A Boy Needs a Friend
The archive is infernal. It is in the basement, away from light and moisture. They don’t let us into this shadow-world. Instead, we are given access to a virtual archive: digital scans, hi-res simulacra stored in the cloud. This is a diabolical, though just, inversion of Platonism. The transcendent realm is stuffed with endless virtual copies, while immanence holds all originals in its dark hell-belly. Jacob’s ladder connects the two realms. Angels deliver information from the cloud (down) while archivists deliver the virtualized simulacra into the cloud (up). Their paths never cross. This is the new democracy: separation of archivist and angel.
I know what love is. Love is what I feel for people who are not you.
Friends, friends, I caution you: do not speak off the cuff, do not extemporize. Instead, compose each in utterance in advance — well in advance — of its deployment, of its performance. No careless whispers! Once you have said a thing, you cannot take the thing back, for the thing may persist. Not all things dissipate, some crystallize. So write it out! Rehearse yourself. Spontaneous speech diminishes the world. Conversation is hopeless.
Friends, friends, please allow me to continue with my warning. I am against speaking in general, but in particular: speaking extemporaneously, speaking off the cuff, friendly conversation just eradicates the possibility of true communication. For every utterance there exists a counter-utterance, but the counter-utterance comes too late and is imperfect. Counter-utterance is deployed to erase, to take back, to obliterate, utterance, but at the very least a smudge remains. And all the smudges add up! The world turns murky. We cannot remember and we cannot forget. Clarity becomes impossible.
That is why all those talking therapies must fail: waste all your life endlessly speaking yourself, forever smudging yourself. The failure is not death. The failure is not emptiness. The failure is murk.
I got married last year — not real married, just gay married, but still it makes a difference, things change. When I’m at home, when I’m in Chicago, I have a set of home-based anxieties. Specifically, that I will become sick and infirm and a burden on Brian, who would, of course, gladly suffer through all the endless trials. But when I’m travelling, when I’m out of the city and he’s back home, I have another fantasy: that he will die, or has died, while I’m away. I’ll come back home and he’ll be dead and I’ll have to deliver some sort of eulogy. I will tell them that I was only ever truly serene when his large, beautiful hands covered my small, idiot face, fingers against forehead, stopping thought.
I shot this on my phone. I never knew I had such a loping gate, such a rolling walk, like a fucking sailor. That explains a lot, though. While in Paris I visited a gay bath house, Euro Men’s Club, 10 rue St Marc. You can see the sign here. It was just down the street from my hotel, quite near the Opera Comique in an arrondissement not much higher than naught. It was down a discrete walkway in the Passage des panoramas. Once you get in, down a long flight of stairs, the place is amazingly huge, three floors of water features and classical antiquity kitsch. I was excited because I’d heard it catered to an older crowd and I myself and somewhat middle-aged. But the crowd was quite old — 60s, 70s — flesh dripping from their bones, tiny white towels around their waists, stumbling about like zombies still somehow hungry for dick. All in all though, it was a fine experience. I am able now, for instance, to clearly visualize that it is possible for corpses to have sex. They ejaculate dust, like a flower ejaculates pollen.
So I’ve used this clip before, and quite recently. It fits. Last time it was a memorial for Lou Reed, this time it is to remind us, as we get older and older, the petit mort gets larger and larger. Also, more plant-like, more vegetal.
They call Paris the city of light, but really it is the city of subterranean human remains. In Rome they leave them alone, but in Paris they are constantly jostled, they keep breaking through the surface. Bones. The only elegant part of the human. What happens when you confuse light and bone? A people tilted toward a weird kind of poetic intellectualism. Food is the thing that stops them thinking and staples them to the moment. Not food: eating. Eating is the thing that stops them thinking and staples them to the moment. They may tell you that eating is thinking. Eating is not thinking. Every barnyard tells us that eating eradicates thinking. The slaughterhouse verifies their incommensurability. Light should not hit bone. Xrays can hit bone, but never the light of the sun, or a lamp or flashlight or anything like that.
My friend Robert, handsome bear, my fisting buddy, fisting and kissing, asked me to design a tattoo to ring around his hole. An ouroboros, a snake biting its tail, hole swallowing hole. What I designed was perfec tly round and had a stripe and a few other details. The resulting tattoo is quite different: deformed, simplified, crooked, charming. I got it on my knee, in solidarity, in appreciation. In friendship.
