27 February 2012

Book Review: Sexual Strangers

Shane Phelan was an American associate professor in Political Science at the University of New Mexico. She wrote this book after writing Getting Specific: Postmodern Lesbian Politics.

This book was published almost a year before September 11, 2001 and it is fascinating to reflect back on how significant American politics can shift so quickly. And while some of its theoretical discussions seem outdated, some of it is quite relevant for today especially for LGBTs who are not part of the white American middle class.

Recently, several activists have argued for hate crimes legislation. However, elsewhere I have argued that what must precede penalty enhancement for presently criminalized conduct is that the police and justice system impartially enforce the present criminal code when the victim is a gay lesbian or transgender.

Phelan supports this view. One of the most important benefits of citizenship, she points out, is that the state will protect a citizen from violence. Yet, when police and prosecutors fail to enforce the law against perpetrators of crime against LGBTs, LGBTs are deprived of one of the most fundamental and important benefits of citizenship. It is for this reason why adopting "hate crime" legislation, which are penalty enhancements for existing crimes committed because of "hate", does not address the underlying problem which is the practical deprivation of the rights of citizenship of LGBTs. Therefore enhancing penalties on crimes that are already not enforced is like multiplying 0 by any number. The product will still be 0.

Phelan does clearly outline the possibilities of LGBT activism and goals and does criticize the narrowing of focus of national LGBT political activity and would be a more "political science" version of Michael Warner's The Trouble with Normal. I would say that Jasbir Puar's Terrorist Assemblages: Homonationalism in Queer Times is definitely a critique on what Phelan could not anticipate a year before 9/11. That is, how Muslim men have by and large substituted in for gays and lesbians as the Other of the American body politic and how mainstream American politics would eventually come to accommodate then embrace same sex marriage and white middle-class gays and lesbians.

The version I read was a 232 page paperback published by Temple University Press (January 15, 2001), ISBN-13: 978-1566398282. It is written in English. The lowest price I found online was used at abebooks.com.

19 February 2012

Anonymity, The Last in a Series

"Until that day comes when all of the universe conspire to make a way that would lead you to me, I will just be happy remembering the sound of your voice and your laughter." - Manila Bitch

We had gym together, after math. The only two classes we shared throughout high school. And although I spent 2 hours a day, 5 days a week with you for four years -- I wonder if you ever noticed me. You were really smart in arts and literature, which is why we only met in gym and math, and you were friends with all the girls. I wasn't very smart in much of anything but I played all the sports and was friends with all the guys. Our worlds were totally apart.

I wanted so many times to talk to you. When you won the school award for poetry in sophomore year. When you played Kurt in the school's production of the Sound of Music. Your voice was so sweet and your laughter on-stage unforgettable. When your painting won second place in the school art competition.

But I simply couldn't talk to you. Especially in our last year in high school. I thought I finally might introduce myself properly to you. But then some of the guys told me out on the court that it had been confirmed that you were a gay.

Then I really had no room to make any general introductions in our final year -- which was made more difficult by the fact that I had definitely fallen in love with you. And when we graduated, I remember getting the courage to go up to you to shake your hand to congratulate you. If only I could have told you how I really felt. But I couldn't. I could only hope that life would treat you kind, to give you joy and love in your life. And there, we parted ways. You went to UP. I went to Don Basco.

Those four years were even more challenging. There was no one really like you there. And although it was easy to get laid -- boy or girl -- it was difficult to find love. It didn't happen. I would remember all those years together but separate in math and gym. And the waters of life began to recede as college ended. For certain I thought I would eventually be forced to marry one of my mother's college friend's daughters.

To minimize the potential for interactions leading up to that -- including working for one of my uncles -- I decided to work at a call center at night. This worked out fine for a while as it allowed me to eliminate most social contacts I had compromised myself into accepting during college and minimized my interactions with my family. Then, the trainer-supervisors were rotated to the day shift and it was there that we again met.

I introduced myself coyly. With a knowing smile, you gracefully introduced yourself. No more anonymity, real or imagined. Without any hesitation, I asked you if you would join me for coffee after work -- to which, you agreed. And it has been happiness for us ever since. The end.

