Wednesday, June 04, 2003
yup. its time to fly again.
my long awaited hols to greece.
'long awaited' doesnt seem to b the most appropriate word.
since i just came back from austria in april.
ha. but i believe the sun, surf n fresh air will do me a bit of gd.
need to get a tan anyway.
looking forward to my tanned tummy.
*pats pot belly lovingly.
my new goal?
to get a gorgeous greek goddess to fall madly in love with me.
so for those who have emails for me,
pls send to email@example.com
as for u, just send it to my usual acct.
Monday, June 02, 2003
james baldwin -- the giovanni's room (the end)
it's getting late.
the body in the mirror forces me to turn n face it. n i look at my body which is under sentence of death. it is lean, hard , n cold, the incarnation of a mystery. n i do not know wat moves in this body, wat this body is searching. it is trapped in my mirror as it is trapped in time n it hurries toward revelation.
when i was a child, i spake as a child, i understood as a child, i thot as a child; but when i bacame a man, i put away childish things.
i long to make this prophercy come true. i long to crack that mirror n b free. i look at my sex, my troubling sex, n wonder how it can b redemmed, how i can save it from the knife. the journey to the grave is already begun, the journey to corruption is, always, already, half over. yet, the key to my salvation, whcih cannot save my body, is hidden in my flesh.
i move at least from the mirror n begin to cover that nakedness which i must hold sacred, though it be never so vile, whcih must b scoured perpetually w the salt of my life. i must believe, i must believe, that the heavy grace of God, which has brought me to this place, is all that can carry me out of it.
thanx for having the patience of reading thru gio's room. its quite a labourious read. esp when its in bits n pieces. so u better b glad that im done w gio's room.
james baldwin - giovanni's room (chp 7)
i sighed, 'poor, poor, poor giovanni'
'do u believe he did it?'
'i dont know, hella. it certainly looks as though he did it. he was there that night. people saw him go upstairs before the bar was closed n they dont remb seeing him come down.'
'was he working there that nite?'
'apparently not. he was just drinking. he n guilaume seemed to have become friendly again.'
'u certainly made some peculiar frenz while i was away.'
'they wouldnt seem so damm perculiar if one of them hadnt got murdered. anyway, none of them were my frenz -- except giovanni.'
'u lived w him. cant u tell whether he commit murder or not?'
'how? u live w me. can i commit a murder?'
'you? of coz not'
'how do u know that? u dont know that. how do u know im wat u c?
'because' -- she leaned over n kissed me -- 'i love u.'
'ah! i loved giovanni --'
'not as i love u,' said hella.
'i mite have committed murder already, for all u know. how do u know?'
'y r u so upset?;
'wouldnt you be upset if a fren of urs was accused of murder n was hiding somewhere? wat do u mean, why am i so upset? wat do u want me to do, sing christmas carols?'
'dont shout. its just that i never realised that he meant so much to u.'
'he was a nice man,' i said, finally. 'i just hate to c him in trouble.'
she came to me n put her hand lightly on my arm. 'we'll leave this city soon, david. u wont have to think abt it anymore. pple get into trouble, david. but dont act as though it were, somehow, ur fault. its not ur fault.'
'i know its not my fault!' but my voice, n hella's eyes, astounded me into silence. i felt, w terror, that i was abt to cry.
n hella n i came here, i may have thot -- i am sure i thot, in the beginning -- that, though i could do nothing for giovanni, i mite, perhaps, be able to do something for hella. i must have hoped that there would b something hella could do for me. n this mite have been possible if the days had not dragged by, for me, like days in prison. i could not get giovanni out of my mind. i was at the mercy of the bulletins which sporadically arrived from jacques. all that i remb of the autumn is waiting for giovanni to come to trail. then at last, he came to trial, was found guilty, n placed under sentence of death. all winter long i counted the days. n the nitemare of this house began.
much has been written of love turning to hatred, of the heart growing cold w the death of love. it is a remarkable process. it is far more terrible than anything i have ever read abt, more terrible than anything i will ever b able to say.
