Sunday, September 30, 2007

sunday's word: religion

warner sallman, christ our pilot, 1950

ree li jun

belief that a supernatural power or supernatural powers personally guide the universe, especially human endeavors

any expression of a belief in the supernatural

system of codes, practices, + institutions associated with belief in a god, gods, or other supernatural agents, which tries to explain humanity’s relation to the universe or, in some measure, influence the course of life or the laws of nature

metaphor for anything (love, music, food) for which one feels a high level of interest + devotion

18th-century empirical philosophers categorized two sorts of religion: ‘natural religion,’ or paganism, which interprets events in nature as the workings of a god or gods who inhabit or control individual aspects of nature (e.g., river gods, sky gods, tree spirits, the genii of particular minerals), + ‘moral religion,’ or monotheism, which interprets a set of ethical writings as the true, revealed will of an all-powerful god (e.g., jehovah, christ, allah).

recent religious writers have argued that even skepticism + disbelief are faiths or relgions. such a statement is paradoxical, if not patently nonsensical, comparable to saying that wakefulness is a form of sleep or that lying is a form of honesty.

latin ‘religare,’ ‘to bind tightly’ or latin ‘relegare,’ ‘to read again’

‘man is the religious animal. he is the only religious animal. he is the only animal that has the true religion—several of them.’
--mark twain

‘faith: belief without evidence in what is told by one who speaks without knowledge, of things without parallel.
‘pray: to ask the laws of the universe to be annulled on behalf of a single petitioner confessedly unworthy.
‘religion: a daughter of hope + fear, explaining to ignorance the nature of the unknowable.’
--ambrose bierce

Saturday, September 29, 2007

saturday's word: queer

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fernando botero, melancholy, 1989


unusual, abnormal, or unexpected

slang for fake or counterfeit

‘to queer’ [something] is to ruin or derail it

derogatory term for a homosexual man

for the past twenty years, ‘queer’ has been preferred by many as an all-inclusive term for bisexual, homosexual, pansexual, asexual, + transgender men + women, + all other individuals, homosexual + heterosexual, who deviate by choice from prescribed sex or gender norms

scottish ‘queer’ ‘off center’—germanic ‘quer’ ‘oblique’—proto-indo-european ‘twerk-‘ ‘to twist or wind’

synonyms: bizarre, curious, deviant, eccentric, fag, faggot, freakish, funny, idiosyncratic, kinky, odd, outlandish, peculiar, perverse, perverted, sick, strange, weird

“so we are taking off our masks, are we, + keeping
our mouths shut? as if we’d been pierced by a glance!

“the song of an old cow is not more full of judgment
than the vapors which escape one’s soul when one is sick;

“so i pull the shadows around me like a puff
+ crinkle my eyes as if at the most exquisite moment

“of a very long opera, + then we are off!
without reproach + without hope that our delicate feet

“will touch the earth again, let alone ‘very soon.’
it is the law of my own voice i shall investigate.

“i start like ice, my finger to my ear, my ear
to my heart, that proud cur at the garbage can

“in the rain. it’s wonderful to admire oneself
with complete candor, tallying up the merits of each

“of the latrines. 14th street is drunken + credulous,
53rd tries to tremble but is too at rest. the good

“love a park + the inept a railway station,
+ there are the divine ones who drag themselves up

“+ down the lengthening shadow of an Abyssinian head
in the dust, trailing their long elegant heels of hot air

“crying to confuse the brave ‘it’s a summer day,
+ i want to be wanted more than anything else in the world.’”
--frank o’hara, homosexuality, 1954

Friday, September 28, 2007

friday's word: platonic

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edgar degas, spartan girls challenging the boys, 1860

pluh ton ik

platonic love is an ethics of erotic feeling devised by plato + expressed in his symposium, phaedrus, + other works.

in symposium, plato imagines a discussion of perfect love among seven prominent athenians, who agree on just one thing: that love achieves perfection only between men.

the last speaker, socrates, who probably speaks for plato, argues that perfect love occurs between a man + a boy, but only if the man sublimates his desire for the boy’s individual beauty to a philosophical love for beauty in the abstract, as an ideal.

for plato, the love of the individual beautiful boy should not be fulfilled sexually, but rather philosophically, by elevating human love to an intellectual love of ideal beauty + love.

in phaedrus, socrates argues that, since love (eros) is a god, the true lover is not the one attracted by beauty but the one who senses the divinity in the beloved.

the highest love, according to socrates, is unconsummated, since it is motivated by a desire to improve the beloved, not possess him. true lovers should resist sexual satisfaction, but prove their love in worshipping the beloved’s godly attributes.

socrates nevertheless encourages all forms of erotic play between the lovers, just short of orgasm.

such teasing + restraint cause the beloved to desire to be desired further + not tire of the lover’s constant company + attention.

ultimately, socrates cannot bring himself to condemn even lovers who exceed this limit, the release being so intense + pleasurable, although in doing so they risk losing the interest of the beloved or, at any rate, delaying the spiritual perfection of their love.

the ‘platonic love’ thus voiced by socrates involves the combined idealization of sexual desire + the eroticization of sexual frustration.

in plato’s last, unfinished work, the laws, which promotes self-discipline to an extreme, the athenian, speaking for plato, condemns all forms of non-procreative sex, reserving sex for man + woman + love for man + man.

he recognizes that his repudiation of homosexuality flies in the face of greek morality, particularly in sparta + crete, whom he mocks for the citizens’ promiscuous boy-loving ways, + admits that, for greeks in general, a society banning pederasty is impractical + counter-intuitive.

it’s widely believed that plato’s own love life was considerably fleshier than the one he promoted, a philosophical failure he hints at, with apparent amusement, in phaedrus.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

thursday's word: out

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karol radziszewski, faggots, 2005


short for ‘out of the closet’—the ‘closet’ was initially (in the early 1950s) a metaphor for the provisions made to hide or disguise one’s alcoholism, but soon referred to hiding one’s homosexuality.

‘coming out,’ which was first recorded as a phrase in the mid-1960s + used widely within the gay community in the 1970s, should, then, mean no longer making those provisions.

‘out’ is a fairly recent adjective, following a line of increasingly positive modifiers that included ‘admittedly homosexual’ in the 1950s + 1960s, ‘openly gay’ + then ‘out of the closet’ in the 1970s.

recently, people speak of degrees of ‘outness.’

once, presumably, a person was either ‘closeted’ or ‘out.’ there was no middle ground.

now it’s common for people to be, for instance, ‘out’ at work but ‘closeted’ with family members, or vice versa.

terms like ‘straight-acting’ + ‘discreet,’ when they don’t actually mean ‘closeted,’ further suggest to some people that ‘outness’ is relative + gradated.

