Aug 29, 2015

"Hi Sunshine" --- This is heaven --- teaser (2)

Part I of the GREEN EYES is out, and so we've started a rerun of what we got of Part II so far. We have ca 60% of the text, but there are some problems with the plotting, how the various story lines of this soap opera will come together...

...The Happy Ending Is over now, is the title of the second (ie. the first) chapter, and John will know it. He's picking himself up, dusting himself off after yet another morning triangle in the gay dunes, and the plot thickens already.  John is with Alex of course---so much is still left of the happy ending (go here for the previous teaser)---but now Ben is calling, the other guy John met last week:
My cell rings.

“Hi, Sunshine,” a male black voice speaks into my right ear. It’s the ear next to Alex’s left ear. I’d almost forgotten about Ben. Well, no, I didn’t forget, I've been too busy. ‘Sunshine?’ I think.
“This is me. Can you hear me?” Ben says. I can hear him loud and clear. Perhaps I should lower the sound. Where’s the button? I hate my cell-phone.
 “This is me. Can you hear me?” Ben repeats. Alex softens his grip.
“Yes,” I answer, the phone now on my left ear.
“John?” Ben asks, or retreats.
“Yes,” I say.

I should say ‘Ben’ now, or ‘Hi Ben,’ or ‘Is that you, Ben,’ mention his name at least (his name is “John,” by the way, like mine, Ben is his pet name).
“Is that you,” I say.
“John,” Ben answers, the voice more relaxed.
“Yes,” I say.
“Where are you?”
“On the beach, more or less.”
“All by yourself?”
“With a friend,” I say.
“Cool,” Ben says, “you know what?”

Aug 27, 2015

The Bietschhorn this morning

It's almost 4,000 meter high, the Bietschhorn, but not quite. A full 4k would attract too much tourism, and our quiet little place would degenerate into a second Zermatt.

Aug 24, 2015

The happy ending is over now --- This is heaven --- teaser (1)

Part I of the GREEN EYES is out, and so we are starting with a rerun of what we got of Part II so far. We have ca 60% of the text, but there are some problems with the plotting, how the various story lines of this soap opera will come together...

Anyhow, PART II ("This is heaven") resumes the thread where Part I dropped it, in the dunes of the gay beach of Georgia Beach. "I'm ticklish," Albert the beach bear had said in the last line of Part I, and the consequence is an unprintable chapter of yet another triangle in the dunes. So we repeat the trick of Part I, replace the first chapter by a short prologue, and find ourselves in our habitual, post-coital position: we are trying to go home. "We," that's Alex and John, of course, and one thing you need to know about Alex: he labored under a clinical depression in his former life. There was a suicide attempt (on Thursday last week). Alex recovered, but with serious amnesia. He lost the memory of his depression, but also the memory of his sexual orientation (the left column provides an introduction to the main characters of the GREEN EYES)...

Let me think. ‘The happy ending is over now,’ I think. I look askance at Alex’s rippled abs (he’s still holding the T-shirt in his hand, it’s sizzling hot already, we’re oiled in sweat), let my eyes travel to his pelvis region, then back up along the lithe, sleekly muscled torso, the strong neck, the clear, boyish profile. He has grown an inch or two since his failed suicide. He feels my eyes on his Latino skin, I know.

The gay beach of Rehoboth Beach, DE, the model for Georgia Beach

“The happy ending is over now,” I say after a while.
“Don’t say that,” he replies, “Happy endings can’t end.”
“I wish it were true.”
“It is true. It’s true for the best of all possibly reasons.”
“I’d settle for any reason at this moment.”
“The power of subsumption.”
“Happy endings can’t end since endings ended already. They are part and parcel of endings in general.”
“Sheer semantics,” I say.
“Exactly,” he says, “sheer semantics. Rooted in meaning of the word ‘end’.”
“Well, you know what I mean.”

“Okay,” he says and puts his arm around my shoulder. He’s conceding the point. For once. 