--
The Emo Blogger's Happy Blogging Challenge: Anonymity

18 February 2012

Vanity, A Series

"Life is too short to waste any opportunity for happiness." - Sitting Pretty in Cebu City

I entered the cybercafe. I needed to check my e-mail. What if he had responded? I thought. Maybe we could finally go on a date. I had been careful to go to a cybercafe away from my neighborhood so as to avoid any unintended surveillance. I gave the guy my pesos and sat down. The cybercafe was empty but for me.

I began interacting with the computer to get to my e-mail. Nothing. What a waste of money?!? Then, however, the cybercafe guy came up to me and starting chatting with me. Where am I from? Do I go on the computer often? Do I chat? Where do I chat? As he peppered me with these questions, he also got closer and closer to me until his knee was lightly brushing against my side.

Impulsively, I asked: Do you want me to show you? He responded: Okay. I won't name it but he was a spitting image of a relatively famous artista and it seems that he understood that in the way he took care of himself. I didn't fully appreciate the whole thing until he was brushing up against me in my cubicle. I logged onto a particular chat site.

At that point, he practically was sitting in my lap. Not that I minded. In fact, I had shut off my higher faculties by this point and was communing with thinly veiled risk. He said he needed to excuse himself for a moment and disappeared.

I started to worry a little but I stayed where I was. He returned and said he had washed up. Why? I naively thought. Then, he unbuttoned his jeans and all became clear. I looked to the door of the cybercafe and noticed that upon his return he had closed and locked it. I returned to the matter at hand. He stripped completely. He apparently lacked the slightest inkling of shame or had an excessive appreciation for what God had given him. He began coaxing me to remove my clothes. However, overcome with shame and self-loathing, I at first resisted. He only got me down to my briefs.

We made out, went down on each other and finally, he rode me to climax. All along, however, I felt like there was secret camera or something -- as though this artista was posing for someone off screen. Then, after we climaxed and cleaned up, a transmutation. His excessive pride in his appearance had become my own excessive pride in my achievement. The desperation that brought me here only to open my inbox was not wasted opportunity, but happiness.

--
The Emo Blogger's Happy Blogging Challenge: Vanity

17 February 2012

Happiness and Olfaction, A Series

"For reasons you cannot explain, you find yourself ensnared by its scent: the smell of inhibition's demise. There is a twisted sense of satisfaction over this display of perverse revelry in an olfactory stimulus." - The Spiral Prince

It is said that a flower's fragrance informs the surrounding environment of its fertility, availability and desirability and that like visual perception, information is broken down into some primary or fundamental constituents, upon which sensation is built.

Yet, it is a single complex stimulus, that whenever its scent is inhaled, I am transported back to you and that night. I had gotten to the town proper and was dressed up with no plan. There in the dance hall, as the music was playing and the bodies swaying, was the call of the citric bergamot and pineapple and a hint of resinous cardamom.

As I closed my eyes to focus on the source of the mysterious scent, I inhaled and suddenly a floral bouquet of jasmine, violet and rose with a hint of nutmeg gave me a bearing on your location. And as I slowly moved across the floor, it was then that the musk and amber began to round out your scent. All along a subtle note of crisp, fresh fragrance bound the complexity together.

I opened my eyes fully and our souls went into limbic resonance. We left the dance hall to talk and walk back to my house. The slightest habagat wind would break the continuity of your scent to my sense but your scent would return in full force, in the same sequence of layers -- citrus, then floral, then a sweet musk. The unperiodic habagat breeze resetting my olfactory senses to the depth of your scent was like a fugue between you and me -- in the long walk.

As we left town, we were able to catch a ride back to my barrio and we walked to my house. My parents and siblings were asleep and so we went to the storehouse. In the dimly-lit night time, we undressed and submitted ourselves to the indulgence of our remaining senses of taste, touch and hearing. Yet, your scent would return in the most subtle whisper like the tonic key in a never ending fugue. Even as the temperature and moisture between us rose, your scent was steady and unwavering only succumbing to the intermittent power of the habagat wind on our naked skin.

When I awoke in the morning, you were gone. But I needed go no farther than my own shirt for your scent had left a trace, like a coda. The next week when I went to the town proper, I inquired from some acquaintances about you. Yet, my description of you failed to elicit recollection in anyone. I wondered if it was because, perhaps, you may have only existed in my mind, or maybe, perhaps, because I withheld any description of your scent -- my memory of you. I did not wash my shirt for a long time, greedily holding onto the fading physicality of your existence in my happy memories of that night. Citrus, then floral, then a sweet musk -- with that crisp and fresh hint of fragrance.

