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A Guy's Moleskine Notebook

Thoughts and reflections on works of fiction and literature. Pondering of life through pictures and words. Babbling about gay rights. Travelogues and anecdotes.

  • [1] Annie Proulx: Brokeback Mountain
  • [2] Arthur Golden: Memoirs of a Geisha
  • [3] Yu Hua: To Live
  • [4] Alan Hollinghurst: The Line of Beauty
  • [5] Colm Toibin: The Master
  • [6] Carlos Ruiz Zafon: The Shadow of the Wind
  • [7] William James: The Varieties of Religious Experience
  • [8] Charles Higham: The Civilization of Angkor
  • [9] Graham Greene: A Burnt-Out Case
  • [10] Dai Sijie: Mr. Muo's Travelling Couch
  • [11] Alan Hollinghurst: The Swimming-Pool Library
  • [12] Mikhail Bulgakov: The Master and Margarita
  • [13] Colm Toibin: The Blackwater Lightship
  • [14] Alan Hollinghurst: The Folding Star
  • [15] Ross King: Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling
  • [16] Fyodor Dostoevsky: The Brothers Karamazov
  • [17] Jonathan Franzen: The Corrections
  • [18] Colm Toibin: The Story of the Night
  • [19] John Banville: Shroud
  • [20] Leo Tolstoy: Resurrection
  • [21] Peter Hessler: River Town, Two Years on the Yangtze
  • [22] Ian McEwan: The Atonement
  • [24] Gabriel Garcia Marquez: Love in the Time of Cholera
  • [25] Ignacio Padilla: Shadow without a Name
  • [26] Umberto Eco: The Name of the Rose
  • [27] Richard Russo: Straight Man
  • [28] Fyodor Dostoevsky: Notes from Underground
  • [29] Alan Hollinghurst: The Spell
  • [30] Hermann Broch: The Death of Virgil
  • [31] James Baldwin: Giovanni's Room
  • [32] Ken Kesey: One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest
  • [33] Xingjian Gao: One Man's Bible
  • [34] C. Jay Cox: Latter Days
  • [35] Harper Lee: To Kill A Mockingbird
  • [36] William Shakespeare: The Taming of the Shrew
  • [37] Daniel A. Helminiak: What The Bible Really Says about Homosexuality
  • [38] James Baldwin: Tell Me How Long the Train's Been Gone
  • [39] Kenji Yoshino: Covering - The Hidden Assault of Civil Rights
  • [40] Italo Calvino: If, On a Winter's Night A Traveler
  • [41] Arthur Phillips: The Egyptologist
  • [42] George Orwell: 1984
  • [43] Michael Warner: The Trouble with Normal: Sex, Politics, and Ethics of Queer Life
  • [44] Andrew Sullivan: Virtually Normal
  • [45] Henry James: The Wings of the Dove
  • [46] Jose Saramago: Blindness
  • [47] Umberto Eco: The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana
  • [48] Dan Brown: Da Vinci Code
  • [49] Kazuo Ishiguro: Never Let Me Go
  • [50] Ken Follett: The Pillars of Earth
  • [51] Leo Tolstoy: War and Peace
  • [52] Michael Thomas Ford: Alec Baldwin Doesn't Like Me
  • [53] Jonathan Franzen: How To Be Alone
  • [54] Jonathan Lethem: The Fortress of Solitude
  • [55] Matthew Pearl: The Dante Club
  • [56] Zadie Smith: White Teeth
  • [57] Fyodor Dostoevsky: The Double
  • [58] Jose Saramago: The Double
  • [59] Andrew Holleran: Dancer from the Dance
  • [60] Heinrich von Kleist: The Marquise of O & Other Stories
  • [61] Andrew Holleran: In September, the Light Changes
  • [62] Tom Perrotta: Little Children
  • May 02, 2006

     

    Confusion of Public vs. Private Senses

    I'm usually indifferent to politics but recently a news report caught my attention and I feel the burning need to say something about stroller-pushing moms complaining about sexually explicit displays along the strip on Castro. Tugged in the folds of hills in San Francisco, the Castro has once been the mecca of gay hedonism and celebration of the queer culture and its self-expression. This is a dip in the contour of the city where you walk up and down the street to meet people. The neighbor, which is known for its outrageous and bittersweet history, fosters a welcoming atmosphere with shops and restaurants packing four blocks of tight-knit community. Until families with kids move in and make the big deal out of the shops that display porn movie posters and toys.

    Parents, both gay and straight complain about the overwhelming visual emphasis on the kinky and the phallic. One exasperated Lesbian counters that criticism with a deviant we-were-here-first attitude. This once again confirms the social (and legal) tradition that tends to protect sexual freedom by privatization. Through privatization it also reserves privacy protections for those whose sexuality is already normative. Media paints a picture that replaces one privacy with another, one public with another: it reduces a rich public culture, one that is signature of the gay community, to inarticulate deviants, consolidating instead a normal, or dominant (namely, heterosexual) public in which it can be taken for granted that "one" has children and goes to "public places" in order to shop.

    Intermingling of the sense of public and private sexual culture is the core of the matter. Sexual cultures of the gays are in a way cultures that are forgotten. Norms of the dominant culture will always quash the scene the gays are participating in. Therefore, the gay sexual culture is best understood as a counterpublic. The openness, accessibility, volatility and unpredictability of this counterpublic are all marks of its publicness. As you see, it's not a matter of who is where first, but a conflict between the dominant public (in the strolling moms) and a counterpublic that is hierarchized by shame and silence.

    It's the responsibility of the dominant culture to be savvy of a public sexual culture that is free from the politics of sexual shame. And instead of battling to the mainstreaming of homosexuality, the counterpublic needs to stand up to public elaboration to break the social alienations.

    2 Comments:

    Blogger matty said...

    I don't disagree, really. Tho, sometimes I feel that we are only thought of as sex crazed men. ...and, maybe we are. LOL! ...but I have noted that the female owned Good Vibrations (which we all know is a shame free sex store) discreetly promotes itself throughout the city without nudity or vulgarities. But, part of what I love about our city is the fact that you can pretty much do what you please and no one cares. The Castro seems like it should stay as is -- a celebration of sexual freedom -- and sex. Baby strolling Moms should just stick with North Beach if they are worried about their babies being exposed to the sexual -- tho, they are destined to see lots of exposed thongs and hear the Pussycat Dolls blaring from clubs about "Don cha wish your girlfriend was a freak like me?" ...it is just sex. People need to get a grip.

    This was a comment riddled with contradiction and general confusion. ...um, that would be me.

    5/02/2006 6:00 PM  
    Blogger Matt said...

    Good Vibrations have to put up a white shade to obstruct store view from the street.

    They should stay with Marina (which I *never* go...) and Union Street! HA!

    5/03/2006 1:15 PM  

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