Well, no. “The power of subsumption,” he regroups, rolls his head, and gives me this new look with his emerald eyes, the bad-boy-post-felo-de-se-look that signals the defeat of his depression.

Aug 19, 2015

A brief note on homosexuality

We haven't studied this, of course, not in a serious way, but when you are standing with one leg in the classical-antique period, as we did for a while, working on Plato's Symposium or studying Hadrian's life, you can't help but observe that the classical attitude vis à vis homosexuality was very different, very different from the attitudes my generation grew up with during the latter part of the last century. Not only attitudes, in fact, but facts, or perceived facts. The perceived facts were that there's a fairly sharp divide between gay and straight behavior, separating anything between 90-95% of the population from the rest---the overwhelming majority being straight, a small minority being gay or lesbian, with a few bisexuals in between.

Antiquity wasn't like this at all. There wasn't a single male deity in the Greek Pantheon that's wasn't bisexual, for example. Out of the first fifteen Roman emperors 14 "made" (to put it in Gibbon's words) "incorrect sexual choices," (at least according to the author of Decline and Fall...). Etc.

"What I believe," (1947) Paul Cadmus

We are not the first to observe this, and helpful theories in re have been proffered for quite some time, the dominant ones putting the onus on Christianity. How these theories will fare in the future remains to be seen, there's some historical research now showing that gay marriage was tolerated during Roman times and accommodated by the Christian Church (one of the funny things in the debate about gay marriage is that practically everybody making historical claims (i.e., the conservatives) is ignoring the fact that the institution didn't require sacral input then. Marriage was a matter of private contracts, and it took the Roman law quite some time to adapt to the Judaeo-Christian claims as to its sanctity (marriage still is, in Islam, a private affair). Anyhow, with the advent of Christianity, the screws on sexuality started to tighten, which wasn't particularly helpful for the gay cause.)

Aug 15, 2015

Quantitative metaphysics --- scribble, scribble, scribble, Mr. Ampersant (4) (reposted)

The GREEN EYES (Part I) have finally been published, and we are starting to re-post earlier material regarding the book. Find underneath the Amazon link...

Barbette Bienpensant, professor of quantitative metaphysics

 We knew beforehand that This Is Heaven (the sequel to the Green Eyes) wouldn't be a picnic, because marketing has replaced logic at all levels.the earth world Yes, that's what This Is Heaven is all about.relivings  It's about bullshit, or, more precisely, about the substitution of bullshit for other residues of meaning left on this planet.subchannel John with his addiction to Alex, Alex with his humongous dick, Godehart with his crotch shorts?guardians  It's all very well, we're not lying on anything, but it's just a ploy to keep your attention span spun while we are milking Professor Barbette Bienpensant and her Armageddon-nonsense, or taking cheap digs at vampire crazes, or the Wall Street Journal, or FOX news, or...

Aug 7, 2015

There you sit and munch on your pen --- The Donald, reality, and so on

Yere you sit and munch on your pen and try to think up something funny, something hilarious---it doesn't matter, reality will always beat you. Here's a fragment from The New Yorker about last night's Republican primary debate:

Trump did make it clear that, if Trump were the nominee of the Republican Party, he would support Trump. The debate opened with a call for candidates to raise their hands if they couldn’t commit to supporting whomever the Republican nominee might be and who might consider running as an independent. It yielded what was, no doubt, the intended result: Trump, stage center, standing alone, hand raised, wondering why he should “respect” anyone given his position in the race. (“I’m, you know, talking about a lot of leverage.”)

Maybe that’s when he decided that the moderators didn’t like him. Megyn Kelly asked about his tendency toward misogynistic insults: “You’ve called women you don’t like ‘fat pigs,’ ‘dogs,’ ‘slobs,’ and ‘disgusting animals.’ ” Trump interrupted to say that it was “only Rosie O’Donnell”—an unparalleled moment in drive-by ad-hominem debate attacks. But O’Donnell (who tweeted, “try explaining that 2 ur kids”) wasn’t the woman in front of him, and so, after barking something about political correctness, he said, “And honestly, Megyn, if you don’t like it, I’m sorry. I’ve been very nice to you, although I could probably maybe not be, based on the way you have treated me.”