‘out’ is a word with some social + political importance.

the phenomenon it describes is a recent occurrence in societies worldwide, but the visibility the word ‘out’ suggests may arguably be diminishing everywhere except on t.v. since the 1980s.

with wider mainstream acceptance of homosexuality, distinctly niche-oriented enterprises like the ‘gay bookstore,’ ‘gay night club,’ and ‘gay news weekly’ appear to be disappearing in many american cities.

likewise, a large number of people who once united under the ‘gay’ banner argue that ‘gay’ no longer applies to them, + many who do accept being ‘out’ + ‘gay’ prefer to qualify the terms with ‘mostly’ or ‘straight-appearing.’

(unfortunately, the word ‘gay’ has taken on the additional meaning of ‘uncool,’ so it may be time to return the word to those poor offended snobs who, decades ago, claimed the homosexuals had stolen the word from them + preferred its earlier denotation as ‘festive’ or ‘brightly colored.’)

the verb form ‘to out’ is also recent, especially used in reference to political activists who ‘out’ public figures who, though secretly homosexual, openly condemn homosexuality + work in the interests of laws + organizations that discriminate against gay people.

this form of ‘outing’ had wider acceptance during the height of the aids epidemic among white american gays, but now the glbt community apparently feels more ambiguous about this tactic.

old english ‘ut’ from proto-indo-european ‘ud,’ meaning ‘up up + away,’ from the sanskrit ‘ut’ (‘up’) + ‘utterua’ (‘higher, upper, later, northern’)

lureen newsome. he always said he wanted his ashes scattered on brokeback mountain, but i wasn’t sure where that was. i thought brokeback mountain might be around where he grew up. knowing jack, it was probably some pretend place, where bluebirds sing + there’s a whiskey spring …
--brokeback mountain, 2005

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

wednesday's word: nanshoku

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kitagawa utamaro, the pillow book, 1788

nuh n’shkoo

in tokugawa japan, the era before admiral perry forced japan to open up to international trade (1603-1868), what westerners now call bisexuality was the norm. ‘nanshoku,’ or ‘allure of men,’ literally ‘male colors,’ was a man’s attraction to other men.

nanshoku refers to a certain form of sexual pleasure (for men) + the practices that produce it, rather than to a moral or psychological category of persons.

pre-19th-century japanese painting + poetry portray ‘male colors’ on equal footing with ‘female colors.’

before western influences began to displace much of japanese culture, nanshoku thrived in urban, monastic, + samurai cultures—for example, spartan-like mentorship + pederasty were crucial to samurai training.

male-male affection was not only open but also integrated into social institutions in japan for over 250 years, longer than any comparable acceptance of homosexuality at any point in history anywhere in the world.

japanese men of this era tended to idealize androgyny—except for genitalia, tokugawa japanese saw male + female bodies as practically identical, so dress, makeup, + behavioral norms were similar.

however, men also sometimes favored the ‘roughneck’ (‘koha’) as an ideal male type, much as ‘rough trade' had (+ has) fans in america.

homophobia entered japan along with other western influences at the end of the 19th century. unlike in europe, though, in japan same-sex love co-existed, however uneasily, with christianity, whose first missionaries arrived about 50 years before the tokugawa era began.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

tuesday's word: muscle

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glenn bishop

muss ul

body tissue whose contractions cause movement + acceleration

metaphor for all forms of power, force, + strength

in males, commonly accepted as the main index of sexual virility + often fetishized through voyeurism, ‘muscle worship,’ ‘erotic massage,’ + ‘body building’

diet, exercise, genetics, age, + health affect the shape + condition of muscles

latin ‘musculus’ – ‘little mouse’

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synonyms: beef, boulder, brawn, bulk, flesh, gun, gunboat, gundam, mass, meat, might, physique, pipe, protoplasm, python, sinew, tendon, thew, tit

specialized synonyms: abs, cut, glutes, lats, pumped, ripped, shredded, sixpack, washboard

muscular christianity—this late victorian movement, advocated by charles kingsley + thomas hughes, promoted the spiritual value of sports + exercise for men, to subject the body to the spirit, + to strengthen it for protecting the weak, standing up for righteous causes, + subjugating nature (both human nature + colonial wildernesses).

the movement prompted the international popularization of scouting + the ymca, + the resurgence of the olympic games.

the muscular male body thus became emblematic of wholesomeness, cleanliness, + victorian morality—‘straight’ in both posture + virtue, vs. the slouching ‘decadence’ of aesthetes + dandies.

. . . . .

ed. you’re fond of swimming?

sloane. i like a plunge now + then.

ed. bodybuilding?

sloane. we had a nice little gym at the orphanage. put me in all the teams they did. relays …

ed looks interested.

… soccer …

ed nods.

… pole vault, … long distance …

ed opens his mouth.

… 100 yards, discus, putting the shot …
ed rubs his hands together.

yes, yes. i’m an all rounder. a great all rounder. in anything you care to mention. even in life.

ed lifts up a warning finger.

… yes i like a good workout now + then.

ed. i used to do a lot of that at one time. with my mate … we used to do all what you just said. (pause.) we were young. innocent too. (shrugs. pats his pocket. takes out a packet of cigarettes. smokes.) all over now. (pause.) developing your muscles, eh? + character. (pause.) … well, well, well. (breathless.) a little bodybuilder are you? i bet you are … (slowly.) … do you … (shy.) exercise regular?

sloane. as clockwork.

ed. good, good. stripped?

sloane. fully.

ed. complete. (striding to the window.) how invigorating.

sloane. + i box. i’m a bit of a boxer.

ed. ever done any wrestling?

sloane. on occasions.

ed. so, so.

sloane. i’ve got a full chest. narrow hips. my biceps are—

ed. do you wear leather … next to the skin? leather jeans, say? without … aah …

sloane. pants?

ed. (laughs) get away! (pause) the question is are you clean living? you may as well know i set great store by morals. too much of this casual bunking up nowadays. too many lads being ruined by birds.

--excerpt from entertaining mr. sloane, by joe orton, 1964

Monday, September 24, 2007

monday's word: love

michelangelo caravaggio, amor vincit omnia, ca. 1601


unlike other languages, english uses one word to cover many senses of love—familial love, patriotic love, philosophical love, romantic love, sexual love, spiritual love—as well as, for instance, love of money or love of horseback riding.

