winter 2003


blog | pix | data | art | current gallery


NOTE TO SELF: is queer male culture still breathing? or is it reproducing the technologies and objects of past creativity? what's new now?

I was asked by one of the student newspapers to make a statement about the "role of the University at a time of war." I'm not sure it'll be published becasue I was a couple of hours late in submitting it (and they gave me about six seconds to get it to them). Anyway, it's a reminder that we speak with different voices in different contexts and use, as Pam would remind me, different languages within different discourses.

Here it is:

Peter Hocking
Director, Swearer Center for Public Service, Brown University

I'm not certain that there is a single role for the University in time of national crisis, such as the moment we are now encountering. As a pluralistic and diverse community, there are distinct rights and obligations represented within the various roles of people who make up Brown. Collectively, I believe that it is vital that we be attentive to the values, beliefs, statements, actions and practices of each person at Brown. We must guard against cutting one another off from the point of view of our colleagues and peers, each of whom may be operating from a different ethical location, sense of political calling or set of personal concerns.

As a University administrator I don't believe that it is useful for me to engage in direct activism through the University. I may chose to be an activist -- either abhorring or supporting the policies of the current American Administration -- within my private life, but to engage in such activism at Brown risks alienating me from voices opposed to my own political values. At the University I have an ethical obligation to be present to the discourse about a war, invasion or acts of public policy and to help different voices be heard. More than that, as an educator, I am obliged to encourage, perhaps even demand, that different points of view be presented with ethical self-reflection and rigor. Tenured faculty members, students and others may have far greater discretion in articulating, in words and actions, their values about momentous events. I celebrate those rights and encourage students and faculty to ethically, rigorously engage their rights and obligations.

Pluralism can't be a convenient idea at the University. In moments of crisis we can not claim or act in the name of "the University" for any distinct set of ideas, no matter how deeply we cherish them. If we do, we risk reproducing the mechanisms of imperialism that devalue pluralism and perpetuate conflict. If we seek to speak for others or demand that others speak with our voice we risk further alienating our society from its highest democratic values. At this moment, I believe that we need to listen, be attentive to the events in the world and the human needs of the people around us. We need to act out of authentic belief and respect that others may be acting out of ethical traditions and obligations that are not immediately visible. Curiosity about the point of view of others and real engagement with them may uncover new ways of understanding and new ways of leading our society to a practice of its highest values.

I feel like I'm ripped with ideas and enthusiasm, but I'm crushed by time. Having Pam here has been great -- it's engaged me in a fistful of new discussions and gotten my mind reeling with excitement. However, we've both spoken about our enthusiasm to get back to our studios. I'm not looking forward to Pam's departure, but I am excited about getting back into the studio.

I did get a few hours in the studio yesterday, while Pam was doing a late day workshop. I started to work from a mirror (again) and I was amazed at how much more complexity started to emerge from my work. I guess I always knew the day would come when I'd have to engage real time models again.

More than that, though, I'm experiencing something of a crisis. My work is becoming technically proficient enough that I have to really engage questions off meaning. There's a way that I feel like my work is reproducing the same set of self-portraits / portraits and I'm wasting opportunities for story telling, meaning making. The big question, now, is how to use my proficiency.

And, isn't that really a question for all of us?

I am proud of Senator Lincoln Chaffee (R-RI). He's the only member of RI's delegation to continue openly questioning the administration's decisions to pursue Iraq. It's astounding to me that a member of the administration's party has the gumption to speak truth to power when our untouchable Democratic members of Congress have capitulated to something that they've previously opposed. Perhaps there are honest politicians.

Pam asked me yesterday what I feel about this American adventurism. Frankly, I feel, like so many others, powerless. Rationally, I know that my country needs to be humiliated before it will graciously and righteously enter the world community. I also know that that will require a terrible defeat, one that's greater than Vietnam. This makes me profoundly sad. While I rail against the arrogance of the administration, I know in my heart that it is the arrogance and fear of the American people that have led us to this critical moment in American history.

Pam and I also talked about my anger about the "coattails" phenomenon. I don't see this solely as an American adventure. Indeed, I see this as an extension of European history -- inclusive of Canada and Australia. The quality of life in the West requires that we attend to our "interests" in the rest of the world. France's capitulation to Iraqi human rights violations is disgusting in light of their posturing on the world stage. although I agree with their impulse to contain American power, I realize that their interests are in extending France's cultural influence. This isn't a benign intervention. They would extend, have extended totalitarianism in Iraq in favor of their own industrial and energy conceits. How is this morally different from my country's actions? It's not as flashy or as immediately devastating as my country's actions, but the slow death it supports is not less amoral.

The work in front of us, if we care about a just world, is vast. We need to re-orient the educational system in the West to look critically at our policy and resource use. We need to cultivate skills of self-reflection and analysis within our population. We need to engage people in society and listen to dissenting views -- not to be swayed, but to debate ideas and actions. We need to build a democracy.

These are long-term strategies, which will do nothing to save Iraqi or American lives in the short-term. We need to see our lives as being connected by more than international conflict and embrace the idea that those who die all have the same hopes and aspirations, all have families who will miss them, and all will be silenced in this world. We now have a moment to realize that their blood is on our hands. Regardless of whether we're pointing our bloody fingers, clenching our bloody fists, or weeping into bloody open palms, we must be accountable for the events that are about to unfold.


On a MUCH lighter note, I added a jpg of a new painting on which I'm working. It's a work in progress, so don't judge me too severely.... I just figured that I have to keep my principles of making my process transparent.

Ah, the questions keep rolling in and I feel compelled to answer. Please bear with me.

Today's questions come from the incomparable and sexy Ethan and the delightful and sexy Sean. Thanks, boys, for playing!

Ethan writes, "If you were a G-d (not saying you're not sweetie, but let's be realistic), what would be the one thing in nature you would have to most radically re-examine? And what would be the one thing in nature that you would derive the most enjoyment from?"

I'm not sure that there's anything in the Universe that I'd re-examine, radically or not. G-d knows, I'm not theistic, but I do believe that, as Einstein said, G-d does not play at dice. I believe in the purpose of the universe and I don't believe that we can't know, see, divine the meaning of MOST of what we encounter in the world. We may try to making meaning from our experience, but I'm not sure meaning is the ultimate goal. I think there's something far more interesting and potentially transformational in the rigor of our investigation than in the outcomes of our search.

In terms of enjoyment, that's easy: sex. I know, I know, that's the easy answer. I don't mean it in some cock-sucking, backroom, jerk-off, steam room orgy. I don't mean it in terms of penetration, of cuddling or kissing, sucking, licking, sniffing, watching. I mean it in terms of connection. I mean it in terms of the transcendent possibility of connecting with another being and easing, if only for a second or few minutes, the existential loneliness of being. You know the loneliness of which I'm speaking, dontcha Ethan?

Sean writes, "What drives your continuous passion to keep doing your art work?"

Well, I'm not sure that I have a continuous passion to do art. I've taken years off from my practice as a painter. At times, I've distanced myself from the whole idea of "the artist" and of "art." I think my passion more lies with two ideas (or ideals). First, I'm convinced that there's not enough real creativity in the world. There's a lot of procreativity in the world, a lot of reproduction of existing things (whether they be reproduction of people or ideas). I don't think that we feel comfortable actually risking our position, pride, status by trying to be authentically creative in the face of questions, challenges, problems. Second, as I stated above, I'm passionate about the process of discerning meaning from the world. I'm a believer in our individual divinity and the potential genius within each of us. I believe that authenticity comes out of an authentic searching for meaning in the world. For me, art is simply a means through which we can address these ideals (or ideas). Right now, it's a potent means for me in my search.

Last week's questions were a hell of a lot easier. Hope I did these justice... If not, know that I wrote from my values and further conversation will reveal more nuance and depth.


Wow! A bunch of new questions arrived. I'll get to them tonight or tomorrow morning. For now, y'all will have to just put up with pure vanity -- my new look for spring!

So, after a long walk with Sean yesterday, I realized that I wanted to make an adjustment to signal the season. I also realized that the big beard was making me feel older than I feel. It also has the unfortunate effect of rendering me "vengeful old testament prophet." As we're living under a vengeful, old testament president, I'm eager to move away from any inkling that I subscribe to that sort of conservative nonsense. So, I'm streamlined, groomed and ready for spring.

Oh yeah, once I get bored with shaving, the beard will be right back!

A late question comes from long-lost, ever-fabulous Alexander in the Great Pacific Northwest. Since it's not a contest and there are no prizes there should also be no penalties for being late...I guess. Well, if nothing else, after manipulating folks with my "look at me! look at me!" schtick, the least I can do is be responsive. (Maybe next time there should be fabulous prizes and penalties?)

Alexander writes, "If you could not live in Providence, RI, where else would you live? for how long? and, why there?"

Why in the world would I want to live anywhere other than Providence? Show me another city named for "God's provision" and I'm there!

Yet, I sense there's something of the parlor game to Alexander's question. Ok, I'll re-frame it in my mind. Godzilla rises from the ocean, devastates Providence, Clarke Lane is leveled, the Zoning Board finally realizes that there's no earthly reason that crib should be re-built on the only dirt road in the city (a clue to the mysterious "Clarke Lane, eh?) and I'm homeless. Where would I re-locate?

Presupposing that the insurance mongers would actually pay out, that the Federal Government would declare disaster area (although, plainly, we'll have to vote the current bastard out before my state gets disaster relief!) and America, in it's post-9-11 generosity establishes a victims fund, I'd take the money and run. I'd probably go rural for a while. I'm thinking Vermont, maybe even Montpelier (for that urban, not-urban thing). I've also thought about Provincetown (but, I fear, I'm just not that gay). I've considered San Francisco (definitely not THAT gay), but I'm not much of a big city boy. When I was younger, I had a active fantasy about Paris (but, undoubtedly, my government is only days away from incarcerating anyone with French fantasies)...

Maybe instead of place I should be thinking in terms of environment. I'd have to be near water, preferably a coast line. I'd have to be in a community that is to a human scale, where one can know and be known, and I'd prefer that there's the possibility of encounter, that is where one can walk rather than have to drive.

It's something to think about. God knows where Godzilla will strike next.


AMONG OTHER THINGS, it's Reader Question Week here at You got questions? I've got answers. That is, as long as you have personal questions for me... Send YOUR question.

Not only does begging work, but whining seems to solicit even more questions. You're cultivating bad habits in my, folks. well, it's the last day of "personal question week," so tomorrow we'll be back to the same old same old -- more over-wrought consideration of ordinary life!

So, where to begin?

From the mysterious Landon, address unknown, comes a set of insightful questions. Landon writes, "Do you really believe that Philosophy is a way of engaging with one's lived experience? I do. [God, I ask you a question and then I answer it!] And would it even be possible for philosophy to become one with living experience?"

I agree. [God, you ask a yes/no question and I answer it! I'm such a dick!] Seriously, I think the second part of your question is at the core of "practice." I don't believe that one ever gets there, but the process off moving closer to that kind of goal is important [after all, if I could get there, why would I write on the internet everyday?].

Landon continues, "Why do we try to improve ourselvesboth body & mindthroughout our lives, only to lose everything in old age? Wouldnt we need some kind of afterlife or beyond for all of that to make any real sense?"

Oh no, not theology! I'm not good at theology! Afterlife? I can barely get through the day! I wonder, though, about the implication of loss in old age. I wonder if that's really loss or simply a different way of seeing, being in the world. I don't know this, i can only suspect it. I've never been old, I hope that i get the chance to experience being really old. It seems to me , too, that "knowing" is something of a fabulous game. Once I seem to understand something new, a new horizon of possibility opens before me. It's not a sense of futility in the fragility of my body that drives me to some afterlife. It's the possibility of today that drives me to understanding, improving myself.

It's so lovely to be able to pontificate on these questions! As a teacher, I can never be this direct! LOL!

Mysterious Landon is full of questions. He continues, "Why would you not want to be an internet celebrity of sorts? Seems to me most successful Artists have developed a Cult of Personality, and your photos are almost like mini still-lifes of performance art, anyway!"

