Remember that terrible joke you used to make at parties in college, when you’d use a fake southern accent and say “I dun say I were stoopid, I say I just dun kno anythin.” Well not only is that extremely politically incorrect, it’s also not true. Stupid people are not stupid because they don’t know anything. They actually are incapable of learning more. Your brother is actually stupid. For years, Josh has been reminding you, “I’m not that smart,” and you continually persuaded in respecting him, saying, “You’re way smarter than you think you are,” while all along you should have just been listening to him. Josh actually is that stupid, and respecting that is the most loving thing you can do as a brother.
I recently read on some blog that said art was masturbation unless it found someone else to interact with it. It was in response to a gay graduate straight out of art school who, reportedly, will stage a performance art piece in Spring 2014 where he will lose his virginity to a live audience. The fact this act will be performed is, I guess, important to establish the art as not masturbatory.
Some people prefer the metaphor that if a tree falls in a forest and there’s no one to hear it, it doesn’t make a sound. I prefer the sexual, but really, call it what you will. It seems that I’ve arrived at a point on a road paved by life experiences from the last two years, and my recent retreat into solipsistic hermitage, but I’ve reached yet again an unprecedentedly pessimistic height, so grotesquely sophisticated that it has transcended itself and has begun to look like optimism.
Gertrude Stein, who’s Tender Buttons was appreciated by basically no one in her lifetime, said famously that she writes for herself and strangers. I also write for myself and strangers. I interpret strangers as people I will never met, who are either dead or alive, but will never come in contact with me. They are, in effect, the masked spectators in Sleep No More who watch as I fuck myself.
This is where I differ from the anonymous blogger. Art is not masturbation. It’s an act of fucking yourself, which is in my estimation the highest and most spiritually profound forms of human experience. If there is an audience at all (and I’m adamant that an audience outside of the artist’s own consciousness is ultimately unnecessary for art to be made), it’s not so much as sex as it is ejaculating over someone else’s orifice. Their participation is optional. Whether they like it or not, the ejaculation happens anyway. Yet, the application is only topical, because art is not rape. It’s a self-consummation, something wholly autonomous and sovereign, what Thomas Aquinas called “thisness.” Aquinas of course, was drawing his definition of art from the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. God, the Son, and The Holy Spirit are three entities in one, autonomously and perpetually revolving around each other. What Aquinas could not say, and what I am saying now, is that God is basically fucking himself for all of eternity. I hope to do the same, with or without you.
For Halloween, I thought it would be funny to read Dante’s Divine Comedy. The Inferno is funny precisely because there is nothing funny about it. It’s so outlandish that it’s hard not to think of it as a giant Hell-themed amusement park. That is, an amusement park that is shockingly moving and as grotesque as Old Testament prophecy. In the most disturbing section, the undead bodies of those who committed suicide are sent howling through the wind, naked, ripped apart by branches, and then torn apart alive by dogs, and because they no longer have mouths, they speak through the whistling of blood gushing out of their limbs.
How else are we supposed to react to this?
Given that Dante’s Inferno is an epic poem from Medieval Catholicism about Hell, I knew at some point we were going to reach the ring of Hell exclusively devoted to gays. Sure enough, gays take up the second-worst ring of Hell, one degree away from Satan himself. Really Dante?
Well, relative to the suicide club and the rest of Hell’s residents, the gays actually get off remarkably easy. There is no limb tearing or gnashing of teeth. When Dante the Pilgrim first enters this ring, we’re introduced to the setting as the one unique spot in Hell where God’s anger and grief intersect—His tears put out the fire of His wrath. As a result, the gays just wade around in God’s tears like it’s the bathhouse all over again. As Dante ventures in, he encounters the equivalent of his gay high school poetry teacher. Mutual shock. Instant lamentation. Dante is outraged to find his former teacher is in Hell, who taught him the meaning of “immortality” (poetry) and Dante promises to tell the whole world how great his teacher is once he gets out of Hell. For the first time during Dante’s pilgrimage, he wishes that Fortune reconsider the fate she assigned to him. The horror and sorrow is akin to Hamlet’s discovering Poor Yorick’s skull in the graveyard, and is unmatched in any other section in the Inferno. The only sin that is grieved in Hell is homosexuality (with the exception of virtuous heathen, which one can argue is not really a sin since their ring of hell is a light-filled castle). As far as medieval religious literature goes, this is as progressive as it gets. Dante’s all right in my book.
Blood is spilled on the pavement like it’s champagne. It rises, rises, rise in and rise out, because there will always be the jingalinga ding so Happy Birthday to you Too sir! God rises and God bless, and I will always love you. Don’t ever forget that. Everything you do from this point on will be to prove what I just said to you. You will hurt others, and you will hurt yourself, and doors will close and windows will shut, but marry have faith, I am here. I am here. I am here, and I love you.
Give me your answer, do
I love protein
More than you think I do
I’ve been reading Dubliners, and digging it, and finding it strange, and I realized why I thought it was so strange is because it wasn’t goth. Likely, because it’s Irish, and at that point in the teens, there wasn’t much of a tradition of gothic literature in Ireland. Today in America, gothic literature is so overpowering that it’s taken as the norm. The strangeness of the grotesque has simply been assimilated into the reality of American consciousness. The New Yorker, the great publisher of upper middle-brow fiction, will have stories of festering dead babies and women dancing naked with only one breast after surgery, and we don’t really think anything of it.
I think it’s safe to say that the two most influential American authors of the 20th century were William Faulkner, for the novel, and Flannery O’Connor, for the short story. Both wrote deep, southern grotesques that centered around the fanatic and the crazy. It also is not a coincidence that both dealt explicitly with race and religion, and now in the 21st century of America, those are still the topics that are most relevant today. The Left cannot resolve the question of race, and the Right cannot resolve the question of religion. So it’s not surprise that Faulkner and O’Connor are still alive today, perhaps more alive than when they were originally published
In an essay about her work, O’Connor wrote about how people in her native Georgia, the setting in which she set most of her stories, complained of her depiction of it. They said Georgia was a nice place, and there were not murderers stalking the streets shooting families of five, or crooks disguised as Bible salesmen looking to steal a wooden leg. She said that realism was not the point—her fiction was larger than life, visionary, and disturbing, because, in my mind, it access a register of truth, a kind of American sensibility to confront its own ugliness.
In the 1950s, Georgia may not have the Georgia of O’Connor’s stories. Yet in 2013, after Charles Manson, the staged revolutions from the CIA abroad, terrorism, hate crimes, mass shootings, and Trayvon Martin, the gap between reality and fiction just might not be so large anymore. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that O’Connor is now more popular than ever.