i dont know, now, when i first looked at hella n found her stale, found her body uninteresting, her presence grating. it seemed to happen all at once -- i suppose that only means that it had been happening for along time. i trace it to something as fleeting as the tip of her breast lightly touching my forearm as she leaned over me to serve my supper. i felt my flesh recoil. her underclothes, drying in the bathroom, which i had often thot of as smelling even rather improbably sweet n as being washed much too often, now began to seem unasthetic n unclean. a body which had to b covered with such crazy, catty-cornered bits of stuff began to seem grotesque. i sometimes watched her naked body move n wished that it were harder n firmer, i was fantasticaly intimidated by her breasts, n when i enterted her i began to feel that i would never get out alive. all that had once delighted me seemed to have turned sour on my stomach.
i think -- i think that i have never been more frightened in my life. when my fingers began, involuntarily, to loose their hold on hella, i realised that i was dangling from a high place n that i had been clinging to her for my very life. with each moment, as my fingers slipped, i felt the roaring air beneath me n felt everything in me bitterly contracting, crawling furiously upward against that long fall.
'david, pls let me b a woman. i dont care wat u do to me. i dont care wat it costs. i'll wear my hair long, i'll give up cigarettes, i'll throw away my books,' she tried to smile; my heart turned over. 'just let me b a woman. take me. its wat i want. its all i want. i dont care abt anything else.' she moved towards me. i stood perfectly still. she touched me, raising her face, w a desperate n terribly moving trust, to mine. 'dont throw me back into the sea, david. let me stay here with u'. then she kissed me, watching my face. my lips were cold. i felt nothing on my lips. she kissed me again n i closed my eyes, feeling that strong chains were dragging me to fire. it seemed that my body, next to her warmth, her insistence, under her hands, would never awaken. but when it awakened, i had moved out of it. from a great ht, where the air all ard me was colder than ice, i watched my body in a stranger's arms.
introducing hella -- the obligatory fag hag.
Sunday, June 01, 2003
james baldwin - giovanni's room (chp 6)
still i had to speak.
'giovanni,' i said. 'giovanni.'
he began to be still, he was listening; i felt, unwillingly, not for the first time, the cunning of the desperate.
'giovanni,' i said 'u always knew that i would leave one day. u knew my fiancee was coming back to Paris.'
'u r not leaving me for her,' he said. 'u r leaving me for some other reason. u lie so much, u have come to believe all ur own lies. but i, i have senses. u r not leaving me for a woman. if u were really in love w this little ger, u would not have had to b so cruel to me.'
'she's not a little ger,' i said. 'shes a woman n no matter wat u think, i do love her...'
'u do not,' cried giovanni, sitting up, 'love anyone! u never have loved anyone, i am sure u never will! u love ur purity, u love ur mirror -- u r just like a little virgin, u walk ard w ur hands in front of u as though u had some precious metal, gold, silver, rubies, maybe diamonds down there between ur legs! u will never give it to anybody, u will never let anyone touch it -- man or woman. u want to b clean. u think u came here covered w soap n u think u will go out covered w soap -- u do not want to stink, not even for 5 mins, in the meantime.' he grasped me by the collar, wrestling and caressing at once, fluid and iron at once: saliva spraying from his lips n his eyes full of tears, but w the bones of his face showing n the muscles leaping in his arms n neck. 'u want to leave giovanni because he makes u stink. u want to despise giovanni because he is not afraid of the stink of love. u want to kill him in the name of all ur lying little moralities. n you -- you r immortal. you r, by far, the most immoral man i have met in all my life. look, look wat u have done to me. do u think u could have done this if i did not love u? is this wat u shld do to love?
'giovanni, stop it! for God's sake, stop it! wat in the world do u want me to do? i cant help the way i feel.'
'do u know how u feel? do u feel? wat do u feel?'
'i feel nothing now,' i said, 'nothing. i want to get out of this room, i want to get away from u, i want to end this terrible scene.'