--
The Emo Blogger's Happy Blogging Challenge: Happiness and One of the Senses

citybuoy

16 February 2012

Crazy-Happiness, A Series

"All you should remember is it was a happy ending." -City Buoy

action potential, silver-like
behold the spirit
released from its prison
into the darkness
coming into union
exciting and exhilarating
a chorus of angelic whispers
departing from the realm
a return to the darkness

i cannot return
into the darkness
coming into union
exciting and exhilarating
a chorus of angelic song
departing from the realm
a return to the darkness
i cannot return

into the darkness
coming into union
exciting and exhilarating
an angelic symphony
departing from the realm
a return to the darkness
i cannot return

into the darkness
coming into union
exciting and exhilarating
sublimity and ecstasy
departing from the realm
a return to the darkness
black-body radiation
the afterglow

crazy
happiness

--
The Emo Blogger's Happy Blogging Challenge: Crazy-Happiness

Orange Wit, citybuoy

15 February 2012

The Ghost of Happiness, A Series

"This madness here? Those ghosts there? Or spectrality in general? This is more or less our whole question — and our circumspection." -Jacques Derrida

"Can we be boyfriends yet?"

"No. Let's just be friends."

"How about now?"

"No." You turned over and went back to sleep. My arm was wrapped tightly around you. The street light coming in through the window between the branches of the mango tree outside -- wrapping itself against the wall. My eyes move to the shadow which are inextricably bound to the street light, the window, the branches of the mango tree.

One inextricable knot -- the wall, haunted by the window, haunted by the mango tree, haunted by the street light --- cuddling with the ghost of happiness, a projection through the window of my soul, my youth.

--
The Emo Blogger's Happy Blogging Challenge: The Ghost of Happiness

citybuoy

12 February 2012

Age and Youth, A Series

"Bless us to engender the realization of the impermanence of this life in understanding that whatever is gathered will be separated, whatever is accumulated will be exhausted, whatever reaches a high state will fall to a low state and whatever takes birth will die and that the time of death is uncertain. " - Buddhist prayer on the intermediate state

Youth: My friend introduced me to you. We were about the same age and both very smitten with one another. We couldn't keep our hands off each other and everyone around us were blind (or ignored) the explosive passion between us. Every moment alone we had, we kissed and cuddled and talked. I would walk the two kilometers to the subdivision gate and back every morning after you spent the night -- avoiding the noise of starting the engine but ensuring that you were not alone on that walk. We were devoted to each other although we understood at the beginning that this would not continue indefinitely. Perhaps, it was the acceptance at the beginning of the limited nature of the engagement that produced its intensity. It was an intensity that was confusing yet unmatched for many years.

Age: I have married and am happily so. There are no bittersweet memories. There are no regrets.You provided me with a real experience of intimacy when my understanding or capacity for it was so limited. You were gentle and kind and loving and understanding. We were very curious about each other and we created space to entertain that curiosity. It was difficult for me, after we parted, to confront the lesson your involvement in my life gave me and I put up a wall to protect me from my own vulnerability. One of many. However, as my capacity for intimacy and love deepened, my gratitude and appreciation for our time together grew. Until one day I found the courage and humility to look you up when I was in town, only to discover that you had died the day before I was able to locate you, after a long illness. It was the ultimate and final chapter in a significant lesson about life -- and love. Life is love. Your precious gift of understanding continues to reward me. Life is love. Thank you.

--
The Emo Blogger's Happy Blogging Challenge: Age and Youth

11 February 2012

Obsession, A Series

"It is really very similar to being disturbed by mice. Those damned creatures gnaw and nibble all night, and you bang on the wall, and for a time there is peace, and then they start again." - Marie-Louise von Franz

I remained quiet. His breathing had not deeped or regularized and I remained convinced that he wasn't really asleep. But I couldn't be sure. I tried to count the seconds between his exhalations. That didn't work. I couldn't be sure I was counting in equal durations.

