Thursday, July 19, 2007

I once belong to a "I Confess" egroup whose members would post, for comment, their innermost secrets and desires. Some were genuinely bizarre, but most were humdrum. I had to react online to this one: I love sex to the point of being addicted to it... but i cant have sex with anyone unless I am in love with them."

To which I responded:

This is silly. Love ain't nothin' but sex misspelled. Love takes many, many forms. Sex is a culmination of a form of love. Infatuation sometimes "blooms" into love (the full flowering of a sexual urge, in such instances), so that it could be said that had there been no infatuation, there would be no sex, and without sex, there would be no love. Note that I said "sometimes," and that takes us back to the forms of love. This is always misunderstood by women, and especially married women, who think that a husband's dalliances with other females, including prostitutes, is a transference of love from one person to the other -- a form of betrayal -- when, in fact, it often serves only to strengthen the love that existed before. That is why we love Tony's dalliances in "The Sopranos." During his brief separation from his wife in an earlier season, he was miserable (and not because of the guilt trips laid on him by his shrink, typically Freudian, with typically Freudian-Jewish guilt mania), and so was she. To her credit, she found ways to transcend her jealousy (the basest, most juvenile of human emotions), just as Hillary did with Bill, and was it any coincidence that this HBO series paralleled the White House scandals? Women who are sure of themselves know that just because their guy has sex with other women doesn't mean he doesn't love them. Nine out of ten married couples after a decade of marriage almost never have sex -- check the statistics if you don't believe me. What's a guy to do, sneak off into the garage and beat his meat? He's probably going to be a lot more attention and affectionate a husband if he can get his rocks off now and then with other women. He "loves" the other women: in quotes because it is a different form of love. It is the love of sex for sex's sake. That's love, too.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Lately, I have been studying Tiresias. I am not sure why this is. I've read the Sophocles tragedy of Oedipus the King and seen the static (one critic said "hopelessly tedious") theatrical film version by Phillip Saville, with Orson Welles as the shaman-seer, and I've heard the Poulenc opera bouffe, "The Mammaries of Tiresias," but besides providing some background information, none of these works informs my curiosity of late. Perhaps it is his shape-shifting that intrigues me, his TRANS-formation into a female at the hand of Hera (at least in some versions of the myth), since transvestism and transsexualism continue to fascinate. In any case, almost simultaneously with my renewed interest, I experienced my second-only dream of being involved in a homosexual relationship.

I say "homosexual" because almost everything about the "gay" subculture is abhorrent to me. While I am ready to admit to anyone who asks that I am at least bisexual (as might befit a Tiresias, or the Amerindian versions, incorporated into the bardeche), my impression of gays, and gay males in particular, is that they try much to hard to emulate straight lifestyles. It is as if living in the burbs, keeping up with the Joneses, having the lawn manicured to perfection on a weekly basis, using all legislative and judicial means at their disposal to obtain sanction for their matrimonial objectives were only an effort to convince everyone else how "normal" they are.

The first such dream was perhaps twenty to thirty years ago when, as a younger man, I envisioned myself at an amusement park or water park type facility going down a slide of some sort, holding onto a male I was certain formed the other half of a couple. The joy of it at the expense of what is "normal" was enthralling. I felt free from social constraints and opprobrium. From such dreams one does not want to awaken. The dream I had the other night was similar, but with a difference. In the first one, the significant other was idealized -- my "type" -- while in this new one, he was nondescript: my age, not particularly stunning in appearance, just a regular guy. And, more importantly, thoughts about what others might think played no role in the encounter soever.

I wonder, how did Tiresias react to his transformation? That is what I wish to explore. I must read the Poulenc libretto, study Graves and others on this figure from Greek mythology, and, in general, explore the ramifications of this exploration of unwilling Myra Breckenridgean mythopoeticism. Probably the best "take" on Tiresias from a queer point of view is that of Randy Conner in his Cassell's Encyclopedia of Queer Myth, Symbol and Spirit (London: 1997) in which he comes to the conclusion that the old soothsayer-shaman is "a gender variant, homoerotically inclined male." Tiresias, he observes, "did not die" but was "carried to the otherworld, to Hades" where, "with Eros...he serves Persephone and Hades as a mediator between the realms of the living and the dead."

This may be why Jean Cocteau, in one of the underworld sequences of his film, Orpheus, depicts the protagonist descending into a Hell depicted as a labyrinthine alleyway amidst the ruins of a vanished civilization, with Cocteau himself (or so it's said) sitting in a doorway, dressed as a crone, another of Tiresias's guises according to Conner. Until I read Conner's account, I puzzled over the scene in Cocteau's film, thinking it was, perhaps, nothing more than a Hitchcockian cameo turn like Eisenstein's old priest in The Battleship Potemkin, but it makes perfect sense now.

Another intriguing thing about Tiresias was his blindness. According to most account, he was struck blind by Athena, on whose nude visage he had stared, accidentally and although the Gods could not undo this punishment, Zeus gave Tiresias the gift of prophecy by allowing him to understand and interpret the songs of birds. Many shamans are said to have problems with their eyesight; perhaps my own eye problems (detached, or semi-detached retinas) indicate a shamanic talent in my own makeup.

By the way, poet Alison Stine has written a fine examination of Tiresias in a modern setting. Take a look: