10 Books in 10 Days

01 After Lorca by Jack Spicer
02 The Construction of Homosexuality by David F. Greenberg
03 Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino
04 Funeral Rites by Jean Genet
05 Sunflower Splendor, ed by Wu-chi Liu and Irving Yucheng Lo
06 Auto-da-fé by Elias Canetti
07 A Book of Women Poets from Antiquity to Now, ed by Aliki Barnstone and Willis Barnstone
08 A Dream of Red Mansions/Story of the Stone by Cao Xueqin
09 The Great Code/Words with Power by Northrop Frye
10 The First Scientist Anaximander and His Legacy by Carlo Rovelli

After my friend Jose Arroyo invited me to several challenges on Facebook,i.e. 10 Albums in 10 Days and 10 Films in 10 Days, I responded with an even more difficult challenge: 10 Books in 10 Days, with an explanation of how the book affected your life, thought, or work. Above are the ten books and below are the covers and write-ups for each.

I left out all childhood books, which would have included The Wizard of Oz, Charlotte’s Web and the Mushroom Planet books. I also left out tween and early teen books like Dracula, Frankenstein, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, I, Robot, Childhood’s End and The Martian Chronicles. Finally I left out the late-teen, early twenties Russian literature phase Dostoevsky, Tolstoy and Gogol included in the exclusion. What emerged were books between the intersection of my life as a gay man and my own writing practice. I encourage others to make and post such a list on Facebook, Twitter and/or here on WordPress.

Book One of Ten


After Lorca by Jack Spicer, 1974, the gay, American poet, Jack Spicer imagines a series of letters about poetry written to the dead Federico Garcia Lorca. Interspersed are his “translations” of Lorca poems, some of which are actually completely new poems. He also has an introduction written by Lorca in which Lorca questions and dismisses the whole enterprise. “Even the most faithful student of my work will be hard put to decide what is and what is not Garcia Lorca, as, indeed, he would if he were to look into my present resting place. The analogy is impolite, but I fear the impoliteness is deserved.”

Playful and irreverent, Spicer’s slender volume combines gallows humour, gorgeous poetry and deceptively simple declarations bout the poetic method to make for a perfect gem of book that accorded with my existing sensibilities at the same time as it gently re-shaped them, ultimately producing new outlooks and approaches to poetry that I did not previously have.

As with many of the books on this list, it is a friend who introduced it to me and I am mortally grateful to Mark Sinnett for giving me a photocopied volume in the early 1980s, a scan of which is attached below. After Lorca is also included in the Collected Books of Jack Spicer.

Book Two of Ten


The Construction of Homosexuality, 1988, by David F. Greenberg.  An encyclopedic cataloguing of homosexuality across cultures and historical periods, Greenberg’s book is one of a number of scholarly works that came out in the 1980’s and 1990’s that expanded our understanding of what being gay had been, is and could be. It’s spirit, and that of its sisterly scholarly works, helped to infuse activist movements like Queer Nation, as well as artistic endeavors. It certainly consciously, and unconsciously, infused my journalism for gay newspapers in the 1990s, as well as my own creative writing, especially the performance piece Sodom etc/Sodam agus araile,  1992, Gallery 101, Ottawa. Its footnotes lead to a bottomless rabbit hole of writing and thought by and about queerness. Whatever scholarly bones one has to pick with Greenberg and his methods (In particular, I am sure his curt dismissal of Michel Foucault galls many.), this book remains a valuable resource for anyone interested in human sexuality in general, and homosexuality in all its particular peculiarities.

Book Three of Ten


Invisible Cities, 1972, by Italo Calvino. “Elsewhere is a negative mirror. The traveler recognizes the little that is his, discovering the much he has not had and will never have,” one of my favorite quotes from one of my most cherished books. The descriptions of cities encountered by Marco Polo, as related to Kublai Khan, exemplify what Calvino discusses in his collection of essays, Six Memos for the Next Millenium, literature as the flame refracted through the crystal, exquisite structures that reveal thought and emotion even as they refract it. WH Auden expressed a similar approach when he said that poetry was like a game; it is no fun if there aren’t any rules. In his essay entitled Exactitude from Six Memos for the Next Millenium, Calvino writes: “The book in which I managed to say the most remains Invisible Cities, because I was able to concentrate all my reflections, experiments, and conjectures on a single symbol [the city]; and also because I built up a many faceted structure in which each brief text is close to the others in a series that does not imply logical sequence or a hierarchy, but a network in which one can follow multiple routes and draw multiple, ramified conclusions.” Beautiful in its own right, Invisible Cities is also an example of an approach to literature that was deeply influential on my own writing. Once again, a shout must go out to Mark Sinnett for introducing me to this book in the early 80s.