--intense attraction, desire for oneness with another or others

--seeking the well-being of another, of others, or of all beings

--a deliberate choice to relinquish part of one’s self-esteem for the benefit of another (or others or all)

--the opposite of hate or apathy, a stronger form of liking or a higher form of tolerance

--a synonym for god

--abstraction, idealization, or mythologizing of the animal appetite or lust for someone or something

people disagree whether love is an ability, an action, a condition, a feeling, a force, an illness, an instinct or drive, a social contract, a spiritual gift, a state of altered consciousness, or a combination of some or all of these … or something else entirely.

old english ‘lufu’ – ‘love, affection, friendliness’ – from proto-germanic ‘lubo’—‘dear, beloved’ – from proto-indo-european ‘leubh-‘—‘to care, desire, love’

synonyms: adoration, affection, affinity, agape, altruism, amor, amour, attraction, bonding, caring, commitment, crush, cupid, desire, devotion, eros, fondness, friendliness, heart, infatuation, intimacy, karma, love sickness, lust, metta, narcissism, needing, passion, philia, romance, sympathy, uniting, wuv

‘what you call love was invented by guys like me to sell nylons.’
--don draper on mad men, amc, 2007

Sunday, September 23, 2007

sunday's word: kitsch

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adolphe-william bouguereau, le ravissement de psyche, 1895


sentimental, lushly romantic, or ‘cute’ art appealing to popular tastes, often ignored or held in polite disdain by critics, thus often marginalized or excluded in the canons of great art

middle-brow pretensions in the creation of ‘beauty’ + ‘good taste’

created objects trading on style, skill, + clichés, principally for commercial goals

often distinguished from ‘camp,’ which is ironic + solicits laughter—pop artists like warhol + koons may use kitsch in their art, but ironic detachment distinguishes their work from kitsch

61 masters of ‘good’ kitsch, past + present:

lawrence alma-tadema, paul avril, léon bakst, gyula benczúr, thomas hart benton, busby berkeley, leon bonnat, adolphe-william bouguereau, edward burne-jones, alexandre cabanel, paul cadmus, jean cocteau,

c.m. coolidge, pierre-auguste cot, thomas couture, jacques-louis david, claude debussy, paul delaroche, jean delville, cecil b. demille, walt disney, ronald firbank, jean-hippolyte flandrin, frank frazetta,

jean-léon gérôme, anne-louis girodet de roussy-trioson, charles gleyre, louis janmot, margaret keane, guy laliberté, frederic leighton, liberace, david ligare, hans makart, albert moore, gustave moreau, yoshitomo nara,

odd nerdrum, maxfield parrish, edgar allan poe, giacomo puccini, george quaintance, max reinhardt, norman rockwell, charles roka, warner sallman, ary scheffer, giovanni segantini, siegfried + roy, douglas sirk,

simeon solomon, haddon sundblom, tom of finland, boris vallejo, piotr tchaikovsky, gianni versace, richard wagner, john william waterhouse, george frederic watts, andrew lloyd webber, florenz ziegfeld

german ‘kitschen’—‘to oollect garbage off the street’

“kitsch or sugary trash is the beautiful minus its ugly counterpart. therefore kitsch, purified beauty, becomes subject to an aesthetic taboo that in the name of beauty pronounces kitsch to be ugly.”
--theodor adorno

“kitsch is mechanical + operates by formulas. kitsch is vicarious experience + faked sensations. kitsch changes according to style, but remains always the same. kitsch is the epitome of all that is spurious in the life of our times. kitsch pretends to demand nothing of its customers except their money—not even their time.”
--clement greenberg

“kitsch is about the eternal human questions, the pathetic, whatever its form, about what we call ‘the human’, the task of kitsch is to create a seriousness in life, at its best so sublime it will bring the laughter to a quiet. kitsch serves life + therefore seeks the individual, in contradiction to art’s irony + dispassion. . . . kitsch is passion’s form of expression at all levels, + not the servant of truth. . . . truth, kitsch leaves for art. in kitsch, skill is a decisive criteria of quality. . . . as opposed to art’s craving for the new, kitsch roams around among the familiar forms in history.”
--odd nerdrum

“those who laugh at clichés, plunge into irony.”
--odd nerdrum

Saturday, September 22, 2007

saturday's word: jockstrap

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jok strap

men’s underwear consisting of an elastic waistband, pouch, + two straps that parenthesize but do not conceal the butt

invented in 1874 by c.f. bennett for sharp + smith of chicago, designed for the comfort of male bicycle riders (‘bike jockeys’). (parvo nakacheker of finland, bennett's contemporary, has a competing claim as originator of the jockstrap.) bennett later patented the invention + started his own business, the bike web company (later shortened to bike). health benefits claimed for the jockstrap included cures for erectile dysfunction + insomnia.

in u.s. high schools, jockstraps were required undergarments for boys’ p.e. in the post-jfk era of mandatory gym classes (1960s-70s). seldom washed, they lent locker rooms their distinctive smell.

subsequently, homosexual fetish gear, especially with tube socks in the 1970s clone era

numerous designer jockstraps are available, but the classic remains the gray or white #10 bike jockstrap.

scottish ‘jockey,’ for ‘boy,’ also slang for ‘penis’ + ‘erection,’ derived from ‘john’ = ‘common man’ + ‘strap’

“a fat man in a glitter jockstrap had little eyes flicking in his pillow-creased face, as his booze buddies belched his name in unison from the front tables.”
--katherine dunn, geek love, 1983

synonyms: athletic supporter, basket, dance belt, flopper, jock (ca. 1960s, also slang for ‘male athlete’), jock strap, jotter

Friday, September 21, 2007

friday's word: irony

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david, liza, michael, + liz, spring of 2002

ie ruh ni

perception of incongruity between what is + what ought to be (esp. ‘cosmic irony’)

knowledge held by an audience outside an action that is not shared by the actors inside the action (esp. ‘dramatic irony’)

pretended innocence or ignorance to expose the lack of logic or consistency of a widely accepted assumption (esp. ‘socratic irony’)

intentional incongruity between what is said + what is meant to be understood, with the usual expectation that different hearers will pick up different senses of the meaning (esp. ‘verbal irony’)

greek ‘eironeia’—‘feigned naïveté’

synonyms: absurdity, double entendre, figurative language, incongruity, sarcasm, understatement

Thursday, September 20, 2007

thursday's word: handsome

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josh wald (1979- ), model + pro-skateboarder

han sum

attractive, in a mature or dignified fashion, often but not always sexual in connotation, but linked with everyday behavior: graciousness, poise, + virility (‘handsome is as handsome does’).