Oh, truth be told, I'd probably like to be one of those big-dicked bloggers who get all the glory. I'd probably like to get tons of attention and have people send me questions and inquiries everyday. I'm just not that kind of boy. **blush**

I think my aversion to "internet celebrity" is the same as my aversion to the artist as "cult of personality." I think that there are other ways of being seen and valued. The impulse toward celebrity is to risk diminishing, isolating, edging out other voices. I say this with no small understanding of it's potential irony.

To Landon, I can only express my deep gratitude. The questions were great, yes, but the rest of your email has made me think! Thank you!

Next Question!

From Ron I received this question: "I still don't understand the driving force of BLOG. Cub friend of mine in Toronto posts daily...just weirds me out a bit..."

Yup, Ron, it weirds me out some days, too! For me, the impulse to write to this site everyday (whether you think of it as blogging, journaling, broadcasting, or simply reflective writing) is related to transparency. My life as a queer man has been punctuated by (externally driven, misplaced) shame and (internally drive, misguided) hiding. Writing, publishing, exhibiting in this forum allows me to engage and interrogate those factors. It allows me to live out loud and , as I learned when I was a little queer-boi, ACTUP storm trooper, it embodies an antidote to silence=death.


Bob asks, "Who was the first gay male that set your heart in a spin, turned your world upside down, made you act like you had never acted before, and
what happened with that relationship?"

There are a couple of ways that I can answer this question. There's the first man I ever kissed and there's the first man who inspired me to want to be a better person. Because I avoid implicating other people in my on-line writing, it's unfair to them for me to say much about this question. They are both still part of my life, although we don't see each other as much as I might like, and I love them.

So, that's it. My attention-pandering, "ask a question week" is officially over. I hope it helped to take some of the mystery away and answered the big question: are you always so serious? Answer: nope.

Thanks for playing, guys!

So, yes, begging seems to help.

I'm grateful to the ever-thoughtful Donnell and the irreverent Sean for sending me mercy questions. It's nice to know that some people are interested enough to send 2 questions!!

Donnell asks, "Is there some significance to the fact that many/all of your paintings are all 48" X 48" square?"

Well, the numerological significance has to do with the aspect of my fifth house at the time of my birth.... Oh, wait, no, that's the answer to something else... Oh yes, the dimensions of my paintings. that's easy. I like squares and 48 x 48" is standard stock at Home Depot. Mystery solved.

Sean, Sean, little devil. Sean writes, "ok..then i'll get bold. how old were you when you lost your virginity and tell us what you will about it."

Well, I guess I asked for this, eh?

So, yes my virginity and what you will. Hmmm...that was a long time ago. I guess I was 19 or 20...? (No jokes about late bloomers, please!) She was wonderful and it was an amazing night. Oh yeah, I almost asked her to marry me.

Well, "ask a question week" ends tomorrow. There's still time to submit a question (and I have a fabulous set of questions to answer later today)!! I'll take questions until midnight on Friday.

No one sent me a question yesterday, It makes me sad.

Pam gave her first public reading yesterday and then we went out with Kurt and Sean. I had a lovely evening and I think everyone else did, too.

It's wonderful to have Pam here, but, when she talks, I have a sense that she's fully engaged in her practice. I'm always code switching between my practices. Funny how I always desire integration. My practices are far more integrated than I give myself credit for; still, when someone is talking about art I yearn to be in the studio. Well, the weekend approaches!

Today's question comes from fellow blogger, Sean who writes from the great state of New Jersey!

Sean writes, "is that yoga you're doing in the morning in your shorts on that rug?"

I wish.

Pam's visit is amazing. Living alone, I don't often get the chance to spend long periods of time talking with anyone about ideas. My conversations tend to be episodic -- as I suppose is true with anyone. Talking with someone about art and the construction of meaning in an intense and on-going way is really helping me to break up the ice that's grown around art-making.

I keep thinking about the possible uses of the site as a vehicle for meaning-making and dialogue. Most of my attempts to build interactivity have been lackluster. Anyone remember the discussion boards or the guestbook?

The question of the week seems more fun and seems to be getting a little more response. I'd really like to find a way to build dialogue among / between people through the site -- and connected to my practice as an artist. I'd love to get a dialogue page about queer male relationships going. I'd love to find some other folks who would like to collaborate on the construction of paintings and images -- especially folks who don't regularly make images.

Yes, this is an invitation to write me with ideas and proposals. More, it's an invitation to come out and play with me!

Oh yeah, and keep the personal questions a'coming! Need one for today....

Today's question comes from Donnell, a colleague and correspondent from the great city of Buffalo. He writes, "Do you think that you spend more time "philosophizing" about life than you actually do living it? (or am I projecting?)"

This is a great question. It gets to the heart of what I'm trying to do.

The simple answer is "no."

I don't see a difference between doing philosophy and living. More precisely, I don't see a difference between leading an examined life and living a good life. Philosophy is a way of engaging with one's lived experience. It's a means for developing an ethics. I could theorize that the inverse of the question might be possible. It might be possible to spend more time trying to live than actually living a good life.

I also infer a question about the time I spend on this site, the time I spend thinking and writing (and making art) about my experience. I don't actually spend all that much time. Yes, it's true, the magic before you isn't a cumbersome or burdensome enterprise. It's part of my practice.

It might be easy to infer that I mean many things by practice. Doctor's have "practices," lawyers, too. There are spiritual practices and art practices. For me it's about the practice of living. It's rare that I spend more than 30 minutes at a time writing for this site. Often I do it at the beginning of the day, sometimes, like tonight, at the end. It's a means for me to consider my thoughts, my encounters, my hopes. It centers my experience both in the world and internally.

It's also not magic or skill that allows me to do this. When I started I started with the hope of a democratic approach. I originally used all free and ridiculously easy web site tools (until I decided to pay to get rid of pop up ads!) Anyone with a computer, a digital camera, and the willingness to develop content from their thoughts and life can do this. So, get onto and use their site builder tool You can do it, too!

As to your second question, Donnell, only you and a trained psychotherapist can determine whether you are "projecting."

Thanks for the question!

Last night Pam and I swapped stories about family. It got me thinking about my grandmother, so I dug out the eulogy I gave at her funeral three years ago. It follows:

I offer these words in celebration of my grandmother's life, Teresa Smith.

I knew her for the last third of her life,
and was only paying attention, perhaps, half that time.

Others may speak with more clarity about much of her life,
because I know it only through stories,
sometimes half-told.

This much I know for sure:
she was dignified and strong,
she didn't shy from life's challenges,
she understood that her happiness was connected to those around her,
she was fun.

To me she is mythic,
larger than life.

As a child,
spending nights at her grand house,
I was overwhelmed by its size and beauty,
enraptured by the secrets the house seemed to hold.

Every object had a story,
endless stories in that house.
To my young mind, it seemed that there might be no end
to those stories,
that house,
my grandmother.

Today, I celebrate those stories,
the truths shared in that house,
and her life
I learned much from my grandmother.
How to bake cookies and tend a flower bed.
She taught me a language which,
to this day,
colors my vocabulary.

Phrases like "head over tea kettle" surprise friends
when they are offered
in conversation.

"we'll be crowned,"
warned me
that we had to be considerate
of someone else's desires.

The conspiracy of "mum's the word"
drew me into small secrets
that were to be kept from my mother.
Secrets like
when she packed Rose Sweeny into her car
when she was 82
to drive to Providence
to visit Mrs. Sweeny's ailing brother.
Secrets often confessed,
but tested on me.

She taught me about perfection
and the need to settle for good enough
with a confident declaration
"I gave it a lick and a promise."

She taught me about love
and self sacrifice
and what it means to be alone
but not lonely.
A few years ago,
we were driving and
I asked her how she met her second husband, Smitty.

They met when she volunteered
at a charity function.
Fell in love.
She knew the proposal was right.

she added

There had been other proposals...
over the years...
but I didn't want your mother
to be raised
by a step-father.


You know how step-fathers can be.

Words spoken across two generations,
a simple intimacy
taught me about my grandmother's character
and what it means to love a child.
Most of her lessons are eternal.
Thankfully, some are not.

Sometimes she showed another side
stubborn and determined,
established opinions from which
she could not be swayed.

For instance,
I have learned that
tea is not necessarily better without milk
even if it is no longer "piping hot."

Onions and garlic are good food.

But when we disagreed
she forgave me my wilder ideas
and trusted me to live with them.

I hope that I reciprocated
that trust

When we visited last,
we held hands.
It was a cold Christmas, but
her hands were warm and warmed me.
Strong hands, to the end.

In that moment,
hands that gave me joy and
a lasting memory
of strength and faith.

Today's question(s) come from the handsome and brilliant Jay in St. Louis. Jay wins nothing for sending them (remember, folks, this is NOT a contest), but he gets my deep thanks (and shouldn't THAT be prize enough?).

Jay writes, "I have 3 questions for you (prompted by your website theme of the week....) 1. Do you listen to music when you paint? 2. Refrigerator magnets, yes or no? (if yes, I think a photo of you with them in the bkgrnd would be apropos. 3. What would you like for breakfast?"

There's so much I could write in response. The answer key (from the teacher's edition) is:

1. yes
2. yes (see today's daily photo for visual evidence)
3. coffee and a cigarette.

I have to have music (or, at least NPR) playing when I paint. I range from dance music to classic rock, Coldplay to Rufus Wainwright, Billie Holiday to Ashley MacIsaac (Cape Breton, punk fiddle). Music allows the experience of painting to be embodied in a fundemental way for me.

The magnets vary from photographs to little notes to essential phone numbers.

Breakfast is, seriously, my favorite meal of the day. It ranges from coffee and scones to coffee and eggs to coffee and yogurt with cereal. Sense a theme? Don't get between me and coffee in the AM. Oh yeah, I like OJ to be thrown in at some point (coffee and dehydrate...).

Keep the questions coming folks!

This week, I'm answering questions. If you've got a question, send me a shout.

Today's question comes from the daily photos: "Howz 'bout takin' this one again but with out the shorts?"

Answer: Nope. I'm not THAT kind of an exhibitionist.

Pam arrived! It's fabulous!

Pammy arrives today!!! Time to vacuum the guest room!

Come join us for some events!

Literature and Medicine

In celebration of International Women's Day, Canadian artist PAM HALL will visit Rhode Island from March 7-21, 2003. Hall is an interdisciplinary visual artist, writer, production designer, and filmmaker. During her residency, Hall will conduct a series of writing workshops as part of her project Re-Writing the Body: Towards the Reading Room.

Several events are free and open to the public:

Tuesday, March 11, 4:30 p.m. Reception and short reading. Swearer Center for Public Service, 25 George St., Providence.

Saturday, March 15, 2:00-5:00 p.m. Writing workshop at Newport Hospital. 11 Friendship St., Newport. Space is limited. To sign up, please call Nina Stein at Child and Family Services at 848-4136.

Wednesday, March 19, 7:00 p.m. Reading. New Urban Arts, 743 Westminster St., Providence.

Halls visit is part of Literature and Medicine: Humanities at the Heart of Health Care, a program sponsored by the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities (RICH) and the Swearer Center for Public Service. The program has received support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Joukowsky Family Foundation, and Ocean State Charities Trust.

For additional information, please contact RICH Program Officer Ingrid Ahlgren at 273-2250 or, or visit RICHs website at RI Council on the Humanities

Snowy day... I'm supposed to be driving to a colloquium in New Haven right now, but the weather's conspired to give me a free evening. Instead of the planned, I'm now waiting for one KH to come for tea. After that, I'll have dinner with another KH.

Funny how the initials KH have followed me through my life. Without really considering things, I can think of at least five significant relationships with people of those initials. Funny.

Anyway, it's lovely here. Snowy, snowy...

Last night, I had a delightful dinner with a couple who have just moved to the city (thanks Robert and Michael!). They were interested in some info about lots of stuff. Of course, we spent some time talking about being queer in Providence. It's a strange place to be queer. It's a very good, tolerant, even integrated community. There's no ghetto, no gayborhood. While that's, in general, a good thing, it's also hard to connect with a queer community, to meet queer men, to find folks with whom you might have affinity. This isn't categorically true. It's like anyplace else; you reap what you sow. Dinner made me realize just how complacent I've become, how "knowing." At the same time, I'm, in many ways, an outsider in the queer community (if, theoretically, a queer community can even exist!). Of course, I write this with the silent backdrop of my desire to find a boyfriend.

