fragments. No doubt, when I die, someone who loves me will the the story of the "single catastrophe" of my life.

The danger of dwelling in ruins, fragments of the past, Nietzsche writes, is that this is where the tarantula of ressentiment lives: 
"And behold, my friends: here where the tarantula has its hole, the ruins of an ancient temple rise; behold it with enlightened eyes! Verily, the man who once piled his thoughts to the sky in these stones--he, like the wisest, knew the secret of all life....[:] with such assurance and beauty let us be enemies too, my friends! Let us strive against one another like gods."
The tarantula bites Zarathustra's finger: "'Punishment there must be and justice,' it thinks; "and here he shall not sing songs in honor of enmity in vain.'"
Rather than live a future poisoned with ressentiment, and doomed to sing of enmity, Zarathustra demands his friends tie him to a column: "Rather would I be a stylite even, than a whirl of revenge. Verily, Zarathustra is no cyclone or whirlwind; and if he is a dancer, he will never dance the tarantella."

I shaved this week--the last vestiges of Victorian barbarism?--in a vain effort to not look my age. It isn't that 25 is old. It's that I will be starting what promises to be at least a 5 year PhD program, leaving me 30 on the other side of the adventure--and there is no Penelope waiting. The Writer and I once spoke, with a healthy degree of sardonic distance, of "gay death," viz. 30, and how the only remedy to this fated mortality was either having a partner or being wildly rich and/or successful. As it is unlikely I will be wildly rich at 30, I can only hope for either a partner or success. And, perhaps sadly, I have more confidence in my success as an intellectual than I do in being in a relationship. (Needless to say, that enjoyable sardonic distance has since shrunken for me, though not for him.)

Confronted with inevitable "gay death" much like a replicant (I'm reading Zizek), I was prompted to retreat into the past, to sift through fragments, re-explore ruins. But I didn't stay for very long, which is somewhat strange because tomorrow I am flying to NY for the first time in over a year to return to the home I grew up in and the friends who helped raise (bildung) my spirit (geist). Not a nostalgic return. We will celebrate our futures: Ghazi, Joseph, and I are going to be deep in "higher education," and so very much has changed in my family that promises new beginnings unimaginable. 

Tonight, however, I celebrate the facticity of life itself--viz. natality, the pleasure of good friends, and dance (though not the tarantella).





Thursday, May 14, 2009

Lady GaGa Does Not Speak Of Me

"To recognize untruth as a condition of life--that certainly means resisting accustomed value feelings in a dangerous way; and a philosophy that risks this would by that token alone place itself beyond good and evil."
-Nietzsche, "Beyond Good and Evil," # 4

And:
"Forgive me the joke of this gloomy grimace and trope; for I myself have learned long ago to think differently, to estimate differently with regard to deceiving and being deceived, and I keep in reserve at least a couple of jostles for the blind rage with which the philosophers resist being deceived. Why _not_? It is no more than a moral prejudice that truth is worth more than mere appearance; it is even the worst proved assumption there is in the world. Let at least this much be admitted: there would be no life at all if not on the basis of perspective estimates and appearances; and if, with the virtuous enthusiasm and clumsiness of some philosophers, one wanted to abolish the "apparent world" all together--well, supposing _you_ could do that, at least nothing would be left of your 'truth' either. Indeed, what forces us at all to suppose that there is an essential opposition of 'true' and 'false'? Is it not sufficient to assume degrees of apparentness and, as it were, lighter and darker shadows and shades of appearance--different 'values,' to use the language of painters? Why couldn't the world _that concerns us_--be a fiction?" (BGE, #34)

Crucially, Nietzsche also champions "honesty" as the virtue of his philosophers of the future. Nevertheless, the "will to truth" that characterizes--in _On the Genealogy of Morals_--the posture of the ascetic Christian priest comes under full assault in Nietzsche's work. This is because "Truth" is itself a moral precept, a moral posture that assumes a "doer behind the deed," a Christian "soul" that is the "truth" of who one is. Foucault brilliantly documents how the institution of the confessional, a wholly perverse disciplinary practice, normalized over the course of 400 years the idea that somehow I need to tell the truth of myself, my desires, my hidden wishes, my repressed pleasures. (Yes, clumsy psychoanalysts are little more than defrocked priests.) Thus, Nietzsche asserts: "Christianity gave Eros poison to drink: he did not die of it but degenerated--into a vice." (BGE, #168)

(Note, please Nietzsche's invocation of the Greek homoerotic "Eros," the Victorian medico-moral concept of "degeneracy," and "vice." Eros, as a matter of homosexuality, is, in Nietzsche's time, the time Freud eclipses, pathologized as a hereditary condition of perversity termed "degeneracy". Freud assaults this pseudo-scientific diagnostic category of homosexuality in his "Three Essays," and Foucault--History of Sexuality, 1--credits Freud for that _political_ opposition to the moralized eugenics of sexuality typical of the Victorian age. Crucially, Foucault, in "Discipline and Punish" charts the shift from "criminality" to "vice," the latter being an "essential" "quality" of one's "soul" produced by disciplinary power. That is, Nietzsche, in this aphorism, theorizes as a faggot.)