'u want to get away from me.' he laughed; he watched me; the look in his eyes was so bottomlessly bitter it was almost benevolent. 'at last u r beginning to b honest. n do u know why u want to get away from me?'
inside me something locked. 'i -- i cannot have a life with u,' i said.
'but u can have a life w hella. with that moonfaced little ger who thinks babies come out of cabbages -- or fridigarires, i am not acquainted w the mythology of ur country. u can have a life w her.'
'yes,' i said, wearly, 'i can have a life w her.' i stood up. i was shaking. 'wat kind of life can we have in this room? -- this filthy little room. wat kind of life can 2 men have together, anyway? all this love u tok abt -- isnt it just that u want to b made to feel strong? u want to go out n b the laborer n bring home the money n u want me to stay here n wash the dishes n cook the fd n clean this miserable closet of a room n kiss u whne u come in thru that door n lie w u at nite n b ur little ger. thats wat u want. thats wat u men n thats all u mean when u say u love me. u say i want to kill you. wat do u thnk uve been doing to me?
'i am not trying to make u a little ger. if i wanted a little ger, i would b with a little ger.'
'why arent u? isnt it just that ure afraid? n u take me becoz u havent got the guts to go after a woman, which is wat u really want?'
he was pale. ' u r the one who keeps talking abt wat i want. but i have only been talking abt who i want.'
'but im a man,' i cried, ' a man! wat do u think can happen betwn us?'
'u know very well,' said giovanni, slowly, 'wat can happen betwn us. it is for that reason u r leaving me.' 'we will not fight anymore,' he said. 'fighting will not make u stay. in french we have wat is called uneseparation de corps -- not a divorce, u understand, just a separation. well, we will separate. but i know u belong to me. i believe, i must believe -- that u will come back.'
run, david, run.
'one day, i'll weep for this. one of these days i'll start to cry.'
james baldwin -- giovanni's room (chp 4)
even at my most candid, even when i tried hardest to give myself to him as he gave himself to me, i was holding something back. i did not, for example, really tell him abt hella until i had been living in the room a mth. i told him abt her then becoz her letters had begun to sound as though she wld b coming back to paris very soon.
'wat is she doing, wandering ard thru spain alone?' asked giovanni.
'she likes to travel,' i said.
'oh,' said giovanni, 'nobody likes to travel, especailly not women. there must b some other reason.' he raised his eyebrows suggestively. 'perhaps she has a spanish lover n is afraid to tell u --? perhaps she is w a torero.'
perhaps, she is, i thot. 'but she wont b afraid to tell me.'
giovanni laughed. 'i do not understand americans at all,' he said.
'i dont c that theres anything very hard to understand. we aint married, u know.'
'but she is ur mistress, no?' asked giovanni.
'n she is still ur mistress?'
i stared at him. 'of coz,' i said.
'well then,' said giovanni, ' i do not understand wat she is doing in spain while u r in paris.' another thot struck him. 'how old is she?'
'shes 2 yrs younger than i am.' i watched him. 'wats that got to do w it?'
'is she married? i mean to somebody else, naturally.'
i laughed. he laughed too. 'of coz not.'
'well, i thot she mite b an older woman,' said giovanni, 'w a husband somewhere n perhaps she had to go away w him from time to time in order to b able to continue her affair w u. that wld b a nice arrangement. those woman r sometimes very interesting n they usually have a little money. if that woman was in spain, she wld bring back a wonderful gift for u. but a young ger, bouncing ard in a foreign cty by herself -- i do not like that at all. u shld find another mistress.'
it all seemed very funny. i cld not stop laughing 'do you have a mistress?' i asked him.
'not now,' he said, 'but perhaps i will again one day.' he half frowned, half smiled. 'i dont seem to b very interested in women rite now -- i dont know y. i used to b. perhaps i will b again.' he shrugged. 'perhaps it is becoz women r just a little more trouble than i can afford rite now. et puis' -- he stopped.
i wanted to say that it seemed to me that he had taken a most peculiar road out of his trouble; but i only said, after a moment, cautiously: 'u dont seem to have a very high opinion of women.'