Book Four of Ten


Funeral Rites, 1948/1953, by Jean Genet. Is it possible to imagine 20th century queer culture without the influence of Jean Genet? I could have chosen any of his books, as I was equally entranced by all of them, but I have selected Funeral Rites, as it most clearly explores a very gay-male aspect of queer culture: eroticizing the oppressor. Written to commemorate his lover, Jean Decarnin, a young communist killed by Nazi-collaborators in Paris at the end of World War II, Genet’s visceral, homoerotic fantasies/realities about desire, power, grief and violence would be much imitated, but never matched because Genet, unlike many, allows his vulnerability to shine through every dark page.  This eroticization of the oppressor would find a more joyous expression in the artwork of Tom of Finland, but Genet keeps us in the real world of stiff cocks, puckered asses, spit, sweat and cum. Genet was the first seriously queer writer I encountered as a young homo, and his writing is still the best for those wishing to shed the skin of “normalcy.”

Book Five of Ten


Sunflower Splendor: Three Thousand Years of Chinese Poetry, Ed. By Wu-chi Liu and Irving Yucheng Lo, 1975.  All of the books on this list have influenced me, but his book was life-changing. I had been writing poetry for about a decade and had some exposure to Chinese poetry, but when Michael Leon gave me this book, a whole new universe opened up. It fired my interest in Chinese poetry, culture and history, and the Chinese language itself, which would eventually lead to me to live in China for 5 years. Over 1000 poems that span 3,000 years form the Shi Jing (The Classic of Poetry) to Mao Zedong, Footnoted and with a brief bio for each poet, it remains perhaps the most accessible entry to Chinese poetry. It is inexhaustible, yet only a tiny tip of the iceberg that is Chinese literature, after reading it many times cover-to-cover, I can still dip in on any page and be amazed.

Book Six of Ten


Auto-da-fé, 1935, Elias Canetti, I love black humor, morbid fascinations, grotesqueries of all kinds, and no book combines them all with such dense, yet flowing prose, as does Elias Canetti’s Auto-da-fé. The main character, Peter Kien, is about as unlikeable a character as you are likely to find in fiction, a Sinologist who loves books more than he likes people and who hates women more than anything. His decision to marry his housekeeper, Therese, because of a hastily and mistakenly formed impression that she too respects and honors books, unleashes a chain of events that draws in a hunchback named Fischerle, Kien’s psychiatrist brother and a host of criminal elements, with all the characters driven by conflicting monomanias, and leads to the (anti)climactic event referred to in the title of book.  It is all as if Heinrich Boll’s The Clown was mashed up with Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast Trilogy. I am fairly certain that it was Eduardo Cordeiro who introduced this novel to me in the 1990s.

Auto-da-fé inspired me to read Canetti’s most well-known books, Crowds and Power, and The Memoirs of Elias Canetti: The Tongue Set Free, The Torch in My Ear, The Play of the Eyes, which, in turn led me to Los Sueños/Dreams, 1627, by Francisco de Quevedo, cited by Canetti as his favorite book. Particularly amusing are Quevedo’s descriptions of Poets in Hell: “Ah, What I saw and learned about poets! A devil approached and said to me: They celebrate their sins in the same way that others weep for them…If they love their ladies the most they give them is a sonnet or two, or a bundle of eight-liners…What’s more, poets seem not to have the least idea about whose flag they fly under; for instance, their names are those of Christians, but they have the souls of heretics, they think like Arabs but use the language of ancient pagans.” Sounds about right to me, but I think it is a good thing.

Vying for this spot on the list were, in addition to the Boll and Peake books mentioned above, The Bridge on the Drina by Ivo Andrić, which recounts the centuries of religious and ethnic strife in the Balkans through the history of a bridge, and Serbian Diaries, 1996, by Boris L. Davidovich, a gay man’s recounting of his cruising for sex in Belgrade as the then-Yugoslavia descends into war and ethnic strife.

