July 18, 2013
The ancient world saw the birth of pantheons and singular gods who emerged as icons to be piously worshiped and duly feared (like the Greek word “thambos” suggests) but was particularly the heyday of mortals deified by deeds of such audacious character or so astounding a trait people could not refrain eventually granting them supernatural statute. From the much-revered Osiris to the now less popular Asclepius, faith elevated the extraordinary to heights unparalleled ever since and Antinous, reputedly the most handsome creature to have pleased the eyes of men, perhaps best exemplifies these hasty canonizations that were ultimately ensued by the plethora of mythological figures currently known.
But what did this ostensibly common youth, whose pulchritude seemed his sole distinctive feature, to deserve being an object of veneration for a cult even our contemporaries perpetuate?
What they all do: make themselves fervently loved.
Apparently, Antinous, a Bithynian Greek of no aristocratic breed, stirred a most unlikely passion in the eminent Roman Emperor Hadrian that would not cease to consume him the whole span of his lengthy life, which turns the case quite similar to Alexander and Hephaestion‘s. Thus the story goes that the named Augustus from Nervan-Antonine dynasty, being a declared philhellene who took a liking to the old Greek habits, penchant for homosexuality included, so ardently cherished the boy that when he was found drowned in the Nile river a whole sophisticated mechanism of propaganda ensured his place between the immortals. Countless statues bearing his marvelously beauteous features were consequently produced, sanctuaries erected to commemorate him and at one point Hadrian had coins struck with Antinous’ profile, a prerogative previously resumed to the gods or their earthly representatives, the Imperial family.
Across time, this most handsome lover of royalty secretly inspired all the gay intellectuals and J.J. Winckelmann, reputedly the father of art history, is said to have more ore less been influenced by Antinous in his pursuit of Greek and Roman culture.
How do you feel about it, though? to learn it’s outrageously easy to ascend a heavenly reputation through a very humane sovereign’s obsessive infatuation?
My, that’s love to shape destinies. Wonder what Freud would comment.
February 1, 2012
Few days ago, watching a remarkably accurate Oscar Wilde biographical film (inventively entitled “Wilde”, if you wondered) , I developed yet another spontaneous and futile crush on a man who’s been well dead for the past 67 years. And to those of you who’ll imply that my heart throbs just because this character’s played by popularly considered hot Jude Law, hide your heads in the sand like the ostrich does for you are embarrassingly wrong.
Superficially judging by appearance or sex-appeal, I find the actor (no offense to his fans) less attractive than the historic original. Eyes deeper, hair fairer (though his photos are mostly monochrome…), more enigmatic, fascinating and playful, not to say incredibly talented, the old he’s-better-due-to-my-infatuation story. An ivory Dorian Gray brought to life from the pages of his lover’s novel (I did some accidental alliteration here…), whom Wilde himself described “quite like a narcissus – so white and gold… he lies like a hyacinth on the sofa and I worship him.”
But let’s not be shallow and reduce the poor boy at his mere looks (certainly not inconsequential themselves). He has a name and a dynamism increasingly adding to the mottles of his charisma which he anyway had galore by my humble opinion: say hello to poet/author/ translator/ spoiled Brit aristocrat Lord Alfred Douglas, suggestively nicknamed Bosie.
Born at Ham Hill House, in picturesque Worcestershire, as the third son of John Douglas, 9th Marquess of Queensberry, and wife Sybil (née Montgomery), on a fine 22 October, 1870, Alfred experienced a rather unconventional childhood in the gloomy atmosphere of the Douglas house which seemed to have had a real propensity for dubious deaths, suicides, manias and unfortunate career decisions nicely illustrated by the profiles of his uncle James, Archibald or Francis.
Despite being Sybil’s favorite offspring, the one she fondly called Bosie (note, meaningful and also fitted derivation of Boysie), he never had a proper relationship with his rigid father whose interests in boxing and sports were polar opposites to Alfred’s bohemian personality. This would lead to many inconveniences later in their lives, much regretted by both parties.