I'm such a product of our society -- as much as I try to convince myself that I'm not. I like to talk about the systems of control and power, yet when I'm honest I realize that i as passive as the rest. I've been colonized by power. I may want to step out of that position, may theorize about the ways that must speak truth to power, yet, when I analyze my own personal life I find that I expect friends, lovers, and others to appear in front of me, like some fuckin' prince charmin'!

Of course, of course I'm being hard on myself and the rest of the world. Still, if I want prince charming to appear, I need to make myself into my vision of prince charming. If I don't find the elusive "other" then I'll still be prince fuckin' charmin'. And that's not the end of the world.

The Empire is marching toward war as the Provinces make valiant efforts to avert our new policy of preemption. Caesar is not to be swayed by the opinion of the focus group rabble. How did America become Rome?

I am sick about the imperialistic saber rattling of the Bush Administration. I hate to see my country twisted by the self-interests of conservative, reactionary theorists. Having yesterday read the Newsweek profile of Bush's religious beliefs, I'm more concerned than I have been before. Prior to this, I was deluding myself that these guys (and Condi Rice is a guy) were playing a profoundly stupid game of brinkmanship. Now I'm convinced that they're far more deluded than that. I believe that they have messianic delusions and that they truly believe that they have G-d's sanction for for their actions. This is a problem.

The actions our government is making will define the quality of the world's life for several generations. Everyday Americans have been duped into believing that this is about protecting American interests. What they don't see is that past foreign policy has created the imperative on the part of terrorists. We are not a target because people are envious of us. We are a target because our foreign and economic policy has fucked-over generations of people. We are extending our policy to hurt more people and in reaction they will strike back at us. We will not be able to contain these attacks and the conflicts will continue.

The way out of this is to listen and respond to the human needs in the countries with which we have conflicts. Resolve the basic needs of people and conflict is less imperative. It's not easy, I don't mean to say that. I don't mean to imply that I have the answers. I do know that human experience follows patterns and that are predictable. If you're bullied, your frustration moves you to strike back. you use the tools at your disposal and, often, your reaction will precipitate further violence. It's this way on the school ground, this way in every dive bar, why do we believe that it will be different somewhere else?

I just was part of a panel discussion at my alma mater. The topic was "community service." It was one of the weirdest conversations in which I've ever taken part. I suppose the meeting was trying to be a moment of witness, trying to show good examples of community work.

I'm so jaded by the whole community service-thing. I'm so tired of being patted on the head from my "good works." The work is about a radical re-alignment of democratic participation. It's about actually engaging the disenfranchised in matters of public life and re-orienting the entitlement of those whose birth has guaranteed them a place at the table. We get lost, though, in the faux Judeo-Christian dogma of "service."

We can't deceive ourselves. The impulse to do good work is self-motivated. Whether it's pursuing questions of justice or simply wanting to do something, anything, to be involved, we are acting from our desire to be engaged, our hopes to make change in the world. The benefits of this are sometimes crass. We sometimes want to be seen as good or radical or powerfully involved in the public good. They are sometimes motivated from deep values or faith. There's nothing wrong with our various motivations, yet we must be explicit about our self interest or the work risks failing for our self-righteousness.

At the end of the day the line between righteousness and self-righteousness is thin. We can guard against it, we must guard against it.

I need to write more about this.


I've had a spectacular time in the studio this weekend. Sometimes, it just flows. I've been re-visiting work that I started or completed while on sabbatical. I'm not sure why, but I made some really stilted work while I was on leave. I suppose it had to do with having time. I over-worked things, I got precious. I seem able, now, to do justice to the ideas I had last fall. They've had some time to percolate, too, so I'd guess that I'm ready to interpret them now.

I'm feeling more sanguine about life right now. I think my ruminations about the emergence of spring are right. If nothing else, there's more daylight. It's been raining all day and even that's made me happy. I've just been so thrilled to be home and working.

Doing the collaboration with Phil is getting me excited, too. It's nice to have a space to play with Phil (and just to play). It's interesting to be drawn into his idiom. I wonder whether he'll get pulled into mine? It's got me thinking about image-making on the web, too. We're working in images (and have talked about text) but I immediately thought of photos. Why not drawings? paintings? sound files (first I'll have to figure that out!)? New terrain is always exciting.

I'm wondering if I can approach my professional obligations with the same sense of renewed creativity? I'm trying to do it. The difference is that working on my practice allows me to set the pace. In the professional realm I always have to worry about the folks who can't (or don't want to) keep up. That may seem cruel; I don't mean it to be. It's the great frustration of my career to hear that people think I'm too creative and fast paced in my work. I suppose I should infer a compliment, but in reality it just inspires despair. If I was in the cut-throat for-profit world, I could say "screw 'em." In the pluralistic university world I'm always the one who has to adapt. Dammit! Why do I always have to play the role of the teacher? I was much more charming (and charmed) when I played the role of infant terrible. All about growing up, eh?

philip and I have started a new correspondence

I'm waking this morning with much hope. It's the first day of "Druid / Celtic" spring and I've been feeling it's emergence for days. I'm always amazed at how deeply I'm affected by the seasons / weather. I shouldn't be. I should instead be conscious of it and use the undulations to my best advantage.

It's one of the conceits of modernity, this disregard of the weather. we' think we've conquered it with heat and shelter and air conditioning and all the rest. It's more primal than that. I think we should take a more hibernating stance when it's dark and cold and not hold ourselves to the same standards of generativity that we do in, say the spring or the fall. I'm excited to again feel generative, spunky, as Philip might say...

Speaking of Philip, his assertion of "cyber punk emerson" has been coupled by the near publication of Ken's new book on Emerson. Waldo's on my mind and, while I can't bring myself to the conceit of comparing myself to the master, I'm taken by the inspiration he's provided this journal. I need to return to his words, his vision of the self-reliant intellectual. More on this when I get the chance to read.

Time to paint.

I'm getting back into painting and seem to be back in stride. It's funny how you work and work and nothing happens and then you take a break and right out of the gate you hit on something. Makes me happy.

I've been having some interesting correspondences. It's fascinating the way this journal creates a simplistic view of who I am. it's easier, I suppose for me to write about my frustrations and questions than it is to write about the things that make me happy. I'd guess I've never been good about acknowledging the good things in my life. It would melt my ironic facade!! LOL. Seriously, with the coverage of Mr. Roger's passing, I've been thinking about the place of irony in my life.

It's been easy to distance myself from the things that I really value. Growing up, my sister would never let me embrace the things I liked. She'd belittle anything that I liked -- and not in the typical big sibling way. She was vicious. (Yeah, yeah, she had her own problems and I'm not going down that lane.) That psychological battering created defenses in me, forced me into a competitive posture and crafted a sense of fluidity within me. It also forced me to conceal my feelings of joy about people and things.

I've recently started reading comic books again (yes, yes the boy's a geek). They were a real passion for me when I was a kid. They were also a point of ridicule. I've always been discrete about my passion for the stories and mythos of those stories. I'm always afraid that people will think less of me or form psychological assumptions about who I am if they know I like superhero stories. Now that I've been reading them for a couple of months I've realized that there is something wonderfully queer about a 37 year-old man reading comics. I also realize that the assumptions people create are about the same processes of shame and competition that my sister wielded. It's connected to the shame that keeps people in the closet.

Anyway, rambling, rambling boy... It seems to me that I need to be explicit about the things I love. Maybe that will make me seem less dour.

I just learned that some friends who have been together for years broke up last night. It's not entirely unexpected, but it is sad. I'd hoped that their really good efforts to solve their differences would prevail. Sometimes, I suppose, effort and love aren't enough.

One of my students, in his final presentation, quoted Mandela's inaugural address. I had forgotten how powerful these words were -- the first time I heard them! They again seem timely.

Our Greatest Fear

Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate,
but that we are powerful beyond measure.

It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us.
We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant,
gorgeous, handsome, talented and fabulous?

Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of the Universe.

Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking
so that other people won't feel insecure around you.

We were born to make manifest the glory within us.
It is not just in some; it is in everyone.

And, as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give
other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our fear,
our presence automatically liberates others.

-- Nelson Mandela

Above my bed I keep my old journals. As I pried my eyes open this morning, they were in view and I thought, "my, my, change takes time." I've been writing about the same issues for years, taking little baby steps in changing my life.

I'm not sure why I have such a bourgeois sensibility. I'm not sure how my lifestyle has come to cost so much and I'm not entirely sure how to turn the tide. I know that I can live leaner, that I don't really need all the stuff on which I spend money. I know that I'm caught up in a spiral of consumerism and that, more than I want to believe, I'm a cog in the wheel of capitalism. I know that this location is defining many of the concerns that seem to dominate my life.

As I was falling to sleep last night, I had the feeling that I was on the cusp of a radical self-knowledge. I can't grasp the insight this morning, but I know that it was an insight about the power of change, about unlocking personal transformation.

I don't feel like I've wasted my life. I'm proud of what I've been able to do, but I'm reminded, constantly, of Thoreau's urging: "It doesn't matter if we're busy, the question is busy at what?" (mangled paraphrase). This is a haunting thought to me because I intuit that I'm busy at things that don't matter in the larger scheme. I worry that I don't know whether anything I do will matter in the larger scheme. then, I realize that this might be the trap. It's not about mattering to the world, it's about mattering in my own experience of pleasure and happiness (and in the sphere around me). It is, again, that pesky schism between desire and pleasure.

Well, transformation will take place step by step and because we use our will to make it real.

I watched Queer as Folk before I went to bed last night and consequently I had a tough time falling to sleep. The show works me up -- mostly because it makes me so angry. Last night, however, I tossed and turned with the knowledge that I had learned something from the stupid show.

In short, the currently story line is focused on fidelity and on how those we love express their feelings. The resident bad boy refuses to acknowledge his feelings / actions to the resident naif. The naif has taken up with a passionate violinist who expresses everything. Back and forth they go, manipulations abound.

So what does it have to do with me?

It's easy to fall in love. There are a lot of terrific people out there and it's not hard to find someone to sweep you off your feet. Sustaining the relationship has always been the problem for me -- because I fall into one of the two archetypes I've just described. Recently, though, I've fallen into the bad boy, zipped lipped guy. I've lost touch with the core of my passions. In short I've been governed and colonized by the processes of rejection and fear. I'm jaded. Yikes.

When I think about the icons that get me all sexy -- in fantasy and reality -- it's men who are passionate about... well, something. It seems not to matter so much what the object of their passion is. Passion, drive and focus are such compelling attributes. They really turn me on and when I think about my own moments of being passionate, focused and driven I am reminded that I, too, seemed more potent. I think it's that potency, that power that's so exciting. I think it's also threatening to many people. As I tossed last night, I realized that much of my on-going morass is due to losing touch with my power and passion. I've been tamed.

I tired of being an apologist for my passion and power. I'm tired of being told that my (appropriate) use of power is patriarchal, threatening, and wrong. I'm tired of being tamed by people who won't get out of their own way and who don't embrace their own passions.

It happens in all sorts of ways. There are the men I fall for who want me to serve their passions, there are women who want to domesticate me and who want me to live up to a feminist ideal. There are men who have lost their passion and don't want to see other's passions fulfilled. There are the lovers who question passions as they threaten the possibility of their version of stability. There are those who are insecure in their lives and don't want to allow others to be secure. It goes on an on. The reasons and the causes aren't really that important. The knowledge of the process is.

I want to re-discover my passion(s) and my power. I want them to be authentic and I don't want to trade on them in order to simply find stability in my life. The life I'm living is not the life (one off the lives) that I imagined for myself when I was younger. It's not as fulfilling to me as some moments I can remember from my twenties nor is it as interesting as I can imagine it being. I need to find people who share the desire for a passionate life and surround myself with them. I need to contain the destructive force of containment and the dis-empowering voices.

That's a tall order for a Monday morning, eh?


Don't forget to check out the discussion boards. If you don't like the current discussion, start a new thread. Tell your pals about them.

I've been fiddling with the site this weekend, adding new icons, re-configuring pages, adding new content. It may be subtle, but it's all part of the effort to clean up the site, make it more accessible and to make space for new projects. New projects? What might they be? Who can say?

The front page has new content and will be a place where I show works in progress. I've updated the icons for navigation and I've added some new "old school" photos. I'm about to hit the "data" section and initiate a new correspondence project with Philip.