Book Seven of Ten


Lullaby for My Dead Child
by Denise Jallais

You shouldn’t be afraid of the dark
Or of worms
Besides
Now you can play with the rain
And see the grass come up

You shouldn’t put dirt in your mouth
And sit still waiting for me
Besides
We’ve given you some flowers
To console you for being little
And dead.

(Translated by Maxin Kumin and Judith Kumin)

If it only contained this one poem, Book 7 of 10, A Book of Women Poets from Antiquity to Now, 1980, Edited by Aliki Barnstone and Willis Barnstone, would make it onto my list, but this book contains worlds. Arranged  in an overlaying mesh of original language and historical period, the poems presented span from Sappho to Margaret Atwood [That’s some leap!], and from Emily Dickinson to anonymous folk songs from Morocco that express sentiments like: “To look at an ugly man/gives me a headache” and Algeria : “Be happy for me, girls,/my mother-in-law is dead!/In the morning I found her/stiff, her mouth shut./Yet I won’t believe it/till I see the grass/waving on her tomb.”

One of my favorite discoveries from the book was Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz,  the 17th century Mexican nun, poet, philosopher and scientist whose poem titles are almost as long as her poem, for example: “She Proves the Inconsistency of the Desires and Criticism of Men Who Accuse Women of What They Themselves Cause,” which contains stanzas like “Has anyone ever seen/a stranger moral fervor:/you who dirty the mirror/regret it is not clear?” and the pithier but delightful, “In Which She Satisfies a Fear with the Rhetoric of Tears.”

In searching for an online cover shot of this book, I saw that at some point it was “Revised and with an Expanded Section of American Poets.”  I also notice it costs $35. In the 80s, mine cost me 95 cents at a second hand bookstore.  Second hand book stores in the 80s rocked.

Book Eight of Ten


A Dream of Red Mansions, as the title of is usually translated, the original Chinese being 红楼梦 red/storied building/dream, but the best available English translation goes by the title The Story of the Stone, which has basis in the text, if not in the original title.

Written in the 18th Century by Cao Xueqin (with 40 chapters added later by Cao E), it is a sprawling story of the decline of the Qing-Dynasty Jia family. It’s huge cast of characters and the breadth of its story makes War and Peace look like Daniel Steele.  Focused on the character of Jia Baoyu, the young adolescent male heir of the Jia family who spends his days surrounded by the women of the family, living a richly aesthetic and dream-like existence, as business concerns and political intrigue swirl around and eventually demolish their way of life. Slated to marry Xue Baochai, he forms an intense bond with his sickly cousin, Lin Daiyu, based on their love of music, poetry and nature. One of the most referenced scenes in the book being Lin Daiyu’s funeral for the flowers. She is so distressed at the sight of the petals that have fallen in the night that she gathers them up and gives them a burial.

It is impossible to overstate the influence of this book on Chinese literary and visual culture. It has inspired endless commentaries, imitations, paintings, poetry, as well as film and television. It is considered one of the four great novels of Chinese literature, the other three being The Romance of the Three Kingdoms/三国演义, The Outlaw of the Marshes/水浒传 (Also called Water Margins in English) and Journey to the West/The Monkey King/西游记. I recommend all four, but especially Dream of Red Mansions. (The Story of the Stone, translated in 5 volumes, also contains an indispensable glossary of characters and the family trees for the Jia and Wang families, you’ll need them.)

Reading this book is a completely immersive experience into a long-gone world that is made instantly recognizable by the rich psychological insights into the characters.

For those who like their reads shorter and racier, I recommend Li Yu (李漁: 1610-80)’s Silent Operas (无声戏) and The Carnal Prayer Mat (肉蒲团). He is a great comedic writer who mocks sexual taboos by (pretending?) to reinforce them.

Book Nine of Ten

Book 9 of 10 is actually two books, The Great Code, 1981, and Words with Power, 1990, by Northrop Frye, but they were written as sister volumes, so I am listing them as one.

It was these two books that introduced me to serious study of the structures of language and literature. Frye’s goal was to treat the Bible as a piece of literature, examine its underlying language, metaphors, rhetorical devices and over-arching structure, and show how it was central to Western literature until the 18th Century and still exerts a strong, if often hidden, influence.

Anyone serious about the examination of literature, and its adjacent forms of film, tv and journalism, would do well to read these books. They will heighten your senses to The Bible’s daily intrusion into all of these forms of expression, sometimes blatantly and obviously, sometimes in a quite coded manner. If for no other reason than to Know Thy Enemy, these books are essential reading.  For me they were a methadone that helped wean me off the heroin of religion, by helping me to see the deep, human structures of literature and how The Bible uses and misuses them.

