Monday, May 31, 2010

Re-Memorializing Daze

Let me start by addressing my Chicago readers: bitch about your rained-out bbq to an Iraqi or an Afghani.

Memorial Day is always a strange one--I have a hard time getting into the spirit of the holiday for personal reasons but also because (unlike Independence Day) we are incited to implicitly celebrate American military conquest by explicitly glamorizing those men (and now women) who "served" their country or who "paid the ultimate (sacrificial) price" "in the line of duty".

I'm not meaning to hate on those who join the military. Rather, I'm querying the framing of the way we speak about America's military commitments. It was not uncommon for serious, "average" Americans to call into question the validity of the deaths of American soldiers in Vietnam, to ask, "why are we sending so many young people to their demise?" This was especially true of the Civil Rights movement--and we shouldn't forget that MLK was assassinated right around the time he was linking the struggle for domestic civil rights to American foreign policy (why are a disproportionate amount of poor black youth being drafted? why are there "exceptions" for white youth in college or who wear orthodontics?).

Left out of this discursive framing are the Iraqis, Afghanis, Palestinians, Mexicans, Somalis, and plenty of other folks who are directly or indirectly impacted by American military action. We don't ask after the over half-a-million internally displaced Iraqis, or after the families of those who suffered the loss of a loved-one or a home or a means of livelihood through "collateral damage"; we don't ask after the precarious position American patrols force already vulnerable Afghanis into when they are forced to submit to questions; nor do we ask after the American soldiers who have suffered rather serious injuries--psychical, physical, and neurological--and must wage war against an unresponsive, bankrupt bureaucracy; and finally, we do not ask after the logics under-girding both American militarism and enlistment (i.e., why are we fighting in Iraq? Or, why is the military one of the few places many socio-economically depressed folks can get a good technical or college degree?).

So, sorry that your bbq is damped by the weather, but maybe it shouldn't have been so warmly embraced in the first place?

In other news, classes end this week so I'm launching into the end of the quarter--final papers (both rather important) are to be written, and I'm looking forward to that. Also, teaching starts on Wednesday, and I'm always a bit anxious about the first class if for no other reason than as a younger, gay man it isn't always easy to earn the respect or exude authority, and so extra-strategic, diplomatic attention is always required so as to deftly read and respond to the nuances of the students.

I'm also excited for the summer to start. J. and I have been talking more regularly about expanding the structure of our relationship. What all that may or will entail is still unclear, but the summer promises to be exciting. IML was a great start. It was nice to be in it together, enjoying the attentions and affections of a lot of hot men and boys, and one another too! haha--there is something electrifying about being out with him when we are hit on: it is as if the desires of those men finds its way into and then out of our bodies when we fuck (i feel satisfied, full, invigorated). But he said quite openly that he wishes he could experience the cruising scene, and though qualified to include me in this desire (I want to cruise with you, ya know, for a third or something) I still get a bit anxious about how things will unfold. Yet, I should also relax a bit about it, not over-determine anything and let things happen as they do and respond when/if they do. Risk-aversion leads to some royally stupid decisions, which in turn tend to produce precisely the effect one works so hard against mitigating. Or, some effect even worse. All of this is easy to write, but maybe writing it out makes living it easier. The Stoics would say: live as if he already cheated on you, as if he already left you for another and then you will not be overwhelmed if he does, and you will enjoy your time with him freed from fear. (Of course, the Stoics were talking about death so they could speak of such inevitability, but love isn't like this: it imagines itself to be immortal, interminable: there is no escape from the lover's anxiety.)

Tonight we may go to the Black and Blue Ball, and I can get myself in the mood for it. I just don't know if I want to. It will depend on him. And then, in turn, on us. In the mean time, I'm loving formulating arguments against these despisers of the (embodied) Web. My work helps me, actually, with J.: it keeps me from making the same kinds of nostalgia-induced, reductive judgments: he keeps me fresh and fun. Infinitely interesting.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Needle In the Hay

When I was in elementary school we had "moving-up" ceremonies (queue the R&B). At Chicago we have "convocations" (summoning a large assembly of people for the conferral of awards). But I'm going to my sister's "graduation" (cf. also: 2; the action of dividing into degrees or other proportionate divisions on a graduated scale.). Our relationship has been fraught, mostly because we have "graduated"--divided by degrees along some measured scale of silences, thinly veiled insinuations of disapproval (oh, really? a sorority?... really? he's in the Army?... Or: Why do you date men any way?). Graduated... Though, at least I'll have an excuse not to really engage. No, I don't know the first thing about getting a real job in the business world... No, I wish I could but I don't live in DC so I wouldn't know if that's a good rental price... That sort of shit siblings continue to pester one another with from whatever distances they have furnished themselves with. But I like my little corner of the world, and I don't need to ask anyone for their fucking advice. (Not true: just, no one in my family.)