pleasantly aloof, quiet yet confident, sophisticated + witty in a relaxed, masculine fashion, attention-getting without showiness, tough but tender

not ‘cute’

old english—‘hand’ + ‘som’ [i.e. characterized by the qualities of the hand—as in size, perhaps the 4-inch ‘hand’ used in measuring height, esp. of horses, or in dexterity + utility, as in ‘handy’ or ‘handed’]

tall, dark, + handsome—‘07 nominees—eric bana (6’3”), matthew fox (6’2”), hugh jackman (6’3”), wentworth miller (6’1”), keanu reeves (6’1”), josh wald (6’1.5”), denzel washington (6’0.5”)

lifetime achievers—gary cooper (6’3”), cary grant (6’1”), rock hudson (6’4”)

synonyms: apollonian, debonair, easy on the eyes, elegant, fetching, guapo, hairy chested, handy, heroic, knight in shining armor, latin lover, manly, marlborough man, prince charming, pulchritudinous, rugged good looks, strapping, tarzan, virile, woof!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

wednesday's word: g-string

paul labriola, 1950s

jee string

probably the earliest form of clothing, ca. 73,000 b.c.e., a type of thong made of a strip of cloth, leather, or plastic cupping the genitals, running through the thighs + between the butt cheeks, connecting at a belt around the hips, known universally, mainly associated with africa, asia, + the americas.

word’s first known english use in john h. beadle’s western wilds + the men who redeem them, 1878: “around each boy’s waist is the tight ‘geestring,’ from which a single strip of cloth runs between the limbs from front to back.”

questionable etymology: perhaps short for ‘girdle string’ or ‘groin string’; perhaps pertaining to the g-string of a violin, the lowest string; most likely derived from a plains indian word, ‘geestringi,’ for a thong worn by native americans

used by female strippers + exotic dancers in the west, beginning in the 1920s, to provide minimal legal coverage; adopted by male dancers + physique models beginning in the 1940s; beachwear in brazil beginning in the 1970s, to emphasize the butt cheeks, gradually catching on in the rest of the western world in the 1980s + 1990s as both beachwear + underwear.

synonyms: brazilian, dancing belt, fundoshi, gee-string, gee string, posing pouch, posing strap, rio, tanga, t-back, thong, t-string, v-string

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

tuesday's word: friends

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uss wisconsin, hawaii, 1945


people you know, like, + trust

people allied because of common interests, needs, values, + purpose

people who support you in an endeavor

members of the society of friends, quakers

t.v. sitcom, 1994-2004

old english, ‘freond’

essential characteristics of friendship:

--interest in the other’s welfare + success

--understanding of the other’s feelings + other personal qualities

--forthright, honest communication

--common ground (common values, common tastes, common goals, + so on)

"standing at the end of the road, boys,
waiting for my new friends to come.
i don't care if i'm hungry or poor,
i'm gonna get me some of them."
--"friends," buzzy linhart + mark klingman, perf. bette midler

synonyms: aces, acquaintances, amigos, backups, bests, boys, bros, buddies, buds, chums, close associates, cobbers, colegas, companions, comrades, coves, cronies, dawgs, diggers, dudes, fuck buddies, homeboys, homies, mates, niggaz, pals, peeps, posse, sisters, tìos, wingmen

Monday, September 17, 2007

monday's word: epicurean

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ephebe [student] of marathon, attrib. praxiteles, 350 b.c.e.

ep i kyur ee un

devoted to sensual pleasure, especially good food + wine, + comfort

follower of the athenian philosopher epicurus, ca. 341-270 b.c.e., who taught his students the following life principles:

--the universe is infinite + eternal

--myths + religion contribute little to our understanding of the universe or to the meaningfulness of life

--we should believe nothing that cannot be either directly observed or logically deduced from what we directly observe

--all matter + all energy derives from ‘atoms’ [atomos], tiny, indestructible particles that move in empty space [khaos]

--the motion of atoms is both regular + random—regular motion sustains the integrity of objects, random motion creates change

--the gods are eternal + blessed, but unknowable, + people who attribute personal traits to the gods (or make personal petitions to them) are, at best, unwise +, at worst, impious

--the gods do not reward or punish human beings, either in life or in death

--death ends both body + soul

--we should not fear death because it involves no pain in itself + brings an end to the suffering that sometimes precedes it

--pleasure is good, pain is bad

--the highest good is ‘perfect peace of mind’ (ataraxia), freedom from pain + fear that precludes a need for pleasure

--temperance + restraint increase the pleasure + reduce the pain of our desires

--it is best to leave politics alone, to live away from the hubbub of society, in a garden, with a circle of well-chosen friends

--friendship contributes, more than any other factor, to happiness (epicurus never married)

--we should treat others as we wish them to treat us, in order to maximize our personal happiness + reduce the probability of harm coming to us or to others

--all people, including women + slaves, are equal (unlike other philosophers, epicurus permitted women + slaves to join him as students)

--the proper goals of life are pleasure, tranquility, freedom from pain + fear, self-sufficiency, + friendship

[later, the roman stoics + then the early christians maligned epicurean philosophy as mere self-indulgence + pleasure seeking, without ethics or meaning.]

synonyms: agnosticism, atomism, communalism, deism, egalitarianism, empiricism, hedonism, philosophical materialism, quantum physics

Sunday, September 16, 2007

sunday's word: decadence

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tj in fur, autonomy_boy

de ka dens

moral perversion associated with luxury, lack of discipline or will, exaggerated prosperity in a society with exaggerated class divisions

sensibility of the 1890s ‘decadent movement’ among artists like charles baudelaire, aubrey beardsley, remy de gourmont, j.-k. huysmans, comte de lautréamont, gustave moreau, edvard munch, arthur rimbaud, odilon redon, paul verlaine, + oscar wilde—characterized by deliberate efforts to shock + offend bourgeois sensibilities, depict an amoral universe, seek beauty for its own sake, + eroticize ugliness, crime, + illness

arthur symons—“a beautiful + interesting disease”

absinthe, catholicism, cosmetics, femmes fatales, green carnations, hashish, homosexuality, incest, murder, opium, orchids, sadomasochism, tuberculosis, vampirism

“all that is beautiful + noble is the result of reason + calculation. crime, the taste for which the human animal draws from the womb of his mother, is natural in its origins. virtue, on the contrary, is artificial + supernatural, since gods + prophets were necessary in every epoch + every nation to teach virtue … the good is always the product of some art.”
--charles baudelaire

synonyms: aestheticism, artificiality, excess, fin de siècle, morbidity, perversity

