Browsing: Ransacking History

January – February, 2011

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“PHOTOGRAPHY is a kind of primitive theater, a kind of tableau vivant,” Roland Barthes remarked, shifting attention away from the medium’s significance as an evolutionary event in the history…More

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BY NIGHTFALL, Michael Cunningham’s latest novel, begins with a quote from Rilke’s Duino Elegies concerning the terrifying, unfathomable power of beauty—its ability to rattle our foundations and take us unawares. True to form, Cunningham explores here a region that’s outside the sexual mainstream, whether gay or straight, in this case the story of a straight man who’s an art dealer in a stable but staid marriage, whose world is rocked by the arrival of his wife’s much younger brother, the gorgeous, charming, and deceitful “Mizzy” (for “Mistake,” as his birth was unplanned).

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Joan Schenkar is an award-winning wrier and dramatist (see her website at “http://www.joanschenkar.com/). In the following interview, conducted in person last October, she comments on the strange life and even stranger psychology of a novelist whose stories have enthralled millions of readers.

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IN AUGUST, 2010, I traveled from my home in Bangkok to Mandalay, finally to visit the Taungbyon Nat Pwe. Stories have circulated about this “gay” event, but nothing very coherent was available.

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WHEN FUTURE GENERATIONS look back on gay liberation’s role in the greater creation of human consciousness, and what ideas helped shepherd civilization from its most primitive tendencies to more noble evolutionary possibilities, they will, in my opinion, have to spend substantial time studying the Radical Faerie movement, which was launched in 1979.

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WHEN DID Camille Paglia become so old-fashioned? Last summer, the famed feminist and Sexual Personae author decried the death of rock music in a painfully unhip piece published in The New York Times (6/25/10): “Rock music, once sexually pioneering, is in the dumps,” she lamented, since “step by step, rock lost its visceral rawness and seductive sensuality.”

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YOU CAN GET TO Hide/Seek, the groundbreaking exhibit of gay art at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington D.C., which runs through February 13, 2011, in one of two ways. The first is down a corridor lined with photographs of Elvis Presley. The second is through an exhibit called The Search for Justice displaying black civil rights figures, Earl Warren, and two white feminists.

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According to the back cover of this oversize, illustrated book, author Jonathan Katz is tackling nothing less than “how questions of gender and sexual identity dramatically shaped the artistic practices of influential American artists, including Thomas Eakins, Romaine Brooks, Marsden Hartley … and many more.”

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Where stories in Time Well Bent layer GLBT themes onto colonialism, the effect is a dreamlike array of possibilities.

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