To be honest, it's just that this seems like a chore. No: like a total bore. It is crazy or stupid or whatever. Perhaps mean-spirited. But only if you think that we should subordinate ourselves to the drudgery of obligation--familial obligations I find most repulsive. Some people wish for the bondage of familial obligation; gays call one another "family" (not, what I think is more appropriate, but hardly more accurate, "community"), and a cottage industry of philosophy has blossomed under the sign of a nostalgia fueled vehemence that can only lash out at the desire for more wiggle-room with all sorts of nightmarish doomscapes of nihilism.

It's a matter of being an adept psychoanalyst, I think. Yes, yes, all of this has been said: anomie, dis-empowement, alienation, exclusion, despair--the canon of 19th and 20th century literature (of the readable variety--which is to say, pleasurable). Honest, perhaps more properly. What is beautiful about literature, about sitcoms, music videos, video-games, movies, comic strips, commercials, ect--the cultural signs--detritus and otherwise--is this mirroring effect. Still: one can choose how to look in the mirror. Perhaps it is just me, but after really good sex I like to look in the mirror, to match the image to the corporeal sensation that is still alive on the memory of my skin. I like to see my lover next to me in the mirror, equally pleased, sated--but not quite--always more, always lacking, always wanting, wanting, wanting--to avoid boredom or an image that is too recognizable, too the morning after; desire is the good.

The bonds of family--this is a bizarre desire, I feel. An over-investment in the paternal order, the militarized state, the disciplinary apparatus of church, school, clinic.

My a girl I knew in high school is starring in the remake of "Nightmare on Elm Street". She's "Rooney Mara"--which is funny as her nom de theatre is her mother's maiden name. Anyway, she plays the chick who cuts or burns herself to keep awake, to keep out of the nightmare, and who (of course) gets hospitalized and sedated--how brilliant! Modern psychiatry is what is responsible for sending us to our hellish deaths: their arrogant expertise amounting to nothing more than a banal death sentence--a lethal injection of good intention. One night, at her house, we sat outside talking about how unforgivable fat is--on ourselves and on others (body fascists my Sokrates says). From the open window of her parents bedroom we hear her father exclaim something nasty about her (out of frustration?) to her mother, and there is nothing that can be said since we've both heard it and yet to acknowledge that it was heard would be to acknowledge that it was said, and neither of us want to do that--it would hurt too much, be too messy, too unexplainable--a wound impossible to treat. But there I was, and a part of me was so pleased: yes, I thought to myself, I know for certain that all the rest of "You" are as abject as I am--and yet, I get to take all the shit for you, from you, so you don't have to speak your own shit out loud, so it can be disavowed, heard but not really heard.

I think that if I ever win an award that requires me to thank people publicly, I think I'd be of the temperament which would say simply: you know who you are that I am thankful for. My love knows no bounds; and that nothing in me knows any bounds, I am constantly engaged in a playful wrestling match; I often keep my desires bound and gagged, moaning for release. Oh, my father-Freud, how vindicated I am! Infinitely invert-able, laughing at the sudden reversals--may I always be laughing!

Tonight J. make me laugh out loud; how wonderful, I said, that you transgress a threshold and I don't scream in pain, but laugh like a child! May I always be able to laugh! I love my body in his hands. Strong hands, skilled in delicate and intimate foldings and unfoldings. My hands are sometimes too clumsy: they clatter like a keyboard or a train-car. My hands, my hands, my hands! When they are in love with my ideas they dance for me: like beautiful boys in a ballet choreographed by Alvin Ailey and Lady Gaga... Half-psychotic, sick, hypnotic...