Bosie received a traditional education at Winchester College between 1884 and 1888, continued by the typical Oxford Magdalen College he attended for another 4 years period and left before obtaining a degree, which was obviously an extra causeto his increasing conflicts with the Marquess. On top of that, it was in this time young Bosie, escaping the rigorous parental supervision, unleashed his predilections for same-sex partners, engaging in promiscuous adventures with the luring creatures of vice, or the homosexuals as we presently label them. Subsequent poems will make allusions at the all boys schools and their underground happenings of less innocent nature. Bet the old John Douglas was fuming at that too and, frankly, I don’t even know why they kept sending their heirs to those ‘corruption” nests.
Odd common sense to let your son mingle with dodgy rental boys yet scold him for the stable love of Oscar Wilde, which occurred in 1891, while the latter was happily married and father of two, don’t you think? I mean, would you lend your kid money to pay male prostitutes for evidently doing things you condemn yet call him “miserable”, “crazy” or “demented” if he dares to involve in romantic love?! I understand he lost his future successor, Lord Francis, who had had a dangerous liaison with Prime Minister Lord Rosebery, and planned a brighter destiny for Alfred, still, bipolar much?
No wonder Bosie (whose nickname means “a cricket ball bowled as if to break one way, actually breaking in the opposite side”) was distinctly temperamental- the family trait!
And that’s an actual plus on my list of why I like him so much: his flaws were perfectly explainable through the psychological pressure constantly put on him by Lord John, rising juicy contrasts between Bosie’s lewd image and genuine sensibility, passionate adoration and cruelty, gentleness and outbursts which stressed his forced duality. Don’t you believe it’s both sweet and sexy to watch his interiorised frustration projected in such variable sins?
Yes, he was definitely a jerk; yes, he perverted morally sane Oscar Wilde with uncountable orgies in the shabby male brothels of London, sexual promiscuity which was to enhance their love, he claimed; yes, he wasted large sums on noxious gambling and fought everyone who rightly dared criticizing it; yes, he was the ultimate ass (with a presumably pretty ass) when, after falling ill with influenza and being nursed back to health by faithful Oscar, refused to return the favor, making a scene and moving to another Hotel instead (on Wilde’s 40th birthday, he sent him the bill…) . He took advantage of Oscar, who wrote that “I cannot see you, so Greek and gracious, distorted with passion. I cannot listen to your curved lips saying hideous things to me. You are the divine thing I want, the thing of grace and beauty!”. He even cheated, as these letters, sent to Maurice Schwabe, in 1893, confess:
“I went to the Savoy Hotel with Oscar for two nights; and I was sentimental enough to go down to the old room 123 next to the restaurant where we used to sleep together.My darling pretty boy, I do love you so much & miss you every minute… I really love you far more than any other boy in the world, & shall always be your loving boy-wife, or your ‘little bitch’ if you prefer it.” (notice the bawdy teasing tone? in translation gives “I’m fully dedicated to you but, sorry, I screw another!” Freud would have had a sheer delight in analyzing the mental complexes revealed by these words…)
“Goodbye now my dear darling beautiful Maurice; I send you all my love and millions of kisses all over your beautiful body. I am your loving boy-wife, Bosie.” (again the “boy-wife” supplement- what a shrew!)
So YES, he was heartless sometimes and lead to Wilde’s downfall. You have all reasons to detest him! Isn’t it riveting?!
Bosie incorporated the colors which inspire writers with their torrid power and those who soothe them with their flimsiness: contrastive, capricious, delectable, of an ephemeral handsomeness that disarmed true aesthetes, like Oscar, who felt his “only hope of again doing beautiful work in art is being with” him. Begin to see why Bosie caught my attention?
In 18945, Wilde, harassed by the insistent Marquess and badly influenced by the avid Alfred, sued Lord John for an offensive card which accused him of sodomy (or buggery, in old-fashioned Victorian slang) . The following trials had a disastrous conclusion, sentencing Oscar with 2 years of incarceration.
