Sunday, December 27, 2009

It's Good To See You

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

Saturday, December 26, 2009

That's the Way We Get By

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

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

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

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Scraps....

"This Holiday Doesn't Mean Anything Anymore"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

---

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, December 12, 2009

You've Been Hit By a Smooth Criminal

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

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

Thursday, December 10, 2009

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

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

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

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


Friday, December 4, 2009

A Man Like That Is Like an Unmade Bed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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