THE CALL OF THE MOUFFLON
Summer holidays for W. and me. We won't be anywhere near a cyber cafe - so it's going to be a blog-free few weeks.Blogging on "Here Inside" (and the "50-things that made me what I am" meme) will resume on July 1st
If you are at a loss to know where to go for vicarious stimulation, I recommend....
the simply brilliant 2 Blowhards
for art, culture, and ideas
for all that's good and true, and the courage to face what's bad and false - Scotland's answer to yin and yang
for the right take on almost anything
for the most urbane and even-tempered treatment of everything controversial in politics and thought
for freshnhess and/or filth.
ROUND UPChris Bertram
(well worth reading every day) points out this article
on Tony Blair and weapons of mass destruction, which I think is very funny and basically right, while Chris throughly dislikes it. You can follow our exchanges (and some other interesting contributions) in postings and comment boxes on 7th and 8th June. Bill Hobbs
provides a pretty definitive assessment of quotations about WMD here
(thanks to Dean
for the link).
Chris Bertram also discusses
another example of arrogance bordering on insanity from continental "philosophers" -- lack of evidence for the existence of any
of the things referred to doesn't seem to make any difference! Gary
noticed the picture
that makes what I think is the best response. But on a much more serious front, Low Culture
reports that on this day in 1934 Donald Fauntleroy Duck made his first appearance in a Disney cartoon entitled The Little Wise Hen
HIER STEHE ICH, ICH KANN NICHT ANDERS
We all have an idea of what we "are" - of a self that cannot be any other way. We can sense the things that constitute the very core of our personalities, that we must affirm if our whole life is not to lose its purpose and meaning -- though how we might begin to actually explain what they are, and articulate their significance, is quite another matter.
Gay people do often experience a period of critical introspection (sometimes a long one) and explicit avowal of themselves as gay. But while it might be clear enough to parents and friends what "gay" means in terms of the gender of sexual partners, it is less and less clear-cut for gay people themselves what "gay identity" means in relation to that essential self, their own unique personalities.
All too often gay identity is presented as "group consciousness", and not surprisingly expressive individuals reject such pre-fabricated intellectual-emotional impositions. Even worse, it also seems to mean stereotypical behaviour and predictable attitudes --- and for those who do not share the historical and social circumstances in which those were formed, they are at best inadequate, and at worst irrelevant and restrictive.
But I don't myself have a lot of difficulty affirming a personal identity in which being gay always has been, and remains a primary and often determining element; one which depends on the psychic and institutional structures that gay people have built; and one in which the socially problematical nature of being gay, openly gay, and collectively gay, figures as large as the undoubted revolution in mainstream understanding and inclusion of gay people.
So I thought it would be fun and interesting to list the 50 or so things that I feel have "made me what I am" -- just to see what they are, and where some of the person I am comes from. And to see how they relate to my own ideas about being gay. Perhaps others will feel prompted to do the same and we will have a "Who Are You?" gay project underway.I AM WHAT I AM
Here are the things that I think have had the strongest influence on my personality development, from when I was a child up to the present day. They are listed in no special order at all
-- No.1 is no more important than No.50.1. Donna Summer
High disco-fever in the late 1970s coincided with my first freedom as a gay man. I disco-vered how to dance, and what a great time I could have in a huge hall full of sweating gay men. I never had the money or the style to be a disco queen, and disco certainly wasn't for me the spring-board to the frenetic gay life of Andrew Holleran's Dancer from the Dance
. Rather, it spoke to an inner excitement -- that I was alive and moving forward as the person I was (as Patrick Hernandez said, "Born to be Alive"
). That has remained the feeling that springs me up and out whenever I hear the over-produced beat pounding. I thought then, and still do (no doubt a politically uncorrect heresy) - "blacks and gays -- we can dance
As the music went, nobody meant disco
more to me, among all
those songs, than Donna Summer. Years later a second generation of disco dancers latched onto Donna Summer's fundamentalist Christian phase, and forced her to address apologies to her gay market in her own voice, rather than that of her songs -- that made it clear: '70s disco was consigned to history. A favourite track? It has to be "McArthur Park"
REST IN PEACE, KARL
For me there is no sadder story than that of a gentle person driven by the distress of persecution to destroy themselves. Unable to bear the pain, they sacrifice everything they love for peace; unable to turn their anger onto those who are inflicting misery on them, they direct it onto themselves.
So today I am thinking again and again of 16-year old Karl Peart from Northumberland who killed himself
after half a lifetime of bullying. Gangs that he refused to join had put him in the hospital emergency room again and again, threw him off his bike, made going to the shop an ordeal.