Nietzsche's "untruth," which is a necessary (and typically unacknowledged) condition of life, is akin to Freud's concept of "fantasy" as a necessary mediator that "colors"/"frames" all perception--an ontological perspective first articulated by Plato in the _Symposium_. This is an untruth that is "true": "We no longer believe that truth remains truth when one pulls off the veil; we have lived too much to believe this." (The Gay Science, Preface to the Second Edition, # 4) That is, to "unmask" truth is to dissolve truth itself, to lift its skirts elicits only Demeter's laughter. That is, to demand, for instance, the "truth" of love, to strip it of its veil of fantasy, is to foreclose the very possibility of desire (eros, Plato tells us, is a "demon," the necessary in-between that mediates). Thus, though Nietzsche will say "Love brings the high and concealed characteristics of the lover into the light--what is rare and exceptional in him: to that extent it easily deceives regarding his normality" (BGE, #163), he still maintains: "Whatever is done from love always occurs beyond good and evil." (BGE, #153)

What links Eros and "untruth," what constitutes the essential nexus, is precisely the affirmation of fantasy (veils, masks, fictions, the painters tonal 'value') as the mediating third point that relates oneself always already to the world, oneself, and others. To this extent, both "true" fictions and love stake out a space of appearance beyond the (Christian) morality of good and evil. To be honest with oneself, and with another, is always to conclude--if a conclusion is demanded--"I don't know" as an acknowledgment of the fundamental opacity of the subject to himself, and to others. Indeed, it is this opacity that allows freedom: the artist's capacity to create, to live "life as literature" (to borrow from Alexander Nehamas)...

--What? the truths I discover I create? :the dangers of a voyage only the most cunning hero would dare.

Three Drunk (Fat) Women Peeing in the Alley (or: On Abjection)

After completing the last lecture notes I will draft for this semester I counted out the last of the silvery coins left in my laundry money box and headed out to Jewel to buy dinner. It is amazing how heavy $1.55 is in nickels, and how conspicuous that many coins are in the back left pocket of a pair of jeans. As I bounded down the back steps I jingled. Thus my conviction: assassins never have exact change.

I was fumbling with my headphones, untangling them with all my attention--in the dark--as I opened the back door, when I was greeted by "Hey Boo!" I looked up and there were three women, totally wasted, and morbidly obese, lined up against the opposing wall, squatting. They were peeing. "You know, you gatta go when you gatta go," One of them said and I must have looked so mortified that another was compelled to add, "Don't worry, we're fag hags." But, still, I was stunned and didn't move which is when the third woman said, "He don't even know what that means." The absurdity of that statement snapped me back from my masochistic amazement--really, I was staring at them the way one would a piece of particularly gruesome roadkill--and I quickly made my way out of the alley.

This, I assume, is what Kristeva would call a confrontation with "the powers of horror." And, indeed, aren't all "fag hags" something akin to the abject? There is always an obvious defect with these women--typically they are fat--though sometimes the "defect" is less noticeable and operates on a psychical, rather than physical register. These are women who will never get the attention or affections of a beautiful, desired man--unless he is gay. That is, Madonna is never, outside the confines of bad Hollywood movies, a fag hag. They are mock girlfriends, and imagine their gay friend to be something on the order of a boyfriend--only that the lack of sex renders the relationship more akin to marriage... Which is to say, the relationship itself is defective, "abject."

In an essay on Kristeva's work on abjection, Elizabeth Grosz writes, "The abject is the symptom of the object's failure to fill the subject or to define and anchor the subject." Quite literally, though not exhaustively, all erotogenic zones take the form of the rim (eyes, mouth, anus, vagina, penis, ears) and "Abjection results when the object does not adequately fill the rim." To proceed I ignore that abjection is also operative on the level of the psychical, that the hole (the Real) constitutive of the Lacanian barred subject is also being evoked, and that ideology (in Zizek's sense) is ultimately a defense (which inevitably fails) against the abject precisely because it dissolves and "demonstrates the impossibility of clear-cut borders, lines of demarcation, divisions between the clean and the unclean, the proper and the improper, order and disorder." The crucial point I wish to highlight for the purposes of this reflection is simply this: the objects failure to "fill the hole" of the subject results in abjection, which evokes disgust.

