Saturday, October 4, 2014

PAUL BURSTON'S 'THE GAY DIVORCEE IN CONTEXT

Popular literature is widely read but scarcely given the consideration it merits. It is a genre that has become a subject matter for certain strands of academia but still remains exegetically marginalized.And indeed categories like popular and classic are so indeterminate. Shakespeare was popular in his day and age, as was dickens, as was Austen.

I read on google that Paul Burston was comparable to Jane Austen. While Austen is indubitably a great writer the comparison is invidious, recalling those 'three inches of ivory'. Well, Paul Burston's concerns are much larger and polemical. And reading the novel 'The gay divorcee' was a demonstration of not only the plausibility of the scenario he presents but also the perspicacity behind it, the awareness that the underbelly of gay life is not only in the streets, in violence but at the very heart of how we navigate sexual and personal identity. Such a representation is not just a 'popular ' effect but an indication of the currents of denial, dysfunctionality, repression, hope, optimism, grief in short the entire compendium of human complexity and depth.

While Skipping plot details i do think this book is a must read because it is about human nature. While lgbtiq audiences will find much that is prepossessing in this delightful book other readers too will find much that is entertaining and moving. Reviewers on amazon  often used the word formulaic but the real challenge ,for a writer, is to transcend the zeitgeist they engage with. Paul Burston does just that. He is not obliged to be Hollinghurst because he is unequivocally, ineluctably himself. And his work on polari, for polari is revolutionary and brilliant. This one novel makes me curious enough to seek out his other books and i intend to very soon.

The lgbtiq community needn't stand out as incongruous. Our otherness is as much a perception of those who deny us our being as of some of us within ourselves, a self splintering. Paul Burston's celebration of gay culture, with a honest, witty, funny yet serious perspective is venerable. Our literature is growing up now, not only Hollinghurst but Sarah waters, Vg lee, Ali smith who are breasting choppy waters and emerging triumphant. Paul Burston's navigation through the heart of our concerns may putatively be popular but is ultimately a rumbustious, wise, empathetic, incandescent and affirmative acknowledgement of the cornucopia of what makes us who we are. And for this he should be celebrated. 

Thursday, October 2, 2014

INEXPLICABLE

He started to grow distant. At first i couldn't pinpoint with accuracy as to when i felt the diminishing of candor. On the surface things seemed perfect. We went about our daily routines customarily, partaking of a kiss or a hug at the moments we intersected. But what alerted me to his growing detachment was the absence of any conversation on his part about what he was feeling, something he was habitually, sometimes inveterately, likely to do.
It was ineluctable that i blamed myself. Something i said or did must have irked him. But he may have dissembled, concealing his irritation. I looked back, with assiduous zeal, to the recent past. I excoriated myself, examined my putative misconduct from all possible angles. But the more rigorous my self scrutiny, the more amorphous my misdemeanor. I was dumbfounded as to what may have caused this growing breach.
I tried to broach the subject with him but he was evasive. He, uncharacteristically unforthcoming, refused to open up. My own imputations of self blame he brushed off perfunctorily , saying that it had nothing whatsoever to do with me. But, by now, our growing distance superseded, in my consciousness, my ostensible guiltiness. I was determined to get to the bottom of his disenchantment with daily life and wrest, from this tumultuous phase in our relationship, all the strength and durability that i could.
I did toy with the idea that he might be clinically depressed. We went to a psychiatrist who prescribed anti depressants. Zonked out on prozac he became supine, his lugubriousness redoubled. Where the astringency of impersonality kept him on his toes now even that disinterest metamorphosed into an enervating, bone chilling indifference to any intimation of life. He subsequently gave up prozac.
There came a time, in the near future when he began beating me up. The slightest innocuousness would put him in a terrible, uncontrollable rage. Accustomed to self effacement i tried to understand and forgive than run away. But my sincerest ratiocinations failed to explain the sudden violence. And i did ponder,from time to time, that his true nature was now showing itself, that his earlier seemliness was a masquerade against these primordial, violent impulses.
Eventually i opted out. There was no choice. I felt my own sanity wavering,on the verge of unmitigated collapse . Had i waited for the answers to reveal themselves, a modicum of understanding would have been inveigled. Perhaps i might have forgiven him. And not knowing did cast a crepuscular gloom on a relationship constituted by affability and mutual give and take. But not knowing was a blessing. The truth can sometimes be too terrifying to behold and carrying the primal burdens of another, even the one you love, imperils one's own sense of self. I must crystallize my resolve and not go back again.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

