Wednesday, August 28, 2013

In a Patriarchal Empire, Sex is POLITICAL!


I had a discussion a few days ago with someone who couldn't accept that sex is political. Some things, he insisted, like sex, are just what they are. Yes, if you're white and straight and never thought what it must be like to stray as an alien across the borders of normativity. How could he not see the relationiship between our outrageous immigration policies, and sexual boundries? That they grow out of the same place--out of our bodies before our minds have invented the words we need to confuse and subvert the truth? I'm okay with being open with what I think, what I feel--but what I've been posting about coming out... has been more conscious, more intentional. I have to push myself... but it's because of that heart rending post, HERE and what it tells about us--about ALL of us, that it seems to me nothing less than a obligation, a personal duty, to explore what this means out in the open. Adding to Sarah Dowling's words --that 'poetry is the discourse of weird people." ... an other step: that if only we can make the world safe for weird people, it will be safe for everyone. And in our glorious diversity, their will be no more weird people... because we will understand, at last... that we all wonderfully weird! And nothing could be better than that! #smashgender See what people are saying about #smashgender

The Gaze


On a recent walk, I started to make a count of survailence cameras. Within a few blocks, I gave up... just too many. Started thinking about The Gaze. Lacan, Faucault... remembered that the 3rd piece of art I made--last year at this time, I called, The Gaze. The frame once held an old photo--of my mother. Her signiture can be seen at the top, signed with her maiden name. All these things came together--that we are made into objects every where we go by those cameras... the images of which remain hidden to us. We are not permitted to see into the mirror, simultaneously turned into Things and erased. Seemed the perfect... not even a metaphor--or symbol, the very reality of our Late Capitalist demise.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Rejecting Identity, Resisting the Normative


The problem with narratives as explanations is that they force elements into regimented orders that distort the interaction of time and memory (memory being essentially, timeless), and assemble representations of “identity” patched together out of a multiplicity of unstable positions. It may be fair to say, that that is their purpose, their social role. Every story, then, is an act of violence. I think this is especially true of narratives of self-revelation—which purport to reclaim what has been repressed, healing what had been a conflicted and divided subject. This is typical of the stories we use to fabricate our own identity. I found myself doing exactly this, wondering how to reconcile a life time of socially normative sexual relationships with where I find myself now—openly Queer and gay. It was useful to some degree: rescuing pieces of my childhood and adolescence. But the assumption of a continuity of desire, covered over or denied, is a narrative fabrication. As though I had been playing a role false to my real nature, and only in coming out of this metaphorical closet, did I begin to realize my authentic sexual identity.
Narrative would have us believe that the child is father to the man, when it is more the other way around. This belies the inherent multiplicity of the self, where identity may fasten to and empower one part, in effect, raising it to the level of Self-in-the-world, and then to another, and all of this in constantly evolving flux-- in relation, not simply to our past, but to everything around us.
Narrative selects what is important to generate itself, and excludes whatever seems to weaken profluence and narrative coherence. Applying this to our lives, that which is excluded may well be as. or an even more powerful causative factor than what passes through the filter. In my case, what I had been leaving out was just that. This had little to do with overcoming unconscious censorship. It was rather, a matter of changing the story by connecting what had been discontinuous elements—creating a new constellation, a newly fabricated ‘identity.’ Here, I see the entanglement of narrative-making and identity—an inescapable dependence, such that identity is a form of closure and erasure, an eradication of the multiplicity of a more fully realized life. I want then, to reject the story I’ve been telling myself and broadcasting to others. Identity is an end-stop. A period punctuating an end-stop. For myself, that means writing QUEER in caps, and gay in lower case. I see now how the hundreds of posts I’ve written on my blog, criticizing and attacking representational, ‘realist’ fiction (along with my political radicalization) were as important a part of this process of Queering what I’d thought of as my identity, as reclaiming memories of sexual experiences with boys in my early adolescence. If there is any common thread, it’s been resistance to the Normative and its pressures on multiple fronts. The very definition of “Queer.”

