Saturday, October 11, 2008

Express Yourself!

AS you may have guessed from the dirth of images posted, Danifesto is in love with the written word. So when the opportunity to attend Writing Outside the Margins came up, I was very excited to check it out!

The most surprising event of the day was that I came away without any additions to my grossly overstocked personal library. There was a time that I hungrily snatched up any queer lit I could get my hands on and read voraciously about this magical world that I wanted to inhabit so desperately. Now I actually am living in a dynamic queer community, the need to read about it has subsided somewhat and I've come to the realization that not all queer lit is created equal!

I was most interested to see the headliner John Cameron Mitchell, whose work on the musical/movie Hedwig and the Angry Inch I've always admired. JCM was everything I had hoped for-insightful, witty and articulate. However he didn't leave me as breathless as Michelle Tea who read delightfully from her latest work. She was quirky, funny and I utterly fell for her charms. I also really liked the characters Zoe Whittall set in Toronto and was surprised how devastated I was at the sudden end of her story. And finally the spoken word of Kinnie Star had me grinning from ear to ear! It was quite the awesome day despite the sudden spontaneous shower!

Given my overwhelming love for these queer women writers, I have to wonder why none of the men affected me in quite the same way. After all, shouldn't I be able to relate more to them? Perhaps the sound of a women's voice reading is more pleasing, my mother always having been the one to read to me as a child. Or perhaps the women I had an affinity for were merely better writers! At any rate, I had an amazing time and big love to Xtra and the Church-Wellesley BIA for sponsoring such a worthy event!

Two days later, still riding on a "lit high," my friend Ron and I attended an amazing screening of the documentary "An Independent Mind." This movie was about the issue of free speech, a more layered issue than I originally had thought. The panel discussion following really got me thinking. Is this freedom absolute? Are all opinions protected? When we say that all expression is good, it begs the question; when does expression cause harm? (incitement to violence, propaganda, national security leaks, child pornography) Is it necessary to show the evidential harms? Or can limits be preventative? Does censorship of expression ever deliver what is promised?

What I wanted to ask (and didn't get a chance and therefore will do so here) were two things:
1) When the government uses the media as a tool of power in order to manipulate its population in a certain desired direction, how do we solve the problem of planted reporters in press conferences? Or on press "fact-finding" junkets?
2) How has the conglomeration of media hurt our access to a diversity of voices and what can we do to foster small independent media sources?

Toronto is such a fabulous place for a reader such as myself! Due to company from overseas I was unable to take part in Word on the Street but I do have plans to attend the International Festival of Authors AND check out the annual Trinity College Booksale! Until that time, I'm enjoying my weekly book club that meets at MCC to discuss A New Earth! Happy reading everyone!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Alone Again...Naturally?

After being part of a set for the last six years, I am now acclimating myself to spending more time alone. Being a "singleton" is slightly less of an issue in the gaybourhood than mainstream society. There is still some reluctance on the part of a couple to befriend a single person. Then you have the guy at a party who refers to his partner repeatedly to make it clear the conversation is just that. People prefer to invite couples for outings or potluck dinners at their homes. It makes for an even number I suppose and no one feels "left-out."

So I've been putting myself "out there...on my own." For over a year now, I've attended church alone and while at first it was awkward, now I kind of enjoy it. I've also made myself go to a movie and eat in a restaurant alone. (Although the latter was with a book so perhaps that was cheating?) Even harder was going to the Beach Ball (at Hanlan's Point) and Buskerfest by myself but I did it and even managed to enjoy myself.

John Cameron Mitchell (Hedwig, Shortbus) had some interesting observations on being alone during his recent talk at Writing Outside the Margins. He posed this question: Why is it that, when it's infinately easier and less problematic to be alone, do humans tend to gravitate into relationships that are, by nature, complicated and fraught with difficulty and conflict? JCM said that this topic was something he was very interested in exploring in his next project.

I find this question quite relevant as well as compelling. As leery as I am to get involved with someone else after having been so devastatingly disappointed, I do find that I am interested in seeing "who's out there." I suppose it's due to my optimistic nature that I still have hope for an authentic relationship. One that's beyond the needing and wanting and is more about simply being present with each other.

The story of Adam and Eve actually gives me some guidance here which is surprising considering the number of times people have referenced this story in order to support their judgement of my nature. The problem when reading the Bible with a fundamental, literal approach is that one misses the lesson or deeper truth behind it all. To me the story of Adam and Even is about how God created a companion for Adam so he would not be alone. This was the primary purpose, not procreation, although that command did come later. (God also commanded that they care for the Earth and everything in it but one doesn't see the religious right jumping on in to support that!) So it would seem that God wants us to have companionship, be it romantic or plutonic in nature.

However I'm left with these unresolved questions. When do you know it's time to date again? How long should one "play the field?" Is a self-imposed solitude something that God desires of me? After pouring so much energy into a new life alone, will I be wasting it all by starting something with a guy? Ponderous Dan. Really ponderous!