Tuesday, September 11, 2012

I have a barometer I love because it doesn't work

It never did work. It's from Hermès,
where at best such conduct would be
unseemly except in a saddle, where
decoration is all that the law re-
quires. But it has three settings -
pluie, beau, et variable - which
one may manually toggle at will, by
opening its cunning little port-hole
design, and tweaking a knurled knob
inside. I adore it, of course, for
this very disposition toward my tem-
per at any given time.

Such is our academy's play with the
roiling tides of erotic identities,
that in any given season we may have
a consensus for continuity, never to
despair of a period of fetishes for
distinctions. Sometimes it is argued,
no one can have been gay who didn't
see Boys in the Band with its origin-
al cast; how well I remember my class-
mate's seduction (inconclusive) by 
Mart Crowley in the lobby of the Al-
gonquin, not so long before my wed-
ding. So we retire Patroclus and the 
writer of Michelangelo's Sonnets, un-
til the next toggling of our barometer, 
to resume our speculative practices.

on another such episode of renaming
the weather of the past in terms of
the present, in the name of not doing
so. New credentials must dangle in the
meteorology of history all over again,
to show how supremely tiresome the wor-
ry is of when we first knew rain.


Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick
Between Men: English Literature
  and Male Homosocial Desire
Columbia University Press, 1986©

Allen Barnett
The Body and its Dangers
  and Other Stories
St. Martin's Press, 1990©

Daniel Mendelsohn
The Elusive Embrace
  Desire and the Riddle of Identity
Knopf, 1999©

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