I had running dreams about Goddard last night -- both literally and figuratively. They were anxiety dreams. The landscape wasn't Goddard, but I knew it was. I hadn't graduated, missed my graduate presentation, and kept running around trying to file papers, complete things, etc. I think this is part of the reason that I'm re-crafting the site. I think I'm trying to shed the veil of Goddard. I think I'm trying to establish an architecture for the future.


I figured it out. I've been in the studio today and I figured it out. I've been avoiding the studio because I know it's a sham. I'm no more a "master of fine arts" now than I was before I graduated. I'm still a student. The sense of "completion" bestowed by graduation only fed my sense of inauthenticity and artistic fraud.

My last entry caused a small amount of outreach -- which is always appreciated. It's not as dark as I seemed to make it. Change is good. We can't avert our souls from the discontent of living.

I've averted myself from a lot over the past couple of years. The paradox is that I've also opened myself to a lot. I'm now sorting through the pieces and figuring out what I hold onto and what I let go of.

For example, in my professional life, I've assumed that my colleagues will be able to create their own structures and pursue meaningful work without my leadership. I'm seeing that this was a naive POV and that I have a responsibility to provide explicit structures in which people can work. The trick, of course, is to create structures that can provide SIGNIFICANT space for creativity and self-actualization.

I've spent a lot of time wondering about patriarchy (and it's equally insipid twin, matriarchy) and trying to distance myself from a patriarchal way of being. Part of my conflict has been that my communities WANT me to play a patriarchal role. I need to let go of my absolute resistance to patriarchy and understand that, like all systems of thought, patriarchy is a neutral concept. It's the use of patriarchy (and matriarchy) that matter. Like all things they can be used and abused.

I'm so European / American in my thinking, too. I want what I want and I want it presented to me. I want my desires to be fulfilled and in so many ways, the EuroAmerican Capitalist Project delivers! Meaning, however, isn't about desire. Meaning is about engagement and the production of personal pleasure.

These are all just bumps in the road, too. Transitions create vacuums and I've just gone through a major transition. it's time to re-orient, re-invent and to PAY ATTENTION to my experience. My experience will set me free.


Where to begin? It's been a few days since I've written anything substantial. I've been avoiding writing, I can feel it. There's a lot to say, a lot inside me, but I find myself shrinking from it. I find that I'm avoiding what I'm feeling and trying not to articulate my frustrations. I know that I have to face the questions and make some changes.

I had a curious conversation with a friend who's undergone tremendous changes in his life. He said that one evening he knew that his life had to change. He knew that within a month his life would be different. After a few counseling sessions, he moved out of his house, away from his family, left his job, came out, etc, etc. It's bracing to be reminded that lives change that dramatically and hopeful that it can work out for the better. I don't mean to make a parallel comparison, but am a little haunted by the conversation and, admittedly, titillated by the possibilities.

It reminds me of the recurring runaway fantasies I had before I came out. I always believed that change would be easier if I could just go somewhere I wasn't known. I didn't do it and I did re-invent my sexual identity in the context of my life. Still, I sometimes have runaway fantasies, still wonder what it would be like to start fresh somewhere else.

I know that I need to make some changes and don't quite know how to do it. I mean, I can't articulate the changes that I want to make, much less actualize them. It may be that I'm being to hard on myself, not being patient enough in listening to my thoughts. I could use some meditative practice in my life -- perhaps making this journal writing more disciplined. Yet, the depth of my questions may be too intimate for this forum. I may need to go off-line to do this meditation. It may need to take another form altogether.

Monday and Tuesday were snow days here and I was lucky to have three friends with me through the duration. It was wonderful to have a full house and to have a sense of community in my home. I know that some of what I'm feeling is a recognition of loneliness. Living alone is a lonely thing. I enjoy solitude and crafted the loneliness of my life. It's startling to realize that, in the end, I was running away from the conflicts of my family and not running toward a sustainable sense of community. I'm thinking that, absent a potential partner, I might need to recruit a room mate. [Please don't suggest a puppy or a baby.]

I also found myself at odds with my job yesterday. It's so strange how I oscillate between liking my job and feeling completely bored. Yesterday was a boring day until the end when I led a workshop on non-profit fund-raising. Of course, most of the day was sitting through rote meetings. I shouldn't complain. I also had a great lunch with a friend. Yet, the work part seems so futile.

I realize that I'm facing, in my own way, all of the frustrations of the culture. We're all going nuts right now. The sense of fear being produced by the Bush administration has us all on edge. We're either reacting as compliant drones -- buying duct tape and the like -- or souls of resistance. I think I fall in the second category, but the discourse of resistance doesn't work for me. I'm struggling to develop an authentic voice of resistance.

All of this is mediated by my self concept. I keep thinking about myself as wanting a different shape to my life and I realize that I like the safety and structure of my profession and my social position. I find it hard to to shed my own middle-class sensibility. Yet the people I admire, the people I yearn to be like have been able to transcend the middle-class sensibility that tethers me. I know that i can't escape my past, but I suspect that my past needn't contain me as much as it is.

Changes, changes...




It just started snowing here about 30 minutes ago and we already have half an inch. They're predicting that we'll get less that Philadelphia, but it looks like we're about to get a real storm.

Time to batten down. A good day for reflection.

I had a curious conversation with my parents yesterday. At the end of my father's birthday lunch, my parents, as they're wont to do, starting talking about my estranged sister. The usual trajectory of this conversation takes us to an awkward conflict, with my parents asking me to mediate the conflict within the family. I've made my position on this clear enough: I won't do it. Yet, yesterday, instead of moving the conversation in the predictable direction, my parents started talking about adopting us.

This is a big deal, mostly because my parents never talk about our adopted relationships. More surprising was that they talked about their infertility and declared that they believe that their infertility was a message from God. I'm never one to argue that I'm a gift of God, but, still, there's something unsettling about this.

First of all, it plays into the blindness of adoption. It ignores the perspective of the adopted and the birth parents. It paints the birth parents as unable, unfit without knowing their situation or acknowledging the social circumstances of pregnant young, unmarried women in the 60's. More than that, it engages a kind off fatalism that I can't acknowledge.

I've encountered this frustration with my recent class. There were three presentations by students from "traditional" and fundamentalist sects (I'm inclined to say "cults"). One was especially difficult because it was as much proselytizing as presentation. At the core, the trouble isn't with the nature off the belief or the right of the individual to hold the belief. It's that the class was about engaging ideas and fatalist creeds don't engage ideas or experience. They simply re-inscribe their own values and negate the possibilities of agency. They also, in a strange was, dismiss the mysteries of the divinity that they seek to honor.

I believe in mystery and I believe that there is a "plan" to the universe that's beyond our ability to perceive. I don't subscribe to the belief in theistic gods because the certainty of religions and divine interventions have been embraced and discarded throughout history. I don't deny the power of the metaphor of any religion. Such metaphors are an important part of the process of discerning the universe. They can be helpful strategies for people to face the uncertainty of the world, but the absolute belief in a "plan" that trickles down to the mundane details of my life seems absurd to me. The idea that we are powerless in the face of such plans simply strips us of our power to engage life. We might as well give up all our hopes and aspirations because in this model, happiness is delivered or denied. We can't subscribe to this. Work matters.

So, I realize that I have to engage fatalism and realize that, I too, am prey to it's pernicious reach. The universe is large and unknowable, but in those areas where we do have power, we must use it. We can not deny it. If we do, evil wins.

Philip: I'm a slightly hung-over, ex-party boi waking with carlos, recently de-throned of downcity, faintly snoring on the couch. hot, hot coffee. thinking of a shower, but wondering whether I can pull it off and be in CT for dad's 80th b-day lunch? hmmmmm... coffee. first priority. nothing cold. yet.


roses and such.

I got an inedible piece of chocolate, conceptual intervention into romance. funny, this love?

it arrives on a day, a cold day, a day much like any other. roses and such. inedible chocolate. I was told to take a photo of my inedible chocolate. you can, of course, cross reference it on the daily photo.

14 feb. I think.

site builder, site builder. is this more teasing? more of your sly seduction? I'm not your boi, in the physical, corporeal sense, but I am your boi, waiting, waiting for you to show your face in the ether. I want to cyber punk play with you. bend the bandwidth. get bent, be bent? it's ok to be shy of the bois in the conversation. think of it like a gay bar. shy, shy, find your seduction. make your seduction? hmmm.

time to fly the 95 corridor...

xo Pete

The dread-locked guy with the red truck is back. He parks right outside of my kitchen window and I'm not ashamed to say that I'm a little obsessed with him. He is the mysterious stranger.

The real new is that my class is done. Everyone came over to my house for dinner tonight and to finish up final project presentations. It's always exciting to see people interpret my final assignment -- a serious body of work focused on the themes of the class. The presentations are always uneven, but it's amazing to witness the surprises. There are always surprises. It's good, too, to be part of a conversation with artists -- in real time. I suppose this is a biased POV. After all, I'm the teacher and have control over the situation. Naturally, it's good for me. I hope it's good for them, too.

Teaching is such an interesting enterprise. I want to inspire a deep desire for freedom and to facilitate an access to personal agency. Yet, we've all been trained by a culture that, at best, gives lip service to personal freedom. Take, for example, this week's government advisory on terrorism. It's vague and results in a heightened sense of fear and immobility. The action steps we're told to take -- duct tape and plastic on windows -- makes no sense. Even if we could create a air tight room, it would do nothing to save us from biological weapons or radiation. It might help with chemical weapons, but that's unclear, too. What's absolutely certain is that the average room would only have 5 hours of air before it's occupants would suffocate. It's absurd, but it keeps us fearful, occupied and uncertain enough that we won't question the military adventurism of the administration. None of us are immune.

On a break between teaching and meetings, I just checked my site and the daily photo stats. I noticed that folks are starting to narrate the photos with comments. I like this!

Since I made my bold statements of yesterday, I've been surrounded by moments and feelings of change. It's so interesting the way that the Universe provides when one is open to listening.

My best friend lost his job the other day. He worked as a bartender and the bar had become a center of my social life. It wasn't always the healthiest of venues for human connection -- mired in "the regulars" and a site for not a little acting out among customer. But, hey, it is a bar. I've been weaning myself of the place for a while, but my impulses of friendship always brought me back. Now that K's no longer working there, although I feel badly for him, I feel a certain weight off my shoulders and sense the possibility for re-inventing my social scene. It's exciting.

I also awoke with a greater sense of purpose and more energy than I have in awhile. Walking to work, I realized that I've been bridling against the organization, the incursions on my time. I can see now that I've made choices as to how my time will be used and that I have to be sanguine with those choices or make other choices. On some quick reflection, I realize that the choices I've made have positioned me well. I need to take greater advantage of my position and not keep looking over the fence at the other possibilities that life offers.

I'm also aware that I can take greater control over my economic life. I've been pretty casual for a long time. I need to be strategic in how I'm economically positioning myself. Now that tuition's off my shoulders I can establish a strong cash reserve and get back to saving money. After all, that's the only way that I can gain greater freedom over my time.

Changes, changes....chain reactions!

Walking back from lunch today, it hit me.  In the instant that I turned up George Street, the thought emerged:  I want my life to be different. This may not seem like a radical statement, but it's a cumulative revelation for me.
I don't mean this in a dismissive way.  I don't mean to erase my past, to discount the good things in my life, to somehow diss my friends.  No.  I mean it in a proactive way.  I mean it to encompass the frustrations and pettiness of past social interactions; I mean it to engage my unfortunate use of caffeine, alcohol and tobacco; I mean it to embrace the work I've done to establish an art practice; I mean it to re-script the boredom of my professional life.  I want things to be different.
I know I'm responsible for making the changes; I need to do the work to imagine the shape and form of my future.  I don't take this lightly and I'm aware of Kierkegaard's warning about being drowned in "the sea of possibility." Indeed, I think I have been overwhelmed by the breadth and scope of my desire to do things, learn things, to participate.  So much so, I've been unable to do anything well and I've been unable to make commitments to those things I think are vital. I've been drowning.
Time to make course corrections.

Finally, feeling back in the pink of things. Although all the sleep over the past couple of days has me up and at 'em at 5 AM!

