Archives for posts with tag: Oscar Wilde

20120816-191405.jpg

“Whenever people agree with me I always feel I must be wrong.”

Oscar Wilde

Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney are dark side muppets.

They inhabit a world where only the mercenary survive.

They have no interest in the beautiful world around you unless it can be used to make more money.

They think conservation is for losers.

They will mine every last piece of coal, sell every last drop of oil, catch every fish, chop every tree without consideration for you or your children.

They have scant regard for other humans unless they have achieved what they define as success: huge amounts of money and power.

They believe in slavery.

In their dark world you will be enslaved with huge personal debt as soon as it is reasonable to impose it upon you.

So obese you’ll be unable to defend yourself, or run fast enough from crazed, gun-toting children high on prescription meds.

You will have no option but to eat cheap gmo food that causes rampant obesity in you and your family.

Your local school will be stripped of funds so your children remain uneducated and unable to intelligently question their plan.

They will teach your kids, when they can get away with it, the debunking of a thousand years of empirical scientific evidence in favor of ridged adherence to the bible.

You will fear being sick and die long before you are expected because of the appalling health care system that they proudly tell the world is the very best.

Finally, you will live in toxic shame inspired by Christian‘morality’.

If you ‘fail’ the system by becoming unemployed they will demonize you, your peers will accuse you of laziness. You will be encouraged to blame brown people for your misfortune.

Ryan and Romney will achieve their aim by frightening the oppressed proletariat with dishonest bogey men: the deficit, the end of the traditional family and foreign terrorism.

They will succeed as other tyrants have before them.

The people are simply too fatigued to fight their lies and mythology.

Complicated and realistic solutions have been long abandoned in favor of easy and inchoate sound bites.

I had a dream last night that I was fucking Paul Ryan.  After I ejaculated I pulled my cock out of his ass… but it was no longer a penis…. It was a crucifix… Covered in blood shit and cum.

Finally, I rather like the new, gamine Miley Cyrus. A world apart from the generic valley girl she once was. What the hell is all the fuss? Proof (if you needed it) that people don’t really like celebrating individuality. Preferring the homogenous mass.

So, here it is.  Up and running.

My controversial, contemporary retelling of Oscar Wilde’s 1890 Lippincott version of  The Picture of Dorian Gray.

I really hope you enjoy it.

We picked lemons and grapefruits and cleaned out the plunge pool.  We cooked dinner.  We walked on the beach.  I wrote more of my film.  I met another DOP.  I wrote more of my novel.  I am presently writing a thousand words a day.  More if I count this and the film.  We planted a tree and swept the paths.  The days are full up with life and laughter.

The twins are incredibly funny and kind.  Their Mother called me yesterday and thanked me for looking after them.  It’s a treat to do so.  They are honest.  They give more than they take.

I don’t want to go back to NYC so perhaps I won’t.  There’s nothing there for me other than sadness.   Disaster.   Therapist Jill gets back this week and hopefully I can get myself into some sort of rehab by the beginning of May.   It’s the only way I can imagine dealing with everything that has happened.   The pain and the resentment.

I can start again.

He was wearing the jacket that I picked out for him in the most recent picture I have.  Staring at a near empty pint of beer.  I hope he chokes on that fucking beer.  I hope that every time he pulls on his jacket he thinks of me and London and APC and how much I tried to help him.  What lengths I was prepared to go to make his new gay life better.

You see?  When you let a liar into your life what havoc they cause?  What pain and suffering they inflict?  Oh get over it I hear you say…but I am not like that.  I can carry around a resentment for years.   Some relationships take years to get over.  Especially when you know in your heart that you will never love like you loved, feel what you feel, be what you were with the man who you loved…ever again.  Even if he was a liar, even if he is impossible to forgive.  Even if I want so badly to put things right and be at peace with the world.

The twins are off out to Santa Monica.  They are leaving me here to write and ponder.

Life cheats us with shadows.   We ask it for pleasure and it gives it to us with bitterness and disappointments in it’s train.  Oscar Wilde.