I noticed that my own respiration was involuntarily showing signs of excitement. My heart beat was rapid and my blood pressure was elevated -- my sympathetic nervous system was on high alert. Perhaps he was listening to my breathing and counting the seconds between my exhalations. He'd know that I was awake and not asleep and wondering why.

He moved and the side of his hand brushed up against my hand and came to rest next to it. My heart began to race. What is the significance of this? His breathing was still not regular or periodic.

Was this intentional or not intentional? If it not intentional, why would he rest his hand there? Was he completely unaware of his tactile sense or the existential limits of his body and limbs? If it was intentional, what was he communicating to me? What was the significance of this? What was its meaning? His breathing still had not regularized. He wasn't sleeping. I was sure of it.

All along, I just wanted to hold his hand, but I was frozen in a terror of the risk in which such a move was wagering -- if he were awake. I tried to sleep but I couldn't. I would recite the risk such a move would wager and that would give me a moment of respite, until I was again frozen in terror that the calculations were confronting the moment of possibility in the present moment.

Then, he turned on his side and moved closer to me. It would be impossible for him not to notice the wild explosion of activity produced by the neurons in my sympathetic nervous system. I was likely radiating heat like an overheating car engine. But his eyes remained closed.

I tried to sleep but it didn't work. As soon as I felt calm, suddenly I returned to my feelings for him. I was hopelessly in love with my best friend, but was he with me? He had only talked about girls in all these years. But he never had a girlfriend. The ambiguity of it all tore at me as I calculated the different possible arrangements of the facts, the significance and weight of each fact and their meaning in the alternative potential narratives.

But I couldn't bring myself to do anything or say anything except to the small comfort in listening to his breathing and recognizing that it was neither deep nor regular in its periodicity.

I got no sleep that night trapped in my own obsession, happily next to him.


--
The Emo Blogger's Happy Blogging Challenge: Obsession 

The Orange Wit, citybuoy, the spiral prince

09 February 2012

Amnesia, A Series

"As the evolution of the embryonic body repeats its prehistory, so the mind also develops through a series of prehistoric stages." -Carl G. Jung

I could recall, with my working memory, that I had recalled previously that I was recalling something. And in that instant, I looked deep into the abyss: the life as I now live it, have lived it and will have to live it will and has returned to me -- every pain and every joy and every thought and sigh and everything unutterably small and great in my life returns to me.

The moonless night. The energy from the ocean lapping onto the beach in the form of small waves. The distant chatter of fishermen. I was enjoying the stars, the cool breeze on my skin. Then, near the horizon, a star began moving. It began to move toward me. I was caught in its tractor beam. It continued to approach until I was almost engulfed in its horror. You redirected my attention and then it began. The eternal recurrence recalling I was trying to recall.

A man from Wahgi Valley appeared. He was speaking rapidly. I recognized it as language but I could not readily access its meaning. Was this the election? I then recalled that I had recalled previously that I was recalling something. The life as I now live it, have lived it and will have to live it will and has returned to me. Panic.

I tried to explain it to you and him but my words failed me as I began to speak to you in the language of a man from Wahgi Valley. The look of distress in your face only heightened my sense of panic.

Finally, lying next to me in the sand, I put my arm around you, closed my eyes and began to follow my breath until time returned and began to move forward again. A very long time without time and friendship as my only anchor in the dark, rough seas of that night without time.

--
The Emo Blogger's Happy Blogging Challenge: Amnesia

citybuoy

08 February 2012

A Criminal Mind, A Series

"I gave my heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all things that are done under heaven: this sore travail hath God given to the sons of man to be exercised therewith." - Ecclesiastes 1:13

As a young man, I lived in the city and my barkada was spread out around the city. Every so often, we would take turns driving each other to the cockfights. It had been my turn. I dropped the last off my barkada off and was making my way home -- in the rain -- when I saw in the distance a guy getting out of a car. I then heard him helling, "Then fuck you too." The car drove off. He waved at my car -- being the only other thing on this desolate provincial road.

I decided to pull over. He wanted a ride. Okay. I asked him where he was going. Back to the city he said. Okay. He asked where I was going. Home in the city. Okay. He got in and I began driving. He seemed slightly drunk, a pleasant fragrance could be detected, and he was tall, dark and muscular. Okay.

