Saturday, 27 December 2008

Love and limitation

Came across this quote on Gorgon Resurfaces
In itself, homosexuality is as limiting as heterosexuality: the ideal should be to be capable of loving a woman or a man; either, a human being, without feeling fear, restraint, or obligation. ~Simone de Beauvoir

So much effort is invested in the delineating of categories. This is in many ways the major ideological project of the 20th century. There is a wonderful segment in that work of sheer collective genius, Monty Python's Life of Brian, which sums this up delightfully:

The reason this is so funny is because it is so true. I remember reading of Berlin in the late 20s/early 30s in which there were accounts of the schismatic debates on the left - arguing over arcane definitions of text - while all along the right was preparing to cede power to Hitler.

I remember also many years ago when, having identified myself as an anarchist (A political category that still best defines me) I got into a conversation with a fellow activist in the London squatting scene of the early 70s. I was feeling mischievous and made a comment that was, although not inaccurate, provocative. My comrade took deep offence because it did not accord with his vision of anarchism. This resulted in a long process for him in which he tried to define, to categorise, me. This was not a purely academic exercise, but very serious and a question of life or death. At least that is the way it appeared to me. For a couple of days, he was close to determining that I was a fascist- if not a Nazi. This was worrying because I knew that if this was the final determination, I was going to receive a severe beating, at the least. I have to add that death was not, in those rather chemically enhanced and amplified days, an unrealistic expectation. For those couple of days, there were people actually sleeping against my door in order to protect me.

He was not, thankfully, a man to act without thought and one day he came down, with a smile on his face. "I've got you!", he announced, "you're a nihilist!" That was very possibly accurate - and, I think, still is in many ways. But more to the point it was within the spectrum of acceptable deviance. Had it not been, I often wonder whether I would still be here. There was a real possibility, given the level of anger I had incited, of a knife in the ribs.

To get back to de Beauvoir, the point is that all such categories are limiting. And they are also imprisoning and disempowering. None of us can, I believe, ever totally conform to any given category without making essential compromises and denying major parts of our being. Thus, we can never be ideologically or theologically sound. We are naturally perverse and as such will blur all such delineations.

Only by denial can we fit into the boxes. That is a choice ever open to us and most spiritualities and political ideologies insist that we do so. We must conform to expectations - be they homo, hetero, trans, bi, omni etc. The true beauty of humanity, however, is that it defies all such expectations and ultimately refuses to be put into boxes. Even the worst monsters have moments of tenderness and each saint moments of cruelty and exploitation.

I am heterosexual. Predominantly. I can, however, be attracted to men, There are men I know now with whom I could interact sexually, and have considered so doing. The decision not to has not been based on moral grounds but on purely pragmatic ones - that the circumstances of the time have not been favourable. Desire has certainly been present. I am, after much confusion, at ease with this choice. But it is not, and while I have breath in my body cannot be, a final choice. I refuse to be limited. It is not as if the human species is suffering from an overdose of love and can afford to close and condemn any options.

Love is love - however we may fuck it up. For Goddess' sake, let's not kill it with categorisation.


Livia Indica said...

I agree. Whether we love a man, a woman or a trans, who cares? The overall most important thing is that we love another human being for all they are.

sometimesfaithsometimesnot said...

I loved this post, Brian, and your (forgive me) naked honesty about it. I think we should be free to love who we want to and be open to love that comes our way as well. Amidst all the hatreds of the world how can keeping love out, based on arbitrary categorizations, be a good thing?