Last night I went to bed thinking that I'm in a rut -- and I'm waking with the same belief. After dreaming about Bill, I realize that I'm judging myself with contradictory values, though. There's the go-getter part of me who is uncomfortable with the rhythm that defines my life and the hippie who's concerned with my consumerist, careerist bent. It's a real psychic conflict and I'm certain that it's part of the obstacle I'm facing.

The dream about Bill was odd. It focused on some of my frustrations about him; the arrogance, the insensitivity, the indiscriminant use of power. I was staying in his house, in the dream, and aware of his new partner. The partner never emerged and Bill somehow disappeared. So, here I was with his stuff and my memories. I felt incredibly inadequate, like I'd not continued to grow since our parting. I was confronted with a full life and found my own to be lacking.

It's projection, of course; sour grapes about those things I lost with Bill. His lifestyle wasn't one in which I felt comfortable, so it puzzles me that I sometimes long for it. I guess I long for the security of it, the belief that I might be successful as long as I am doing things that seem successful. That's not a crack at Bill or his work, but it is a statement of values. I'm wrestling with a question about success -- trying to understand what i want to complete in my life and wondering whether the work I do matters. More than that, though, is the question about whether I'm doing enough in the realms in which I'm working.

When I'm at the office, I want to be doing other work, but when I have time, I'm not engaging in my studio practice. When I think about the office I think about all the things I should be doing, all the things I could be
doing. I wonder why I don't embrace those possibilities, why I muddle through rather than re-defining the work -- as I have in the past. I feel disconnected from it all.

It might be the winter blues, general ennui, a mild depression, or something else that's inspiring these thoughts this morning. Nevertheless, I feel the need to face them, to figure out some answers to the disconnection. I need to change the terms of the game.

I've been sick for the last 24 hrs. Starting to pick up the pieces today. Not sure how much energy I'll have for stuff... at the very least, I'll get through 3 shceduled meetings.

I hate when the physical world conspires against me.

Shirtless week is officially over.

I'm currently taking requests for other daily photo theme weeks. Don't suggest nekkid, 'cause it ain't gonna happen!

Otherwise, per usual, we're just gonna watch my hair grow. Which is a little like watching the paint dry...

[make a request...]

I was surfing last night and came across I took the "test," scoreds a "9" (10 being "straight), and made an intervention by posting a personal. This morning I awoke to this:


Hi.  My name is Philip.  I am 20 years old and I am a student in Providence, Rhode Island.  Right now I am taking a Psychology of Sexuality class and this email is a part of a research assignment I have decided to do.  I was hoping that you would be willing to help me out with my project simply by telling me what the phrase "straight acting" means to you.  Thats all.  I appreciate you taking the time to read this, and for taking the time to reply, if you choose to do so.


I responded:

Howdy Philip,

I should warn you, I'm teaching a course on identity and my ad on is kinda of a conceptual intervention. I stumbled across the site and took the test. I was really surprised when I scored a "9" as I don't subscribe the the straight acting thing at all. I decided to post and ad in order to invite folks to my web site -- which is a project that explores ideas about identity.

So, what does "straight-acting" mean to me?

On the surface it seems to connote men who have sex with men but who present socially with the affect of straight men. When I think of it more it is clearly a technology of sexism and heterosexism --- that is it operates on and reproduces irrational fear about the feminine, especially in relation to the emasculation that is feared as a consequence of being labeled or perceived as feminine. In many ways, I perceive "straight-acting" as a reaction too "queer" and the liberatory implications of queer theory. "Straight-acting" is a mechanism that is intent on reproducing systems of thought and social control that are intent on containing and, historically, eliminating homosexuals from the culture.

If the idea of "straight-acting" is taken seriously and literally, it's language that ultimately is self defeating. If, however, it's seen ironically, it can be a mechanism for appropriating masculinity and inverting the power relationships that already contain queers. That's how I see it. Men who suck cock are inherently queer, looking masculine, hyper masculine, "straight" begins the process of queering the idea of "straight." It also gives straight guys the thought that wearing earrings is a "cool" thing that doesn't make them "queer." Dream on.

cheers, Pete

Now, the real question is how a nancy-boi like me could score a "9." I think the test is rigged to make straight boys look like big girls!


It snowed here today and I've decided to forgo my usual Friday night habits and stay home this evening. It's funny how excited I am about a night at home.

I'm thinking about authenticity tonight. It's a result of my class this morning. The course is about identity formation and we've been talking about the ways that identity is affected by media. It started me wondering about the site and the ways that I've positioned this project as an intervention into the construction of queer identity. it won't be a shock to anyone that the daily photos are about playing with the physical emblems of queer men. I suppose it has me wondering whether those photos represent me or if they are simply me representing culture, representing my travels through gay male culture.

It's funny how people react to my different costumes -- and, yes, the beards and haircuts are nothing more than costumes. I don't mean this in a dismissive way, rather I mean to state the obvious. They construct a physical image which speak to different pockets of desire. I've traveled in these niche communities, met some amazing people, and authentically tried to find a place. Yet, I find myself, tonight, considering that in none of those travels have I found a sense of authentic community.

This might be an unrealistic expectation, but I don't think it's my personal expectation. I think it is powerfully about the roots, the foundation of consumerism. yes, in some ways, I've been consuming culture. Again, I think we all do it. Most, however, don't do it as actively as I have these last couple of years.

I also found myself considering the other places I travel. I had a moment walking home this afternoon when I thought about what I had in my courier bag. I realized that I had my course reader and then I thought, "why'd I bring that with me? We've finished the reading for the term. I don't need it." Then I thought, "Oh, well if it's in the house, people might look at it and see that I'm a teacher." Then, I thought, "What's that about? Am I playing teacher? Am I surrounding myself with the trappings of the classroom, wearing my identity through the objects I keep?" And, then, it hit me.

I've never felt authentic in the class room. Indeed, I have always feared that I might be playing teacher -- or that this is how others might see me. yet, today, and for this whole winter session, I've felt at the top of my game in the classroom. I've felt like I actually DO know what I'm doing. It's a transcendent moment. Even so, my old considerations, fears about authenticity remain.

I suppose this isn't unusual for people who have considered their sense of entitlement -- or who were never allowed to develop a sense of entitlement. What does entitle me to be a teacher? Which raises some interesting questions about this site in general. Have I set myself up as a teacher? Is the intervention a sense of entitlement? Or have I, as Catherine has said, made my education transparent for anyone who chances upon it? I'd like to think that Catherine's offered me a clue to my intuitive practice.

I need to be attentive to this idea. I need to remember that my education is only beginning.


I had dinner with Tyler and returned to my office to find an official University memo. A girl died in her dorm room last night -- no sign of foul play, no unusual signs of any kind. The RI Coroner hasn't had time to determine the cause of death.

A reminder of how fragile life is.

I hurt my foot yesterday and decided to stay home, off my feet and on extra Motrin. After a few hours of therapy, it's feeling better. I've used the time well, writing memos, catching up with correspondence, and watching movies. I caught THE DOE BOY (love = James Duval) on Sundance and started thinking about coming-of-age stories.

Coming-of-age stories are compelling because they reveal a moment of development in which we have no choice except to face change. We return to these stories as adults because they remind us of this transformational moment. As adults we've taught ourselves to control growth and transformation -- turning off a dimension of being in favor of stability. I'm not knocking this, but I am questioning whether stability is a healthy goal.

I'm also wondering whether we're not always coming-of-age, always engaged in an inevitable process of transformation and change. I think a lot of the angst that I've experienced over the past few years is connected to my resistance to the changes and transformation that I'm undergoing. For all my talk of self-invention, I'm not so good with fundamental change -- but at the same time I'm not able to close myself off to it either. It's the seeping change -- resisted but insistent -- that forces me to confront my feelings.

I'd like to be more honest about this, more connected with my process, more self aware about the implications of my intuition. I also like to be in communication with others who are concerned with these matters.

I just got home from work. We had a dinner for a society of fellows -- students who have received a fellowship from us. Several alumni of the program were invited to join us and say a few words about their experience -- both as fellows and after graduation. Several said really inspiring things and a few gave very dark visions of the world. The funny thing is that the community embraced the darkness and were wholly unable to see the possibility in the world.

I think the pervasive culture of fear may be dooming a generation. Those of us who are older and have some perspective hope, suspect, even know that the horror that is the Bush administration will pass. We will emerge from the stupidity, xenophobia, and hatred of this president. yet, we forget that those who are in their formative years are being shaped by the fear and uncertainty of the moment.

These students, among the most promising in the world, are cowering in the fear that they will not succeed. They are palpably afraid that they will not be able to support themselves, achieve anything, contribute to society, or meet the immense expectations placed on their shoulders. They present as if the weight of the world is on them.

I'm, of course, reminded of myself. Perspective is a wonderful thing.

Well, it's Monday morning! Looking at my calendar, it seems like it's going to be a busy day. I like busy days.

I found this quotation the other day and it's affected me:

"You can no more win a war than you can win an earthquake." -- Jeanette Rankin, first woman in the US House of representatives, 1917-1919, 1940-1942, (R-Montana)

I'm reminded that the trajectory of American foreign policy is an extension of the last few century's of European foreign policy and find myself wondering how the script from which we are acting might be re-written. To that end, I've created yet another discussion board on war and peace. Link is to the right and below.

peace and war


Who's been wasting time this afternoon?

Truthfully, I've been glued to the TV, watching the coverage of the lost Columbia. Mindless distractions are just a way of coping, I guess...

At least, my inner gay man is cool....

You're Rufus!
Congrats, you've got a little Rufus in you! Raised
on opera and his mother's show-biz sensibility,
Rufus is a master songwriter and performer.
Though prone to excess and moodiness, his off-
kilter sense of humor and fashion and his
radiant presence make him a joy to be around.
Don't be ashamed; if this still small voice
speaks up within you (with a bit of a slur and
a lisp), listen up! He could make you a star.

Who's your inner gay man?
brought to you by Quizilla

I'm supposed to be at a conference on trangender studies in the academy, but I overslept and feel awkward about barging in late. Usually this wouldn't bother me, but this conference seems really rigid -- I got like a million emails telling me the conference was over-subscribed and that I wasn't allowed to wear hair gel or cologne. I try to be respectful in the world and to honor the needs and safety of communities and individuals, yet, in this case, I think I feel like I've been subtly told that I'm not welcome. It's odd how exclusion reproduces exclusion. Anyway, here I am, thinking about my place in the world -- which might, too, be the message that I've been sent.

I've been thinking a lot about privilege -- especially straight white male privilege. I don't mean this in a shrill-voice, bashing sort of way. I mean, I find myself thinking about the duality of straight white male privilege. Disclosure time: off course I qualify for two out of three -- male and white -- and am thinking about my "training" for the third. I think these ruminations are coming from the course that I'm teaching -- which draws on a lot of queer theory. I was walking back from class yesterday thinking that I want to write a book titled, "How Queer Theory is Liberating for Everyone." And, that's it. I'm thinking a lot about the ways that liberating, disorienting theory is good for everyone. I'm thinking about the ways that privilege is just as much a trap as oppression. (Clearly, power makes privilege "easier" to endure!)

All this of course isn't about the "other;" it's about me and the discomfort that I feel in my work, life and in the institutions in which I'm currently living. I'm feeling profoundly at odds with the role that I'm playing the roles that I'm being asked to play. I understand that we all live within a system and that one has to be able to "work" that system, but I'm concerned that even in an ethical use of my power that there is great risk. I'm not sure what it is that I'm risking, maybe my soul, and this, too, is disorienting.

Last night, I went to a bar and everyone with whom I spoke seemed to be feeling some version of what i was feeling, of what I am writing. There was this need to escape, to relax, to step outside of the stress of daily life. It's so very odd to me that at the end of the day we admit that people are hard and mean and greedy and the cause of distress. Does that mean that we (I) are (am) hard and mean and greedy and the cause of distress? What is it about conflict that seems to define human interactions? Why do we reproduce it when we know it causes us so much pain? Why do I reproduce it when I know it's toll on me?