It was raining hard. We made small talk and then, there was a hand on my thigh.

"You like this?"

"Okay."

"Why don't we go back to your house?" he asked.

"Okay."

His hand wandered. Naturally, I was a bit anxious. I furiously carved the roads to get back to my apartment. This part along with the specifics of the small talk escape me although by the time I was desperately looking for parking around my apartment -- it was late -- his hand was in my pants and my hand in his. I illegally parked in the neighboring building's frontage -- calculating that we wouldn't be too long and the guard was usually sleeping somewhere by this hour.

We composed ourselves, buttoned and zipped up and went directly up to my apartment. I mentioned to him to be quiet so as to avoid waking up my landlady. He complied. We got into my apartment and as I closed my door, without turning on the light, he forced himself on me, passionately kissing me. He started taking off my clothes as I worked on taking off his.

We got onto my bed, kissing, caressing, grinding, embracing. My tactile and oral fascination with his highly toned muscular body and soft skin -- which I only found out later was due to his semi-professional athlete career -- was only outdone by the same fascination with his very large member. However, after a long time, our tactile and oral investigations were suspended when he said:

"I want you to fuck me bro"

"Okay"

"Just use a condom, I don't want to get AIDS or anything."

"Okay"

"If you give me AIDS and my wife gets it, I'll sue you."

"Okay"

Many of the projections that sustained my fantasy fell away at this moment and here I was with a man in my apartment through the most unlikely series of circumstances. Nevertheless, having enjoyed all of the risk I had so far taken on, I got a condom and lube and, with the fervor of a diesel engine, I obliged. Even more curious, we climaxed simultaneously, all the while his holding and kneading my waist. I then rested on top of him.

We cleaned up in the bathroom. I turned on the light in my apartment and he immediately seized on the knife in my dish rack. "What is this? You trying to hurt me?" He said in a slightly slurred tone as he grabbed me from behind. Suddenly, a knife was to my throat. Understanding as best I could, I relaxed my entire body and he was forced to put down the knife to hold me from falling over. I assured him there was no conspiracy but that it was probably time for me to take him to home.

I drove him to a major intersection so, as he requested, he could find a snack before going home, but when he got out of the car, I drove off. A few weeks later, I happen to go with my aunt to my cousin's sports club to pick my cousin up and there he was behind my cousin. My cousin got in the car and we began driving away:

"Hey kuya. Who is that guy standing there, he looks familiar?"

"Oh. That's *. He's the club's pro. I didn't know you were into football cousin."

Neither did I.

--
The Emo Blogger's Happy Blogging Challenge: A Criminal Mind

orange wit, spiral prince, ♔ıǝɹɯɐı♔

07 February 2012

A Lover, A Series

"For thy sweet love remember'd such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings'."
- William Shakespeare

The last night of the town fiesta, I wandered onto the internet relay chat. Everyone in my barangay was asleep, or that was what I thought. I logged in. I searched domain names of online users and discovered you in #poetry. No one was in #poetry except you and then me. We chatted for several hours. Line by line, we revealed our fragments to each other. Then, when it was already quite late, we agreed to meet out in the dark of the fields.

I walked out to our rendezvous point, in the dark, in the unknown. You arrived in your owner-type jeepney -- your headlamps cutting through the quiet darkness. I looked in through the window and there you were. A soldier. I got in and we went off -- the humming of the engine cutting through the dark silence. We drove for some time, out of the town toward the mountains, up into the mountains. Then, you pulled off the road.

We got out and as my eyes adjusted to the cool light of the stars, you put your arm through my arm and torso and pulled me to the ground. I stopped breathing. As you caressed my skin, you reminded me: "don't forget to breathe." I gasped. You giggled.

It was much cooler in the mountains than down in town. We embraced and cuddled for a long time. Then, you began to kiss me. My proprioceptional capacity overwhelmed, I lost all sensation of my own existence. Yet, my discriminative touch was heightened and my awareness of the fine hairs on your legs and arms could be felt one by one, the varying tones of the different areas of your skin appreciated in microns.

Then we made love -- among the trees, in the mountains, below the stars and the night sky. It was a euphony of tactile, visual, audio, gustatory and olfactory sensations in a baroque repetition of allegro, adagio, scherzo, sonata until the morning light began to diffuse through the night sky and the first movements of the morning orchestral refrains began to be sung by the avian musicians.