The day before he died, Karl had been to a barbecue with his best friend and had given no indication of what he was planning
His father said: "I think he had decided Saturday was going to be the best day he could have for himself."
I feel angry in a way Karl could not. I hope none of the thugs who kept assaulting him turn out to be the "disadvantaged" criminals that our education authorities and regeneration committees lavish protection and money upon.
For days the Independent
has been establishing new standards of puerile self-righteousness and craven ultra-leftism. On Wednesday it devoted yet another front page
to attacking the Prime Minister for making war on Saddam, derogating events in Jordan
where Pres Bush met with Israeli and Palestinian leaders in one of the clearest examples yet of the benefits of and reasons for that war.
and its principal journalistic voice Robert Fisk have spoken as self-appointed friends of peace and advocates of justice for the Palestinians, and belittlinh, vilifying and excoriating President George W Bush. It is an animus that actually expresses nothing more elevanted than partisan irreconcilability, exaggerated self-regard, and ideological prejudice. With uncompromising certainty they have projected onto Mr Bush all their embittered loyalty to the states and systems of America's enemies, and sneered that nothing he did could be legitimate, honest, fair, worthwhile, intelligent, informed, or beneficial. This has been the essential mainstream support the Socialist Alliance needed to mobilize a million behind the blood-soaked anti-semitic dictators of the UN
, chant support for the most reactionary and ramshackle regimes on the planet, and slander President Bush as Hitler, as the incarnation of evil.
So it should be no surpise that as Presdient Bush drinks mineral water with the leaders of Israel and Palestine, and initiates a process that could lead to their peaceful co-existence, the Independent
and the Socialist Alliance can do nothing but continue their efforts to destroy Mr Bush and Mr Blair. How truly galling, how bile-spittingly infuriating it must be for them to see Mr Bush exercising power to pursue peace in the Middle East, to end the cycle of slaughter which elicits from them only an endless one-sided anti-Israeli vituperation.
Like the Stalinists of the 1980s the Independent
and Fisk are morally and intellectually bankrupt, and they and desparate and vicious as a result. For them the downtrodden must remain powerless, the injured must never recover, the bad must go to worse -- only if the people of Iraq and Palestine are impoverished victims can they sustain their attack on President Bush and the USA, their only concern. Any chance of Palestinian peace or prosperity or Iraqi progress in which President Bush plays a part elicits their deepest hostility. Never did people who deserve a break have such false friends.
How Israeli and Palestinian leaders and people explore in words the meaning of their co-existence will be an excruciating process, in which Islamic fundamentalism will have to be tested to destruction -- and while that happens will remain capable of inflicting hideous political as well as physical wounds (just as was the case with the corrupt dogmatic Marxism of the Soviet Union in the final stages of the War).
But the chance that this opening of a new post-20th Century trajectory, founded on the power of the United States, will prove a sturdily pragmatic opportunity in the Middle East, can only be aided by the discrediting of the arrogant anti-humanism that has colonised the weakest parts of the old bipolar order. So it is that those who cannot bear to watch boldness and courage stick close to the puny path to nowhere: "Where are theWMDs?" they chant self-hypnotically, "It's all about the oil, stupid!" they intone.Today
brings more of the same, with Robert Fisk spinning his usual web of deceitful fiction to an eager audience of irreconcilables. But elsewhere
in the newspaper there is ironic counterpoint -- the New York Times
the editors whose journalistically detached political values created the environment where invention and plagiarism went unnoticed have finally resigned. The Independent
should heed the caution. The problem is not a government that orders intelligence reports to confirm its policy decisions, it is newspaper editors who publish concocted reports that refashion events to confirm preconceptions.
I could not help but smile at the news page headline when I logged on to AOL
PM refuses to hold inquiry into claims
No 10 doctored Iraq report PLUS Miss Universe Crowned
Peter Preston, the former editor of the Guardian asks
in that newspaper today regarding the Prime Minister:
How can a man who supposedly doesn't know his wife is blowing half-a-million of their money on a couple of Bristol flats via a convicted conman be trusted to tell the truth about weapons of mass destruction?
Brilliant! With an argument like that you hardly need to invoke the devastating truths of popular opinion -- that double the number of people now doubt that Saddam ever had weapons of mass destruction (WMD), and (according to YouGov
) 63% think Tony Blair misled them.
With the population prone to these sudden bouts of contrary thoughtfulness it's astonishing that the press can keep pace with them. It's just the same with their insights into David Beckham's
career - most people now think he'll soon be playing for Barcelona (whereas last month a clear majority expected him to be off to Madrid). Thank heavens those guardians of good government in Fleet Street aren't discouraged, and still provide the assistance their inconstant and fickle readers need to discover the unchanging core of truth in the swirling flux of their convictions.