Saturday, September 15, 2007

saturday's word: camp

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blue boy wonder, snowcrash, 2005


temporary residence for travelers or soldiers


affected + genuine appreciation of so-called ‘bad taste’--kitschy, over-the-top, banal, + corny aspects of low-, but especially middle-brow culture (e.g., opera, hollywood melodrama, science fiction, superheroes, retro design, baroque or rococo architecture, sword-+-sandal epics, disney, pro wrestling, bollywood, vintage porn, french badly spoken)

effeminate homosexual

latin campus, ‘field’
likely from french 'camper'--to pose in an over-the-top manner
perhaps from early 20th-century british slang for impetuous, uncouth person (derived from 'kemp') or perhaps slang for homosexual brothel or hangout

“the peculiar relation between camp taste + homosexuality has to be explained. while it’s not true that camp taste is homosexual taste, there is no doubt a peculiar affinity + overlap. not all liberals are jews, but jews have shown a peculiar affinity for liberal + reformist causes. so, not all homosexuals have camp taste. but homosexuals, by + large, constitute the vanguard—+ the most articulate audience—of camp. (the analogy is not frivolously chosen. jews + homosexuals are the outstanding creative minorities in contemporary urban culture. creative, that is, in the truest sense: they are creators of sensibilities. the two pioneering forces of modern sensibility are jewish moral seriousness + homosexual aestheticism + irony.)”
--susan sontag, notes on ‘camp,’ 1964

synonyms: bad taste, burlesque, flaming, high camp, low camp, mockery, parody, queer, travesty, trite, trivia, vulgarity, wit

Friday, September 14, 2007

friday's word: butch

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exaggeratedly or stereotypically masculine in appearance or behavior

short, close-cropped haircut

unknown origins--perhaps from old british slang for 'to cut,' then applied to short haircuts + then, ca. 1940s, applied to lesbians + gay men with short hair + affected masculine traits; or perhaps a nickname for 'butcher'

in the 1940s the homosexual subculture began to apply the term to lesbians + gay men--now applications of terms like 'butch' + 'femme' are more common to lesbians, less common to gay men, though mostly out of date for both (like 'homosexual subculture')

'straight acting' would not be a synonym since 'butch' connotes a deliberate intensification of masculine qualities, a 'queering' of gender norms for men (esp. american men)--among gay men, the phenomenon (+ thus the term) all but disappeared after the 1970s

closer synonyms are 'bear,' 'boi,' 'clone,' 'drag king,' 'gym bunny,' 'macho,' 'tomboy'

Thursday, September 13, 2007

thursday's word: acrobat

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cirque eloize, rain

æk rə bæt

french 'acrobate' -- greek 'akrobates' ('akros' = highest; 'bainein' = walk)

athlete skilled in feats of strength, coordination, balance, + agility, e.g., jumping, tumbling, tightrope walking

one who changes one’s viewpoint on short notice

set of applications created by adobe to create + view pdf files

synonyms: tumbler, trapeze artist, gymnast, funambulist, entertainer, contortionist, circus performer, aerialist

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

my seven deadly sins

living + teaching in the bible belt, i expected the adult students in my evening class last night to respond differently to the essay i assigned them in our reader.

in it lisa frank discusses, tongue in cheek, the seven deadly sins, as enumerated in the sixth century by pope gregory the great. she argues that in the modern world "we work with our vices instead of against them, not only accepting them as the core of who we are + what is natural within us, but also as a measure of what we're capable of."

to a person, my students accepted this thesis without blinking.

in the 21st century, you need pride, envy, greed, + a certain level of aggressiveness (wrath) to function in a corporate culture.

on tv, what used to be meanness passes for cleverness.

the entertainment industry revamped our superheroes batman + superman to mirror our change in values--now vengeance + sex, not truth + justice, motivate their heroism.

the moralizers of the middle ages saw gluttony + lust as self-exhausting + therefore relatively minor sins of the flesh, when compared to sins of the spirit like pride or envy. today's busybodies, on the other hand, see them as the worst sins of all. our moralizers regard food + sex as the worst temptations we have. the government would rather control our portions + our passions + let our greed + envy accrue interest at a favorable rate.

but apparently i no longer have to worry about my own personal kevin spacey pumping me full of spaghetti-o's or slicing me apart with a porcupine dildo.

so, frank's essay inspires me to contemplate, nonjudgmentally, + in the interests of full disclosure, the not-so-very-deadly sins i've committed over the past 24 hours:

lust--according to dante + other medieval ethicists, lust is the least deadly of the seven. it used to be my deadly sin of choice, until i hit 45, or so. it's now dropped down to the number 2 spot.

yesterday, in the fires of lust, i beat off, twice in 18 minutes, to a video of aaw pro wrestlers tyler black + danny daniels fighting, speedo vs. speedo. not everyone's porn, admittedly, but hot as hell to me.

gluttony--now that i am well into middle age, this is my number one sin. i spend too much money, pile on the debt, + take a feast or fast, all or nothing, approach to eating + consumerism.

yesterday i wickedly took a second breadroll at pulcinella's, a nearby mom-+-pop italian restaurant, on top of the full plate of eggplant rollatini, oozing with olive oil, ham, ricotta, provolone, + mozzarella.

greed--even though i was an only child, i never really had this problem, though i'm beginning to regret lending my friend ann my planet earth series dvds. it's been months now + she hasn't even got through the great plains.

sloth--ok, i skipped a workout today. yesterday, too. oh yes, nothing on monday either. in all areas other than health + fitness, though, i'm reasonably diligent.

wrath--i'm an ironic + easy-going guy, so usually ire is the least of my sins, but yesterday this skinny-assed girl in my freshmen comp class pissed me off, deluxely, by not only forgetting her fucking rough draft for a long-scheduled peer review, but also trying to front her way out of it by claiming nobody (meaning me) had told her about the assignment--it's been in the class schedule since mid-august, bitch, + pretty much repeated in every goddamned class since. then she had the effrontery to insist that her mere presence in class should satisfy the course requirements for participation. right then in my imagination i made the little cunt's head explode.

envy--big problem for me, probably number 3 in the countdown. i fluctuate between being usually well content in my life as it is + occasionally, to take one example, wanting to suck the blood from the studly veins of 3 or 4 of my strapping ephebes this semester to rob them of their youth + poetically hard, round muscles.

pride--the biggest sin of the middle ages, the sin of satan, now has parades nationwide in june. i'm a little too unassertive (not to say humble) for my own good sometimes, but i do suffer from pride on occasion.

just this morning, for instance, i felt a fleeting flash of unwarranted superiority to dr. andrew cappuccino, when i heard on npr that, after monday's fucked-up prognosis that buffalo bills reserve tight end kevin everett may never walk again, he called it a "minor miracle" (!) that everett, out of sedation now, can move his limbs.