Fortunately, there a plenty of other, positive reasons to avail yourself of Frye’s considered knowledge of literature and language. The books are crash courses in structure, metaphor and myth. The Great Code lays out the approach and Words of Power can be viewed as a series of case studies, always arguing for the centrality of literature to culture.

Certainly, many people would greatly benefit from putting aside for a spell their Barthes, Derrida and Foucault and reading some Frye. Oh, no she didn’t?! Oh, yes, she did! And then they should read the tenth and final book on my list, to be discussed tomorrow.

Book Ten of Ten


The First Scientist Anaximander and His Legacy by Carlo Rovelli, 2007, English translation 2011. Reading Rovelli I was struck by how his writing is complementary to that of Italo Calvino, whose Invisible Cities I put as Book 3 of 10.  In Calvino’s essay Lightness from Six Memos for the Next Millenium, he writes: “In the boundless universe of literature there are always new avenues to be explored, both very recent and very ancient, styles and forms that can change our image of the world….But if literature is not enough to assure me that I am not just chasing dreams, I look to science to nourish my visions in which all heaviness disappears.”

Rovelli, an Italian physicist whose specialty is loop quantum gravity, believes in the ability of science to bring new visions of the world into existence, and he uses literature, modern and ancient, to enliven his writing. He believes that science is more than reproducible, quantifiable results, he expounds the necessity of imagination and vision, and he sees visionary imagination as the intersection of science and poetry.

In this charming book he uses as his starting point Anaximander, the 6th Century BCE Greek philosopher who was the first person to realize that the earth was surrounded by space, both above and below. He calls him the first scientist because he was the first person to propose an understanding of the world that did not rely on the gods.

“The idea of formulating an understanding of the world without reference to the gods was a radical one in the sixth century BCE. It had immense consequences, paving the way for the philosophical and scientific developments that grew, in alternate phases, during the next twenty-six centuries. It represents one of the deepest roots of modernity. But it is not an idea that has prevailed. Many, perhaps most, people in our world dissent.”

What Rovelli invites us to do is to live in doubt, to constantly question both what we don’t know and what we believe we do know. This, he states, is the essence of science, and the essence of great art.

I recommend all of Rovelli’s books and chose Anaximander because it is the least intimidating to those who are put off by Einsteinian General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics.  If Anaximander tickles your fancy, I would suggest you start with Seven Brief Lessons on Physics, 2014/2015 English translation, and then move on to Reality Is Not What It Seems, 2014/2016 English translation, and The Order of Time, 2017/2018 English translation.

Two other books, not by Rovelli, that I highly recommend for those interested in science and the arts are Seeing Double: Shared Identities in Physics, Philosophy and Literature,2002, by Peter Pesic and The Quantum Moment: How Planck, Bohr, Einstein, and Heisenberg Taught Us to Love Uncertainty by Robert P. Crease and Alfred Scharff Goldhaber.

To see all the posts on this blog with explicit and implicit gay content, click here.

guoande seal script jpegTo read Songs about Sex, Death & Cicadas by Andrew Grimes Griffin, just click on the link. To download a pdf, right click on the link and select “Save link as…”
To read  as close as the clouds by Andrew Grimes Griffin, just click on the link. To download a pdf, right click on the linke and select “Save link as…”
To read the chapbook Happy Birthday Hanafuda by Andrew Grimes Griffinjust click on the link. To download a pdf, right click on the link and select “Save link as…”

Advertisements

Symposium with Accordion Accompaniment, V. Aristophanes’ Imperfect Circles

Andew Silence Equals Death

Andrew Grimes Griffin at Gay Pride in Ottawa…sometime in the 90s.

V. Aristophanes’ Imperfect Circles
or, Slicing Hard Boiled Eggs with a Hair.

Patrick was the blond American
boy next door
I met in Ottawa.
He called me Mr. A.
I called him Yankee.

Ernest said he went
quickly, so quickly
that one day Patrick,
in a voice of broken reeds, said,
“I’ve grown old, so old, so fast.”

Patrick died six months after
being diagnosed HIV positive.

Ernest said the eighty pounds
Patrick had become
was easy to hold,
but hard to carry.