Aug 6, 2015

I work in PR --- Tristan Verran

ANGRY WOMAN AT HOLLAND PARK TUBE: - 'I work in PR and, like, sometimes I have to work weekends, like, I mean, I wouldn't go on strike. I think it's just, like, sOOOOOOooo selfish!"

ME: "That's because if you went on strike nobody would care..."

ANGRY WOMAN AT HOLLAND PARK TUBE: - "Actually, I play, like, a pivotal role in cosmetic marketing, so, like, yeah..."


Jul 23, 2015

Phaedrus in the Symposium

This is the Phaedrus part of our version of the Symposium, which we put up here temporarily (we'll explain later):


Panel 2:

PH, in upper corner (half-stylized?), blending into the next panel

PH: Eros is a great and wonderful god…

Panel 3:

Chaos as background, Gaia rising, Eros hovering overhead


PH (cut into the panel, speechifying (arms raised)): Eros is a great and wonderful god, for he is one of the oldest gods. Hesiod says that Chaos came first---followed by Gaia, and Eros…

CAPTION (bottom): Hesiod goes on: “…who is the most beautiful among the immortal gods. He is the dissolver of care, he who overpowers the mind and the thoughtful council of gods and humans alike.”

Panel 4:

Dark background, PH stylized (black and white), holding on to a canted erastes-eromenos scene that borders into the next panel.

PH: Eros is also the source of the greatest benefits. I know of no greater blessing for a young man than to have a good lover, and for a lover, to have a beloved.

Jul 14, 2015

The analysis of the psycho

This is just for the record. There's a new neologism, finally, sort-of, and we need to justify it by a fragment, yes, a fragment of some text where it appears, the neologism.

And here it is. Michael answered a anthology call for Jules Verne fan fiction with an erotic twist----nothing to do with the Green Eyes, so far, but he'll somehow manage that the

Analysis of the Psycho

will somehow appear on the pages of a forthcoming installment of the Green Eyes. 

For the time being, however, you have to do with a few paragraphs from our short story The Darker Side of Lunar Engineering.

Here goes:

(Hold on, let's explain...The call was for Jules Verne fan fiction with an erotic twist. So we're in Jules Verne's From the Earth to the Moon, and one of the main characters of that story, Michel Ardansets the record straight:) 

(Hold on, Michel Ardan managed to happen upon Dr. Sigmund Freud in the meantime, whom he has invited to Haussner's, a historic Baltimore restaurant (now closed), in the vicinity of the Baltimore Gun Club, the originator of the plan of a lunar voyage:)

We walked the twenty minutes to the restaurant, Freud still holding on to the pointer, and when we arrived thither he knew everything about my mother, father, penis, gardener Hérault, Hérault’s penis, and (my) refractory period (the minimal lapse time between two male ejaculations—Freud made appreciative noises).

“What is your problem, then,” he asked while we were being seated (he had deposited the pointer in the corner) at yesterday’s table below Franklin’s portrait. “You have no need for sexual amnesty.” So I explained about my crush on Barbicane—the flood-gates were open anyhow—interrupting myself only when the waiter approached or the lady at the next table adjusted her ear trumpet (which was often). During those intervals I learned that Freud had traveled hither in the footsteps of Oscar Wilde, the Irish poet who had built his career on the notoriety afforded him by a lecture tour across the New World. “I want to make a name for myself,” Freud said, “I have designs for a revolutionary theory of the human psyche based on sexuality. They are on the drawing board, my plans, but one day they shall bloom, and the analysis of the psycho shall rule the world.” As he said this his stare rose to the Franklin above us, and—you guessed right—the founding father returned the attention, impatient lips softening, eyes smiling, head cocking a bit. He even managed to effect a minor toss with his bad-hair-day hair, Franklin, I swear.

