In which The Gay Recluse rebrands and retires.
In the effort to be less ‘gay’ and less ‘reclusive,’ I’m ‘rebranding’ with a new blog written by ‘Matthew Gallaway’, which not coincidentally is the name I’ve used for my novel The Metropolis Case, which will most likely publish at some point in 2k10. I hope you’ll join me there! Please let me know if you love/hate the new design, or if you have any technical difficulties with feeds/subscriptions/linkage. Hope to see u soon — miss u! xoxo TGR
Filed under: Conspiracy, Dissonance, Landscape, Longing, The Gay Recluse | 4 Comments
Tags: Matthew Gallaway, Rebranding, The Metropolis Case
In which The Gay Recluse goes on a trip.
I’m going away for a few days/weeks/months. Hope you have a beautiful spring (via the mythical Helibores)! xoxo TGR
Filed under: Conspiracy, Health, The Gay Recluse, The Spring Garden | Leave a Comment
Tags: Goodbyes, Helibores, Spring
In which The Tsarina takes over The Gay Recluse.
On your entry tonight, The Tsarina remarks by quoting Henry Miller (1941): “There is no salvation in becoming adapted to a world which is crazy.”
[Via reader CBNY.]
Filed under: Quotes, Resignation, Sickness, The Russian Blue, Writers-American | Leave a Comment
Tags: 1941, Crazy Worlds, Guest Blogging, Henry Miller, Salvation, The Tsarina
In which The Gay Recluse becomes increasingly obsessed with the George Washington Bridge.
Today I read a disturbing post on the NYT’s City Room blog about a pair of teenagers who broke into a vacant apartment in Brooklyn, doused a cat with lighter fluid and then set it on fire. According to the article, “[t]he cat was later ‘found outside crying, unable to move, but still alive’… It was taken to an animal hospital with severe burns, and was put to death.”
Coincidentally, I was reading Richard Rorty on the subway, who (via Judith Shklar) defines a ‘liberal’ — philosophically speaking — as one who thinks that cruelty is the worst thing a person can do.
He also describes the role of fiction in our culture as a means to 1) empathize with those who are suffering and 2) understand our own capacity for cruelty.
It’s not difficult to imagine telling a story about two teenagers and their decision to torture a cat that fills both of these purposes: in terms of the kids, we might describe the bleak terrain of the neighborhood in which they were raised, the loveless existence they endured for the first ___ years of their lives, the physical and mental abuse they suffered at the hands of others; the slow escalation of mayhem and violence that led them on this particular day to hatch a plan for such a pointlessly repulsive act. We might even try to imagine them as they ignited the cat and listened to its terrified screams, and whether to witness this was as satisfying as they had hoped, or whether they looked at each other with a familiar expression of disappointment. What did they say as it happened? And later, did they laugh or cry or simply not acknowledge it at all, as if they had simply shared a bad dream?
I remember being in Paris 20 years ago, when I happened to go see A Short Film about Killing by Krzysztof Kieslowski; the story involves a young man who directs a taxi out into the countryside, where for no apparent reason he brutally murders the driver; he is quickly caught and sentenced to death, and throughout the proceedings shows absolutely no remorse or really any sign of ‘humanity,’ despite the best attempts of his defense lawyer. It is only near the end — after he shares a painful memory from his childhood — and as he is being led to his death, that we feel any compassion for him; in one miraculous shot he looks up at the lawyer, who is watching from the window above, and we understand from the prisoner’s expression that something has melted in him, that he no longer wants to die, and we — as the audience — no longer want him to die either.
In time, I may write a similar story about two teenagers from Brooklyn who torture animals and live to regret it.
But for now I would like to think about the cat, about how small and defenseless it was, and how the universe showed such little regard to its fate, and how in this sentence ‘cat’ is a metaphor for ‘any of us as individuals at any given moment.’
And how when we grieve, it is really for ourselves, and — finally — how we look to the sky with a certain anger and longing and forgiveness as we remember that despite everything — and this by turn cruel and comforting — we are still alive, at least for now.
