Haven’t finished my write up of my NYC trip for a few reasons, mostly a combination of a head cold and various life stress factors. The stress is resolving (a deadline passed at work, home/roommate problems clearing up) but my creative juices aren’t really flowing again yet. I really don’t want to ever post “nothing” just to post, random tweets or some such. It’s demoralizing to look at site stats since most days literally nobody is reading this, other than those who find the site by accident – a post called “Unfriend Request” gets hits from people searching on “how to unfriend someone on Facebook,” for example. The price to be paid for not being a self-marketing go getter, that it is.
I’m trying to focus on the long term, somewhat of a shocking change for me, and think of this as a body of work which, should I ever be discovered at the proverbial Schwab’s counter, will prove that I haven’t been idle all this time in the wilderness.
I’m reading Justin Spring’s Secret Historian, having recently finished Edmund White’s City Boy. Spring and White are exceptions (though both by the requirement of their times started out closeted), but it always amazes me how many gay champions of the high aesthetic lived night-and-day lives; their artistic demands for pure perfection of form and delivery vs. their sexual demands for messy, dirty, even dangerous sex, as if the day spent dwelling amongst the Platonic forms was so arid and unsatisfying an environment that only night spent in the most un-Platonic caves could keep the spice of life alive. No angel, me, nor in any position to judge, but I personally would find it hard to gallivant amongst the artistic elite passing ruthless critical judgment on “interesting failures” or holding forth on the magnificence of “luminous prose” and then going off to the docks for the night.
Why was there so rarely any integration of the two selves to be found? Allen Ginsberg seems to have done it, written the life he lived, but so few have, or they waited until late in life (if ever), after their position was secured and it was too late for the world to toss them out on their ear for speaking freely of their other, darker life. White paid a career price for a long time for his openness about sexuality, eventually securing some financial stability from the proceeds of his art – he freely tattles on all the closeted artists of his time, most notably Susan Sontag, and his bitterness at how well they thrived in the closet is understandable.
Perhaps it’s the nature of the closet itself – in Jesusland, the closet manifests as a virulently anti-gay stance, the quavering voice denouncing and the shaky finger pointing…elsewhere. Look at him, not at me, pay no attention to the drugs and hookers and Caribbean vacation “companions” behind the curtain. Even in the artistic sphere, back not so long ago, in many people’s living memory, the closet seemed mandatory (and still survives so in its last bastion, Hollywood). What better way to distract the others from one’s backroom proclivities than to hold forth about one’s pure and rigorous artistic standards and high expectations for the adherence of others to same?
That’s why I never finished reading or reviewing Richard Sennett’s The Craftsman. Aftr I’d read in a review of City Boy that Sennett enjoyed wearing a little cocktail dress at parties, his shoulder hair sprouting up and around the straps, it was hard to go back to his spare, medieval tone with a straight face – how could someone adhere to so severe a line in his writing for so long, when it was so at odds with a clear personal love of a little frivolity? I’m not saying the personal and the professional can’t be divorced, just that if your professional life is all about holding forth on the right way of being and doing, it should match up a little more with your real way of living. (There were other flaws of arrogance, too, that put me off – such as references to “Linux programmers” as today’s worker most deserving of the label Craftsman, with no explanation of why any other sort of programmer was unfit to join this Guild.)