a faith-based hallelujah to cover reality-based incompetence.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

i want to thank jesus for free speech

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last weekend, kathy griffin won the emmy she deserves for her t.v. show kathy griffin: my life on the d-list.

accepting the award, griffin said, "a lot of people come up here + thank jesus for this award. i want you to know that no one had less to do with this award than jesus."

then she held up the emmy + said, "suck it, jesus--this award is my god now!"

bill donoghue, president of the catholic league, has dubbed the remark "hate speech." now e! promises to edit the remarks out of the awards presentation this coming saturday.

how many fakeass hiphop gangsters + rhinestone-wearing hillbillies have i had to hear praise jesus for hawking their derivative drivel up to platinum?

how many times have i had to listen to the righteous call down god's blessings on friday night highschool football?

or, for that matter, on a bird's dried-up carcass at thanksgiving?

griffin said nothing off-color. she did not malign anyone else's beliefs.

she did not tell a lie. her remarks do not incite hate or violence against those who differ from her.

if anything, unlike the phonies who thank jesus for a people's choice award, griffin refrained from taking "the lord's name in vain."

she was true to her own beliefs, or lack thereof, + wittily goosed the true idolators of hollywood, whose smoke-blowing + self-congratulations typify these awards shows ... usually to the point of nauseum.

congratulations, kathy. you deserve your success. no thanks to christ.

Monday, September 10, 2007


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seguidilla, duncan grant, 1935

the painting no longer exists, except in this photograph.

in 1935, the cunard line commissioned duncan grant + vanessa bell to paint some panels to adorn their new ship, the rms queen mary.

after initially approving the design of this painting, cunard asked grant to reconsider his proportions, arguing that the size of the painting was inappropriate for its intended space.

grant balked, but then agreed to adjust the dimensions.

but cunard ultimately decided not to display this or the other paintings at all, on the grounds that the dignitaries + millionaires among its clientele would consider the paintings vulgar.

the shipping company paid grant + bell for the works, but refused to display them.

the painting is a visual representation of the spanish folk dance, the seguidilla, related to flamenco. grant uses vibrant color to represent visually the fast, intoxicating rhythm of seguidilla music.

to suggest the eroticism + passion of the music, grant uses a scantily clothed man + woman in poses suggesting the dance. the painting hardly emphasizes sexuality, but the sexual dimension, specifically homoeroticism, can hardly be overlooked.

a bare-breasted female dancer dominates the painting. the well-toned young man with cymbals + a bright red sash around his loins stretches seductively, below. four musicians, three female + one male, accompany them.

the guitarists in the lower right corner vaguely resemble grant + bell, both members of the bloomsbury group. grant's lovers included lytton strachey, his cousin, + maynard keynes. a romance blossomed with bell, virginia woolf's sister, + grant moved in with bell + her two sons. the couple had a daughter + remained together until bell's death in the early 1960s.

the two agreed to keep their relationship open. grant continued to sleep with men, but, for her part, bell apparently remained faithful to grant.

hardly a great or important painting, seguidilla retains some mystery because it is lost + because the figures' blank, passionless faces contrast oddly with the vitality of color + unmistakable hints of a woman-dominated world, with undertones of male objectification +, more subtly if at all, lesbianism.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

oscar levant, pianist, composer, writer, comedian, actor (1906-72)

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"it's not a pretty face, i grant you, but underneath its flabby exterior is an enormous lack of character."
--as adam in an american in paris (1951)

personal quotes:

"i knew doris day before she was a virgin."

"strip the phony tinsel off hollywood + you'll find the real tinsel underneath."

"i admire leornard bernstein, but not as much as he does."

"everyone in hollywood is gay, except gabby hayes, + that's because he is a transvestite."

"i'm going to memorize your name + throw my head away."

"the only difference between the democrats + the republicans is that the democrats allow the poor to be corrupt, too."

"i'm a study of a man in chaos in search of frenzy."

"roses are red, violets are blue, i am a schizophrenic, + so am i."

"so little time + so little to do ..."

[on milton berle joining the christian scientists] "our loss is their loss."

"now that marilyn monroe is kosher, arthur miller can eat her." [the remark that led to the cancellation of the oscar levant show, on a local l.a. station in 1958--levant made the comment shortly after the millers renewed their vows in a traditional jewish ceremony]

[on what he does for exercise] "i stumble, then fall into a coma."

"my psychiatrist once said to me, 'maybe life isn't for everyone.'"

"happiness isn't something you experience; it's something you remember."

"it's not what you are, but what you don't become that hurts."

Saturday, September 8, 2007

dempsey + firpo

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george bellows, dempsey + firpo, 1924

george bellows' popular painting depicts a boxing match that occurred in the late summer of the previous year.

the event, pitting world heavyweight champion jack dempsey against challenger luis ángel firpo, occurred outdoors at the polo grounds in new york city, with a live audience of 80,000.

the american dempsey had held the title for four years. firpo from argentina, nicknamed "el toro de las pampas," was the first latin-american contender for the championship.

firpo opened round 1 aggressively, dropping dempsey with a right. dempsey recovered quickly + repaid firpo with seven drops in rapid succession. the lax rules in the 1920s permitted dempsey to stand right over firpo + punch him down repeatedly before the challenger could get to his feet. when firpo did stand, he managed to trap dempsey against the ropes + landed the punch that knocked the champion over the ringropes + into the press box.

a photographer captured the moment.

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dempsey was down for a slow (14-second) nine count, but he got up again + reporters assisted the champ back into the ring. many believed that, given the slow count + the outside interference, firpo should have been declared the winner.

in round 2, dempsey knocked firpo down three times with brutal force +, with less than a minute remaining in the round, the referee stopped the fight + declared dempsey the winner.

the 41-year-old bellows attended the fight + portrays himself as an onlooker in the lower left corner of the canvas.

as customary in artists' self-portraits inserted into paintings of religious or historical events, the artist turns slightly away from the main action, towards the viewer.

politically an anarchist, bellows created paintings meant to raise the public's consciousness about social inequities. his paintings oddly combine the impressionism popular among painters at the time + the gritty, violent naturalism that mainly emerged in literature with such writers as theodore dreiser, stephen crane, + jack london, who were likewise politically motivated.

as a young man, bellows belonged to a group of radical artists called the lyrical left + served on the board of the socialist periodical the masses, to which he also contributed illustrations.

his belief in artistic freedom, however, sometimes placed him at odds with fellow radicals who believed the artist's role was strictly propagandistic.

married with children, bellows later focused on painting the members of his immediate family. the painting dempsey + firpo belongs to a series of sports-themed (boxing + polo) works bellows created in the early 20th century. his depiction of the male body, especially in an earlier boxing painting, stag at sharkey's (1909), put him at the forefront of artists exploring homoerotic imagery + male identity.