Again, you can blame Bosie for manipulating his lover into doing what he wanted, but considering the despicable things his father wrote (that he divorced Sybil not to “run the risk of bringing more creatures into the world like yourself”; “I cried over you the bitterest tears a man ever shed” at Alfred’s birth). Indeed, he was no angel, yet had he deserved such degrading words? An object of stimulation, like him? No wonder Bosie had replied with an “I detest you” line and persuaded Oscar to apply the charges which ruined both their lives.
Coming back to the main story, Wilde got 2 years of prison, plague to his existence. Bosie met him once more, for a brief period in Naples (1897), but definitively broke up as they had no support (financially…).
At Oscar’s funeral, in 1900, he fiercely disputed the role of the chief mourner with the writer’s former love, jealous Robert Ross. Keep this in mind.
On March, 1902, our Bosie married rich poet Olive Eleanor Constance, of 28, and their only son, Raymond Wilfred Sholto Douglas ( 1902-1964), obeying the family tradition, was diagnosed a schizo, rotting between the white walls of Saint Andrew’s mental hospital. Poor guy!
At this point, we don’t have records to attest why, Bosie concluded that he scorns Wilde, thus beginning to lead an ironically homophobic campaign of discrediting his persona. He refused,no, denied the association of their names in whatever situation and erased himself from any biography dedicated to the infamous writer. This from the man who insisted to be the chief mourner…
However, Providence successfully found its way to make them even and, in 1923, Alfred won his own ticket to prison by doing bad chinwag about Winston Churchill being-part-of-a-Jewish-conspiracy crap. Practically, the ordeal shook his sleeping conscience and Bosie remembered… he was the one who wanted to be the chief mourner! Oh, the dichotomy, the dichotomy!
He turned 180 degrees, converted to Roman Catholicism, as Wilde did, fortified his “most unlikely friendship” with Bernard Shaw and slowly subsided into oblivion, as his beauty began to perish.
At 78, he died of congestive heart failure, leaving a heritage of many poems, non-fictions and even a memoir which revolved around Oscar.
Lover of men, lover of women, lover of art, is it a marvel that “those red-roseleaf lips of” his “should be made no less for the madness of music and song than for the madness of kissing”?
I’m madly bewitched by Bosie’s counterpoints; I fantasize about his thoughts, the tone of his voice according to the circumstances, the softness of his ivory skin, his source of cleverness and ingenuity.
While I was watching the movie (download it, really- it worth the two hours it’ll consume from your free time) , I leaped of excitement whenever Jude Law/Bosie screamed or shouted, as girls nowadays do whenever Edward Cullen gaily sparkles. I even managed to fit in a “well, nobody’s perfect” line at his melodramatic “oh, Oscar, I was the bad influence on you!” jail scene…
Anyway, what do you think now you’ve heard the full version of Bosie’s life? Is he as dislikable as he sounded in the beginning?
January 28, 2012
Near the Panthenon, in the ancient Agora where Socrates and Platon used to spread their wisdom, lies a small, beautiful marble temple called „the Hephaisteion”. It is said that its ruins are the best kept in the whole world – a symbol for the times Greece passed through, while history’s cast storms fell above centuries. I was there in the evening when I discovered this. And, as the sun breathed one’s last streak of light on my lids with a mild, friendly wind-whisper which brought the smell of olives to my nose, I couldn’t recall anything else but my own forgotten spirit. It was dusk; night was coming over.
I was the only person in the world who knew exactly what my eyes saw.
Unfortunately, no one tells us how important is to build a relationship with yourself, nor how much we mean to the soul our body bears because -let’s face it- every single nerve within our been screams out for the little annoying issue called “love”. We search, find, leave, call, want, dream, spy, hate “love”. But we’re always twisted in the end by her poisoned arrows! Why? Nice question. We are, after all, social animals in need of affection and under-standing -even more than it looks- so, I think that leads humankind in the place it is now. At least that’s what I believed. Can’t this labyrinth hide something else, a secret meant to guide us through darkness and oblivion just for showing man that inside lies his greatest discovery and the only key which matches at the gates of Shamballa?!