Freud, unimpressed, lowered his gaze back to me and resumed the conversation. “I am still in the exploratory phase of my work, but I can advise you that sexuality is not only fundamental, it is also malleable. The sex drive, libido I call it, is best compared to hunger, a faceless urge that will consume anything and everything when starved, like a ravenous beast. A ravenous beast.”

“We have supped well,” Freud continued after an introspective pause—his stare now directed at the empty plates of the afters course—“but we have not”—the stare wandering to the pointer in the corner which, under his attention, appeared to grow in girth and size—“we have not fucked for hours. Would you not say?”

I motioned the waiter and settled the bill.

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Jul 12, 2015

Why Conservatives are wrong --- because they are always wrong (2)

Let's not forget:

Ku Klux Klan

For anybody born after 1970: this was a Southern Lynch Brigade in full armor.

And, yes, God's word worked to protect them (we quote):

"After two non-consecutive terms as governor, Bilbo won a U.S. Senate seat campaigning against “farmer murderers, corrupters of Southern womanhood, [skunks] who steal Gideon Bibles from hotel rooms” and a host of other, equally colorful foes. In a year where just 47 Mississippi voters cast a ballot for a communist candidate, Bilbo railed against a looming communist takeover of the state — and offered himself up as the solution to this red onslaught.

Spot the difference --- Plato's Symposium (3)

By popular demand: here's the next painting, one that's spot on when it comes to Plato's Symposium. It's by Raphael and depicts The School of Athens, i.e., Plato's Academy, the first university in the world.

Jul 11, 2015

Spot the difference --- Plato's Symposium (2)

It had to happen. Michael is scanning suitable images for the illustration of Plato's Symposium, and hits upon Jaques Louis David's painting The intervention of the Sabine women, which has nothing to do with Greece or with the Symposium (ancient Rome's men, three years after the founding of the place, betake themselves to neighboring Sabine where they abduct local women for mating purposes):

Difficult, isn't it?

Jun 30, 2015

"How I tried to seduce Socrates" --- Plato's Symposium (1)

Michael is working on the text side of a comic strip/graphic novel about Plato's Symposium. Yes, the philosopher, and, yes, the canonical text on male homosexuality since more than 2,000 years. 

Not easy, actually, the work. You have to condense the text ruthlessly (19 k words in English translations) and somehow maintain authenticity. Deep thoughts are occasionally expressed and need to be conveyed---the text also provides, ironically, the basis (or pretext) for the Renaissance-idea of Platonic love.

You know about the Symposium ("banquet"), right? A choice of Athenian characters---including Aristophanes (the leading antique writer of comedy), Agathon (a writer of tragedies) Alcibiades (the city's leading bad boy cum politician at the time), and Socrates---gather to celebrate Agathon's victory in the drama competition of 416 BC two days ago. They had partied all night the previous day, they are laboring under a serious hangover, and somebody thinks it would be wise to drink less. How do you do that? Eyximachus, the attending physician, has the idea that you should praise Eros; everybody should give and encomium about the God of Love. And so they do.

Anselm Feuerbach: Alcibiades arrives at the banquet, Agathon welcoming him (click for a larger image, please)

Here's our condensed rendering of the arrival of Alcibiades, Socrates is about to finish his speech (this is done per panel, so the same speaker may appear sequentially): 

Socrates: This is what I wanted to say, O Phaedrus; call it an encomium of love, or anything else. (Applause)

Aristophanes gets up, wants to say something, is interrupted by…

(Big EXPANDING letters (voice)):

Alcibiades (appears in door): Hail friends.

Alcibiades: I’m excessively drunk already, but I’ll drink with you, if you will.

Alcibiades (removing ribands from his hair fillet): If not, I’ll leave after I crowned Agathon, for which purpose I came.

(Everybody): Stay, stay.

Jun 26, 2015

Why conservatives are wrong...

...because they are always wrong.