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however violent, bellows' boxing paintings isolate the male physiques from a background of pitch blackness, + the combatants' bodies in motion, especially when locked in struggle, appear united against the harsh + exploitative circumstances of their livelihood.

Friday, September 7, 2007

wrestling jacob

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leon bonnat, la lutte de jacob, 1876

"come, o thou traveler unknown,
whom still i hold, but cannot see!
my company before is gone,
+ i am left alone with thee;
with thee all night i mean to stay,
+ wrestle till the break of day."
--charles wesley, hymns + sacred poems, 1742

"so the two men entwined + wrestled with each other, working nearer + nearer. both were white + clear, but gerald flushed smart red where he was touched, + birkin remained white + tense. he seemed to penetrate into gerald's more solid, more diffuse bulk, to interfuse his body through the body of the other, as if to bring it subtly into subjection, always seizing with some rapid necromantic foreknowledge every motion of the other flesh, converting + counteracting it, playing upon the limbs + trunk of gerald like some hard wind. it was as if birkin's whole physical intelligence interpenetrated into gerald's body, as if his fine, sublimated energy entered into the flesh of the fuller man, like some potency, casting a fine net, a prison, through the muscles into the very depths of gerald's physical being.

"so they wrestled swiftly, rapturously, intent + mindless at last, two essential white figures working into a tighter, closer oneness of struggle, with a strange, octopus-like knotting + flashing of limbs in the subdued light of the room; a tense white knot of flesh gripped in silence between the walls of old brown books. now + again came a sharp gasp of breath, or a sound like a sigh, then the rapid thudding of movement on the thickly-carpeted floor, then the strange sound of flesh escaping under flesh. often, in the white interlaced knot of violent living being that swayed silently, there was no head to be seen only the swift, tight limbs, the solid white backs, the physical junction of two bodies clinched into oneness. then would appear the gleaming, ruffled head of gerald, as the struggle changed, then for a moment the dun-coloured, shadowlike head of the other man would lift up from the conflict, the eyes wide + dreadful + sightless.

"at length gerald lay back inert on the carpet, his breast rising in great slow panting, whilst birkin kneeled over him, almost unconscious. birkin was much more exhausted. he caught little, short breaths, he could scarcely breathe any more. the earth seemed to tilt + sway, + a complete darkness was coming over his mind. he did not know what happened. he slid forward quite unconscious over gerald, + gerald did not notice. then he was half conscious again, aware only of the strange tilting + sliding of the world. the world was sliding, everything was sliding off into the darkness. + he was sliding, endlessly, endlessly away."
--d.h. lawrence, women in love, 1920

Thursday, September 6, 2007

"the rule is, jam to-morrow + jam yesterday--but never jam today"

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"'i'm sure I'll take you with pleasure!' the queen said. 'twopence a week, + jam every other day.'"

"alice couldn't help laughing, as she said, 'i don't want you to hire me--+ i don't care for jam.'"

"'it's very good jam,' said the queen."

"'well, i don't want any to-day, at any rate.'"

"'you couldn't have it if you did want it,' the queen said. 'the rule is, jam to-morrow + jam yesterday--but never jam to-day.'"

"'It must come sometimes to "jam to-day,"' alice objected."

"'no, it can't,' said the queen. 'it's jam every other day: to-day isn't any other day, you know.'"

"'i don't understand you,' said alice. 'it's dreadfully confusing!'"

--lewis carroll, through the looking-glass

the democrats are jam tomorrow. the republicans are jam yesterday.

nobody's jam today.

the democrats like gays, want our votes, + are willing to give us civil unions, if not marriage, + let us die in iraq + afghanistan, as long as we don't tell.

the republicans hate gays, want more votes than the supporters of liberty, much less supporters of sex for pleasure, can supply, + are willing to give us civil unions, but never marriage, + let us die in iraq + afghanistan, as long as we don't tell.

the democrats ask us to wait. the republicans ask us to believe.

we can fuck in secret so long as nobody knows about it, but if somebody finds out, cops will lurk in restroom stalls + other secret spaces to ferret us out.

everybody's shocked at our promiscuity, but nobody really respects our sad little bids for respectability.

if we can't build bridges to the 21st century anymore (now yesterday's jam, anyway) or uphold the ideals + values that made this country great (yesterday's jam of racism + sexual repression), what is a person to do?

yes, i'm disillusioned with american politics. again.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

"when you die, everyone wants to be your friend"

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i'd be happy to make a small shrine to vanessa redgrave + peter o'toole in last year's venus, a film apparently designed as oscar bait for o'toole, but no less a genuine work of cinema.

to redgrave, a shrine for everything she's been in, in her entire career, even potboilers like mission impossible. at 70 she still is the most watchable actor i know of. for everything's she's been in + for every tiny moment, too, which, on screen, she fills with intensity + mindfulness, to steal a buddhist idea.

to o'toole, a shrine more specifically for his recitation of shakespeare's sonnet 18 ("shall i compare thee to a summer's day?"), which he quietly brings back to life about halfway through the film.

the entire movie is graceful, delicately scripted by hanif kureishi (my beautiful laundrette, the mother), directed by roger michell, making a career of small, aching stories about desire (notting hill, the mother, enduring love), but, still, admittedly, venus pushes fairly predictable buttons--i can't say anyone would find the ending a surprise.

on the way, though, individual scenes are less predictable:

o'toole + leslie phillips waltzing in front of memorial plaques for boris karloff, robert shaw, + laurence harvey at covent garden actors' church.

three old men sitting in a pub + sniping at each other over the newspaper obits section.

o'toole + redgrave's unexpectedly passionate kiss.

the already mentioned recitation of shakespeare, which, in o'toole's reading, becomes a living breath all its own.

jodie whittaker's ultimate apotheosis as venus, goddess of love + beauty.

the film venus portrays the tyranny of the one loved over the one loving, a theme proust knew well, as did nabokov, shakespeare, too, + one that's not yet exhausted its sad, comic loveliness.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

diet coke plus

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coca-cola's new diet coke plus is vanishing from the shelves of my local food lion + harris teeter. does this mean the new product, which the coke company started testing five months ago, is officially a flop?

i bought the new diet coke a few months ago because, as a new product in need of promotion, it was a dollar cheaper per six pack than the plain diet coke.

like a lot of people, i pooh-poohed the claims for its healthiness--enriched with 15% of some recommended vitamins + minerals.

yeah, right.

i'm still dubious about that. + probably promising people needed nutrients is not a winning marketing strategy for any soft drink.

but the new artificial sweeteners in plus make it taste better than the old diet coke.

it tastes sweeter because it contains both aspartame + another sweetener called acesulfame potassium (instead of the aspartame + saccharine in regular diet coke).


it's closer to the taste of coke classic, which a few of you may remember used to be just coke, until another product fiasco (new coke) made it necessary for coca-cola to make a clear distinction.

