4 July 2006

Independence Day

I listen to Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac most mornings after I’ve gotten up, walked the dog, and made some coffee.

Today’s poem was the last stanza of what we know as “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Read it carefully, for it’s not as martial as you may remember, and it may even be an indictment of certain tendencies in American life.

Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand

Between their loved home and the war’s desolation!

Blest with victory and peace, may the heav’n rescued land

Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.

Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,

And this be our motto: “In God is our trust.”

And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave

O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

And, in a funny note, Keillor points out the following:

On this day in 1931, James Joyce married Nora Barnacle at the Kensington Registry Office in London. They had been living together for twenty-six years. She once complained about Joyce’s late hours, “I can’t sleep anymore … I go to bed and then that man sits in the next room and continues laughing about his own writing. And then I knock at the door, and I say, now Jim, stop writing or stop laughing!”

On a completely different note, we’re fascinated by Portuguese Man O’ Wars this morning, because there have been a number in Massachusetts Bay of late. Did you know that they’re actually not jellyfish? They’re actually made of four animals living in symbiosis.

Posted in Books on 4 July 2006 at 9:10 am by Nate

Eric Rofes

I’ve been holding back a bit on this, because it was a week of various deaths out there. The mother of a friend of BF died last week. And an acquaintance of mine from San Francisco, Eric Rofes, died in Provincetown last week.

I knew Eric through a fairly unusual group, especially for me. He was the organizer and primus inter pares of SexPols, a discussion group on sexual politics in San Francisco. We were a disparate lot, comprised of authors, academics, activists, journalists, teachers, and administrators of various sorts and political persuasions. No topics were verboten, no puzzles too knotty, all thoughts were welcomed, but no holds were barred.

I spent lots of time disagreeing in the group: I was one of the younger members, I was the only professed Christian (and religious person, I think), I am not necessarily a fan of Judith Butler (although, not everyone was), and I’m just contrary, liking a good argument. SexPols was great because it was a place in which my natural tendency to learn through contention was one of the natural ways of going about our business. And no one seemed to go away angry. Eric’s natural joviality and easy-going manner showed us the simultaneously silly and serious natures of all that we talked about.

The topics didn’t matter as much as the creation of kinship, and the finding of people who shared the love of ideas for their own sake, who loved discussion and contention as a means of learning and growing.

And the potluck each month at our meeting was delicious, too….

I’ve missed that here in Boston. I haven’t seemed to plug into that part of the queer community here — where smart people interested in serious and even “forbidden” ideas sit around and tried to teach and learn from each other, without it feeling like a classroom.

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Posted in Politicks on 4 July 2006 at 9:02 am by Nate