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Missing the Obvious Forever


So much of our lives we discover only in retrospect. Have been going over poems from 2011 to the present. I'd shuffled them away. Didn't like them. Thinking I'd written no more than a dozen in all that time, when there are more like 50 or 60. With two or 3 pretty good ones. Maybe it was coming off a year when I wrote some 300 new poems, writing only 20 or 30 in a year made me think the well might have run dry.
By putting them together, with pages that I had added from my journals, more or less in order, I see now a convergence I've been looking for --for years. the Poem to the End of My Days was a nice conceit. And I put together what I think are 3 strong MSS with that formal arrangement--the thematic Rondos--even if no one has seen fit to publish them. But they were too conceptual for my pogo-stick mind, leaping from this to that. What I needed was a poet's diary.
Duh... 7225 pages since 1988. My journals--like just realizing that this is central to my work? It takes me so long to figure these things out. Why is that that what is most obvious, most eludes us? Like taking almost 60 years to realize, no, these aren't just homoerotic fantasies, perfectly consistent with being hetero (that's what I told myself--if I'd felt the sting of contradiction, I might have considered the possibility that my primary orientation might not be what I told myself it was).
It was the spirit stick that saved me. A transformation that began with a feather and a sash on my Morris Park walking stick. That thing has Big Juju! Maybe only for my mucked up psychic life... but for that, it was my spirit guide. I felt it's power, and I followed where it led. Someone asked me today why I had paint on my cheeks. And I thought of the evolution of spirit stick. I said. I do it because I need to. But why do you need to? Because it satisfies that need. Sometimes, that really IS the explanation.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Creative Deviance!


Reading this article posted by Frances Madeson got me thinking about creative deviance. There's a tendency for Marxists to see all forms of deviance as products of class alienation, thus curable--end capitalism, and viola, we'll be good self-governing workers. Like Xians who want to cure homosexuality. Artists, not all artists, but certainly the one's I most indentify with, are deviants. In the words of Sarah Dowling, "Poetry…” I would expand that to include all the arts “… is the language of weird people." I see at the core of my activism, making the world safe for weird people... who don't need to be cured!

Even in some imagined Marxist workers paradise, creative deviance would be the difference between collective tyranny and repression, and an open, evolving culture. In art, like what Howard Zinn demonstrates in A People's History--it's the outsiders who create the possibility of change, and it’s about more than what we marginalize as ‘art.’ I’m thinking of divisions within LGBT peoples... where non-conformity to sexual norms ceases to be in any meaningful sense, deviance. A room full of gay retirees discussing their checking accounts. Yikes. Those who embrace their Queer are, in their bodies and their being, the creative edge--pushing and creating change, by more than making sexual diversity acceptable, but by pressing to new understandings and definitions of human relationships on the most basic level--that of our sexuality. Creative Deviance--something totally missing in this piece as in any brain-in-a-bottle WordThink that assumes ideas change action, when it’s always the other way around.

Friday, August 9, 2013

#201 "Whose House is This?

" Acrylic over cheesy discount store print. 18x24

I Was a Character in the Wrong Book


Thinking again about Himeji Castle as I rewrite the narrative of my life (my story selected for a reading by Interact Theatre-- a man in mid-life, a father who comes out of the closet). Like revising a novel. These passages were there all along, not repressed, never excised, but scattered without connection, and so, if not invisible, unnoticed. It was their relationship that was repressed. In my reading and writing of the novel-in-progress, and in my life. What we look for in analysis isn’t it? Not fragments of memory or dream—but their significance. Not recovering what we’ve forgotten, but understanding what we’ve known all along by stitching it together. Giving the disparate parts their true significance by revealing—or creating—their network of associations. I was miserable because I had the story wrong. I became a character out of character--who didn't belong in the novel I was writing. Sooner or later, the contradictions will kill you. Start over, or die. What you change isn't your 'self' ... but the story you live in.

Which of course, changes everything.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

There was once a queer little kid...