+ like victoria beckham, who says she drinks it because she doesn't like the taste of water, i'm pretty much addicted to diet coke, along with elton john + bill clinton--breakfast, lunch, dinner, + in between.

it's not that i can get all that worked up in defending the product.

pepsi has a better civil-rights record.

then there's that nasty 2005 report that coke, even with its 100% hrc rating, supports paramilitary ops to kill union organizers in colombia. if true, this is an issue we can't settle with just a taste test.

besides, none of it, coke or pepsi, diet or otherwise, plus or no plus, is really very good for you. diet soda is even counter-indicated for weight loss.

what surprises me is that the critics of diet coke plus have focused mainly on its marketing. forget human rights, health, + taste. they don't like the way it looks. some critics even slam the rainbow-colored "plus" logo--shouldn't gays take to the streets over this?

life will go on for me if diet coke plus disappears from the face of the earth.

now, maybe, i'll be reminded how much regular diet coke tastes like shit + then i'll switch to spring water + fruit juice.

yeah, right.

Monday, September 3, 2007

la cuisse d'edouard dermithe

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i'm watching jean-pierre melville's 1950 film adaptation of jean cocteau's once scandalous novel les enfants terribles.

its hints of homosexuality + incest predate the more explicit sense of wild abandon in bertolucci's the dreamers by 50 years. but, arguably, of the two films, the earlier one is more perverse in its implications. the fact that the actors playing brother + sister closely resemble each other makes the hint of incest intensify the hint of homosexuality.

forget that edouard dermithe was in his mid-twenties when he played the adolescent paul. he still looks wonderful, his rawboned face in pleasing contrast to the golden curls.

in fact, all the film's young actors are attractive--often in sexually ambiguous ways, too.

as his sister, nicole stéphane looks like a typical bergman heroine, tomboyish yet vulnerable, brainy enough to control her brother + their increasingly complicated fantasy life.

the photos of boxers + movie stars paul decorates his bedroom with all resemble dargelo, the beautiful boy he admires at school, whose prank triggers the illness that keeps paul out of school for the rest of the story.

his sister elizabeth shares his bedroom, + among the recognizable faces decorating her wall is greta garbo, the coolly suffering icon of lipstick lesbians + drag queens, even back then.

the confusion of genders is best symbolized in the bedroom by a neoclassical bust of a woman to which someone has affixed a fake mustache.

paul himself is the object of his friend gerard's infatuation, + as paul recuperates under his sister's care, gerard (jacques bernard) enters their obsessive fantasy world.

the trio are soon joined by a young girl, agathe, whose eerie resemblance to the boy dargelo derives from the fact that renée cosima plays both roles.

a fifth character michael, an aesthete + musician, briefly joins this ring of obsessive desire + unwittingly turns the story towards its insane + fatal conclusion, which bears a passing resemblance to another camp epic of 1950: sunset boulevard.

jean cocteau himself narrates this odd film, now out in a crisp, silvery print in the criterion collection.

one day, perhaps, i'll write at length about my queer-terion obsession, as dermithe belongs to a pantheon of european actors whose beauty criterion is restoring + preserving on dvd:

-- saïd taghmaoui, hubert koundé, mathieu kassovitz, + vincent cassel in la haine

-- gene bervoets in the vanishing

-- bruno zanin in amarcord

-- sami frey in band of outsiders

-- alain delon in l'eclisse

-- yevgeni zharikov in ivan's childhood

-- philippe leroy in le trou

-- jean-paul belmondo in breathless

-- martin lasalle in pickpocket

-- georges poujouly in elevator to the gallows

-- ken richmond in night + the city

-- +, not least, jean marais in cocteau's beauty + the beast

others, too, perhaps, that i have forgot or don't know about.

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Sunday, September 2, 2007

proust questionnaire

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my responses to questions proust answered at age 13:

what do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
uselessness, helplessness

where would you like to live?

what is your idea of earthly happiness?
reading, writing, playing with my dog

to what faults do you feel most indulgent?
promiscuity, vanity, self-indulgence

who are your favorite heroes of fiction?
achilles, huckleberry finn, prince myshkin, tarzan, doctor benway, serge gorodish

who are your favorite characters in history?
christopher marlowe, lord byron, walt whitman, marcel proust, ludwig wittgenstein, frank o'hara

who are your favorite heroines in real life?
gertrude stein, simone weil, flannery o'connor, nina simone, patricia highsmith, sandra bernhard

who are your favorite heroines of fiction?
anna karenina, emma bovary, mary poppins, sally bowles, blanche dubois, mame dennis

your favorite painter?

your favorite musician?
glenn gould

the quality you most admire in a man?

the quality you most admire in a woman?

your favorite virtue?

your favorite occupation?

who would you have liked to be?
a more reckless version of myself

Saturday, September 1, 2007


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homophobia is just one aspect of a culture's (or an individual's) erotophobia--distaste for sex.

monotheistic religions view all nonprocreative sex as sin.

but the sacred writings contain much that even some ardent believers ignore--such as certain dietary restrictions or prohibitions against touching the diseased or the dead.

even other forms of sex for pleasure--masturbation + oral sex--are not preached against as much as they once were.

people who have strong feelings against homosexuality tend also to have outdated feelings on race + gender, too, though most no longer feel comfortable in stating these other sentiments forthrightly. therefore, taking a stand against queers may sometimes be taken as code for taking other, even less defendable positions against expansion of civil rights.

the "silent" majority tends to be passively (not ideologically) conservative, opposing change less for clear reasons than for a vague dislike of having to adapt to changes.

male privilege has been hard for some men to give up, + some blame feminists + homosexuals for this loss.

politically, the gay vote is weak, so even liberal politicians offer only carefully measured support for gay rights. most liberals + moderate liberals feel reasonably assured of the gay vote, small as it is, without doing much to court it.

liberals are not prone to use homophobia to appeal to voters' emotions or values.

however, liberals do not see homosexuality's potential (or that of the pleasure principle in general) as a tool for positive social change (as did homosexual rights pioneers like edward carpenter + magnus hirschfeld).

typically, liberals prefer to see homosexuals as victims in need of sympathy + tolerance.

the liberal view is at best condescension + at worst a kinder, gentler form of homophobia.


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