Thursday, March 25, 2010

Like Eating Glass (forricherforpoorerforbetterforworse)

I'm enjoying and suffering in taciturn cycling a general aimlessness. Turtles/work/coffee-drinking/re-communing with neglected friends. In Lauren's class we thought seriously about the valences of "drifting" or "digression". (The "et cetera principle"--though, how could digression have a "principle"?--The Stoic says to me the other night: that's the death drive. I don't know, though. How can a "drive" which aims towards negation or stasis be devoid of an active principle? This isn't death drive. It is sort of just listlessness. Like a ship in a calm. A week long calm. But there is no sun for a tan. Of course.)

I've decided I'm only going to take 2 courses this up-coming quarter. Last quarter was brutal. I'll be so busy--just my travel plans are insane: driving to Virginia and back to only then hop on a plane to DC for little sister's graduation--and it really began to take a toll on me. And I guess I've been affected by the repeated complaints i've gotten from all of my neglected friends. And right now, missing J. as I am--which is rather more than I'd like to have to endure, to be perfectly honest--while anticipating a busy schedule prompts me to account for the profound ways in which I'd rather not want to feel like I do now. {On this, Tim Dean is wholly wrong-headed: there are ALWAYS mediating projections that enable a subject to FEEL close or distance to an Other.}

w/e. i'm bored. (even too bored to j/o.)

{If Paul Verilio's argument is that technology has effaced our ability to enjoy/suffer distances, then he simply reiterates a problem that has haunted the human condition for ages (Anne Carson does a brilliant job of depicting the tension of distance in the context of ancient notions of erotic time and space). The problem of "new media" is that it is new for us, and this is our problem: how do we establish distances, distinctions, difference? Plato gives this philosophical voice and sets in motion the tradition of attempting to negotiate this condition. Indeed, this is Nietzsche's prompt for maligning democracy--and the "Enlightenment" writ large--as a leveling of distinctions. The spatial metaphors N. deploys to characterize the necessity of transvaluation are crucial (even the notion of an "over" man, but they do not end there: rank, an expansive soul, a protraction of the will in time, the 'going-under' of Zarathustra's Dionysian 'great contempt' and so on). Anyway, how myopic to assume that we, in contemporary life, are so radically severed from the past and the struggles (intellectual/existential and socio-political) thereof. And cowardly: we refuse to stop and look around, so enchanted by the anxieties of contemporary life--enchanting, in turn, the terror of the question into a reassuring abyss of meaning--a glamourous nihilism. Fuck that.}

From a certain Scamp: "how i said to you, "honey, just open your heart," when i've got trouble even opening a honey jar, and that right there is where we are..."