... and he was well on the path to carrying that into adulthood. But there were things that happened when he was 12 or 13, and I've only recently, day by day, come to see their significance. I have lived in a prison of my own making for six decades. Or was it that kid? While I went on about a life that wasn't mine. But he didn't go away. And he didn't die. He tried so hard to get my attention... the self that had gone on without him. In recent years, he was merciless. He would kidnap my voice--shout curses at me, in my own voice! "You fucking asshole! You pile of shit!" Every morning I'd wake like that, my gut tied in knots. If only I'd listened to what he went on to say... after the words... in the silence. "... your depression, the anxiety--you don't need to drink for that. You don't need pills. Remember me?" he'd say... in the silence. "... remember that queer little kid who got beat up coming home from school? You thought playing football, learning to be 'manly' had got you a new life. No, no, no... it was all wrong. All wrong! Embrace your queer little kid... embrace the queer that you are. That you've always been!" ... I have never felt such peace. I haven't cursed myself since I came out--not once. THe physical anxiety, the turning in my gut, my pounding heart that once landed me the hospital cause I thought I was having a heart attack. Gone. Let me tell you, it's never too late. It's never too late.

#200


29x26 Acrylic on composition board

Sunday, August 4, 2013

#199


#199 Monochrome with De kooning pink. Fabric on canvasboad with acrylic, sparkles and Sante Fe dust

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Out of the Closet


I'm 72. Have been married twice. Two children. 50 years of pretty satisfactory hetero sex. But there's always been something left out--something awakened with news a few months ago of the death of a friend I knew from early childhood. Saw again ten years ago after many years apart (seems not that long ago) in a reunion for his 60's birthday. The news of his death was a blow I could not have anticipated... and woke in me a realization that, not only did I love him... I was in love. We never had sex. The usual early adolescent masturbation sessions... but had we, had he been receptive, I think my whole life might have taken a different turn.
I did have sex with boys... 11 or 12, 13.  years old. Never fully consummated. I wanted. They didn't. This was the early 50's. A different world.
I live in a sort of 'commune' --as sexually diverse as imaginable. Twelve to 20 people living in an old warehouse. So I've listened to people tell their stories... from any orientation you can pin a label on. I know, there are those who KNOW, without doubt or question--one way. Boys who always liked boys. Girls who always liked girls. I was more on the cusp. I was attracted to women, maybe more than I would have been in a world that didn't expect that of me, and driven, I suspect, in no small part by a kind of romantic displacement, but it wasn't false. I wasn't in a closet—not that I knew of.
But those early adolescent experiments, and that I was... secretly, even from myself, in love... profoundly in love with a boy... this never left me.
An activist. An artist. I've started my life over, many times now... like, all my life. And living in a family of wonderfully crazy queer trans radical fairies...and open, accepting straight housemates... made this ever so much easier.
Since hearing of the death of my friend... my never would be lover... my erotic fantasy life has been, obsessively, and persistently homo eroti... oh fuck that. About men. Penises. Touch. Affection--the kind that sex releases and makes possible by erasing the inhibitions. Other than those pre-pubescent cock sucking not quite to finish sessions...I'm a gay virgin. No, I am NOT 'bi-curious' or any of those awful (to me) labels. I want. I desire. Though it only ever live in my fantasy--if the chemistry were right, the person compatible, I so so want this. Again, yes, for the sex. Always for the sex... but for the affection, the touch... all that is made possible... by sex.
I've told people where I live. I left revealing messages on FB. I'm not ashamed or in any way inclined to hide...though it makes me anxious. I mean, like anyone. I want to be accepted. I fear rejection. (Oh, you're not REALLY gay! You haven't experienced the rejection, the... )... and I haven't. I don't want to claim the victimization. I just want the company. And even if I don't find it. I want to be open. Ecorche vif... skinned, if that's what it takes. Look at me. This is what I am. What I have become.
Has anyone at close to my age, gone though this? I’m sure they have. I can’t be unique in this.
Oh... after a late night confession in our kitchen, someone wrote on the chalk board: "Who is to say that you can't come out to your slut phase at 70!" I almost broke into tears...
postscript… two days later, I didn’t wake up cursing myself, my gut in knots from anxiety. I am at peace. Though it sounds strange, to say, I’m gay. I’m queer. It doesn’t feel strange. It feels right.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Ezekiel Rising, short fiction on line


A story I wrote 13 years ago--long before I began making trash art myself. I was amazed when I went over it to proofread, not having read it in years, how precient it was--projecting someting of myself I didn't know existed.    A kind of (not so) shaggy dog story on Long Story Short. Ezekiel Rising 



Door in the Forest. 12x16 wood strips, plastic, bottle cap, acrylic on canvas