Diary for December 2000
Saturday, December 2, 2000: Yesterday was World AIDS Day.
My little circle of friends has displayed over the past week an amazing range of emotions. We’ve had love gone wrong, love gone right…and so on. Quite dramatic really. Perhaps the dominant note, one way or another, has been love.:-)
I have, I must say, found December rewarding so far.
One of my circle has an anniversary coming up of one of life’s turning-points. There are mixed emotions involved, which I, perhaps, understand better than most. The person involved may read this, and he knows my thoughts are with him.
Sunday, December 3, 2000
I hope to dedicate December, one way or another, to love and understanding. Today it is the turn of my ICQ friend Atakan, a young (not gay) teacher in Turkey. He is quite a devout follower of Islam, but not a fundamentalist; indeed he found some elements of this site a bit shocking, but still talks to me 🙂 Given that here the popular image of Islam is coloured by media reports of extremism and violence, it is as well to reflect on the fact that this is a distortion. Here, for example, is what Atakan recently messaged me:
ATAKAN ALI 11/30/00 8:08 AM : “Be so tolerant that your bosom becomes wide like the ocean. Become inspired with faith and love of human beings. Let there be no troubled souls to whom you do not offer a hand, and about whom you remain unconcerned.”
ninglun 11/30/00 4:41 PM: That’s very beautiful. Thanks.
Monday, December 4, 2000
I have almost finished David Leavitt’s Martin Bauman (2000), which has some sections where my attention wandered, I’m afraid; but it is a very mature work. Leavitt is still under 40—just! Since I said “love and understanding” (sounds a bit 60s?) would be my theme this month, this novel fits well. Many aspects of love and gay life emerge in its pages, done with delicacy rather than sensationalism; if you want erotica, look elsewhere. Many things struck me as I read: as a teacher, I savoured his accounts of cheating in tests, and of the idiocy of SAT’s and other standardized tests. Worth thinking about on “gayness” is this:
Perhaps it really was simpler for men, I sometimes reflected; a matter, as Liza had once joked, of which pictures one liked to jerk off to–except that neither Eli nor Ricky liked to jerk off to pictures at all, while Eli claimed to enjoy sex with women more. (This did not stop him from declaring himself, with genuine militancy, to be ‘gay’, and later ‘queer.’) No, in the end all I could conclude was that the fault lay with categorization itself, that crude and elementary tool the inadequacy of which becomes more evident the deeper one probes. For homosexuality is a discipline the advanced study of which necessitates, as it were, its own transcendence, which is why all serious students finally dispense with terminology altogether, and focus their attentions solely on the particulars of human lives.
Tuesday, December 5, 2000
Continuing this month’s theme, here is a little-known poem written by a man for a man. The poet, J. Griffith Fairfax (1886-1976) served in World War I, where he was three times mentioned in dispatches. He practised law in Sydney after the war, returned to England, and become a Conservative Member of Parliament (1924-1929). My source is Lads: An Anthology of Comradeship, ed. Martin Taylor, 1989.
When I would summon words to sing for you,
The tenderness that draws us each to each
Seems over-wise and delicate for speech,
And what are words, a feeble folk and few!
Your hand in mine; enough that this be true;
Your heart to mine, and why should I beseech
The tongues of men and angels? They could teach
Little to Love, and nothing strange or new.
The silence; let the sound of all men’s feet,
And all the fret of voices touch us not.
Then Peace, in which these others have no lot,
And Time folds up his wings that were so fleet:
Your hand in mine; only the pulse should beat,
Your heart to mine, and all the world forgot.
Written of course during World War I. I thought to take it from obscurity, not that it is the greatest poem I have read, but the last two lines seem to chime with me somehow. What do you think?
And now to be really daring: this one is my own 🙂 Be kind!
In the coffee shop: 8 am.
They know him now–
The cute waiter with the biceps,
The slightly feral girl:
The old queen in the corner
Reading. Looks up
At an empty chair.
No madder than anyone else
In Surry Hills.
The regulars in bicycle shorts,
The professional man
Entangling eyes with his mistress.
Not bad places