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

I Just Can't Get You Outta My Head

I got my first ever "B" as a graduate student. There are plenty of contextualizing reasons/excuses why, but I don't really care. I got a "B" and part of me is proud of this. At least, the part of me that realizes I could have gotten an "A"--or even an "A-"--if I had done the work in a particular way towards a particular end. But I _chose_ not to. I said to J., The thing that sucks about this paper is that I know the paper this prof. wants to read is one I don't want to write. And so I decided to write the paper I wanted to write, and not the one he wanted to read. And I got a "B," which must be the most cynical grade ever, considering ample participation, no incomplete assignments, and only one missed class. But it was a defiantly missed class--one I refused to attend on principle. No doubt my grade was a result of an equally principled decision.
Regardless, I'm not upset--it doesn't hurt my standing in the dept., nor does it nullify the course-work. It was just a dick thing to do, and not very surprising at that: he is a tool.
In the mean time, I await my other grades. I'm less nervous about them, though. I feel confident about the work I did.
Tonight I will see a friend's apartment. I was talking to the Vegan and he said something I was afraid of: "It's not like I love Boystown, but you miss it when you leave it--I was getting shot at, constantly sneered at, and there was nothing around." So I'm looking at a 2 bedroom space for $800 a month in Boystown that my friend has till May, which I may be able to take over if I look very closely at expenses. A study, a bedroom, a place to host guests... It could be nice. And I think that if I need to, I could (maybe) do a (gay) roommate.
Which is to say, I doubt J. will be up for moving in with me--despite my desire to live with him. It will probably be too much for him, and I think he likes the sense of freedom that having "MY place" and "YOUR place" implies. Immutable boundaries that can be enforced like no-fly-zones should they need to be. I understand that. I'm not entirely sure I don't have the same desire, too.
But he is willing to leave his father's phone plan and join mine. Which I think is something--not a lease, but something like it. A formal piece of paper that connects him to me in this world. Even if it is a Verizon cellphone bill. For phones we will largely use to talk to one another.
I'm in the Center again because the interwebz I pirate are down. It's funny to see how things happen here--the constant movement, very formal, very official: name badges, walkie-talkies. All of that.
Anyway, I'm gonna go home, get ready for work, go to work, work, finish work, read a book for a bit, and get picked up by this boy and see his apartment. I'm nervous about moving. I said to the Vegan, "Even though I don't avail myself of the local amenities Boystown has to offer, I like being around other fags." Maybe if I get this smartphone with J. I'll have to put my money where my mouth is, and rely on Grinder for my sense of community. Only if I move away. Which I want to do less and less...
In other news, I'm excited about meeting up with the Writer on Friday, despite his animosity, which I always found somewhat endearing and even a bit charming. Fag Jesus had to hear all about it the other night and it was funny when he interrupted me to let me know he can imagine, in each ear, the two of us bitching about one another. I blushed in mild embarrassment.
Last night was spent with my Stoic philosopher queen friend, and she (a real bio-woman--a bionic woman?) had a grand time. We talked Freud and James and Goethe and Billy Shakes and all was well. Though some guy followed me back from the bus stop where I dropped her off yelling, "Sir!" "Sir!" "Excuse me, Sir!" and I ignored him and kept walking until I heard his feet fall in the rhythm of a run, and sensing that I wasn't going to make it to Halstead before he reached me, I spun around, and said, "Yes?!" in the most no-nonsense tone I could muster, and when he realized he couldn't clock me over the head and take my money he mumbled a "God bless..." (to which I said, "You wish") and retreated back into the shadows of the alley from which he'd emerged suddenly, so eager and hopeful to score my wallet. Motherfucker. Scared the shit out of me.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Best Friends Means I Pull the Trigger (Best Friends Means You Get What You Deserve)

Dear Boyfriends,

Yes, plural—I know, I’m discovering as if for the first time, too. (Rouge-ish, that ‘as if’. As if I knew and am now only owning up to it? As if! …Yes, exactly: as if what? As if wise enough? devious enough? capable enough? dispassionately passionate enough? Enough. Period. Yes, boys have periods too. Essentialize that.)

I find myself somewhat at a loss. I’m not used to addressing a plural intimate, no matter the fact some would contend that is disingenuous. After all, what is this talk about the plurality of the psyche, of the body itself even, if not a championing of the plurality of intimate relations? I tip my hand: I rarely feel intimate with myself in the plural—I often find myself uncomfortable among many competing demands, the demand to perform, to meet a standard, to stand at attention, to not let intimacy flag, erect quivering attentive.

There is, in any great concentration of desire, a deadening of the soul’s plurality, a great narrowing and channeling of attention. I regret nothing in the span of this great concentration, honed-in, penetrating deeply. There is only this. Now. Many suidices, athletes, war veterans, artists, and lovers have often spoken the same way. But then, I am all of these, expansive as I am. So romantic, so noble—possibly tortured. As if.

There is a sex toy ironically named for a phantasy I only now realize. “It’s so two bottoms can be boyfriends.” So blithely tossed out, as if knowingly. A fuck you to the domineering pre-tense of tops, who can’t imagine their cock supplanted by a dildo. My dick is my phallus! (As if...) For all of the boys I fucked, it’s the ones I never did that I love, and there seems something profoundly unfair about this. Forget communities of impersonal intimacy. I live in communities of unrequited love. Sublimated libido. Misshapen, gaps and ad hoc binding exposed, two different colors—this dildo has not sold, and now the sign that reads “New!…” reads like a bad joke, propped up on a pedestal, slightly out of reach, slightly out of sight—but a nice idea. As if… a queertopia!