I went there to vow myself “until death will set us apart” and show how much respect I have for me. I went there to scream a silent “I love life” when watching over a very old city. I went there to prove myself that I had learned the lesson and I finally can stay in harmony as a soul, spirit and body. There’s no more you can hunt than being connected with your inner channels…
Stay whole, rise firm and do not ever -under any circumstances- throw away the appreciation within.
Now I tell this to everybody willing to listen: believe- before giving love we have to sense it flowing in our veins.
January 28, 2012
“We cannot tear out a single page of our life, but we can throw the whole book in the fire!”- I’ve just fully tasted George Sand’s quote; I bear its stigmatizing prints all over my flesh like a perpetual, cruel and eternal remembrance which oblivion could least veil. Fortunately, through huge narcissistic efforts supported by certain invigorating pride, I’ve survived the temptation of “throwing the whole book in the fire” even after ripping not only a page but an entire chapter I had so minutely developed. It took that to reveal me why most people can’t break up, can’t escape the worst self-admitted bound, why humans can’t decide to welcome freedom again if searing in crippled, withering relationships.
They’d rather die imprisoned than pass the page for building another (the imposed fidelity and desperate affiliation taught by society have some faults here). I now deeply understand this masochistic behaviour as I felt its bittersweet flavour; I learned how vague you accept the flaws, the ultimate separation, how confusing, bizarre and shocking is to confront the blank space your torn page left or the empty happiness none will cover. Struggling, compromising, you had made -in your world, in your time- a metaphorical nest sacrificed for the torn page which, lacking, unleashed that aching spatial void I previously mentioned.
Thus you plunge in tormenting abysses, always fearing the possible sorrow, and, following one antique animal instinct, choose the familiar ruin-relationship instead of healing, still painfully ambiguous, liberty. It’s a studied path you may very fast indulge in.
But all has alternatives: why shouldn’t I keep my integrity and let go the unhealthy intercourse? When I start acknowledging end’s arrival why shouldn’t I accept it properly? Not as a demission, nor as a cowardly retreat and definitely not without trying some amiable methods of conciliation -because none desires to be called a quitter-, avoid the perpetuation of sick tides held only for what they were. Never hang on such illusions: inexperienced, you’ll waste vain tears you’ll more often regret. Never turn back to beg forgiveness: you’ll get weaker and surrender to obsessive desires. Vacillating, you’ll get twisted in the vanity fair of ambiguity which equals a dangerous dance with the devil.
Best adopt the coldest dignity; allow the past to be past and you- part of the future.
Move with the world- humans have a prohibition to remaining stoned.
Tear out the page- you have plenty others ahead (if you’d only pacify with the concept proceeding from which you’ve earned the possibility of inaugurating fresh starts, fresh connections, fresh pages…).
Question yourself more about romantic (platonic?) expectations so you can check how well they’re touched by the relationship that momentary tortures you. These enquiries, sharply put, honestly answered, will guide any person to certain enlightenment in issues of love and hard choices- its trick accessibly lays in personal honesty and in developing a strong connection with your inner bean (without which you would fall from mistake to mistake, gathering the experience you had avoided). Therefore, the skeleton of breaking ups is basically simple, obvious and at hand for the willing, yet successfully hidden inside the self-knowledge few practice because a contagious blindness. Mind-training frequently, you’ll activate it, point after you’ll be wise enough to deal with mature questions.
Complications (the malicious ramifications of the main core) represent the real trouble- they’re the “ever-fixed mark”, the uncertainty you’ll encounter over and over for as long as you live, no matter how you try to mummify the simplicity of parting. Fake hopes, hesitations, the scarcely guessed psychological component of your partner…no wonder “we cannot tear out a single page of our life, but we can throw the whole book in the fire”! Sometimes, the single possibility freezes your mind. And, sometimes, no advice, no theory, no self- knowledge may help but just ameliorate the downfall.
Still, bruised, ruffled, you’ll outlive it with the gift of moving on, rejecting the grave in which the ill relationship throws us every time.