Filed under: Brooklyn, Disease, Dream, Film, Gay, GWB Project, Memory, Philosophers, Sickness | 3 Comments
Tags: A Short Film about Killing, Cats, Crimes, Cruelty, Death, Judith Shklar, Krzysztof Kieslowski, Punishments, Richard Rorty, Teenagers
In which The Gay Recluse becomes increasingly obsessed with orchids.
It is in the nature of certain people (ahem) never to be satisfied, which — depending on the context — can be a curse or a blessing.
For example, I just finished a very delicious chocolate cupcake with chocolate frosting (but not too sweet!) and am already aching for another. This is also why it’s sometimes better to leave the contours of life blurry, so that we can be distracted by questions of interpretation instead of fixating on crossing boundaries that all too often we realize in retrospect might have been better left uncrossed. But at the same time, relentless dissatisfaction can sometimes yield work of improbable beauty, and this too can provide a measure of unexpected relief.
It seems like the unhappiest people — by which I mean ‘the happiest’ — are those who never give in to either extreme, and exude satisfaction and contentment. I was like this once, until I broke my glasses and everything was a blur for several weeks. I grew to appreciate this, so that when the time came to pick up my new glasses, I told the optician to grind the lenses back into sand; this made me happy for a little while, until I grew fatigued with everything this new world offered, and more than anything else, I wished to possess what I had once had. Now that I am older and a ‘productive member of society’ I sometimes attempt to nostalgically recapture these extremes through photography, and intentionally blur images; I am vaguely aware that this is actually an exercise in memory, which is equally susceptible to distortions in the attempt to make them more beautiful than real life.
Filed under: Architecture, GWB Project, Memory, Orchids | 2 Comments
Tags: Focus, Glasses, Happiness, Lenses, Sand, The George Washington Bridge
In which The Gay Recluse becomes increasingly obsessed with the George Washington Bridge.
Today I finally read the New Yorker article about David Foster Wallace, which was by turns inspiring and depressing; inspiring because (and this is hardly a surprise) he seemed to genuinely believe in fiction as a means to reflect/analyze/transform currents of our society, and depressing because of his unending doubt about everything from his ability to write a compelling novel to his own mental health, which was apparently precarious for many many years before he finally committed suicide.
His unfinished novel, which will be published next year, supposedly examines boredom as a potentially transcendent force in modern society; it’s set in an IRS office in Illinois, and describes a group of tax auditors, some of whom are better able to deal with the mind-numbing tedium of their work than others. Ultimately, it sounds like DFW was unable to resolve — or at least to his own satisfaction — the fundamental dilemma of how to make a novel about boredom not boring.
Whatever the merits of the novel, it seems that he was touching on an important theme in our culture; seriously, are there not days when the meaningless implications of everything you do at work becomes such a towering wave of ennui that you wonder how you can possibly live another minute, even if by most measures you have a job that is ‘interesting’ and ‘valuable’ and possibly even ‘lucrative’? (In this post, ‘work’ may/may not be a metaphor for ‘life.’) And do you — as DFW postulates — resign yourself to these waves? Do you quit fighting and simply allow them to pass through you so that you emerge on the other side more ‘mindful’ and able to ‘live in the moment,’ so that perhaps you can find gratification in composing say, an elegant e-mail to a senior VP or finally figuring out a mathematical function on a spreadsheet or even participating in a ‘team project’? Ultimately, it seems to me that the issue DFW confronted was (in two parts): 1) ‘how do we stop thinking, when thinking is so painful?’ (or, via Huysmans via Pascal: ‘The soul is pained by all things it thinks upon’) and 2) if we do stop thinking, can we still feel ‘meaningful’ or ‘human’ in modern society, and not like ‘just another corporate drone’?
In this post, there are four photographs: three of them contain an airplane, which may/may not be a metaphor for our desire to ‘leave our lives behind,’ whereas the one picture without may/may not represent the desire to contemplate that which we have seen so many times before with the (irrational/sustaining/instinctual) hope that we will find something there that we have never seen before.
Filed under: Architecture, Disease, Landscape, Literature, Quotes, Resignation, Travel, Writers-American | Leave a Comment
Tags: Airplanes, David Foster Wallace, Ennui, Huysmans, Pascal, The George Washington Bridge, Waves, Work