'oh, women! there is no need, thank heaven, to have an opinion abt women. women r like wter. they r tempting like that, n they can b that treacherous, n they can seem to b that bottomless, u know? -- n they can b that shallow. n that dirty.' he stopped. 'i
perhaps dont like women very much, that's true. that hasnt stopped me from making love to many n loving one or 2. but most of the time -- most of the time i made love only w the body.'
' that can make one very lonely,' i said. i had not expected to say it.
he had not expected to hear it. he looked at me n reached out n touched me on the cheek. 'yes' he said. then ' i am not trying to b mechant when i tok abt women. i respect women -- very much -- for their inside life, which is not like the life of a man,'
'women dont seem to like that idea,' i said.
'oh well,' said giovanni, 'these absurd women running ard today, full o ideas n nonsense, n thinking themselves equal to men -- quelle rigolade! -- they need to b beaten half to death so that they can find out who rules the world.'
i laughed. 'did the women u knew like to get beaten?'
nevertheless, i love women.
james baldwin -- giovanni's room (chp 3)
jacques would, shortly, offer one of the boys a drink but, for the moment, he wished to play uncle to me.
'how do u feel?' he asked me, 'this is a very important day for u.'
'i feel fine,' i said. 'how do u feel?'
'like a man,' he said, 'who has seen a vision.'
'yes?'' i said. 'tell me abt this vision'
'i am not joking,' he said. 'i am talking abt u. you were the vision. u shld have seen urself tonite. u shld see urself now.'
i looked at him n said nothing.
'u r -- how old? 26 or 27? i am nearly twice that n, let me tell u, u r lucky. u r lucky that wat is happening to u now is happening now n not when u r forty, or something lidat, when there would b no hope for u n u would simply b destroyed.'
'wat is happening to me?' i asked. i had meant to sound sardonic but i did not sound sardonic at all.
he did not ans this, but sighed, looking briefly in the direction of the redhead. then he turned to me, ' r u going to write to hella?'
'i very often do,' i said. 'i suppose i will again.'
'that does not answer my qn.'
'oh. i was under the impression that u had asked me if i was going to write to hella.'
'well, lets put it another way. r u going to write to hella abt this nite n this morning?'
'i really dont c wat there is to write abt. but wats it to u if i do or i dont?'
he gave me a look full of a certain despair which i had not till that moment, known was in him. it frightened me. 'its not,' he said, 'wat it is to me. its wat it is to you. n to her. n to that poor boy, yonder, who doesnt know that when he looks at u the way he does, he is simply putting his head in the lion's mouth. r u going to treat him as uve treated me?
'you? wat have you to do with all this? how have i treated you?'
'u have been very unfair to me,' he said.' u have been very dishonest.'
this time i did sound sardonic. 'i suppose u mean that i wld have been fair, i wld have been honest if i had -- if -- '
'i mean u cld have been fair to me by despising me a little less.'
'im sorry. but i think, since u bring it up, that a lot of ur life is despicable.'
'i could say the same abt urs,' said jacques. 'there r so many ways of being despicable it quite makes one's head spin. but the way to b really despicable is to be contemptuous of other pple's pain. u ought to have some apprehension that the man u c before u was once even younger than u now n arrived at his present wretchedness by imperceptible degrees.'
there was silence for a moment, threatened, from a distance, by that laugh of Giovanni's.
'tell me',' i said at last, 'is there really no other way for u but this? to kneel down forever before an army of boys for just 5 dirty minutes in the dark?'
'think,' said jacques, 'of the men who have kneeled before u while u thot of something else n pretended that nothing was happening down there in the dark betwn ur legs.'
i stared at the amber cognac n at the wet rings on the metal. deep below, trapped in the metal, the outline of my own face looked upward hopelessly at me.
'u think,' he persisted, 'that my life is shamreful because my encounters are. n they r. but u shld ask urself why they r.'
'why r they -- shameful?' i asked him.