And Oscar Wilde was almost right.
Friendship is far more tragic
than love
because it lasts longer
– if you’re lucky.

If you’re not
then you can
put it down
to an accident,
put it down
to an act of god,
or simply
put it down.

But, regardless
of what we do,
there are times
when we walk around
in profile
like relief carvings
on tombstones.

AGG19890318

Depth Charge: It seems that the darker side of the late-Eighties and early nineties is emerging with the release last year of How to Survive a Plague and the upcoming Dallas Buyers Club. By 1989, my friend Patrick was already dead and I composed this poem as part of a cycle based on Plato’s Symposium. I am posting it today as a companion piece to Facebook Photo and Why Someone Has To Die.

21 years ago this month the Sodomites with Flashlights presented Sodom etc. — a seminal piece of queer art. To  commemorate the anniversary, I will be posting excerpts, pictures and other material traces left by the show.

As the month goes by, just click  here to see everything posted about Sodom etc.

Sodom etc. Sock Puppets Speak

Sock-Puppets-Speak

A page of quotes included in the program for Sodom etc. Mar 28, 1992, Gallery 101, Ottawa

Sodom etc. drew on a vast variety of texts for direct and indirect inspiration: Oscar Wilde, The Koran, The Bible, W.B. Yeats, Chinese poetry, A.E. Housman, St. Augustine, Irish folklore, Shakespeare, Plato and the Physiocrats, to name a few. The goal to was trace of filigree of faggotry from the earliest times to the present, to reveal the layers of thought and desire that accumulate in the heart of the modern homo.

21 years ago this month the Sodomites with Flashlights presented Sodom etc. — a seminal piece of queer art. To  commemorate the anniversary, I will be posting excerpts, pictures and other material traces left by the show.

As the month goes by, just click  here to see everything posted about Sodom etc.

Sodom etc. Eurydice and Lot’s Wife

Sodom etc. Cuimhnígí ar bhean Lot - Remember Lot's Wife

Cuimhnígí ar bhean Lot Lúcás 17, 32 Sodam agus araile /Remember Lot’s Wife, Luke 17:32 Sodom etc.

Sodom etc. was a call for a re-examination and re-evaluation of the stories and myths that had been used to define gays and lesbians. It encouraged the audience to look back with a critical and playful eye, with a warning that doing so carried both reward and danger.

Two figures from mythology who paid a heavy price, one for looking back, Lot’s Wife, who was turned to a pillar of salt when she looked back at the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and another for being looked back upon, Eurydice, the wife of Orpheus who was returned to Hades because he lost faith and looked back to see if she was indeed following him, take the stage.

The piece ended with a conversation between these two cautionary tales.

Eurydice and Lot’s Wife

E:         I’ve always meant to ask you, My dear, Your name?

LW:     I’m so used to being called Lot’s Wife That my own name Is quite beyond recall.

E:         How very strange that seems; We’re both women of some fame.

LW:     But isn’t it always the case. Those who name look back And those who are named Are looked back upon.

E:         To much the same effect, I dare say.I was whisked back to Hades, You were turned Into a pillar of salt, Hardly desirable fates, Either one.

LW:     True. It is hard to judge Whether it’s better to be shot The backward glance Or sneak a peak yourself.

E:         Given the chance.

LW:     Yes, given the chance, Should one take it?

E:         Or is it better To have no choice or say? But I have been holding out on you And I feel we are close enough That now I may speak the truth.

LW:     Which truth might that be?

E:         The truth about Orpheus and me It’s about time I used my own voice.

LW:     You mean we haven’t heard The whole story. Do tell! Do tell!

E:         I was surprised and flattered When Orpheus showed up in Hell.

LW:     Well naturally, It would be quite a compliment.

E:         But upon hearing the deal struck, I became hesitant. Knowing Orpheus and his vacillating ways, I knew he could not make it Without checking to see If I followed; so, I stayed.

LW:     You didn’t even try to go?

E:         No, I would rather rest in darkness Than endure his haughty eyes Turned back on me.

LW:     Then what is this  We’ve heard about you Following obediently.

E:         I can only imagine Orpheus, After the shock of turning To embrace only empty air, Concocted the entire charade In order to save face.

LW:     That sounds like my dear Sodom. Its destruction was A showpiece, a scapegoat, A Grenada, a Libya.

E:         You must be joking. I’ve heard that in that town Not even ten just men Could be found.