Duncan Roy and Wendy Asher

Oscar Wilde enjoyed the extravagant promises of the Victorian Age, capturing the imagination of London’s aesthetic elite. However, beyond the enlightened few, everything about the man provoked consternation to the prudish, hypocritical Victorians—from the green carnation in his buttonhole to his sensational novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray.

Like his suits, Wilde, a tireless self-promoter and purveyor of the unforgettable bon mot, was exquisitely tailored. While young, he was best dressed in bold plaid, plus fours, starched shirts with high, tight collars or gabardine suits cut short above the hip. Wilde traded his own slender, youthful visage (French
pleated hair and Cupid lips) for a bloated middle age rife with extravagant capes and voluminous fur-lined coats.

In his revisionist biography of Oscar Wilde, Who Was That Man?, Neil Bartlett describes how Wilde became a huge man with a penchant for young, willowy boys. He was an intriguing mass of contradictions: The love letters he sent to his wife, Constance, are as beautiful as the letters he sent to the dark-hearted “Bosie,” his lover. The innocent stories he wrote for his beloved children were a counterpoint to the pornographic tales he created from his forays into London’s dank underworld.

The pornography attributed to Wilde in the British Library, under the pseudonym “Teleny,” reveals his sado-pedophilic fantasies. Young boys figure highly in these violent, disturbing texts. The virginal youths are deflowered by older, cruel men, their innocence torn from them.

In The Picture of Dorian Gray, it is the reworking of these same themes that lead Wilde to his pessimistic and wholly modern conclusions about our shared horror of the loss of youth and how we might reclaim it.

When casting for a perfect Dorian, I was not interested in hiring a great beauty, but rather, a young boy. After all, beauty is subjective, youth indisputable.

For the movie’s Dorian Gray, it was imperative that our actor, David Gallagher, look effortlessly chic. David is very much the stick-thin look of right now and Dior Homme (as reinvented by our costume designer, Hedi Slimane). Dressing the literary youth icon of our age was a perfect solution for us and Dior: Slimane set his homoerotic boy-man aesthetic against the new Puritanism of American mainstream culture.

It is Lord Henry Wotton who appeals to the youthful Dorian Gray and speaks for the moisturized 40-plus generation, when he says to Dorian: “I wish that I could change places with you. To get back my youth; I’d do anything in the world. You are the type that the age is searching for and is afraid that it has already found. The world has always worshipped you—and it always will.”

If Wilde’s sensational sodomy trial had happened today, would the acclaimed wit have ended up in prison? Given that we find it hard to throw celebrities in jail, perhaps not. But Wilde’s predilection for sex with underage boys? I am sure that his hard drive would have been littered with unsavory images of children.

Once in prison, Wilde was given a thin gray cotton shirt and pants. Issey Miyake—or Kim Jong Il—might have gotten a kick out of this minimal Bauhaus look, but Wilde loathed it and woefully described his prison uniform in the poem The Ballad of Reading Gaol. A couple of years later, he was dead. (“It’s either me or the wallpaper.”) But as hard as I look, I cannot discover what he was buried in. Except, of course, shame.

This article was edited by Black Book for whom the piece was originally written.  It has been pointed out to me that Hedi lent us the clothes for Dorian rather than designing them for the film.   I have also been asked what happened to the film.  How did it do?  Well, in my own estimation it did OK.  It closed the London Lesbian and Gay film Festival, opened the Miami G&L film festival and opened the New York G&L film festival amongst others.   It had a small life and then vanished.

Alison Schulnik presently showing at Mark Moore Gallery

Whilst cooking lunch yesterday I bent over and herniated one of my disks.  My spine gave out and I am now laying supine in a cloud of white linen and little dog waiting for the pain to subside.  Symptoms include: Shooting electric spasms in my legs.  Laboured breathing.  My balls ache.  It is Impossible to make the most simple move without the most excruciating pain.  So, this is what getting old is all about?   I went into a terrible shame spiral as I was forced to ask Cooper to help me perform the most simple task.

Instantaneously crippled by SHAME and spine failure.

Shame, Resentment and Fear.  The three ugly sisters who regularly cripple this particular Cinderella.

It’s interesting how a deeper understanding of toxic shame has given me a greater insight into all things-especially writing fiction.