'bcoz there is no affection in them, n no joy. its like putting an electric plug in a dead socket. touch, but no contact. all touch, but no contact n no light.'
i asked him: 'why?'
'that u must ask urself,' he told me, 'n perhaps one day this morning will not b ashes in ur mouth.'
i looked over at giovanni, who now had one arm around the ruined-looking ger, who cld have once been very beautiful but who never wld b now.
jacques followed my look. 'he is very fond of u,' he said, 'already,. but this doenst make u happy or proud, as it shld. it makes u frightened n ashamed. why?'
'i dont understand him,' i said at last. 'i dont know wat his frenship means, i dont know wat he means by frenship.'
jacques laughed. 'u dont know wat he means by frenship but u have the feeling it may not be safe. u r afraid it may change u. wat kind of frenship have u had?'
i said nothing.
'or for that matter,' he continued, 'wat kind of love affairs?'
i was silent for so long that he teased me, saying 'come out, come out, wherever u r!'
n i grinned, feeling chilled.
'love him,' said jacques, with vehemence, 'love him n let him love u. do u think anything else under heaven really matters? n how long, at the best, can it last, since u r both men n still have everywhere to go? only 5 mins, i assure u, only 5 mins, n most of that, helas! in the dark. n if u think of them as dirty, then they will be dirty -- because u will b giving nothing, u will b despising ur flesh n his. but u can make ur time together anything but dirty, u can give each other something which will make both of u better -- forever-- if u will not be ashamed, if u will only not play it safe.' he paused, watcing me, n then looked down to his cognac, 'u play it safe long enough,' he said, in a diff tone, 'n ull end up trapped in ur own dirty body, forever n forever n forever -- like me.'
for a short simple passage, it sure means alot to me.
yup. take the plunge n go w ur heart. n for once, know wat it means to b alive.
'n when pple lock their doors n hide inside, rumours have it that its the end of paradise'
james baldwin -- giovanni's room
but i woke up to find the light on and Joey examing the pillow with great, ferocious care.
'whats the matter?'
'i think a bedbug bit me'
'u slob. u got bedbugs?'
'i think one bit me.'
'u ever have a bedbug bite u before?'
'well, go back to sleep. ure dreaming'
he looked at me with his mouth open n his dark eyes very big. it was as though he had just discovered that i was an expert on bedbugs. i laughed n grabbed his head as i had done God knows how many times before, when i was playing with him or when he had annoyed me. but this time when i touched him something happened in him and in me which made this touch different from any touch either of us had ever known. n he did not resist, as he usually did, but lay where i had pulled him, against my chest. n i realised that my heart was beating in an awful way n that joey was trembling against me n the light in my room was very bright n hot. i started to move n to make some kind of joke but joey mumbled something n i put my head down to hear. joey raised his head as i lowered mine n we kissed, as it were, by accident. then, for the firrst time in my life, i was really aware of another person's body, of another person's smell. we had our arms ard each other. it was like holding in my hand some rare, exhausted, nearly doomed bird which i had miraculously happened to find. i was very frightened, i am sure he was frightened too, and we shut our eyes. to remb it so clearly, so painfully tonite tells me that i have never for an instant truly forgotten it.
i feel in myself now a faint, dreadful stirring of wat so overwhelmingly stirred in me then. great thirsty heart, n trembling, n tenderness so painful i thot my heart would burst. but out of this astounding intolerable pain came joy, we gave each other joy that night. it seemed, then, that a lifetime would not be long enough for me to act with joey the act of love.
