Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Nautilus Remains At Periscope Depth

Nautilus_Neuville Illustration from 1869 French edition of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

I must apologize dear readers for the dearth of posts this past month.  I have been enduring a bit of  a blog block as of late and have not felt compelled to write about anything in particular.  The Great Within has always been for me first a placer for the critical discussion of visual representation in terms of gender, sexuality, desire and nostalgia.  Other intriguing subjects have crept in such as my avid antique collecting as well as events, memories and desires from my own queer life.  Yet, I have never meant this blog to be a personal daily diary.

Now, however, I am faced with a dilemma.  Do I reveal more of my personal life?  Recently, events in my life have in a way prevented the blog from moving forward.  Or do I what for a new image to entice me and provoke my thoughts?  I don’t know.  I am not in a bad place as such, but I am  in a space in which my Nautilus emerges briefly above the waves to handle obligations of work and so forth and then it immediately retreats beneath the surface, free of responsibilities other than to myself.  There exists in this dynamic a level of contentment which is neither happiness or sadness, but a tepid feeling of immobility, but not necessarily discomfort.  So, the blog suffers a bit.

In part my feelings have to do with the weather.  June has been unusually hot this year here in NYC and this first full week of July is proving to be even worse.  To me anything over 65 degrees is too hot.  Am I the only person who loathes the summer?  Everyday I leave my submarine and practically melt like The Wicked Witch of the West into a puddle of sweat.  I do not glow, shine or perspire, I become completely drenched.  I feel uncomfortable, self-conscious, a bit nauseous and faint.  I’d rather stay underwater in the chilled depths of my apartment than venture out into the inferno.

20000_Nautilus_Salon The Salon in the Nautilus, illustration from 1869 French edition of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

June was also Gay Pride Month (Do we really need a whole month?) culminating in the parade down 5th Avenue on June 27th which always leaves me feeling ambivalent.  I think the Pride March is important and vital, but I don’t feel the need anymore to be there.  I have marched 3 times in the parade and feel I have done my duty. 

The most memorable one for me was in 1994 I think which was the 25th anniversary celebration of the Stonewall Riots of ‘69.  My then BF and I attended the so-called “Anti-March” because the organizers of the official event had refused to allow such groups a NAMBLA and PONY in the main Pride march.  The “Anti-March” was filled with drag queens, trannies, sex workers, radical fairies and I think one guy from NAMBLA and various other groups who were protesting the main event’s exclusions.  The “Anti-March” started at Stonewall and headed up 5th Avenue.  At some point my BF and I ended up walking with the Lesbian Herstory Archives and I proudly took my turn carrying a placard with the image of Eleanor Roosevelt.

That was the last time I marched in the parade.  The following year I went to a brunch near the march route.  At the brunch everyone talked excitedly about the coming festivity and I mentioned how after the first hour all the smooth bare chests looked the same to me and it became a bit of a bore.  My remark was met with disbelief and disdain.  Obviously, I was not really gay and no one talked to me for the rest of the day except my BF.  Something was clearly wrong with me.  Part of Pride apparently is to salivate over all the revealed bodies and especially the ones with big tits. 

godeybride Bride from Godey’s Lady’s Book 1860

At that moment I fondly remembered my favorite Pride image- a six foot tall plus heels, dark shade wearing drag queen in a gorgeous wedding gown voguing down a line of NYPD officers standing in front of the main branch of the public library.  I don’t remember any particular Pride chest but I will always see in my  mind that dancing queen in glittering white.

In the last number of years, Pride has for me become like New Year’s Eve- an event in which you are supposed to participate and have fun or something is evidently wrong with you.  But this dynamic reminds me of what the late, great Blanche Devereux said about having a date on Saturday night.  “Saturday night, kid stuff…get lucky on a Tuesday morning and then call me.”  Words to live by.

While I appreciate everyone who participates in Pride and realize its social and political importance in our still deeply homophobic culture, I’m just not interested.  Hopefully, this blog is in a way my parade.  If it can voice ideas about sexuality, gender, desire and representation and other contemplations from my own queer perspective, I am contributing to the visibility and politics of same-sex desire.

419px-Nemo_Aronax_viewbay_diverIllustration from 1869 French edition of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea 

Furthermore, I find the ever increasing  commodification of “gayness” and the gay lifestyle (whatever the hell that is) problematic.  The Parade is on one level about consumerism and consumption and demonstrates the resilience of capitalist ideology to recoup and redeploy a subject position that should directly challenge the dominant fiction.  But as Leo Bersani reminds us,  “Sex between 2 men is not inherently the basis for a radical political movement.” 

I would argue that this commodification, the branding of gayness is a way in which to neutralize queer difference and its threat and that is ultimately dangerous.  To this end, Choire Sicha wrote a compelling and intriguing article entitled, Pride? The Choire Sicha Response, on this very subject.  Check it out.

So, here ends my slightly more personal jaunt in the hopes of dislodging my blog block.  In this regard, if anyone out there, dear reader, has a question for me about the representation of same-sex desire both high and low, please ask and maybe it will also assist in unclogging my head and the Nautilus will surface.