13 April 2013: Congee and the Sonnets; In Which I Go Out on a Limb
Congee (bit watery, overall good texture, hot), finished Macbeth and started on Shakespeare’s poetry (Sonnets and minor poems, Venus and Adonis and Lucrece).
The first Sonnets are technically perfect at the expense of feeling. Perhaps, and I’m going out on a limb, Shakespeare was enchanted from a purely (?) artistic standpoint not only by male beauty but also by male wealth in the form of the swag gay men tend sometimes (but not all the time) tend to accumulate that we (?) breeders don’t, what with the kids.
S’s “Wriostheley year”, if that’s what it was, was a fairy tale for him since it was so rare in Elizabethan times for a prototypical “middle class” individual (regarded by the *gratin* “lower case”, undifferentiated from carters, drawers, tapsters and even “Francis the Tapster”, that almost silent (silenced) work-monkey presented, in Henry IV (1) as the limiting case of subservience) to be treated as an equal by the *gratin* (the quality, the cheese, the upper clawss), with access to what the pirate Israel Hands calls, in Treasure Island, the “pickles and wines” of the *gratin*.
S’s guilt like my own guilt when I was living Large in San Francisco in the 1980s on credit cards, was that he vastly preferred dining in fancy country houses and posh joints to watching the kids grow and other avocations considered Politically Correct for young fathers.
As Wells and Taylor (good Taylor and Wells) point out, the Sonnets considered as a text are “gay” since in them the women are ugly with flaws such as dull eyes nothing like the sun and hair like barbed wire, but we love them anyway: whereas men are truly Hot as they were then, and in the Sixties, when men could wear long hair and didn’t get beaten in London for being “pretty boys” or wearing bright colours.
It sometimes seems an article of Gay faith that we’re all gay. Gay men can be quite vicious on this point. I was teased and bullied by a gay-coworker, an interesting guy, a real beauty from New Orleans with African, South Sea and British ancestors dating from the time when American “clipper ships” dominated world trade and their crews rounded the Horn to China and scattered semen. He had fallen for me but I was unconscious at the time of returning the favor so he joined my heterosexual tormenters in this workplace where only the women, with whom I allied during Kent State, had any sense whatsoever.
I just didn’t feel gay especially when I’d fall for a new woman every week including Kathy K a real beauty who unfortunately had a Politically Fashionable boyfriend, a Native American activist. I hadn’t a chance being basically of the same unfashionable German rural stock as Adolf Hitler.
If it’s possible to be “somewhat” Gay as it’s not possible to be a little pregnant, S and I were both lower-case gay in that S was able to see the woman’s POV (point of view) whereas Marlowe, Webster and the rest of that lot were not. Juliet is a strong woman in the making whereas Romeo is but a boy, and it’s hard to imagine S writing a play with the title “‘Tis a Pity She’s a Whore”.
And I regard it as strange that out of all the (upper-case) Gay brou-ha-ha about gay liberation, more support for the gayness inside “normal” men did not emerge. Instead, a vicious backlash seems to have occurred which targets not only Gays but also gayness. By opening their mouths about opera and art, the Gay activists have destroyed a sublimation refuge that in the 1950s was available to sensitive but strong men like my Dad, who combined bread-winning as a doctor for a huge family with his love for opera.
Zizek has the authority to show as a Communist how “repressive desublimation” works in The Metastases (!) of Enjoyment, as does Susan Jacoby in her book about American stupidity and anti-intellectualism, The Age of American Unreason.
Repressive desublimation occurs when we turn away from politics and forget our oppression by “desublimating” desires (allowing ourselves to “give in” to “decadent” chocolates now found in discounted stacks for the proles at WalMart as if up to now, we’ve been ascetics living like St. Simon Stylites at the tops of poles).
The current tsunami of anti-intellectualism which has swamped the GOP and the blue-dog Democrats, that strategic suspension of disbelief in all sorts of political fantasy, fantasy more characteristic of Nazi aesthetic politics than anything else, has according to Susan Jacoby its origin not in America’s rural past (as did the wave of anti-intellectualism on which Joe McCarthy rode and which drowned the candidacy of Adlai Stevenson, a somewhat witty and somewhat brainy Illinois governor) but in the 1960s and its dark underside, where the more ignorant and already downsized took their cue from the “hippies” that IF the “hippies”, imaginary media creations to most people outside major cities, got away with all sorts of things, then it must by okay to get away with some of those things: Manson’s logic of the TuQuoque.
By now superannuated Baby Boomers who’d imagined that they could fund one long toke of a life from a factory job long, long gone are hopping mad by now that they must live on Social Security as must I. Right-wing politicians exploit this anger by promising the destruction of Social Security, well, not now you may be sure lest these clowns lose what’s left of the by now clapped-out American Sugar Tit, but when their own kids are old.
The backlash against women (and woman-ness) and Gays (and gayness) is of course post-Metastases: post-orgy as when in the 1980s I’d wake up in a fancy Silicon Valley home without knowing anybody there or how I got there, where everyone there wears a disturbing mask.