The time of ‘as if’ is the future, and the space of the ‘as if’ is the imaginary domain?

As if it weren’t smoking or cat allergies or any number of differences too innumerable to enumerate… Let the dildo mean more than it does. It’s the silly sense of things: over-determine—perhaps even fetishize—the damn thing. And your boyfriend. The one you talk to. Whose dick is also sometimes phallic. Forget ‘as if’ is as superficial as it is/n’t: lie. My noble lie. So romantic, so noble—possible tortured. As if.

As if I weren’t happy to sleep with my phone by my pillow so his call will wake me? I’m quite pleased for the chance, thank you. This sort of impersonal intimacy. So I can have my refuge from the demands of requited love. (Who makes these demands? With what authority? As if I knew… As if.) The phantasmagoria of exclusive, reciprocal love--the caresses, the promises, the little gestures of on-goingness comprising the melange of meaning always already on the brink of being compromised--and uneasy alliance of disavowal and earnest vows.

The discomfort of a membrane stretched too thin, too easily ruptured, pierced--a hymen of sensibility. Or a condom. Filled with water. Dropped from the 22nd story window of the penthouse apartment you dream of one day sharing with your partner. (In crime, in law, in life?) So I stopped fucking with condoms, but that was itself a risk perhaps too risky to take, or rather, receive. And when I look at the folds of my anus I wonder if the swollen musculature looks more like a scar on the order of a pussy or if that is just the effects of age and regular use--having just been used. I wonder if my asshole is ugly, and I consider how this might be a trifling question compared to the more pertinent question, namely: am I ugly? The wrinkles around my eyes and mouth. Folds of flesh on the order of a scar, use and age? As if my face is an asshole. A funny persona to think about. As if I could stand to think about the degeneration of my body.

The terror of realizing that, when taken to its logical conclusion, positing plurality and flux leads to a dissolution of every solid banister or wall or ground. That, indeed, there was never anything solid there in the first place. We've always been in free-fall. And this is something like falling in love--the sense of falling at the same rate: as if if the laws of gravity, mass, density, ect. conspired together, like when windshield wipers flap back and forth in time with the left-turn indicator: tick-flap, flop-tock. I joke regularly about the phantom cosmic clock that times my life with J. And though I know it is a metaphor--do you know what I mean?--it still is one of those necessary fictions--one of those 'as ifs' that I don't question and can only embrace and cling to with the desperation of someone who knows that this clock is not Swiss made, that it will become syncopated. And then what? As if I knew. So romantic, so noble... As if tortured.

Of course, I write as if my boyfriend reads this. No, these are illicit attachments--a desire for what is by definition out of reach: and indeed, this is the way I like it. Though I get nervous about the extent to which I keep at bay what I otherwise would want to release myself to. And I wonder about how expansive and retractive my life becomes, the rhythms of receptivity accelerated by the necessity of keeping-time for/with/to the demands I desire obliging myself to. Because I spoke these words: I want... (Sappho) As if I knew what I wanted. Though, on the short list: the 'then' (Sunday) 'now' (today). I miss J.

The brutality of desire is its exhaustibility. There is no defense here: I am a selfish lover, and you, dear boyfriends, were brutalized by my exhaustion. So beautifully resplendent in its fatigue--flaccid desire is curdled milk. Thirsty? And yet, you are not alone in this measuring out, this parceling time, intimacy, desire, pleasure. Even J. suffers from the insistence of this instantiation of incrementalized instances of intimacy. Everything succumbs to the incessant need to quantify, divide, subtract, add--all this math--all of these numbers... Does this count as an apology? Does it add up to the needed guilt or innocence? Divide my attention by the answer; multiply this by 2/4/8/16/32. Keep the remainder. Hope the balance changes. Wonder what this amounts to. What does this amount to? As if I could calculate...