Of course, of course real, deep, meaningful learning is always a painful process. Yet, I'm drawing a distinction between the distress of disorientation and the pain of malice. The pain inflicted on us is so facilely reproduced and redistributed -- whether it be through abuse, violence, on the one hand, or smaller abuses of power and position, on the other. I simply want to find a way to stop us for a moment, ask us to reflect on this cycle and re-boot. I want us to see that we're suffering from a social virus that's working to erode our humanity. I'm amazed that American/European society, so apt to fall back on the discourses of Christianity (supposedly informed by Christian love) is so enamored of the Old Testament vengeful G*d. All of this seems too informed by the creed of "an eye for an eye."

Which brings me back to the empathy I feel for straight white men. Of all people, they are the least likely to be able to stop and reflect. They're trained, coerced by our discourses to refrain from this sort of reflection. It's a reminder of why I am thankful that I am gay. I'm thankful that the shit that informs coming out, being queer, etc forced me to stop, to reflect and to consider my privilege and position in the world. But for the grace of G*d...

I am trying, in this jumbled reflection, trying to define my next course. I'm suddenly aware of the open horizon ahead of me. Graduation has left a gap in my life, revealed a structure that's defined my life. Graduate school supplanted romantic relationships in the use of my time. In the past, a string of relationships provided a priority in how I structured my life. I made a conscious choice to step out of that trajectory and to engage in a new direction when I decided to apply to Goddard. yet, I simply replaced one object of attention with another. Now, I find myself having to consider how I establish priorities internally, subjectively rather than externally. It's good to be able to see this, yet it's a challenge to imagine new metaphors of priority, a new way of being. My impulse the past few weeks is to act on the lifting of my self-imposed moratorium on romantic relationships, to simply go out and meet a new guy and settle back into domestic tranquility (or at least regularity). Yet, that would be a step backwards. If I am to have another "partnership" with a man, it needs to be different. It needs to be based on wrestling together with these questions of being and becoming. It needs to be, in part defined, by a commitment to changing the forces of violence and pain in the world. Does such a man exist? Am I up to the task?

Last night, writing a quick reply to Ethan, I off-handed wrote that I was going out to find "a conversation that I've not yet imagined." It is this unimagined conversation of which I'm writing. How is it that we can step out of the safety of what we know to consider really changing?

All of this is also predicated by the conversation Sean and I had over dinner on Thursday. It's remarkable that I'm meeting / corresponding with men who are asking questions about the nature of connection and meaning in the world. It's odd that they all seem to be younger than me. I wonder if I was asking these questions in my early twenties? I suppose I was, but I think I lost track of them -- maybe because I didn't have the resources to sustain the conversation? Maybe it's because I was scared to death of connecting with older men. Yet, I wonder whether I simply fell into the discourse of blindness? How does one sustain reflective practice when it's easier to submit to the discourse? It's easier to play the game, go out on Friday, drink a little too much and re-group (if only for a moment) before returning to the fray.

Sigh. I seem to be going in a circle.

I won't lose the question, though. How can I work to sustain a reflective practice. How I do I find accomplices, an accomplice who will be (a) partner(s) in this work? There's the internally-driven imperative!

See, reflection is worth the work!


Re-loaded oldschool photos. New link by daily photos...

Also added an article to the interdisciplinary board. The queer board also has some interesting discussion starting. Go post reactions! Post
them now!

I'm starting to remember why I got burned out in my work. I've been coming home this week totally exhausted. I think it's the constant code-shifting, the continual responding to the needs and concenrs of others. I need to remember to contain my sphere and not undertake the crises of others -- lest I become overwhelmed.

So, the **speech** was rhetorically well-written. Yet, I find myself wondering about the shifty eyes. Was is it that the white guys in the administration all have shifty eyes? Why do they all look like naughty frat boyz who are trying to pull one over on the dean? Why do I feel such deep embarrassment about the leaders of my country?

The American experiement believes in the people to make the right choice. I pray that the American People will become fatigued by the idiocy of the American President and vote him out. We're seeing signs that the administration-concocted distration of Iraq is beginning to unravel and that the economy won't move until this is resolved. I just pray that resolution isn't a quick and bloody war. Americans, if nothing else, are not supposed to initiate war.

Does it bother anyone else that, everytime he opens his mouth, the American President sounds like a spoiled 13-year old?

I'm praying that his "handlers" have vetted the State of the Union address...

so, how does one become a Canadian citizen?


Okay, I'm going to try this again. I've set up two new discussion groups. The first is an attempt to start a conversation about interdisciplinary art and the second is intended as a forum to discuss queer art. Links to the boards are in the right side menu (some worm seems to be hitting my server at the moment, and I can't embed links...)

I've tried this before without great success, but I'm really interested in gathering a community that is interested in these ideas. Through my site and through my experience in the Goddard College MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts program, I've been fortunate to meet some incredible people and to have some really important correspondences. It's been my hope for sometime that I might be able to introduce some of my private correspondents and some of my far-flung friends. So, I'm gonna give it another try. Please give it a chance, eh?

Oh yeah, please feel free to share the links to these sites with others who you think might enjoy these conversations!!

I'Ve been thinking a lot about desire and pleasure. In my final weeks at Goddard I came to see that way that desire is a trap --- and that the way I'd been using desire as a generator of content for my work was embroiling me in a cycle of nostalgia (for a past that never existed) and grieving (for what I never, could never possess). I don't think that I'm the only one who falls into this trap, it is a mechanism of romance, after all. It's also a technology of commerce. Matt introduced me to the term "fag-stream" yesterday and I think, this process is intimately tied to the preponderance of the "fag-stream."

I've been thinking about M. Foucault's idea that queers should be imagining, inventing, and practicing new mechanics of pleasure. It's not an easy idea for me to embrace. There's too much puritan, New England work ethic, too much cultural disapproval of sinful pleasure for me to easily jump to a rigorous practice of pleasure. So, I've been mulling it. Then, last night, walking, bottles of wine in my arms, it hit me. The practice of pleasure isn't internally directed. It's about using individual agency to create new pleasure in the world. It's an external imperative.

Today, I find myself wondering what might happen if we re-framed our sense of meaning and purpose from self-protection and individualism to being agents of pleasure (and kindness). I don't mean this in a religious way, I'm not talking about the Christian theology of love. I'm talking about pleasure. I'm asking what might happen if we practiced pleasure, constructed the enacting of pleasure as a discipline.

The converse of this principle is scary to contemplate, but I wonder if we aren't, in this moment, intent on the converse; if we aren't using our agency to take pleasure from others, if we aren't using our agency to propagate pain and fear.

Clearly, I need to mull this some more.


goddard redux

So, I graduated a week ago. The graduation ceremony was casual -- with only nine of us graduating. Each student was presented by their last advisor and then had the chance to make short remarks. My advisor, Catherine, had to leave early to catch a plane, so Pam, my second reader, read a letter from Catherine. I've been thinking about whether I would add it to the journal and have come to realize that it's too wonderful a letter not to include, to close the circle of my Goddard education. So, here it is:

January 19, 2003

Love letter from one queer to an other queer.

Dear Peter:

You told me once a man said to you it's not easy being Peter Hocking's lover, then he left, or you left. Anyway it was over, and maybe you didn't actually tell me, maybe I read it. Anyway, it's not easy being Peter Hocking's advisor either, though do not mistake me it has been a pleasure -- courtly, confusing, circuitous, contemplative, and also, to get off the us, leisurely, patient and stubborn -- that I would not have missed for the world. You're a painter who loves the bodies of men, or rather, you always loved the bodies of men and during your time at Goddard you taught yourself to paint their bodies and yours. You're a writer who loves speculation, debate and the slowest possible route to the end. Which is to say that both your painting and your writing are seductions, both are fantastically erotic, and both you have chosen to make even more erotic not to mention irresistably seductive by putting them on-line and in so doing putting yourself on the line.

Proceed directly to Read.

There are a lot of secret spaces architected into pedagogy, but you've made the education of Peter Hocking open to all who want to see or who simply happen upon it. You've made the fashioning of yourself transparent. You've understood that fashioning to be your practice and your practice to be your ethics.

This behavior is not normal. This behavior is thoroughly, thoroughly queer. You've gotten out of your skin, taken queer out of body and made it practice.


P.S. Don't worry. I like you just the way you are.

Thank you, Catherine!


re-aligning to the future

Ethan makes an interesting link to my last entry. Funny how syncronicity works.....

So, I'm up and about on the first Saturday in three years that I'm not preoccupied with school. It's so odd not to have to be "working toward a packet." It's a relief, to be sure, but also a little debilitating. I look around and wonder where to start? It's been so easy to ignor so much the past three years, to have a clear, unwavering priority. Now, I'm feeling torn between the studio and the vast list of projects that have accumulated around the house -- painting the bathroom, fixing the kitchen cabinets, getting new blinds for the living room, etc, etc. It's a bit overwhelming.

Yet, this is it, isn't it? This is what the living do. This is Foucault's question about the aesthetics of life. It's not enough to be busy, harkens Thoreau, the real question relates to what we're busy at. Overwhelming on this gray morning.

Of course, I'm partly feeling the the challenge of a new beginning. I'm in a space where I have to make choices about the next step in my life. The impulse is to strip out my house, go on a spending spree and pretend that I've moved into a new space! I want to physically transform my environment, strip away the past and construct the future.

I suppose this is a good impulse, in it's own way. Yet I'm reminded not to throw the baby away with the bath water. Making choices about paring down my life is a harder task than just starting fresh. Still, I have a hankering to make a big trash pile for the garbage collectors! I also feel my credit card burning a hole in my pocket... These are not good impulses!

Bill wrote me yesterday. It's odd to hear from him at the conclusion of the program which our break up precipitated. I guess it closes the circle.


I just got out of class.  The reading was “The Queer Politics of M. Foucault” by David Halperin as well as Pierre Hadot’s “Reflections on the Idea of the ‘Cultivation of the Self’.” After class I chatted with a few students and articulated what I’d intuited in class – that my students had avoided a conversation about queer issues by trying to find other metaphors for discussion the philosophic structures of the text.


I realize that I have to approach texts and learning at the point which my students entered, but I was interested in several student’s observation that we avoided the queer content.  More than that, I was interested in their understanding that they’d avoided bringing it up and that it was an illustration of Foucault’s ideas of the mechanics of power. 


I think I was able to establish an understanding (rudimentary) of Foucault’s ideas of the architecture of power and the efficacy of the self as a means of subverting power.  I’m not sure whether I was able to facilitate the conversation well enough, though, for students to understand the strategic possibilities of self-cultivation, of the self engaging in it’s own construction. 


Back at the office I started to relate my classroom experience with the task in front of me:  articulating my vision of education for social change.  Certainly, allowing students to steer the conversation from queer identity to benign metaphors for identity was in the spirit of progressive education, however, I’m pondering my acquiescence to the dominant heterosexism of the class room.  It’s not like they didn’t know these topics were coming.  Yet, I allowed them to stay safe.  I suppose next week that’s less possible and I do have another chance to engage the subject. 


Still, I’m pondering the place of a point of view, of content in the progressive classroom.  Certainly, around contentious issues, there needs to be a place for establishing a point of view and expressing it. Yet, the process through which people find their way may need to be the choice I have to make.  Self discovery is the persuasive element of transformation.  I certainly don’t want to cultivate disciples.

I'm feeling more hopeful this morning. I think my frustration last night was / is due to the cold. I just hate the containment of it! I hate the way that it defines our lives and makes us hunker down. Regardless, I find myself looking forward to the day!

Honestly, I think I'm decompressing from Goddard and trying to find my way back into Brown. Goddard has been a persuasive structure for the past three years and suddenly the motivation for my "work" needs to be internally driven. I no longer have to "report" on my progress and that both a relief and a scary proposition. I'm also finding that I feel the need to shift the discourse of this site from graduate school to somethign larger -- not that I haven't been broad in my definition of this site before. I guess it's more a feeling that the "rules" I set for myself in the site's construction -- that it use free and non-technical (easy) resources -- no longer apply. I'd like to keep it's construction "democratic", but at the same time I'd like to push the agenda of community.

I've met so many interesting people through this project and I'd really like it if tthe site might connect some of the like-minded folks. I'm not sure that this strategy will work -- most folks in the world seem to be shy -- but I think I will try discussion boards again. Yet, I'm not sure that's enough.

Pondering more....

Yes, exhausting. Ever feel like no matter how much good work you do there will always be more? Ever feel like now matter how much good work you do the universe will always push back? Ever feel like the environment will make you crazy? Yup. exhausting.