The fag hag will never fill the gay boy's hole despite the intimate attentions she pours on him, the affectionate shared moments of commiseration, and the highly sexualized rituals of shopping and dancing. Indeed, the relationship is something on the order of parasitic, as the latest "posh" monicker for these women--"fruit fly"--suggests: that which feasts on rotting goods. And isn't the gay boy, insofar as he is engaged (even enthralled) by this relationship, rotting? Kristeva is quick to note that one of three classes of the abject is spoiled food--curdled milk, rotting produce, ect.

Though, I should be clear: it is always already impossible--on the terms of Lacanian psychoanalytic theory--to "fill the hole," that desire, precisely because it operates phantastically, will never be satisfied (jouissance, therefore, is the occasion of the emergence of language). Kristeva's novel contribution to psychoanalytic theory is to radicalize Freud's theses in "Totem and Taboo," arguing--as Grosz glosses it--"The subject must disavow part of itself in order to gain a stable self, and this form of refusal marks whatever identity it acquires as provisional, and open to breakdown and instability" and that what must also be recognized is that these refusals are constitutive "specters" (my term) "hovering at the border of the subject's identity" which are implicit in all social interactions.

This just seems to add another troubling dimension to the fag-hag/gay-boy relationship. For Lacan desire is (following Hegel) always desire for the desire of the Other. But it is also desire for what others desire (Lacan following Kojeve on Hegel). Thus, in hysteria ("Dora," Freud, 1905) the analytic task is to ask not "why does the analysand desire this object?" but, "With whom is she identifying such that she desires this object?" This latter dimension of Lacanian desire, borrowed from Hegel, highlights the implicit desire for "recognition" implicit in all desire--desiring what others desire implies competition (a moment of confrontation that catalyses the master/slave dialectic), but the fag hag moves onto the plane of competition knowing she will fail to win recognition of her (sexual) claim to the gay boy. Conversely the gay boy "wins" in the competition for recognition of his desire for the fag-hag, but it is a pyrrhic victory since he does not actually desire her. That is, what both _desire_ is failure, a variation on Nietzsche's slavish priest's ascetic ressentiment, which is the opposite of desire "fueled" by phantasy: it is precisely the phantasy that the other _will_, because hypothetically he _can_, fill the (w)hole of the subject that (paradoxically) the "healthy" relationship is sustained. In the fag-hag/gay-boy dialectic it is the abject qua disgust--the repeated experience of a failure to "fill the hole"--that is desired, and not the surplus enjoyment of orgasmic jouissance--"Cum!"

Of course, it occurs to me that these women--each in turn calling me "boo" and couching their deed in terms of the natural (as if to say, "Hey, what you people do is gross, too, but it's 'natural'"), self-identifying as fag-hags, and then mocking me for not knowing what that means--sought to _de_-sexualize me, to render the visibility of their naked bodies invisible by making me a fag who "wouldn't see" (or wouldn't be attracted to look); in identifying me as gay, these girls sought to castrate me. The final girl's scorn over my purported ignorance of the meaning of "fag-hag" was a bizarre second attempt to "castrate" me--though, were I actually heterosexual, this ignorance would have had the direct opposite effect: it would have secured my masculinity and, rather than castrate me, reaffirmed the status of my signifying Phallus.

Perhaps this is, after all, what ultimately fuels the fag-hag/gay-boy dialectic: a desire to castrate, and a desire to be castrated; to sexualize a castrated (and constantly re-castrated) gay boy who will not harm and does not threaten, and to de-sexualize the homoerotic phallus by submitting to the castration of a sexualized fag-hag who will not arouse desire; to seek revenge against not being "given the Phallus," and to seek this revenge for being unable or unwilling to "give the phallus." This last dynamic especially highlights the very nature of abjection in the relationship: always already within the very fabric of the dialectic is the retching/wrenching undoing of subjectivity itself: affection, intimacy, sexualize rituals are enacted and displayed precisely to incite this flagellation.

Recall that for Lacan sexual difference is ordered by the Symbolic Law of the Father wherein "woman" is constituted precisely in the interplay of having v. being the phallus; though the man "is" the phallus, the woman "has" the phallus insofar as she is the voice of his desire, i.e., insofar as she speaks back to him his position as the phallus. In denying the fag-hag the opportunity to "have" the phallus the gay-boy withholds recognition of her in the symbolic order. Her revenge, then, is against this withholding, which she incites--a projection of culpability onto the gay boy, rather than a recognition of poor object choice (which, ironically, is not "poor" because the fag-hag does not _want_ to have the phallus, but envisions no alternative: a testament to the violence of phallogocentric compulsory heteronormativity). For the gay-boy, the ambivalent position of his relationship to his own homosexuality enlists the constant exposure of that very desire: the boy elicits affection, intimacy and sexualize interaction with the fag-hag to _confirm_ the desire he does not wish to confirm. The castration he endures at the hands of his fag-hag, then, is "just punishment" for looking at what don't wish to see, but already knows is there.--In a sense, this is the same phenomenon as going to see a horror film: the inevitable castrating scream of terror is elicited not when the killer unexpectedly strikes, but exactly when we _know_ he will.

