Just finished Samuel R. Delaney’s The Motion of Light on Water: Sex and Science Fiction. Writing in the East Village, 1957-1965.
Will take me a long time to find words… I can’t remember a book that touched me, took hold of me like this… wrenched me, wrung me out.
I was born in 1941, Delaney in ’42. I was a child and came of age in the Midwest: Chicago, Kansas City, summers in east central Michigan. Delaney, in NYC. So very different–but so much of the external social climate of a childhood in post war America, the 40’s and 50’s–so much, the same. What we shared, was the bloody sword that slices the body from desire–that creates what he called “the split subject”…
” … the space between the two columns (one resplendent and lucid with writings of legitimacy the other dark and hollow with the voices of the illegitimate)–that constitutes the subject, it is only after the Romantic inflation of the private into the subjective that such a split can even be located.”
Like Delaney, I was looking to art and writing to negotiate the chasm, but shaking off the dressing of ‘legitimacy’ was so much harder, took so much longer–the weight of the Midwest was suffocating, and sex was at the center of it, the poisoning of desire that makes the body itself an empty vessel, spiritually empty, trying to belong to something utterly alien to me, and failing and failing and failing…an impoverishment of that spirit–which is the life of the body.
It can’t be a coincidence, that I returned to making art after 40 years, at the same time that I was able to embrace sexual desires that had been latent, but buried …. for at least that long. It’s no good being coy! Name them. You have to name them, Delaney says. If fucking is good — so is sucking cocks! Or wherever else you body wants to take you!
Forty years — that should have been a wilderness — not a desert, but a rain forest paved over. Like weeds in the cracks of concrete, something kept pushing through, pushing out into the light. Forty years…
… so many lost lives, so much damage, so many scars.
As I clicked to post this… it came to me, that I have a whole series of paintings and drawings of broken concrete… how the psyche seeks to find bodily expression. You do these things, and don’t know why.