So, I gave a solid lecture in class today, had a series of solid, proactive meetings and still I have a stack of papers to which I need to respond, my house is a mess, there are about a million phone calls to return, and the stack in my bathroom is frozen. This means, of course, that no water will drain from the toilet, tub, or sink. I've tried all the tricks that I've used in the past, but it's too damn cold to work. So, I'll crank the heat and keep the door between the studio and garage open hoping that I can raise the temp those oh so critical degrees. Thank god the other toilet is on another stack! (Keeping fingers crossed). I guess I can go a couple of days without a shower...

Why is home ownership so difficult?

Maybe, I'm jumping back into the world too quickly and I didn't learn well enough the lessons of slowness. The pace of sabbatical becomes a dimmer feeling, almost a dream in my recollection. I'm allowing too many external factors define my sense of self; allowing too many interuptions to define my life. I have got to set better boundaries.

I forgot how tiring work can be. It's not that I'm complaining. It's more that I'm remembering that being focused on the various concerns of others doesn't leave a lot of emotional energy to do my own work.

I rather like being back at work and am genuinely interested in the questions that we're facing in thinking about the future of the Center. I'm intrigued that my suggestion that I might lay out my commitment to education for social change garnered as much enthusiasm as it has. Now, I have to actually pull something together. There's a lot of literature to review... There's a lot of recollecting to be done. I have to encapsulate in two workshops my pedagogical philosophy. It's a worthy challenge, but a little daunting. And the time-line's a killer.

Guess what you'll be reading for the next week or so?


graduation chronicle



Transcribed on Tuesday, 21 January

I made my presentation today.  I read the “preface” and the “another context” section.  It was a little long, but I got a good reception.  Janice reminded me that I was able to keep folk’s attention and that very few people walked out.  I suppose that’s a good thing and might balance my fears that I didn’t appropriately edit.


Dorick and Doug commented that I took greater chances with the presentation than I had in previous presentations.  I think they mean that I took more intimate risks, made greater personal revelation.  I replied that it was easy – I am leaving!  I wonder, though, whether that’s just another dodge.  No, I know I was dodging.  I am a more transparent person and I do take greater intimate risks than when I enter4ed the program.


I wonder whether there are disciplines that I need to undertake to maintain this kind of transparency?  I wonder, too, if it’s not more a by-product of sabbatical than of the program? I’ve noticed that I’m suddenly concerned with who reads my site – now that I’m back at work.  Where does that fear come from?  It’s not a good sign that I care about the “appropriate” again.


I’m excited about being done!  It also feels odd and provokes some anxiety!  It might be the cold.  I feel exposed and fearful.  I wish I could just get on the road tomorrow and retreat to the security of my house.  More than that, I want the security off moving onto the next project, the next body of work.  It seems so strange to be in this place and not to be scheming, not to be making the plan.  Yet, on Monday, I will walk away from this place and not have the plan in my hand.  I won’t have a sense of returning.  Who knows if I ever will?


II feel a little lonely tonight.  It’s one of those life moments in which it seems like I should be with someone, that someone should be sharing it with me.  I know that I have friends here and more coming tomorrow, but it’s a deeper sense than that.  This place has always forced me to consider how I exist as an individual, and on of the answers is that I act independently.  That scares me sometimes and tonight is such a moment.  Again, it might be the sub-zero cold talking…




Transcribed on Tuesday, 21 January

I wrote some of this to the blog, but I don’t know if it loaded.  Ah, the problem of public, out-of-date computers!!  Regardless, I’m at Charlie O’s – having spent the early evening at Goddard.  It was good to be there.  It’s funny, though, to enter in the middle of a residency, to be both the anticipated friend and the mysterious interloper.  In the first, it was good to be told that my presence mattered.  That’s a gift that I sometimes neglect to give.  In the second, it was odd to feel excitement for those just entering the program.  I didn’t meet many new folks, but those that I did seemed filled with hope and excitement.  I wanted to connect with them, to know about their work, their hopes.  It reminded me of how much I love to teach.  It also reminded me of the power of RESIDENCY.


I’m excited about my RISD class and thrilled with the students in it, but in that context I feel like I only get to superficially connect with them.  There’s not enough time to really engage them in their work because I’m so busy trying to convey the content of the class. I’m thinking that I need to reinstate the weekly dinners in the course. It’s a huge commitment – and causes havoc in balancing my responsibilities as a teacher and an administrator.  Like all things, I wish I could better control the pace of the institutions around me.  If not control it, tame it…


I keep thinking about our staff retreat the other day, too, and the resistance of some of my colleagues to the practice of progressive pedagogy.  I’m not sure that’s completely fair, but the desire for authority and the safety of structure was startling.  I find it hard when people articulate a desire to be working toward another’s vision and idea of success.  I also know that I need to be present to the needs and interests of my colleagues.  I know that I need to do more articulation of my values regarding progressive pedagogy.


I’m also astounded by the dualism of people when it comes to different groups of learners.  I need to figure out a way to engage the binary that’s been created between community and university.  I suppose, for too long, I’ve ignored the opposition.  I’ve chosen to be comfortable embracing the needs of both sides of the opposition, not seeing how dissing one will elevate the other.  My loyalty, of course, lies with the community, but I’ve chose education for social change as my means for creating change.  I also locate the university within the community and try not to valorize or denigrate any one institution, association or cluster of folks who make up our society.


How do we heal the divides that so many are intent on making?  How do we create an argument for a holistic approach to social change?  The binary only serves to reproduce and entrench existing power structures and gives those with an imbalance of power the opportunity to dodge accountability.  It also allows those who abuse power, regardless of the scope of their power, the ability to hide behind a veneer of powerlessness.


I need to think about my language, my approach and bearing towards these questions.  I have intuitively solved them for myself; I have a discourse through which I understand them.  The discourse, however, is perceived as elitist.  I can’t fall into that trap!  I can’t waste energy in a self-defeating game that’s only designed to contain a vision of justice and change.  I can’t let the work be reduced to a comfortable, empty common denominator!


I'm back. It's over. The past 24 hrs have been AMAZING. I feel really good about graduation, leaving Goddard, and taking the first step into the next stage of my life!! There's a lot to say, a lot to write. I'm exhausted right now. Its a good tired, but I'm not sure that I can pull my thoughts together.

I'm especially happy about what I was able to say when I accepted my diploma. We all had 5 minutes to speak and I think I did a good job at speaking to the various audiences in attendance. I really wanted to speak to the students who are in the program, to encourage them to be proactive in fighting for the highest values of the program. We fight against so much in this world, it's important to remember that there are values worth fighting for. I think the progressive theory and practice of the MFA-IA program, of Goddard are worth a lot of energy and attention. More than that, they need to be attended to.

I am too tired to pull together my notes, to organize my thoughts. I think it's time to give myself a break, time to gather energy for the coming day.

Computer access has been a problem. I'mworking on a dinasaur of a Gateway as I write this. The keyboardis farfrom elegantin it's design.  Just another reminderof my privilege and goodfortune, I suppose. I've been writing long handand will transcribe those thoughtwhen I return to the world of laptops and managable keyboards.  I feel like I'm writing on a teletype!
Anyway,my graduate presentation was swell and I'm waiting for Providence folks to arrive tonight.  The big event is tomorrow.  I can't wait to have the piece of paper in my hand!

THURSDAY, 16 JANUARY, 9:02 PM Made it to Goddard with little effort; a lovely ride, actually, with open skies and an awesome sunset. Good hotel room, too. It's funny to be here, to be entering a residency half-way through, to be both an anticipated arrival and a mysterious interloper. I'm overwhelmed by the affection people have shown me and elated to know that my presence here has mattered. People keep asking for summary statements, declaimations of my readiness to leave. It feels less like an ending, though. In the midst of it, it feels very liberating. I know I'm on the verge of some statement about new beginning, unexplored terrains and I promise that I won't go there. I suppose I'm trying to say that I feel rather balanced about the whole affair. I'm happy to be here, delighted to see people, but content in having accomplished what I set out to do. My work, my competion of a program doesn't seem worthy of celebration, yet the people, the relationships I've established do. I'm also enchanted by the few new people that I've met, perhaps, even, jealous that I'm not going to be able to engage them in a meaningful way. I'm excited to hear about there dreams and the dreams that this place inspires. Whether I've actualized all that I imagined during my residencies seems irrelevant in a way. That I was able to become inspired, excited, engaged while here seems the point. I felt the same in the class room this morning, at RISD, and am excited to recognize my passion for teaching. I think it got lost in the quagmire that brown can be; certainly in the hassles of administration and enabling others to teach. i have to remember this: I'm an educator and I can't let others' fear and loathing of education get me down.

Lots of people to thank... Acknowledgements page has been added to the portfolio. Which makes it DONE!

Now, to deliver it....

they say it's your birthday

It's live:

Well, it's my birthday and I'm a little overwhelmed by the lovely birthday wishes that I've received. Thanks everyone!!! The most evocative came from Ethan. I wish I were half as thoughtful and artist as he is...

I bought myself a birthday present, too. I just registered a domain name -- In a few days it should be up and running. No more clumsy answers when people ask me for my URL -- "er, uh, eh, well, it's a Tripod site and it's a little, give me that cocktail napkin." Nope, from now on it's "You can find my stuff at" Clean, simple, perfect.

The new daily photo links seem to be working, too. At least, I'm starting to get hits and responses again. It's nice to know that people are engaging with this conceptual little project. It makes it seem real again.

As to birthday celebrating, I'm trying to keep it low-key this year. Thirty-seven, if I have anything to do with it, is going to be about enjoyment, living, and as little drama as possible. I'm probably cursing myself for saying that, but I intend to face the stuff that comes my way and to avoid other folks' shit. Life's too short to waste it chasing your tail! (Did I just write that? Yikes with the cliches!) Regardless, I took the day off and my itinerary includes a short trip to the mall, a matinee and dinner with an old friend. I plan to be home early and bright-eyed and bushy-tailed for my re-emergence into the work scene tomorrow!

Speaking of work, there's a lot to be written about -- and I have been writing, long-hand, about it. It's freaky returning to work after a sabbatical. In short, I feel like I've had this life-changing experience and the world has proceeded according to manufacturer's directions. I need to change the expectations of me because I can't return to being the person I was before the leave! More soon...undoubtedly!

new images

Well, after months of feeling jerked about by Ofoto, I finally changed servers for the daily photo project. For efficiency's sake, I've created two galleries. The first is the whole project -- all fifteen and a half months of them! The second is a current gallery -- which holds the newest photos. The current gallery should make downloading faster for folks who only want to see the recent photos. There are also links in the right side menu...

It's an open gallery adn anyone should be able to open it and link to it. Now, maybe, people will be able to see this project.


Well, the beard is gone. I was toying with growing it longer, but realized that it's not how I see myself. Its karma was also tied into the sabbatical -- I last shaved the day before my sabbatical started. It's time to move into the future.

I'll probably take some shit for shaving, but that's OK. Beards are great and I'm looking forward to having one again. If it were all white or all dark I'd probably keep it. I'm just not crazy with the beagle-like patches of white, brown and red... Maybe when it's whiter I'll go for the long beard! hehehehe

Besides, having the same look is so boring. Nt to mention, everyone needs a hobby.

As I write, I'm also printing the color plates for my hard copy, archival portfolio. They look pretty good, but they remind me that I should be making more prints and hawking them to galleries.

Yesterday, I did send a proposal to show the Biological Father work to the Rhode Isladn Foundation Gallery, but I was informed by their curator that they've changed their focus and are now doing four thematic group shows each year. This means that there's a slim chance that my work MIGHT fit into a call for submissions sometime in the next few years.
Of course, it's all good that the Foundation should focus their agenda, but it's one of the few accessible, public galleries in the state. I need to do more research on showing in Rhode Island, but the truth is that I need to explore the possibilities beyond my (the biggest) little community.

If you're reading this and you know of an art space that would be interested in this quirky queer boi's work, mail me. Mail me now!

First day back at the Swearer Center. Odd. It's funny to feel like no time had passed but that a whole world had happened. It was quiet, too, which made it strange and made it seem that my presence wasn't necessary.