You took me back to the field and gave me another kiss as your jeepney came to a full stop. I walked home and fell into a deep sleep.

--
The Emo Blogger's Happy Blogging Challenge: A Lover

citybuoy, spiral prince, orange wit, ♔ıǝɹɯɐı♔

05 February 2012

Madness, A Series

"The entire world is my temple, and a very fine one too, if I'm not mistaken, and I'll never lack priests to serve it as long as there are men." - Erasmus

Under a moon lit sky, I traced the grooves on your torso. Our prior familiarity with each other seemed to have been a deep fog for under this moon lit sky, at this moment we finally met. Your body was so hard yet so soft to my touch. A paradox. A contradiction.

For a moment as we reversed positions, you hesitated. But then, our lips made contact and you began kissing me with such fervency that in a primeval state of emotional empathy I was swept into your ecstasy, which became mine.

You did not last long when you entered me. You began to apologize profusely. To which I returned with a gentle kiss. Your ardor had mellowed replaced with a constancy as we embraced late into that night -- falling asleep in each others arms.

Yet, the light of the next moment came and with it a subtle and corrosive focus toward the threshold of the abyss of intimacy in which that delicate, tender and fine embrace had remained. But, the causes and conditions had not yet ripened. And when distance began to fill the nothingness between you and me, much more than misprision, a madness.

--
The Emo Blogger's Happy Blogging Challenge: Madness

Sitting Pretty
, citybuoy, spiral prince, Orange Wit,
♔ıǝɹɯɐı♔

03 February 2012

A Happy Childhood Memory, A Series

"Although the actual moment of conversion often seems quite sudden and unexpected, we know from experience that such a fundamental upheaval always requires a long period of incubation." - Carl Gustav Jung

I stopped by his work place. "I think tonight is the night." I said. "Me too." He responded cautiously.

A leisurely pause lingered.

"I'll start the search." "Okay."

He finished his work and we left. We ended up with some friends who were supportive of this seemingly sudden change. We found it. A moment of hesitation, before the god. Rather, it found us.

He gripped my hand, I turned to look. But it was too late. The god had descended. Without words, we spoke. A tsunami unleashed, I could only chant formulas of containment learned in an earlier life. He wanted to hold me -- be held -- kiss me -- be kissed. Suddenly, the voice:

Remember the clear light, the pure clear white light from which everything in the universe comes, to which everything in the universe returns; the original nature of your own mind. The natural state of the universe unmanifest. Let go into the clear light, trust it, merge with it. It is your own true nature, it is home.

Then, the boundaries of he, me, us, them blurred. Revealed in an instant, the entire map of my soul-universe pouring out of my finite perspective gushing in every direction unbounded by the laws of this mechanical universe.

I move through the materiality of my life. A watery rebirth. A repetition of my childhood, a happy memory, reflexed, repeated, retrieved reverberates into dark areas of my soul. And then, I drifted to sleep. A happy childhood memory.

--
The Emo Blogger's Happy Blogging Challenge: A Happy Childhood Memory

citybuoy, spiral prince, sitting pretty, manila bitch, orange wit, ♔ıǝɹɯɐı♔

01 February 2012

A Prologue, A Series

"My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness." - Tenzin Gyatso

It had never occurred to me, until this moment, that I held the projection of the mother for him. I was so in love with him and yet he was so in love with another, I had never stopped to consider what the significance of his close affection for might be if not being in love.

Yet after the ablution and libations, the incantations and recitations, in the unworldly trance he found himself in, I have been stripped of all humanity and what remains constellated in that ecstatic vision of his is me as his mother, the mother.

I hold him close to me. He begins to tell me the story of his pain, which is mine -- and so all I can do is to hold him closer and tighter. Binding myself more deeply to the constellation of his symbolic truth, to my symbolic truth. A moment of pure intimacy against the background beat of the drums and the only light of the stars in the night sky blessing us from afar.

A moment of my truth repeated into the materiality of the world. A prologue.

--
The Emo Blogger's Happy Blogging Challenge: Prologue

citybuoy, spiral prince, manila bitch, orange wit, ♔ıǝɹɯɐı♔