Watching my adaptation of Dorian Gray again last night with Cooper  (I was in bed sweating from the flu and squirming in pain from my herniated disk)  I realized how much more evolved it could have been.

My contemporary adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s only novel Dorian Gray is a deeply flawed movie.

If I had had the understanding that I now have..understood Dorian Gray’s shame and Lord Henry Wooten’s subtle manipulation of it.   If I had comprehended why Dorian, in turn, heaps shame upon Basil Hallward.

We collectively determine what is shameful and who we think ought to feel shame .  Shame is subjective.

Sanctimonious people, self-righteous people, religious people, are all very eager to heap shame on whomever takes their fancy.

My mother’s shame began as a young 16-year-old girl when she had me-out of wedlock.  To make matters worse my father was a Persian!  My mother was hustled out of dodge by my vitriolic Grandmother to a Catholic mother and baby home where she was forced everyday, by nuns, to perform menial acts of attrition and atone for her sins.

I was born into shame.  I have perpetuated it at my leisure.  I was oblivious to how shame had shaped my life until I started dealing with my sex issues.

For what should we legitimately feel shame?  Should I feel shame for being gay?  Should Natalie Octomum Suliman (Natalie is her birth name) feel shame for having all those babies?  Judging by what is written on my comments page the answer would be a resounding YES.

There is a disturbing connection, for me, between Natalie Octomum and my mother who, 50 years ago, was shamed for the same thing..for giving birth.  They were both called selfish, irresponsible, their actions cast as shameful and both punished by society.

My mother’s character would not have withstood a barrage of outraged press attention when I was born.  She may have come off as surly or defensive when in fact she was just scared and confused.   After refusing to give me up for adoption (for which she was branded selfish and irresponsible) she had the audacity to ‘sponge’ off of her parents and the state before she got a job.

The mother and baby homes run by nuns have all been closed down.  We would be outraged, in the UK, if we heard that heavily pregnant young girls were scrubbing floors by way of Christian punishment.  My Mother was considered by her shamed parents as both criminal and wrong-just like Natalie Suliman.  However, times change and wounds heal.

The morally acerbic press keep Natalie in a holding pattern of shame.  The babies are born!  By punishing Natalie we merely punish every one of those children, creating a stinking cloud of toxic shame that will linger for the rest of their lives.

This is OUR part in the shame game, we perpetuate shame as and when we feel like it.

My mother’s actions in the early 1960′s are scarcely shame worthy in contemporary Great Britain.   In fact most British people would not think Natalie Octomum should have shame heaped upon her for her actions.  She is perceived as a macabre American sideshow where ‘freedom’ breeds freaks like Natalie and people like me who end up on Dr Drew’s Sex Rehab.

Natalie, in my eyes, is neither criminal, wrong, selfish, irresponsible or cruel.  Unless her children are not being loved or cared for…and one assumes with so many prying eyes on Natalie Suliman an unwashed kitchen surface would be enough for child protection agencies to be summoned..then she should be allowed to get on with her very own brand of American ‘freedom’.

Hey, America, I don’t give a damn that Natalie accepts public handouts.  Sounds like some of you want her to feel shame for accepting welfare.  It stinks when I read that some of you don’t think that she is capable of rearing those children when really none of you have any evidence to the contrary.  None of you know how capable she is of limitless love.  None of you.

As my therapist friend Sean M is want to say:  There’s No Shame in My Game.

Finally an artist who inspires:  Allison Schulnik who is presently showing at the Mark Moore Gallery in Santa Monica‘s Bergamot Station.  I am persuading all of my friends to buy her work.  It is amazing.  A real figurative painter who uses great gobs of paint with such dexterity and precision, so sculpturally and with such poise that I stood before the work salivating, hankering after Frank Auerbach, De Kooning and oddly Corot.   I immediately called Kay and Amanda and insisted that they buy something whilst Allison’s work remains affordable.

My Mother

Breakfast with John this morning at Cecconi’s.  We ate oatmeal, which is American for porridge.  Actually just milled oats with hot milk rather than the creamy, steaming, slow cooked porridge of my youth.   Served this morning-like a desert-with strawberry jam!  Yuk.