And the other night when I passed out in my bathroom, when my cellular phone dropped into the toilet half full of piss, when my head crashed against the unyielding metal of the radiator, when I woke and heard on the short-circuiting of the phone buzzing through the filth and porcelain, the flashes of pain, the vomit, the piss. What scared me was precisely the inability to speak. Or move. I cried. There was no one there. J. gone. My neighbors unknown. Phone broken. More vomit. Shoveling ice-cream down my throat to get sugar in my blood. Blood on my hands from my head. Scared and alone. As if in free fall.

I'm going to go home, smoke some pot, drink more coffee, smoke more cigarettes--does it make sense to brag about future plans to quit over the summer? in the name of youth and health and vanity and terror--and then ride my bicycle. It isn't very warm out--or at least, not as warm as I would like--who do I complain to about this--as if weather were a bureaucracy you could score cheap points off when you needed to boost your self-esteem. But no one does what I do better than me. And though I'm rarely sure what exactly it is that I do, what I am rather positive of--to the extent that one can in fact be _positive_--is that I act out these silly vignettes--... Or have you stopped reading? As if...

Sunday, March 21, 2010

A brief retort to Sam Tanenhaus

A brief retort to Sam Tanenhaus's NYTimes editorial, "In Texas Curriculum Fight, Identity Politics Leans Right". Needless to say, I was rather peeved by the schlocky pseudo-intellectual tone Tenenhaus takes, supported one is meant to believe, by the never-ending regurgitation of archaic authorial authorities, Arthur Schlesinger most colorfully. Indeed, it is the half-cocked logic of the Schlesinger brand that ultimately takes the day in Mr. Tenenhaus' article--though, really, we should just call it a blog already. Despite tone of the headline, Mr. Tenenhaus seems to see no problem with this situation. This is because he rather condescendingly sees the latest round of cynical Right-wing revisionism as amounting to little more than the same identity politicking of Left-wing Black, gay, Feminist, immigrant, Indigenous Americans, even Socialist struggles for acknowledgment of a history that runs counter to the exceptional narrative of American exceptionalism.

Perhaps Tenenhaus took exception to Tocqueville's accompanying warning, namely it was precisely homogeneity that threatened the formation of a despotic mob who, through the deployment of social stigmatization and shunning, enforced a dominant narrative through the marginalization of those with dissenting opinions or "deviant" life-styles or orientations. This was not speculation for Tocqueville, but a historical observation born of careful ethnographic research and reflection.

It's this propensity towards selective editing of history, typified here by both the Texas School Board and Mr. Tenenhaus, that so-called "left-wing" indentitarian politicos have contested. And doesn't this make all the difference in the world? Can we _really, honestly_ say that conservative Americans are being, of all things, marginalized on the order endured by Blacks, gays, ethnic minorities, or women when textbooks document the history of rather noble agents of change like Oscar Romero or serve to remind contemporary Americans that "founding father" Thomas Jefferson advocated the separation of church and State? Certainly including these counter narratives will displace more traditional, even mythical--remember "manifest destiny"?--accounts. But, in part, that, too, is the point: the conservative movement can claim a mantle representing a tradition centering American self-understanding, only because political subjects who _did not, and still may not_ conform to those norms were marginalized. The list ranges from women, Irish, Chinese, Japanese, Blacks, gays, Catholics, Jews, Mormons, Gemans, Indigenous Americans, Mexicans, Creole-speaking New Orleanians, Italians, Spanish-speaking immigrants, and--for a time--any American who "was not with us" as the former Bush administration launched the country towards an ill-advised, fiscally irresponsible, legally criminal, and morally wrong war in Iraq.

Mr. Tenenhaus begins to advance an interesting thesis--that such attempts to domineer history betray a desire to retreat from the present--but this is itself quickly retreated from. Further, though the most interesting moment in an otherwise cliched and tired article, this thesis is sadly unidirectional in its scope. It ignores, for instance, how mis- or mal-educated American youth are vulnerable to the cynical appeals of pundits and politicians who harken to a time and place that never existed--except in the fantasy land of conservative Texan textbooks--with the promise of "returning" America to that idylic, "simpler time". While true that control of the past does not guarantee control over the future, it certainly helps pave the way.