HE LEFT

He left. Well i suppose he's gone. Yes, he's actually gone. By writing thus i convince myself that his departure, always imminent, finally materialized. It was a great relief. With him, in this turbulent relationship, things had become non negotiable. There seemed neither reprieve nor release. Plenteous were the occasions when our ennui was discernible to each other. But we forbore to acknowledge these misgivings, preferring instead ,a willed refusal to accept unmitigated reality, an intractable willfulness which nonetheless also partook of a desire to obviate obduracy.
I have seen, both in mine and other relationships, this vacillation from one extreme to another, an extreme that is entombed in the unconscious but scarcely verbalized. And indeed the oppositional spaces, these interstices are not irreconcilable. A middle ground is usually possible if a willingness to make the relationship correspond to one's actual nature is considered, But usually a sense of self, sanguine to self conception, compounded by self deception, confounded by self awareness, complicates the situation manifold.
I don't profess generosity of spirit. My first impulse is to ensure my own safety. Yet my protracted involvement in this relationship, unintercepted by any avowed disavowal, reveals how my inveterate self preservation was foiled. I wanted this relationship to work. I desired, through a willful abrogation of the truth, a magical solution to all our problems. I alluded earlier to my safety protecting mechanism. Well, with this relationship i was trying to safeguard my insecurity and fear of loneliness. Better it is to be incompatibly together than singularly lonesome.
It is also, equally ironical that i wanted out. And i just wanted out. I felt constricted, suffocated. I don't attribute this to any misdemeanor on his part. It was, on the contrary, his tacit assumption of being beyond reproach that annoyed me. In order to make this relationship work, what were, to me conscious subterfuges were, for him, unambiguous sacrifices. I didn't consider my effacements remarkable and his grandiloquence and moral superiority were irksome. I was often fractious, peremptory and while such conduct is not prepossessing at least it is understandable.
It is also quite conspicuous that one's conduct appears to the other is a startlingly different light than one's own understanding of oneself. No doubt he saw my putative irascibility but he mistook them as integuments that bespoke the corporeal reality of my being. I was ,in endeavoring to restitute the swaying between commitment and opting out, beset by contradictory, irresolvable feelings of disquiet and incomprehension. It was a see saw that could have veered to any direction. He rendered the whole thing ineluctable by himself walking out.
And while i remain ambivalent about the crises of our togetherness that i never sorted i feel glad that i am now freed of the possibility of having to choose. Not that it unencumbers me from guilt or accountability but it certainly makes it possible to contemplate a future where such existential dilemmas will not always, through indecision, lead to fragmentation. On that ostensibly wholeness i predicate my future.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

PERSONAL MEMORY MNEMONICS

It is perhaps a very contemporaneous sensibility or perhaps i am anomalous but i find that memories , overladen by repression, often become inaccessible. Something is keenly felt, an emotional disturbance is experienced but the memory that , with its constellations of associations, makes this piquant is unfathomed. Memory is nebulous. It evades circumscription. Memory is disembodied, entombed in various constituent smaller memories which swirl and conglomerate chaotically. In its structure the mind is like a kaleidoscope. It is a collage of intersecting but variegated blueprints. These blueprints are also experiences that, with hibernation, have transformed themselves into the form memory holds them in. When a memory is recalled the form,the thin casing and integument, reassembles itself with the context in which the memory is remembered. The form memories are enclosed in are a combination of reflection and revivification.
Both are immanent.
It is my experience that memories resist force. The more intractably the mind is exercised to recall the more indistinct the memory becomes. Rumination is usually inimical to memory, contemplation is allied to it. Yet rumination often extricates from the mind memories that are putatively disconnected. In that, the memory whose reactivation is being sought through willed deliberation and the memory which actually emerges have, on the surface, no connection. But memories are concatenations. They are intertwined with each other. Because experience, in totality, is not linear or chronological. It is a meandering stream with its own doubling back, repetition, cadence, byways and labyrinths. Experience is a sum total that is inconceivable without its component parts. And each component part is a whorl indenting experience with its incontrovertible luminosity.
Memories are not always associational. Memories are part of the here and now too. The smell of arabica coffee, suffuses the nostrils, infiltrates neuronal cells and wraps up one's head in its deliciously astringent olfactoriness. In that moment the smell encompasses consciousness. And it is this submersion in immediate tactile experience that sparks off the associations. The associations that are precipitated are both causal and atemporal. It is the sensation that recreates experience than experience being underpinned by sensation. It is uncertain, when smelling a flower, or sniffing at a scent, to ascertain exactly what will be initiated as a cavalcade of associations. What dapples and incandesces memory is its unbidden quality, its indeterminacy. We are caught by surprise because that we believed we'd forgotten returns with poignant immediacy.