Dred Scott v. Sandford, 60 U.S. 393 (1857) People of African descent that are slaves or were slaves and subsequently freed, along with their descendants, cannot be United States citizens. Consequently, they cannot sue in federal court. Also, slavery cannot be outlawed in the western territories before they access statehood.

Which side do you think the Conservatives took?

Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537 (1896) Segregated facilities for blacks and whites are constitutional under the doctrine of separate but equal.

Which side do you think the Conservatives took?


And here are a few words from today's decision, composed by Justice Anthony Kennedy:

"No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right."

"From their beginning to their most recent page, the annals of human history reveal the transcendent importance of marriage. The lifelong union of a man and a woman always has promised nobility and dignity to all persons, without regard to their station in life. Marriage is sacred to those who live by their religions and offers unique fulfillment to those who find meaning in the secular realm. Its dynamic allows two people to find a life that could not be found alone, for a marriage becomes greater than just the two persons. Rising from the most basic human needs, marriage is essential to our most profound hopes and aspirations."

"The nature of injustice is that we may not always see it in our own times. The generations that wrote and ratified the Bill of Rights and the Fourteenth Amendment did not presume to know the extent of freedom in all of its dimensions, and so they entrusted to future generations a charter protecting the right of all persons to enjoy liberty as we learn its meaning. When new insight reveals discord between the Constitution’s central protections and a received legal stricture, a claim to liberty must be addressed."

Jun 11, 2015

Christopher Lee (1922 - 2015)

(This is a deep post in a literal sense, so don't hesitate to scroll down:)

“To be a legend, you’ve either got to be dead or excessively old!” 

Anything the Green Eyes have to add to this? They usually do. So, just for starters, John's last name, Lee, is not a coincidence, as we'll learn early on in Part II ("This is heaven"):

(Chapter 3, John narrating): Let me get this in before the plot thickens: it’s a good thing that Alice (“Dr. Dyke”) heads an emergency room, since only people who’ve seen it all are able to sit as if nothing has happened next to a forty-five year old man—slight, Caucasian, symmetrical features except for the nose—who’s wearing a pair of Bavarian leather shorts with an image of an aroused Christopher Lee (the actor, fangs) emblazoned on the crotch part of said garment. (I’m a bit disingenuous here. These shorts, I’ve seen them before with the image of Richard Wagner in place of Christopher Lee. They are part of a Richard-Wagner-themed merchandize line, Godehart’s business; he’s from Germany and family of the composer, somehow).

Godehart has noticed my glance, points with one index finger in the direction of his adult parts, and asks “Family?”

Never thought about it (Glenn)

Jun 10, 2015

Frennch for beginners

Deux vieilles dames [dames], les voyant passer [passing] dans la rue principale du village : Tu vois, Jeanne, ces jeunes, ils s'achètent des motos [motor bikes] hors de prix [price], et après ça [after], ils n'ont [no] même plus de quoi [means] s'habiller [to dress]!    

Jun 8, 2015

The view yesterday evening around 21:20 hours...

(scroll down a bit)

The Valais in north-western perspective

...and the view now of...

Athens, 416 BC 

...our view, because we are working on a comic strip version of Plato's Symposium, and this beautiful picture by Leo v. Klenze would provide the perfect opening shot. I'm trying to blend three translations, Percy Shelley's, Benjamin Jowett's, and Seth Bernadete's, whittling them down to 10% or less of their original length so that the result fits into the balloons and captions of a 48 page graphic book.

Jun 7, 2015

Sunday matinée

The grass is always greener on the other side...

You'll figure this out yourself

And while we are at it, behold this:

And you know what? Chris Christie had been Roger Ailes' dream candidate for the US presidential election. Roger Ailes? Yes, the founding CEO of FOX News.

And the corresponding fragment from the Green Eyes? We don't have much there, but here it is (Ch. 9 Part II):

The fifth candidate is also blond, but female, with a horsy, consent-demanding face that stares right at you, and a lot of hands and fingernails attached to her extremities, hot in a fashioned way (she), pure anchor nouveau, she could host any show, especially on FOX, especially about Christmas decoration (I have to explain to Maurice about FOX’s War on Christmas). She survives while casting a malevolent regard at the defeated fish underneath, it’s so subtle.

