WickedEye's Quotient

2/15/2014 at 02:06

Congratulations, Ms. Page. Now, about your next role...?

The appropriate response—for everyone barring LGBT teens and their teachers/counselors—to Ellen Page's coming-out:
1) Congratulations on being so comfortable with that.
2) So, your next role...?

For those reflexively outraged that I should do less than rave with joy: Ms. Page's journey is relevant to a segment of the public—LGBT kids—as well as to her own private life; but the latter is what precludes the idea that anyone should ever stay closeted.

It's not that Ms. Page's journey shouldn't be honored...by those whom it affects: Her romantic partners, the LGBT kids she's trying to help, her friends and family, and possibly others who've endured the same struggle.

Others who comment on Ms. Page's sexuality have:
A) the manners of barnyard animals (just because it's common doesn't mean it's polite, ya'll), and/or
B) a supreme indifference to the distinction between public and private, and/or
C) pretensions towards being artistic or cultural analysts of some kind, and/or
D) a severe excess of free time/no social life of their own.
A, B, and D are the choices that apply to everyone who isn't a film critic, a Ph.D. in some branch of social science, or a fellow artist.

Ms. Page's sexuality is her own business. Full stop.

I know about this sort of barnyard nosiness because I've been asked, in both law and medical school, if I'm lesbian or bisexual—I headed the group for LGBT law students and their supporters for a time, and was bluntly unconcerned with dating. I don't decline to answer because I have something to hide; those I love will love me no matter what my answer.

I decline to answer questions about my sexuality because answering them means that the person asking has a right to ask.

If a public figure chooses to generously disregard her own privacy in order to help others suffering from the incredible bigotry and ignorance that afflict our society, it is an act of generosity. No one has a right to that information but her lover(s). Making revealed information about someone's sexuality—rather than that person's compassion and concern for others—into a huge news story does nothing but reinforce all the barnyard-mannered impertinence of the general public who think questions about sexuality are appropriate.

And as an added disadvantage, it perpetuates the idea that when thinking of someone who's LGBT, the very first thing that should leap to mind is her sexuality...in Ms. Page's case, bypassing the incredible talent that gave us Hayley Stark, Juno, and Ariadne.

Labels: , , , , ,

2/10/2014 at 20:08

The Most Glittering Kind of Poetry

How could anybody think of Bach as 'cold' when these suites seem to shine with the most glittering kind of poetry?
-Pau [Pablo] Casals


{Written September 19, 2012—for Bea and Omy, with much love.}

No composer will ever surpass Bach in my mind and heart; and few of his works have touched both so deeply as his Cello Suites.

I love most stringed instruments, but the cello has a special place in that pantheon. Its tones combine warmth and plangence, caress and demand, in a way I've never experienced with any other sound.

So of course I would love Bach's treatment of the cello best…of course I would; I love his treatment of everything best. And if I think his primary preoccupation—breaking the world into chords, then reordering it to refract shadow and light and fear and beauty, as it should—is particularly well-suited to the Scheherazadic strains of the cello, then perhaps that’s to be expected.

There is all this at the back when I listen to Bach’s Cello Suites. Yet even so, his first, in G minor, moves me as little else can. Its Prelude is certainly well-known for good reason; in no other music is the sumptuous timbre of the cello so well mated with the lucent, nuanced use of metal, wood, horsehair, and air at which Bach excels.

Pau Casals and Yo-Yo Ma are sublime envoys of that sound. In Yo-Yo Ma's hands, Bach is pellucid, serene, transcendent—the composer I fell in love with at 17. But Casals…in Pau Casals’ hands, the cello is ardent—fervent and earnest in a way I have heard nowhere else.

It is near-miraculous to me that the Suites can be played with such overwhelming feeling, plaint and paean and passion thrumming through the sound in a way that might startle the Kapellmeister himself. Perhaps that feeling rings so clearly because when I was last in Puerto Rico I saw an exhibit on Casals—Casals whose first cello was made from a gourd; Casals who found a copy of the Cello Suites in a thrift shop when he was 13, spent the next decade of his life learning them…and then the following six decades mastering them.

No-one has ever played Bach on the cello as Casals does. Perhaps that is because no other cellist has ever spent so much of his life consumed—and transported—by both the instrument, and the man who mastered its song.

Pau Casals playing Bach's Cello Suite No.1, Prelude; performed 1954, at Abbaye Saint-Michel-de-Cuxa.

Labels: , , ,

2/07/2014 at 08:30

Olympics-Sponsored State + State-Sponsored Violence = Olympics-Sponsored Violence

Russian art, literary and otherwise, is a vast vein of platinum-webbed gold--but the coal-mine poverty of Russian human-rights practices seems eternal.

Russia's treatment of LGBT people isn't merely hostile: Its 'propaganda' ban is the glossier side of a state-condoned lynch-mob mentality that smiles at indiscriminate violence against LGBT human beings...and human dignity as a whole.

The Olympic coming-together of the world to celebrate human potential is a high point of living in the modern age. But by that very fact, holding the Olympics in Sochi, Russia--flying the Olympian banner, however temporarily, over the kind of oppression that the Olympic Games are supposed, by their very existence, to oppose--makes a mockery of the Olympic ideal.

Hosting the Olympics is enormously politically profitable for the host country's ruling regime (see this article in The Economist on why countries undertake such massive expenditures). Hosting the Olympics constitutes, in fact, an endorsement from the International Olympic Committee of the host country's ruling regime. (It's also an Olympic sponsorship of the money-stripping apparatus through which athletic organizations and tourists are fed at each Olympic Games.)

Did the International Olympic Committee permit the Winter Olympics to be held in a country with such appalling ongoing human-rights violations because of Russia's economic and political clout? It's certainly possible. The IOC has denied lesser powers--Istanbul's Olympic bids have failed for more than a decade because of Turkey's state-sponsored violence against dissidents. Certainly the Committee is politically savvy enough to have recognized that Russia's 'propaganda ban' is merely boilerplate--palliating language that allows the Russian government to at best turn a blind eye, and at worst contribute, to a culture of horrific violence against LGBT people.

Why else, other than state sponsorship, would perpetrators of such violence feel free to post, en masse, tens of videos of organized assaults? (Be warned: Some of this video content is graphic, and unsuitable for minors or the workplace.)

Russia's 'official treatment' of LGBT citizens is detailed in this Human Rights Watch report: Government officials--including Putin--publicly term LGBT people “perverts” and “abnormal,” while equating homosexuality with pedophilia. A director of a government-controlled TV-and-radio outlet goes so far as proposing to “burn or bury” the hearts of LGBT organ donors rather than use them for transplants because they are “unfit to continue anyone’s life.”

This is the regime that the IOC chose to host the Olympic ideal--the Games that celebrate humanity's potential.

Whatever regrets the IOC may have about their decision--and IOC President Thomas Bach's statement that he's willing to consider including language on sexual orientation in the Olympic Charter's ban on discrimination does read, at least partly, as a statement of regret--cannot change my refusal to support that decision.

I wouldn't patronize a company that lent its prestige or contributed money, directly or indirectly, to the Klu Klux Klan or the Aryan Nations, or any other sponsor of violent bigotry.

I fail to see why flying an Olympic flag over a place that does the same is any different.

Labels: , , ,

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs2.5 License.