LW:     I can tell you, sister, There were more than Just ten men Who were more than Just O.K.

E:         Indeed! That was the thing…

LW:     This was it…

E:         That was what?

LW:     It was like My daughters being offered To the crowd.

E:         That part, you say, is true?

LW:     There’s a little truth In everything one hears But one must learn To pick and chose.

E:         And what about your transformation Into a pillar of salt? If you had it all to do over again Would you still chose to be A common condiment?

LW:     Without a second thought. You must understand That I was struck down Because I looked back. I saw That the Cities of the Plain Were NOT in flames. But the sky was falling (Not to mention the stock market) And thousands of people were running, Afraid to look behind.

E:         That’s quite a claim. Have you any proof?

LW:     I will take you there, Any time you wish to go. Although, I warn you, The place is deserted, Falling into disrepair, And only I who dared Look back Know the correct path.

E:         My dearest, I’d be delighted To take a little tour And see For myself For a change.

LW:     Then let us be as vultures And eat of the dead That we may take to the air.

AGG19920328

21 years ago this month the Sodomites with Flashlights presented Sodom etc. — a seminal piece of queer art. To  commemorate the anniversary, I will be posting excerpts, pictures and other material traces left by the show.

As the month goes by, just click  here to see everything posted about Sodom etc.

Sodom etc. Bhí Sodomach ag Damhsa

Bhi-Sodomach-ag-damhsa

Bhí Sodamach ag damhsa ar an tsráid aréir. Cá bhfuil an fear sin anois? Sodam agus araile./ A Sodomite was dancing in the street last night. Where is that man now? Sodom etc.

21 years ago this month the Sodomites with Flashlights presented Sodom etc. — a seminal piece of queer art. To  commemorate the anniversary, I will be posting excerpts, pictures and other material traces left by the show.

As the month goes by, just click on the Sodom etc. tag below to see everything posted.

Sodom etc. drew heavily on celtic folklore and legend, and particularly fairy-lore. After Christianity arrived, the Celtic gods were relegated to the shadows as the “Na Daoine Maithe/the Good People” or “Na Síoga/the fairies.” One tradition held that the fairies were fallen angels. Sodom etc. played on this by saying that the fairies, Sodomites and queers were all fallen angels–eternal outsiders with their own shadow histories.

As part of a non-advertising campaign posters were posted around Ottawa written in Irish Gaelic–Gaeilge–a near-dead language intelligible to only a very few, purveyor of a shadowy, lost tradition , the distinctive angel icon linking them to English language posters.

As the month goes by, just click  here to see everything posted about Sodom etc.

Sodom etc. What Sodomites Have to Offer

POSITIVE ABOUT ABSOLUTELY NOTHING

POSITIVE ABOUT ABSOLUTELY NOTHING was the slogan cribbed from the Queer painter Francis Bacon to encapsulate the philosophy of Enlightened Nihilism.

21 years ago this month the Sodomites with Flashlights presented Sodom etc. — a seminal piece of queer art. To  commemorate the anniversary, I will be posting excerpts, pictures and other material traces left by the show.

As the month goes by, just click on the Sodom etc. tag below to see everything posted.

What follows is the artists’ statement from the program of Sodom etc.  A few historical notes: first, it was 1992 so there was still no effective treatment for HIV/AIDS, the “cocktail” still being 3 years in the future; second, this marks the first explicit statement of the philosophy of Enlightened Nihilism:  “there’s nothing, absolutely nothing. You are born, you die and then there’s nothing. Now, given this fact, you have two choices. You can be either optimistic or pessimistic about absolutely nothing.We Sodomites argue for optimism.” The slogan POSITIVE ABOUT ABSOLUTELY NOTHING comes from a documentary about the Queer painter Francis Bacon, discussed here.

What Sodomites have to offer

I think when it comes down to it, what we Sodomites have to offer is a belief in the supremacy of pleasure and a recognition that the only real human right worth anything is the right to that pleasure.


And we don’t mean simply food and fucking. We imagine as yet unnamed pleasures, waiting to be revealed by someone clever, like you.

Think about it. A world where people are taught that if it feels good do it. If it feels good, but you are hurting yourself, or others, then stop doing it, or find a better way to do it.

Take Safer Sex for example. Sodomy is pleasurable, but we learned the hard way that AIDS meant it was decidedly unwise to engage in it. Did we stop? No. We found a way through condoms, toys, love and lube to do it without the negative side-effects. Resourceful, aren’t we?