I was telling him about the long relationships that I have had with women.  I have always identified as gay but recently, after rehab and therapy I am coming to other conclusions.  Gayish maybe.  I don’t know.  ‘It’s complicated’ as they say on Facebook.

My relationships with women, as with Jennie on the show, have always been incredible romances.

I have loved women more than I ever loved me.

That was a Freudian slip.  I meant to write men.  But it’s true; I have always loved women more than men or me.

The woman that I have loved the most have been highly intelligent, powerfully articulate, always incredibly beautiful and sexually submissive.   The most recent being the editor of a highly regarded magazine.  I refer to all my past female lovers as my ex wives.

To understand these relationships I’d best explain the relationship I had with my mother.

My relationship with my mother was intensely emotional.  Remember, she too was held hostage in our ‘family’ by my violent step-father.  Consequently, I became her escape, her confidant, her secret affair.  On the bus to Canterbury I said, “I’m not your boyfriend!”  For the remainder of the journey we both sat in silence, shocked that I had articulated what had, until that moment, been our terrible secret. I was 12 years old!  In lieu of a loving husband or a loving father we loved each other absolutely, unswervingly.  She would confide in me, when we were on our own, that there was only us, no one else existed.  Just her and me.  That if she could she would run away with me.  This emotional incest laid the groundwork for the intensity I seek out with women.

Sexual violence I seek from men. I always find it.

Even though I have had long relationships with men, I devalue these relationships when I compare them to the relationships that I have had with women.

The truth is my mother and I never escaped.  She stayed married to my step father and endured his constant punishment.  I escaped into madness and addiction.

I still find it very difficult to forgive her.  She is a sweet and simple woman who really did her best to make a terrible life better for all of us.  However, knowing what I know now would it have been so terribly hard for her to put my brothers and I onto the bus and somehow get away?

I don’t believe that all gay men are born gay.

I know that this thinking sets me at odds with the majority of the gay community and many, many straight men.  Saying that, I don’t believe that there is a cure for homosexuality – as once the dye is cast our sexuality seems inevitable.

There is no evidence that gay to straight rewiring or reorientation actually works.

However, gay men who live with and marry women are of course far more prevalent than we like to admit.  But should these relationships be discounted?  Both Oscar Wilde and Vita Sackville-West had incredibly loving relationships with both their spouse and a member of the same sex.  Indeed, Oscar’s love letters to his wife are as beautiful and compelling, if not more so, than his letters to his male lover.  Vita’s profound love for her husband provided a springboard from which she would leap into a previously unimagined same sex world.

Again, in my experience of having relationships with women, women were far more accepting of my behavior than one would like to believe and tended to stick by me even after multiple same sex indiscretions.   When I have had relationships with women, women who knew that I had preferences for men, they tended to overlook the past and focus on a future that we might share together.

Most gay men who identify as gay are born gay.  However, a few men (and I count myself among them) are sexualized at an early age.   I am plagued with this question:  If I had not been so badly abused as an infant would I have become gay?

There are many varieties of gay.

Men who own to same sex desires later on in life endure accusations that they were merely in denial: minimizing their life’s journey.

Mother in Malibu garden

The group of men who seem to cause the most distress to both straight and gay men are those who genuinely seem to have sexual choice and act accordingly.    Same sex experimentation amongst straight men, despite rowdy protestations, occurs more frequently that any of us like to acknowledge.

As I have written before we, as a society, are incredibly prescriptive about the sexual identification of others.    Supposedly, once a man has crossed the sexual Rubicon he is damned.   Bullshit.  If only these sexual prescribers applied the same rational to female sexuality.   But how can they?  When straight men persuade women to act out lesbian fantasies have these women now become forever lesbians at the behest of heterosexual men?

All of my work as an artist has sought to understand, rework and revisit my initial trauma.  This now feels, after therapy, like a terrible indulgence.  Yet, to let it go..what am I left with?  The future seems very bleak without this grotesque narrative.

PS  My mother visited me after my grandmother died. It was uncomfortable for both of us but we got though it.  When the big dog was killed I called her crying but I felt like I was crying to a woman I no longer knew.

In the words of Tennessee Williams: Time is the greatest distance between two people.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 3,884 other followers