Ultimately, however, what Mr. Tenenhaus fails to understand--and this was the most frustrating dimension of the whole editorial--is that at stake in the education of our youth is the cultivation of our country's future citizens. I think looking at the maneuvers of conservatives in the Texas School Board highlights a significant impulse prevelant in America: rather than face our checkered past, we disavow its existence. Now, such disavowal won't be so hard because we won't even know the history we are disavowing: we will simply be ignorant. There are many pit-falls to such an future: America needs to take seriously a number of profound challenges--peak oil, global warming, the de-territorialization of global commerce and even politics, climate refugees, a staggering National debt, and bio-medical advances to name a few. If we do not have the confidence that similar Americans, just like us, once confronted problems of similar scope and gravity, how will we expect Americans of the future to respond to these challenges? Because, fundamentally, what conservatives are doing is writing out of history all of the _conflict_ that defined the figures historical figures worth studying, and perhaps even revering.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Baby, Baby It's a Wild World

It's trite, but I'll say it anyway: I miss my boyfriend, and while he hasn't really even been gone a full 6 hours, I am anticipating not having anything to do that will remind me of him while going about my day. It used to be I would listen to Mars Volta, and then Miles Davis, and most recently Afrobeat. He was busy this last half-of-his-semester/my-quarter. And so was I. I did a lot of work, more than I should have taken on. I got sick twice, which makes me nervous. I feel like my immune system has been holding on pretty well in the last few years, even getting better, but I'm thinking that the stress of school and trying to turn that off long enough for an intimate moment with J. has proven rather more trying on my health than I assumed.

And though it's lame to say it (again) I miss my friends. It was the Writer's birthday this week and I didn't even remember--nor had I any time to check into Facebook to be reminded. Part of me eagerly awaits the use of the brain itself as hardware for storing all of the information that I knew but couldn't access when I want--to know that you want something but not know until it's too late: that's what Freud call's nachtraglichkeit: delayed action--desire building like a wave but cresting too late, or a high-five on two different trajectories. That's what technology really is, I think: a way in which we are able to store, categorize, and process information in ever increasingly efficient manners. It's like evolution exhausted itself on man--rather than a processed image--a screen of information--we developed an immediate reaction: pain, for instance. Computers used to get slow because the available hardware space was filled, the processor chip too slow to transmit the information (a binary string more complex than DNA). We are reaching a point, Parka Boy says, where we can use rocks in the place of chips--after all, once you reach a molecule-wide strip of gold or copper you can't go any thinner. I think technology is man's way of exhausting itself.

J. and I run on a cosmic clock. Rilke's two strings and drawn bow sort of thing. He calls me before I do something stupid, that I knew I would remember with a pang of shame, and hurtled towards only in a sadistic passion of condescending douchery. He called from the basement of his grandmother's house, while his dad was getting ready for bed upstairs. I would be sleeping in that basement if I were capable of muting my own faggery or my passion for his son. If I could, we might be fucking right now, my lips pressed into flesh to keep quiet. It's hot to think about, I will again later.

I've come up with a 40 book summer reading list. Preparation for a comp exam. First pitch of a question was sent back by the editor. Re-draft, re-send, re-wait. RSVP in the mean time. Re-agree on hotel arrangements. Re-affirm excitement over conference. Re-mind yourself you will have fun. Right: the book list. Ugh. Oh! I mean...

J. calls and I realize that blogging is what I used to do to deal with missing him. But this is an ambivalent avenue. This is also how I used to deal with missing the Writer. Who I am also missing. Who I just drunkenly gmail chatted with for almost 2 or more hours. I lost track of time. A lot happened in between. Emails. A movie. (I like to mime the people who are intrigued at what they see...). 4 crap beers. A joint. A PBJ sandwich. Piss x6. I'm doing it now again, I guess. With a lot of ghosts, though. The Writer, School, J., this insistent libido. I said to my Old Man that I'm in limbo again, and to a former co-worker a posteriori: time to enjoy, but no money with which to enjoy my time. I will be exercising. Chin-ups. Bike rides up and down the lake. Excessive masturbation. (Does that count?)

J. has the belly of the Hermes bronze-cast in the Uffizi: boyish and beautiful. Perfect.