I went to the inauguration of Providence's new mayor. It's funny to live in the only major US city with a gay mayor and to have that fact ignored in the remarks made about and by him. It's especially odd because he's hung his administration on his promise to be the mayor who honors diversity. Race and sexuality make such jittery bed fellows.

Not sure what to do now.

Gina's here and we took photos for her book!! She's hot!

Scrap-book time:

I love Jonathan Cainer:

Friday, 3rd January 2003 CAPRICORN
Perhaps you have forgotten the promises you made for yourself so long ago the things you swore you would change as soon as you could. They though, have not forgotten you. You are being granted an exceptional opportunity to start doing things differently. You really can now clear the decks and begin afresh. Dont fear or resent any of the change that seems to be making its way into your world. Already, you have come a long way. Soon, you will travel even further. Just trust that somehow, this is all part of a process designed to bring out the very best in you.

And, this comes hours before my first business meeting in 3 months....

Here's what I was doing 16 January's ago...


Ethan found the photo when he was looking through my books. It was just stuck in amongst the volumes... Ah, it takes me back.

This is going to seem obvious, but it comes from the MFA scales falling from my eyes. I make art from my life. Not from parts or dimensions of my life but from the whole thing.

I've been thinking of myself too monocularly. I've been parsing my experience and my so-called identity. Life's bigger than that, more interesting. It's funny how this seems so clear and so new to me. I suppose I fell prey to a problem of the exotic, the outsider and tried too hard to push back.

I remember my early days at Goddard and the anger that it raised in me. I've been trying to think about my experience as a student in an "alternative" educational model. I'm not ready to pass judgement on the experience or yet able to place my experience in context. I do wonder though about the human impulse to create hierarchies. At Goddard this is critiqued (even though critique is frowned upon) and there is a ethos of openness. Yet, in many ways, Goddard isn't all that much more open than any school -- the orthodoxy is simply closer to my own values. I'm wondering whether this isn't simply another kind of trap? I certainly find myself chafing at the edges of my education and wondering what's on the other side of those edges.

Some might say that this is a good thing, that I should be aware of the boundaries of my education and curious about transcending them. I'm worried though that I've been cheated in some way. I'm not sure what this means, but I find myself curious about how I would feel if I'd gone to a mainstream university for an MFA. Would I feel the same suspicion that I could have done it on my own? That may seem arrogant and that's not my intention. I'm simply wondering about the shape of education and the way that structures our perception. It's a sobering thought as I prepare to re-enter the classroom.

I just returned from celebrating Xmas at my folk's and now I'm waiting for Ethan to arrive.

I've been making paintings based on drawings I found in an old sketchbook. I decided to dig through college boxes while at my parent's house and found a trove of old drawings and paintings that can feed this process. There's something I love about my old vision feeding my new vision. It's also fascinating to see where my current work is grounded in the ideas and process of the past. Kinda scary that after 20 years I'm still seeing structure in the same way... Well, time to unpack the drawings!





The sabbatical's over and Ethan's packing up. It's been a good holiday and a good break from the world, but I am ready to re-enter. It's going to be a busy month -- returning to work, teaching, graduation, my birthday, and the usual wear and tear. If nothing else, it will be a month of transitions.

I haven't made any resolutions and I'm not about to start now. I do have a better sense of the trajectory that I want my life to follow, a sense of what I want to accomplish in the coming months and years. I feel centered, relaxed, rested. It's a good way to approach new beginnings.

OK, I've added another iteration to the another context section of my portfolio. Whether I like it or not, this puppy's done.

Oh yeah, it's the second half of the dialogue so scroll half-way down if you've already read it.

We went to see Bowling for Columbine the other day and I've been thinking about Michael Moore's question regarding violence in America.

We're not a very trusting people and have been taught to expect the worst. If not the worst, then we've been taught to theorize how it might have been worse... I think Marilyn Manson was right. We are a society manipulated by fear and released by consumption.

Moore's question is: why?

Well, I think for most of our history we were transgressors -- pushing against the European establishment. We felt constantly in danger of being re-claimed by the aristocratic / monarchic system. When quite sudddenly the European hegemony self-destructed and the US found itself on top of the heap, we changed our appproach and actions but not our assimptions. We're now the most powerful people in the history of the planet and neurotic / paranoid as well. It's a bad combination.

Resolutions: tiime to work against our fear and paranoia, time to think about each of our purchases!

Happy Boxing Day!

Didn't win PowerBall. Sigh. Time to re-group and make a new plan...


It's quiet here, even though the storm that's keeping home has just started. It's sleeting now, some rain, hovering around 32 degrees. I'm hoping for a good deal of snow. It would add to my serenity.

This time last year I was sick as a dog, curled up on the couch with chills and a head ache. Funny how it seems like yesterday. Except, when I really think about it, I realize that it's been a long and full year. This makes me hopeful about what lies ahead.

I'm starting to make some decisions becasue I'm starting to get a sense of what I want from the next chapter of my life. Nothing dramatic, yet, but an abiding sense that I can't go back to the way that I've been living. I need my life to be oriented to the construction of joy. Perhaps even more than a pursuit of meaning, a practice focused on joy, pleasure, new ways of living seems the path that is being discerned by my reflections. I suppose I shouldn't create a binary opposition between joy and meaning. They are deeply related.

I'm not sure whether I'm a good painter or whether I'll ever be a good painter. I know that making paintings makes me happy. I'm sanguine about that being enough. I'll be content to let the world make its decisions about my relative talent. What I won't do is be persuaded that i shouldn't be doing what I'm doing. There's too much criticism in the world, too much anger.

Yesterday, when I was xmas shopping (yes, I always wait until xmas eve), I encountered two guys screaming and cursing each other from cars in front of the mall. One had cut the other off in a confusing traffic pattern. It became clear to me that the process of buying presents, the experience of the holiday was bringing no joy to these men. Indeed, I sit at home today wondering how many people are aspiring to the images of xmas that we're fed rather than experiencing the day, feeling happy. I suspect rather a lot. It makes me pretty happy to be at home, doing the things that I like to do and not worrying about the yearning to feel something prescribed on this particular day. I'm yearning, now, for tomorrrow and tomorrow, for the possibilities that they promise rather than about the pain of relationships, obligations and duties for which I have antipathy.

I've been dreaming about the PowerBall lottery. I bought some tickets last night, thinking that were I to run into friend last night or today, that they would be fun little gifts. Now that I'm hanging, with little prospect of guests or of going out, I wonder what it would be like to get an unexpected, large windfall. Money buys a certain amount of freedom, but I don't need a lot of money. It would be nice to be able to focus on those things that matter to me, without economic fears, but I realized that my inclination would be to pass it around. Wouldn't it be great to be able to set up some artist friends and allow them to work, to invest in arts programs about which I'm passionate? I think I'd want to enable people who have a drive and passion for changing the world through their efforts. Our society doesn't recognize that meaning, change, relationships, peace, connection are all made, with our hands and our mouths. I suppose I'm not saying anything shocking or new, but imagine being able to affect change by enabling passionate hands and mouths. Well, of course it's all just a dream. It's a good dream, though, and I wish people of means might embrace it and see that they, too, can make the world through their passionate efforts. Winning the lottery should mean more than buying a new boat or taking a trip or playing more golf. Sigh. Who am I to jugde?

Well, I'm heading back to my joy, heading back to scrape, prod and cajole pigments and earth into something more.


This was almost my holiday greeting, but I thought that it came too close to the actual gestalt of the season. Ya gotta love the insanity of it all. You can feel the love being conveyed through conspicuous consumption! I have to say, I rather like New Years and have come to loathe Christmas... It's not a Scrooge thing, either. It's more the secularization of a religious holiday. I'm not arguing for more Christianity, mind you. I don't even think of myself as a Christian. God knows, I don't want to give them more power over my life. I suppose what I would like is to minimize the control they already have and ask that they get out of the shopping malls and act according to their creed. Sigh. Peace on earth, indeed.

Mood: cranky.

I've been re-reading David Halperin's Saint=Foulcault. I read it when it came out, but reading it now a lesson in being ready for a book. It's like the fifth time I read The Movie Goer, I hated it the first four times, but the fifth reading came after I turned thirty and suddenly i realized what it was about. I was ready. It's not that I didn't like Saint=Foulcault the first time, I just wasn't awake to its power.

Granted, I'm reading it as a reaction to having my ass kicked by my advisor. I was too arrogant in my assumptions about my thesis regarding queer politics and theory. I was too swayed by the reactionary political state in which we're living. I was apologist in my stance, too ready to allow myself to be problematized by a system of thought and control, too eager to let myself be controled.

Being forced to interrogate my assumptions has been GREAT. It's brought me to ideas that I only superficially understood and is helping me re-think the foundations of my work. It's funny that arguably the most potent learning moment of my Goddard education is coming as I count the days to graduation.

Most potently, I'm coming to see that my queer identity has been established in resistence to heterosexuality and has been focused on the idea of what I've lost. I've overlooked the possibility of what I've gained.

There's a tremendous power in the formulation of queer practice as an on-going process of becoming. The nature of queering spaces, institutions, and relationships allows one to think differently about my role as an activist, teacher and artist. It allows me to understand that the practice of becoming queer -- as an on-going life and ethical process -- allows me to be a locus of social change. It's the strategic possibility of the self about which Foucault writes! It discards the idea that my queerness is a thing, a label, a location in which I live. It allows me to understand that I'm engaged in a process of discovering how my sexual determination intersects tthe world.

For too long, I've been focusing on the surface of a queer identity -- focused on establishing assimilationist romantic relationships, adjusting my identity to heteronormative ideals, being seen as OK within str8 society. In short, I've been adjusting to the world rather than acknowledging that my hopes, the fears of the str8 world and my need to be seen andd acknowledged are forces in oppostition. Moving beyond what I've lost or have the potential to lose might allow me to understand what I have to gain -- in terms of freedom, happiness and pleasure -- in the exercise of queer praxis.

I feel like I'm on top of the world!

So, this is all fairly abstract. I've been thinking about it in relation to the biological father project. The bio dad creates a fiction of my history, experience, and desire. It plays with my notions about family, fatherhood, masculinity, being a son, sublimated male desire, the process of aging, and the proces of being acknowledged. Such play evokes nostalgia, displays yearning, and activates a sympathy that re-inscribes heteronormative culture. It would seem that I'm looking for a lost family, asking to be embraced by the fiction of the mormal family. The work's ground tto a stall becasue of this. A strength is the initial absenting of the mother, because the male relationship connect the nostalgia with the unstable taboos around father-son relationships (one kind of taboo in str8 society which impacts on others within the queer community ). It implies questions about male relationships asking how men live together, relate, establish sympathies, engage conflicts, express love, and face the dangers inherent in transgression or in the APPEARANCE of transgression.

I need to think more about the relationship between appearance and representation, but regardless off that on-going question, I feel freer to explore the biological father project. I'm not even concerned anymore about the process off introducing the biological mother, becasue the representation of that mother is intersecting the nature of queer male identity with the intstitution of family and motherhood. it opens another terrain, too.

I feel young, like the day I first kissed a boy. I feel like I've been given the gift of hope. I'm excited about approaching the world for the first time in several years.

Let the games begin!

I've been reminded that I may be acting the bit of a martyr in my recent postings. I've also been reminded of the power of this medium for perpetuation of stereotypes. Lest I be marked up as a bitter old queen, let me assure you it's simply easier to write about the frustrations and questions than it is about the little joys and triumphs that define life. I'll try to balance a bit.

I suppose this is as good a time as any to consider the purpose of this forum. It started as a venue for my graduate work and since that's about to end -- commencement being lass than a month away -- I have to consider where it's going as a mean of supporting an art and life practice that's disconnected from the embrace of institutional life. If it's to be an integrated part of my art and life practice, it needs to act as a personal instituion of sorts. I suppose that's a n oxymoron, but it's interesting to consdier how the personal (practice) and the political (institutions) might collide andd collude in this moment. This is, after all a broadcast medium and I am the sole purveyor. Who knew that in 100 years we'd go from thinking radio was revolutionary to this? No wonder people are wonderign about the cyborg?

So, yes, yes, all pondering notions aside, it's time to move beyond using this as a point of rumination to making it a venue for meaning making (again). Time to move from self-reflection to action. Yikes.


autumn 2002