Well, Irish John is back in Dublin after getting together with me a couple more times on his visit to San Francisco. He tested some of my limits, actually persuading me to walk the streets and bars of SOMA in collar and lead. I always say that I will try the experiences that I am willing to do to others and this experience was quite interesting. Sometimes, I was taking in all that was around me. Other times, I focused specifically on John and his desires, especially as he was leading me through a crowd of people on the street. At the Powerhouse, we were on the back patio watching some guys have sex when one guy noticed that he no longer had his wallet. At one point in between two bars, I needed to pee and John didn’t get me to a bathroom quickly enough, so I just did it right on the street! Luckily, no cops were around. We also got a guy off in the Hole in the Wall bar together. I was licking his nipples and kissing his belly while John kissed his mouth. He came on one of the benches in the back and wiped it up with napkins.
John and I had more tame visits after that, discussing politics and relationships. We had brunch at a place called Cafe Mason in Union Square, which was quite fancy and fun, and better than Max’s according to John.
John and I are still chatting, so when he returned home, I found out that John’s boyfriend Neil had gone to spend the night at his parent’s place. John seemed upset and thinks they are probably breaking up.
“Bread and Wine” by Ignazio Silone is one of those books where the boundary between fiction and politics breaks down dramatically. The story is based on Silone’s experiences in Italy during the fascist period prior to World War II. It is a masterful work even in English translation of the original Italian with lush descriptions and characters questioning and debating canonical political views.
For example this excerpt:
“‘We live our lives provisionally,’ he said. ‘We think that for the time being things are bad, that for the time being we must make the best of them and adapt or humiliate ourselves, but that it’s all only provisional and that one day real life will begin. We prepare for death complaining that we never lived. Sometimes I’m haunted by the thought that we have only one life and that we live it provisionally, waiting in vain for the day when real life will begin. And so life passes by. I assure you that of all the people I know not one lives in the present. No-one gets any benefit from what he does every day. No-one is in a condition to say: On that day, at that moment, my life began. Believe me, even those who have power and take advantage of it live on intrigues and anxieties and are full of disgust at the dominant stupidity. They too live provisionally and spend their lives waiting.'”‘One musn’t wait,’ Pietro said. ‘Those who emigrate spend their lives waiting too. That’s the trouble. One must act. One must say: Enough, from this very day.'”‘But if there’s no freedom?’ Nunzio said.”Freedom is not a thing you can receive as a gift,’ Pietro said. ‘One can be free even under a dictatorship on one simple condition, that is, if one struggles against it. A man who thinks with this own mind and remains uncorrupted is a free man. A man who struggles for what he believes to be right is a free man. You can live in the most democratic society in the world, and if you are lazy, callous, servile, you are not free, in spite of the absence of violence and coercion, you are a slave. Freedom is not a thing that must be begged from others. You must take it for yourself, whatever share you can.’
“Nunzio was thoughtful and troubled. ‘You are our revenge,’ he said. ‘You are the best part of ourselves. Pietro, try to be strong. Try to live and endure.Take real care of your health.’
Or this excerpt:
“‘In my privations I studied and tried to find at least a promise of liberation,’ Uliva said. ‘I did not find it. For a long time I was tormented by the question why all revolutions, all of them without exception, began as liberations movements and ended as tyrannies. Why has no revolution ever escaped that fate?'”‘Even if that were true,’ Pietro said, ‘it would be necessary to draw a conclusion different from yours. All other revolutions have gone astray, one would have to say, but we shall make one that will remain faithful to itself.'”‘Illusions, illusions,’ said Uliva. ‘You haven’t won yet, you are still a conspiratorial movements, and you’re rotten already. The regenerative ardour that filled us when we were in the students’ cell has already become an ideology, a tissue of fixed ideas, a spider’s web. That shows that there’s no escape for you either. And, mind you, you’re still only at the benginning of the descending parabola. Perhaps it’s not your fault,’ Ulive went on, ‘but that of the mechanism in which you’re caught up. To propagate itself every new idea is crystallized into formulas; to maintain itself it entrsusts itself to a carefully recruited body of interpreters, who may sometimes actually be appropriately paid but at all events are subject to a higher authority charged with resolving doubts and supressing deviations. Thus every new idea invariably ends by becoming a fixed idea, immobile and out of date. When it becomes official state doctrine there’s no more escape. Under an orthodox totalitarian regime a carpenter or farm labourer may perhaps manage to settle down, eat, digest, produce a family in peace and mind his own business. But for an intellectual, there’s no way out. He must either stoop and enter the dominant clergy or resign himself to going hungry and being eliminated at the first opportunity.'”
And this excerpt:
“‘Cristina,’ he wrote, ‘it’s true that one has what one gives. But to whom and how is one to give?”‘Our love, our disposition for sacrifice and self-abnegation are fruitful only if they are carried into relations with our fellows. Morality can live and flourish only in practical life. We are responsible also for others.
“‘If we apply our moral feelings to the evil that prevails all round us, we cannot remain inactive and console ourselves with the expectation of an ultra-terrestrial life. The evil to be comated is not the sad abstraction that prevents millions of people from becoming human. We too are directly responsible for this…
“‘I believe that nowadays there is no other way of saving one’s soul. He is saved who overcomes his individual, family, class selfishness and fees himself of the idea of resignation to the existing evil.
“‘My dear Cristina, one must not be obsessed with the idea of security, even the security of one’s own virtue. Spiritual life is not compatible with security. To save oneself one has to take risks.'”
On the advice of David Ulevitch, I read “Ender’s Game” by Orson Scott Card. I must admit I greatly enjoyed the novel, despite hearing from Cory Doctorow that Card is apparently homophobic. Perhaps sublimated homosexuality arises in the story of a gifted child who becomes the supreme commander of the human forces allied to defeat an alien enemy. The male bonding and even affection in the novel is quite striking as are the depictions of children in roles usually considered beyond their capabilities until they attain adulthood. Fred von Lohmann has recommended skipping the sequels, but reading “Ender’s Shadow,” which is basically the same story told from the point of view of another of the characters.
On Saturday morning, I biked over to Jumpin’ Java on Noe Street to meet with a prospective co-parent named Nina. She seems like a wonderful woman, 38 years old, living in San Francisco, with a clear desire to co-parent with a guy, rather than going the donor or uncle route.
I spent most of the weekend with a fun guy from Dublin named John who reminds me a bit of an older version of my former housemate Diarmid. We ate at my favorite restaurants in the Castro, that is, Nirvana and La Meditaranee. (Well, there’s also that Thai restaurant across from the Midnight Sun.) We made love a lot and walked around the Mission district through the mural alley and did the Mission Dolores tour. He’s here for a week-and-a-half more, so we may meet up again. He’s not boyfriend potential because he lives in Dublin and already has a boyfriend named Neil, a cute young actor and perverse playwright.
I finished reading “Natural Capitalism” by Paul Hawkens and Amory and L. Hunter Lovins last evening. Although written in 1999, the messages of the book seem very current and compelling to me. The description of systems approaches where the impact on “externalities” such as the environment are very convincing. I found the description of market approaches to natural capitalism a bit more murky, yet interesting nonetheless. It’s the first time I’ve come close to understanding how a market in pollution credits could possibly be helpful, although I’m still not entirely convinced of the value of the idea. The description of the Brazilian city of Curitiba was wonderful… makes me wish I had known to visit there during my trip to Brazil in the spring.