I wasn’t going to share this quote from a poem by Mark Strand because it fit the images too closely, in a way that seemed to diminish them.
Sure poetry is horrid — poetry is horrid because it promises to be your friend — something you return to, turn to, again and again for pleasure and stimulation — but poetry ends up just delivering trite curlicues. Emily Dickinson is the exception. Her poems can be your friends. That’s because she sewed them together, sutured them into little fascicles. Or appended them to letters, letters written to people she never spoke with. So, like everyone else, I’ve turned to the novel. A novel can’t be your friend either, but it doesn’t pretend to; it just promises to eat up a lot of time, so one experiences one’s friendlessness less acutely. Longer novels are the best for this. I am convinced that Joyce Carol Oates and Stephen King are the same person. They don’t perhaps, occupy the same literal, physical body, but they are nonetheless producing the same body of work. The books are compulsively readable, though for no particular reason. They are a bit nostalgic, trying so hard to conjure America, as if the place ever existed. Their books are like a Time/Life magazine fleshed out through a slightly darkened lens. If their characters have any interiority, they wear it on the outside, like advertisements. You can take any King and Oates book, cut them apart and then glue them back together so that the chapters alternate and you’ll find they mesh perfectly, and the result is superior. I’m just doing this with Wonderland and The Dead Zone. Perhaps I will call it Dead Wonderland. I was thinking of claiming authorship — you know, Pierre Menard-style — but really I prefer not.
I used to doodle a lot, but I don’t doodle so much any more. I am too old to doodle; instead, I needlepoint. I have a bunch of colourful thread, which they call floss, and a firm plastic backing. I get to work without a plan, without a thought, without a care. If a pattern emerges — and one generally does — it develops so slowly that I begin to lose interest and begin to do something else, fucking it up. It takes an hour to do an inch. These are really slow doodles, crafty doodles. Sloppiness is part of the charm. I rarely frame them because I want to be able to turn them over and see their soft underbellies. One could argue that the front is the ego and the bottom is the id, but that is not quite right. Perhaps the back is the Dionysian supplement to the Apollonian perfection of the front. No, no, that makes even less sense. Perhaps they should all just be framed so they can the happy simple life of pictures and not have the burden of objecthood at all. They do mark time, though. I have drawer after drawer of them. They are thoughtless and charming, innocent, undemanding. I can’t exactly say they are life affirming, since they seem to mark a certain indolence, a slight distraction in the slide toward an easy grave. They are much the prettiest, most well-behaved children and so I want to introduce them to you, front and back. I don’t want to stitch them into a giant cushion, I want to use them to stuff the gap between the preconscious and the conscious and then the gap between the unconscious and the preconscious, until they take over your whole psychic life and you become some kind of needlepoint zombie, thinking only texture and abandoned pattern.
Look, I have a Canadian and an American passport. This means I am uniquely positioned to make trans-men come.
This is one of the most beautiful men I know. He is six foot five and very shy. Since he was a child, he’d imagine being urinated on by a leopard. This image structures his psychic life. He’s never told me this, but you can tell just by looking at him. His very being is infused with carnivorous leopard piss.
There are two ways to look at Pinocchio: either as a resurrection narrative, or as a gay-to-straight conversion tale. Both work for me. I want to be a real boy, too — on or off the cross. For who can tell where the wood ends and the flesh begins?
The Turing test is not really about artificial intelligence, though I imagine it could be used for that, too. The Turing test is about finding a friend. It’s the same with Wittgenstein’s language games. They are also ways in which to identify possible friends. Possible friends and special friends in the building trade.
It’s almost time for school again, so I’m looking for different ways of imagining pedagogy. This looks good: ghost students, ghost teacher. Hey, they had the same idea as me, inserting aphoristic texts — I guess I did learn everything from cartoons.
I like the idea of a ghost teacher and human students — which I think is mostly the case — or human teacher and ghost students — that would be a catechism class or something — but all ghost? That seems like a bad idea — at that point you might as well be all human. Anyway, Casper is just as appealing as Pinocchio, which just makes sense as they are the inversion of each other. One is dead and the other undead, but they both just want a friend, or to have the capacity for friendship, which is to be human. This desire, of course, is a mistake, but an endearing one.
Okay, that’s all — video over.