More of this, context? We'll here's a teaser for the corresponding chapter in part II of the Green eyes.

Jun 4, 2015

Rilke's ghost, or Raron, or (more) connubial bliss --- a flash story

(We're back in Switzerland, and writing. And the first part of this flash story---including the afternoon in the budget hotel in Duino---is true-true. The ghost, at least in its first appearance, really occurred:)

"Rilke," Paula Modersohn-Becker

I still see myself sitting there as a boy on the greenly-striped couch of my parents reading Rilke, Rainer Maria (1875-1926), Bohemian poet, best know for his “Duineser Elegien” (Elegies from the castle of Duino). I read only the first two elegies then, but still, I went with the flow and was very impressed.

The castle of Duino

We moved to the French Riviera where Chang and I rent our house to holiday makers. We get a surprise booking in April and decide to visit Croatia, a new country that isn’t too far away and reasonably cheap. Chang collects countries, he’s never been to Croatia. Bonus: on the way we’ll have to cross Slovenia, yet another country missing from his collection.

Chang is on Facebook now, so we have to go out everyday to take new pictures of Switzerland which he can feed to his insatiable FB friends. And we've never been to Raron, which is situated right below Bürchen (us) in the Valais valley.

We will drive non-stop the nine hours from Cannes to Croatia but should stay overnight somewhere on the way back, some place nice. Chang is on the internet and suggests a town between Venice and Trieste, on the Adriatic coast. A hotel without sea view, budget-friendly. “How is it called?” I ask. “Du-i-no.” Sure, Duino.

Jun 1, 2015

The pitcher goes to the well until it breaks

Westboro Baptist Church
The hate group, normally obsessed with homosexuality, has accepted the offer of free tickets to Irak and stage their show in ISIS territory. That should solve a few problems.

May 30, 2015

May 27, 2015

In Switzerland --- The fountain of Geneva (teaser)

So we arrived, and went almost immediately for a hike around the Stand, a fairly flat hill structure situated above Bürchen, our home here in CH. And Chang takes pictures for his Facebook page. So here are two of them---this was a fabulous day---the first picture showing the imposing Dom, the third-highest mountain of the Alps (4545 m), and the second showing the Saas Valley, right next to it (to the left):

Dom, with the Hohberg, the main glacier, nestling a bit off to the right under the main peak

Saas Valley

And the teaser? What happened to the Green Eyes? Don't you worry, the Green Eyes are back in business with Alex on John on honeymoon traveling through Europe and being told the back story of the Fountain of Geneva, a tale of 2000 years involving the Roman emperor Hadrian and a ravaging nordic tribe, the Muttoni, which has settled in---yes---the Saas Valley. And the DomWell, the Dom hosts the Hohberg, its main glacier, which provides the water for the thirsty fountain. Hadrian is visiting Geneva, is asked to deal with the Muttoni, and has the brilliant idea of assembling an erotic SWAT team, named the Guard of Antinous after his deceased lover.

Okay, here's a fragment with narrator Richard Zugabe, librarian of the municipal archives of Geneva (Hadrian leads his team up the Valais valley into Muttoni territory):

“Late-August, the eternally-snow-topped Alps to the south, the gentle slopes of the Jura to the north, the deep-blue water of the lake glittering in the sunlight, a touch of gossamer in the air, the Antinousians holding hands and sharing the sights---quite a few of romantic liaisons had been formed in the meantime, you can imagine. There was an upset, though, literally, during the crossing, in that the passengers felt a sudden surge of the lake, and then heard the desperate cries of a galley slave who had just lost his penis. Yes, two galley slaves had somehow managed to abandon their oars and engage in a sexual act and the sudden swell had led to a regrettable jaw movement of the receiving partner. Snap. Galley slaves were not supposed to leave their position on punishment by death, but Hadrian was in upper-best mood and pardoned the penis-loser.