but that lifetime was short, was bounded by that night -- it ended in the morning. i awoke while joey was sleeping, curled up like a baby on his side, toward me. he looked like a baby, his mouth half open, his cheek flushed, his curly hair darkening the pillow n half hiding his damp round forehead n his long eyelashes glinting slightly in the summer sun. we were both naked n the sheet we had used as a cover was tangled ard our feet. joey's body was brown, was sweaty, the most beautiful creation i have ever seen till then. i would have touched him to wake him up but something stopped me. i was suddenly afraid. perhaps it was because he look so innocent lying there, with such perfect trust; perhaps it was because he was so much smaller than me; my own body suddenly seemed gross n crushing n the desire which was rising in me seemed monstrous. but above all, i was suddenly afraid. it was borne in on me: but joey is a boy, i saw suddenly the power in his thighs, in his arms, n in his loosely curled fists. the power n the promise n the msystery of that body made me suddenly afraid. that body seemed the black opening of a cavern in which i would b tortured till madness came, in which i would lose my manhood. precisely, i wanted to know that mystery n feel that power n have that promise fulfilled thru me. the sweat on my back grew cold. i was ashamed. the very bed, in its sweet disorder, testified to vileness. i wondered wat joey's mother would say when she saw the sheets. then i thot of my fdather, who had no one in the world but me, my mother having died when i was little. a cavern opened in my mind, black, full of rumour, suggestion, of half-heard, half-forgotten, half-understood stories, full of dirty words. i thot i saw my future in that cavern. i was afraid. i could have cried, cried for shame n terror, cried for not understadning how this could have happened to me, how this could have happened in me. n i made my decision. i got out of bed n took a shower n was dressed n had breakfast ready when joey woke up.
i did not tell him my decisino, that would have broken my will. i did not wait to have breakfast with him but only drank some coffee n made an excuse to go home. i know the excuse did not fool joey ; but he did not know how to protest or insist; he did not know that this was all he needed to have done. then i, who had seen him that summer nearly everyday till then, no longer went to see him. he did not come to see me. i would have been very happy to see him if he had, but the manner of my leavetaking had begun a constriction which neither of us knew how to arrest. when i finally did see him, more or less by accident, near the end of the summer, i made up a long n untrue story abt a ger i was going w n when sch began again i picked up w a rougher, older crowd n was very nasty to joey. n the sadder this made him. the nastier i became. he moved away at last, out of the neighbourhood, away from our school. n i never saw him again.
i began, perhaps, to be lonely that summer n began, that summer, the flight which has brought me to this darkening window.
(y is it that everytime i attempt to write something like the above it turns out more like b rated porn?)
i was beginning to think of Giovanni dying -- where giovanni had been there would be nothing, nothing forever.
'i hope its not my fault,' jacques said at least, 'i didnt give him the money. if i'd known -- i would have given him everything i had.'
but we both know this was not true.
'u 2 together,' jacques suggested, 'u weren't happy together?'
'no,' i said. i stood up. 'it mite have been better,' i said, 'if he'd stayed down there in that village of his in Italy and planted his olive trees n had a lot of children n beaten his wife. he used to love to sing,' i remb suddenly, 'maybe he could have stayed down there n sung his life away n died in bed.'
then jacques said something that surprised me. people r full of surprises, even for themsevles, if they have been stirred enough. 'nobody can stay in the garden of eden,' jacques said. n then: 'i wonder y.'
i have thot abt jacques' question since. the question is banal but one of the real troubles with living is that living is so banal. everyone, after all, goes thru the same dark road - n the road has a trick of being most dark, most treacherous, when it seems most bright -- n its true that nobody stays in the garden of Eden. jacques' garden was not the same as Giovanni's, of course. Jacques' garden was involved w football players n giovanni's was involved w maidens-- but that seems to have made so little difference. perhaps everybody has a garden of Eden, i dont know; but they have scarecely seen their garden before they c the flaming sword. then perhaps, life only offers the choice of remembering the garden or forgetting it. either, or: it takes strength to remb, it takes another strength to forget, it takes a hero to do both. people who remb court madness thru pain, the pain of the perpetual recurring death of their innocence; pple who forget court another kind of madness, the madness of the denial of pain n the hatred of innocence; n the world is mostly divided betwn madmen who remb n madmen who forget. heros r rare.
(okok, so we dont stay in the garden of eden. n so we r all some kind of madmen. but i think there is one more form of madness. the one that shuttles betwn those who remb n those who forget. they r the most wretched.)
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