The other thing to keep in mind is that no one else can give you pleasure. You have to make your own, possibly in concert with others, but it is ultimately your responsibility. You can’t delegate it.

We have a bit of news for you humans: there’s nothing, absolutely nothing. You are born, you die and then there’s nothing.

Now, given this fact, you have two choices. You can be either optimistic or pessimistic about absolutely nothing.

We Sodomites argue for optimism.

It may be hard when so many friends and lovers are struggling with AIDS, when so many of the girlfriends seem determined not to have fun, when the rate of addiction in our community is three times that of the general population, when our Dyke sisters are still systematically discriminated against because they are women, when we are verbally and physically attacked in the street, but, just remember, nothing is bigger than you, hold onto nothing.

Frankly speaking, we are getting worried with the way things are going. Angels are forever, but Sodomites will exist only so long as there are humans. If you continue trying to dominate nature in order to create profit for the few instead of pleasure for the many then you won’t be around for long.

Toodles.

Festively yours,

The Sodomites with Flashlights

AGG19920328

 As the month goes by, just click  here to see everything posted about Sodom etc.

Sodom etc. The Sodomites with Flashlights

21 years ago this month the Sodomites with Flashlights presented Sodom etc. — a seminal piece of queer art. To  commemorate the anniversary, I will be posting excerpts, pictures and other material traces left by the show.

As the month goes by, just click  here to see everything posted about Sodom etc.

Cast of Characters

Andrew Griffin as Terence

Andrew Grimes Griffin wrote and directed Sodom etc.

Terence(Forneus): played by Andrew Grimes Griffin. A fallen angel. A Sodomite. Sióg (a fairy). He has lived with the Celts in Ireland before migrating to Canada where he has lived in Prince Edward Island and Ottawa. Associated with the Queen of Cups, The Moon, The World and the Hanged Man.

Carl Stewart as Belphegor

Carl Stewart also designed and produced the costumes.

Belphegor(Belle): played by Carl Stewart. A fallen angel. A Sodomite. He has lived with the Ancient Greeks, in the Court of Louis XV and Montreal. He is associated with the Queen of Pentacles, The Tower, The Wheel, and The Chariot. He is known as the seducer of mankind and a Moabite god of licentiousness.

Michael Leon as Azazel

Michael Leon also wrote and performed the music.

Azazel(Zazie): performed by Michael Leon. A Fallen Angel, associated with the Islamic Angel Iblis who asked, “Why should a child of fire bow down to a child of clay?” A Sodomite. He is a musician and has never been incarnate. He is associated with The Queen of Wands, The Devil, The Lovers and The Fool. He is credited with teaching men how to make swords and shields and women the art of make-up application.

Melanie Willis as Sariel

Melanie Willis also contributed writing to Sodom etc.

Sariel(Sari): played by Melanie Willis. A Fallen Angel. Bean síghe (a fairy woman). A Sodomite. She has lived with the Celts, the Greeks, the Native Americans, and currently resides with the rest of Sodomites in Ottawa. She is associated with the Queen of Swords, Temperance, Judgement and The Magician. In the war in Heaven Sariel lead one of the 4 Towers, or fighting units, against god.

Gilbert Gignac as Lot's Wife

Gilbert Gignac also produced the fallen angel backdrop.

Lot’s Wife: played by Gilbert Gignac. A fearsome drag queen.

Barb Lougheed as The Sock Puppet Sodomites

Barb Lougheed also contributed writing to Sodom etc.

The Sock Puppet Sodomites: played by Barb Loughheed. Our own little Greek Chorus.

Robb Cannnon Stage Manager

Robb Cannon provided technical support for sound and lighting.

Stage Manager: Robb Cannon.

As the month goes by, just click  here to see everything posted about Sodom etc.

Sodom etc. 21st Anniversary

Sodom etc poster

Sodom etc. It’s about salvage, not salvation. Marcb 28, 1992 Gallery 101 Lisgar St Ottawa 8 pm $5 General/$4 Gallery 101 members/$3 Sodomites If you say you’re a sodomite, we’ll believe you.

21 years ago this month the Sodomites with Flashlights presented Sodom etc. — a seminal piece of queer art. To  commemorate the anniversary, I will be posting excerpts, pictures and other material traces left by the show.

As the month goes by, just click  here to see everything posted about Sodom etc.