This is an art intervention.
The sentiments are true and
I accept responsibility for how
I represent myself, but it's
intended to intersect and
critique the superficiality
of Internet personals.
Thanks for looking at my personal ad.
So, communicating this way bugs the shit out of me. Who am I kidding, all communication is a pain in my ass. But personal ads are especially hard. They essentialize everything, determinedly code us. The programmer has decided whats important and provides only to those items space. Theres the "describe yourself" category, of course -- a few lines, overshadowed by vital statistics, to sum up what the programmer felt was irrelevant anyway. Its precisely the kind of Foulcaultian nightmare that keeps me awake.
Somehow, were supposed to answer the question "who am I?" I assume that you are looking for depth, yet, the question tempts me to resort to more labels -- perhaps comparing the size of my package to yours. Like boys first experimenting in basements and tree forts. I cant bring myself to adopt "well hung" but wont deny it if accused. I digress, though, and am evading the question, as the size of my package doesnt answer it. At least I dont think it does. If it does, you might want to stop reading here.
For all my gripes about personals, I, too, find lists irresistible so heres mine: Painter, Activist, Philosopher, Gardener (is that too faggy), Top (that sounds butch), Teacher, Resister, Surrender.
Are you still reading? Theres a superstition that every destroyed document goes to Heaven and every duplicated one goes to Hell. I suppose in posting this Ive already consigned my words to Hell, but in surfing to the next profile you might offer some sort of redemption. This inspires me to be intrepid and write on.
Am I helping to fill the interstices of my profile?
I am hesitant to talk about my weaknesses, even though it is weakness and fear that preoccupies my emotional life. Perhaps its just too big a part of who I am not to overwhelm. Yet these are the parts that are the most interesting and from where all my bliss originates. I am unable to feel joy if it doesnt result from struggle. But, this feels too honest for a strangers perusal of an Internet profile. You, perhaps, are looking to hook up in a chat room or, revealing one of my fears, you are someone who already knows me and are using this medium to track me down. Perhaps youre around the corner, hoping for an invitation over?
Am I being too honest? I am hearing my mothers voice in the back of my mind, indeed the whole of my New England ancestors admonishing me for being too direct in this correspondence. If I am being presumptuous, please forgive me. Its what I do.
But thats a lie, that bit about the ancestors. You see, I dont have ancestors, in the sense that I use the word. Im adopted and dont know who my biological ancestors are. So, in your memory of this passage, draw a carrot and slip the word adopted above every reference to my family. Its what I do.
In Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, James Agee screams "tell me who I am!" Thats implied in the reading of personal ads. You want to know who you are in part by hearing about who I am. Its why coming out stories are so compelling. I cant tell you who you are; I can only guess what you think of me. Whether its cute, sexy or smart, whether its that you want to screw me or be screwed, youve already set up a picture of who I am and I want to know it. I want to see myself through your eyes; I want to be valorized in your adoration; and I want to be changed by contact with you. I dont want it to be safe or easy or clean or thoughtful. I want it to be transformational. I need to know. Its what I do.
I dont think that my words should be scary, but I suspect they are. They would scare me. Make me walk to the other side of the street metaphorically or literally. Why is it that we fear honestly, fear push back?
But I may be presuming my fear and projecting it on you (isnt it incredible the way psychology has infused our lives and vocabularies making us all capable of offering diagnoses and pronouncements about the pathologies of other and ourselves?). You might be intrigued or aroused; after all, it was you who asked the question. Does it turn you on to think about being with an activist? All that anger and passion channeled into politics and change, surely there must be some of that juice left at the end of the day. You must be wondering whether it makes me a tiger in bed. Or maybe even if Im brutal in some way. Or perhaps the activism is a turn off, with concern about politically correct insertions into your discourses. Is he a vegetarian animal rights guy or an ACTUP storm trooper? God forbid, he might be both.
How can I answer these questions when theyre not precisely articulated? When broad questions are worn masks. Or are these questions mine, scripted for you as lines to be played on a stage that we are now constructing?
I was once asked to present my work in thirty minutes to a group of peers. Now thats a stage -- a stage with traps. The time was presented as mine; to be organized and structured as I saw fit. It was my time to seek the help of my peers to form questions for them, the answers to which might offer me some guidance on my journey toward innumerable truths that I am seeking. Not to be a drama queen, but the help I need will take more than thirty minutes. Mostly, because I find it hard to reveal directly. Indirection, as youve probably inferred, is a safer route to me.
I once had a crush on a boy who told me that mystery is not in hiding, its in revealing. I think this is true, but he was southern and I am northern and consequently he is better than I at being present to the gentle unfolding of the nuances of a life. I am driven by a desire for revelation, facts, stats, bites. Why couldnt I have been blessed with a gothic sensibility?
Is this too grim for you? You might think that I think too much, or not right, or that Im too smart, or, more likely, not as smart as I think I am. Maybe you think that I am playing a game. I assure you that I am not. This discourse is not a rhetorical dodge of the question it is the answer to the question. For all its contradictions, tirades, and meandering, it answers precisely. You might have expected a pat answer like I teach, I am an artist, I like to fuck, I like hot wax dripped on my nipples in the dark, whatever but those are easy revelations. For me its not what I do, its who I am.
So, do you want to swap photos?