He hugged his overcoat closer and tried to assemble in his mind Heidegger's
argument about the use of moods.
We would think ourselves continuous with the world if we did not have moods.
It is state-of-mind that discloses to us
(Heidegger claims) that we are beings who have been thrown into something else.
Something else than what?
-Anne Carson, Autobiography of Red (98-99)
I laid on the couch this morning, a cup of tea by my side at first, later a cup of coffee, various books, magazines held in front of my face. I finally finished off Anthony Everett's Hadrian, a book bought in the Rome airport some time ago now, a book started on my flight to Istanbul. I had wanted to learn more about Antinous and this book seemed the only way to go about this, at least until I could get back to New York and get more serious about this project.
It was in the Vatican Museums where I saw my first Antinous statue. Immediately, I was struck by this image of male beauty, it very clear that someone desired this person a great deal, the sexual desire of the sculptor given the form of carved stone, the beauty that someone else saw in this subject apparent, the lust that they looked at them with. I stopped to read the explanatory text on the wall and became even more intrigued by Antinous. The text vaguely referred to him as Emperor Hadrian's "favorite," a soldier who drowned in the Nile at a young age, and was then made a God by Hadrian, who had busts and statues of his "favorite" erected throughout the Roman Empire.
I wanted to know more details. I wanted to know everything. Sit down and dish with me, tell me ev-ery-thing.
I saw another bust of him in the Vatican Museums and began to understand this love too well. Oh honey, Hadrian babe, I have been there. Girl, I know what that feeling is, what it is to want to create a God out of someone you love, to have statues erected of him all over vast expanses of settled land, to create a religion of this body, to have people worship this thing, for everyone to understand what it is you know, for everyone to get how insanely beautiful this person is. It's desire and lust in one of its most intense manifestations. Clearly, Antinous must have been an absolute babe.
The statues still survive in great number and I saw a couple in pretty much every museum I went to in Rome, all of them casting quite a spell on me. I was moved to a great degree by this intense grief for a lost lover, that across this large expanse of time, millennia later, I can stand in a museum and look at these things and still feel pangs of grief knowing what it was that Hadrian must have felt at the loss of his lover.
And so I bought this book hoping to find out everything about their relationship. The book was very disappointing, a boring history book, in which their relationship takes up maybe 10 of 300 pages, which, yes, is what it is the book intended to be, and so it's not a real critique of the book - it's just that I wanted a steamy exploration of queer lust, of worship, of lust, of grief. And, yes, I should write the book that I want to read.
This evening, a bit stoned and drunk on wine, I discovered some quite amazing sites devoted to Antinous that I can't wait to look through. Their creator seems to really get the significance of Antinous in a way that I am so appreciative of:
-Temple of Antinous
-Antinous, the Gay God
But I finally finished this book, a book I had been so excited about at first, but which ended up taking weeks and weeks of picking up and quickly putting down again, made sleepy by, to finish. After setting that book down for good this morning, I worked my way through the rest of Autobiography of Red. I had read this book because Taylor holds it in such high esteem and when someone tells you that they love a book, they are telling you quite a bit about themselves, probably most importantly they are telling you that they read and that they are capable of feeling intense feelings about literature, which is far from a given these days when you are out there in the trenches meeting new boys. But that out of the way, they are telling you so much other than the fact that they are a human being worth knowing. You are really sharing a lot about yourself when you announce these things. It's a chance for someone to see what themes you like, what it is that intrigues you, what type of voice it is that you like, and most of all what it is that moves you, exactly what type of book it is that you think is great, what it is that excited you.
I just said that but it might all be bullshit, everything I just said, something that sounds nice but might not actually be true, because I have no clue what, if anything, Autobiography of Red, now having read it, might tell me about Taylor, other than that he's of the romantic sort, the book a gay love story about a red boy with wings and his romance with Heracles. Also, that Taylor is open to fiction in verse form.
There were some really fantastic phrases, some choice sentences of the book. I underlined, I starred a few things. I turned back the corners of some pages, wanting to remember that or this phrase. Toward the end of the book, I started to get strong whiffs of Wong Kar-wei's Happy Together. I looked at flights to Argentina on Kayak.
After finishing both books, I took a shower, and headed off the to the Met to see the "Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity" show. I listened to a lot of annoying females in groups clearly (from annoyingly loud conversations overheard) there for the fashion aspect of the exhibition, though even that seemed doubtful - I don't think I've ever been so set on edge by overheard conversations in an exhibit as at this one. A major plus about traveling internationally: the likelihood is less that you will understand the overheard conversations in museums and will actually be able to focus on the work in front of you, instead of on your budding hatred of large swaths of humanity. Despite this, I did see some amazing paintings I had never seen, particularly Berthe Morisot's "The Sisters". I also enjoyed the exhibition of garments from the time, garments from particular paintings even, paired with the works, despite it seeming slightly gimmicky.
I went to the gym after, worked out for a long time. I looked at this one guy's back, beautiful back, as he worked out in front of me. There was also woman's boxing playing on one of the televisions. I watched this white lady from the Bronx pummel this fat Latina lady. I felt for some reason more trashy watching this than I did the men's boxing match that had preceded this one.
I sat in the steam room after working out. A muscly guy came in. This other guy came in and sat right next to the muscly guy. It was clear that all three of us were there for the same reason. I started jerking off and the one guy started sucking the muscly guy's dick. The muscly guy kept making faces of intense pleasure that are so hot when you are in a sexual situation with someone making such a face and yet so laughable when viewed from outside that scene, similar perhaps to how laughable and annoying drunk people seem to non-drunk people. When you are in heat, you are drunk - nothing matters but feeding that hunger, feeding that thirst. This sexy guy, very muscly, a little crazy looking, jerked off between the two of us, his admirers, his Hardrians, his worshippers, religious zealots. I pressed my foot against his, so turned on by the contact, touching this desired object, even if just slightly. I rubbed his thigh as this other guy swallowed his beautiful dick. The steam gave everything the hazy appearance of dreams, of fantasies jerked off to half-awake in bed. There were males forms in soft focus dripping with sweat, legs outstretched, muscles tightened, an open mouth silently moaning, praying, worshipping.