That is, the fag-hag is the _farthest_ thing from a friend to the gay boy. The economy of their dialectic is colored by a circulation of revenge, frustration, and self-punishment. Rather than enable the phantastic economy of surplus enjoyment (jouir!) the dialectic circles around its own abjected carcass. To this end, I applaud Charlie's nightclub for its "fag-hag tax" (it is an addition $10 for women to enter the club). And though this homo/sexual-social space clearly discriminates against women, I would contend that this is not an instance of misogyny, but rather an affirmation of the capacity of men to, collectively and with one another, risk the failure of desire, rather than flee from this risk by erecting a dynamic that is precisely this failure, but in "diet" form.

Enough... I've long ago eaten my "dinner" (a can of store-brand butter-toffee peanuts) and it is now abundantly clear that I won't be going to bed, even though I really, really wanted to (which is why I stayed up typing this). Tomorrow it's my birthday. :-) (Thanks Mom!)

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Following the Writer's Suggestion

I'm not comfortable in the anonymity of space... it strikes me as a nothingness into which a solitary call can be issued and enveloped by the utter coldness of silence. He tells me, however, that I am above the vulgarity of Facebook as a medium for posting my thoughts. No doubt my posting are also above the censorship that Facebook affords, and as my posts have--in recent days--centered around this man, the Writer, who compels me to speak to an Unknown "you"--though, again, some of "you" readers may be guessed at....

Foucault writes in "The Archeology of Knowledge," "I am no doubt not the only one who writes in order to have no face." I speak with Foucault here: If what is sought is a "face"--a true "self" that writes a confessional "Truth"--then these pages are faceless. I speak here only in elisions and leave only traces: you will find ever and only so many masks masking masks. To the anonymous reader, I present the defenses of the author.

Regarding writing there is something to be said: Plato remarks in the "Phaedrus" that writing in and of itself is not something shameful--it is only shameful when deployed shamefully. The shame of writing is to construct a text that does not adhere as though it were an organic, living body. I do not, pace Plato, write the living: I write phantasms, specters--those disembodied ghouls (desires) that wheel back onto/into the body, rendering it the disjointed compilation of fragmented sentences that I am. So many--perhaps too many--fragments.

In writing I do not have a face, as an author, but I posit--I throw ahead of my prose--a face that I write to: cohesion centers around the locutionary act of address. Tonight, as it has been all of tonight, it is you I address. I gain a moment of unity, of comprehensibility around the (response-)ability of my ability to respond: I listen, let words sink into the metaphorical soil of my metaphorical soul, and I think of how I am to reply--how I am to account for all the remainders that remain unaccountable (to me, to you, to whomever asks), and how that account will balance against your question. Which reminds me: you always pose a question (always: in your silences, in your halted, fractured statements, in your displaced analogies) and I come alive at the issuance of an ellipses that invites reflection.

So long as there is a projected "You" to which this address issues forth--an incredible "You" in that the simple phantasy of You being on the other end of this address is so phantastic...--then the nothingness of silence is dispelled. Indeed, so long as there is a "You" to read, the the elisions and traces of my reflections begin to consolidate around a mirrored refraction of a face--so many faces--that is/are addressed: In the promise of a "You" the deconstruction that documents my "face" begins.

But this has only been so many false starts. Nothing is said absent the affirmed absence of the author: a disavowal that avows the potency of language to subject an author to words, and words to an author--Me--who writes not writing; a faceless face.

Return to Plato, return to nothingness. Plato's Socrates demands that the text write what _Is_, being. Sartre writes, What I am, I am not. Reconcile the two: Plato enforces a governing economy of presence: the text can only draft what _Is_. Sartre defers what _Is_ into nothingness: what I am cannot be written for it exceeds the bounds of discourse--nothing can be said of it, for it stupefies language's exhaustive capacity: it is yet to come, and this--the yet to come, possibility--defies the ordered predictability of grammar itself: a faceless face.

In writing "I" summon specters and phantasms, ghouls (desire) that speak, in silence, to a future unknown, faceless. This is where I meet you--"You"--when I do not meet you face-to-face. In a space where the exhaustive order of grammar is stilted and stunted, where I can speak without speaking (I am, after all, writing), and the possibilities of an unknown splay of possibilities suddenly comes alive. All this, I should add, is masked in my masking smile: I cannot speak when words have no meaning, and then I dare not act: my cowardice, my nobility. My smile _is_ manic in its effort to hold back behind my teeth what would otherwise be so many opaque, bizarre, and fearsome iterations! A smile with no cat. :-)