[bit.listserv.gaynet] Potpourri


What follows are various responses which are in reference to comments made
earlier which I either did not have sufficient time to respond to or esle
(else) found them too painful; and general things I meant to say but did
have all the information that I needed.

Marz, the book that you should read by Mary Douglass is titled Purity and
Danger; for background reference see also Winthrop Jordans' White Over
Black: American Attitudes Toward The Negro, 1550-1812, pub. 1968 by Univ.
of North Carolina Press; this edition is based on the author's dissertation
and another version has been pubished as White Man's Burden: Historical
Origins of Racism in the United States, pub. by Oxford (1974?).  Read any-
thing by George Stocking, but especially Victorian Anthropology and
Race, Culture and Language; he provides good models for critique in
Reinventing Anthropology and Observers Observered.  All of these should be
available at your school library.  As for an introduction to critical
theory and the works of Foucoult, Douglass, Habermas and Jurgen, see
Power and Domination by Peter Miller,  and Cultural Analysis by Robert
Wuthnow, et. al.  A book that I find also useful is Issac Balbus' Beyond
(sorry, /not/ "Beyond") Marxism and Domination: A NeoHegalian, Feminist
and Ecological View Toward Liberation.  Do you read French?  I am very
influenced by French anthropologists and ethnologists, especially
the feminist ones.  Do read L'Arraisonnement des femmes: Essais en
anthropologie des sexes, ed. by Nicole-Claude Mathieu.  I don't think that
it has been translated yet, but watch for it, it's a very powerful book.

Hope this is helpful to you.  Bill.

Stephanie, I lost your address when I accidently deleted a mail file and
thus I cannot mail you the paper I promised; however, I will send it if
you provide me with your address again.

Louie, I don't know if you are back yet, but I received the manuscipt;
incidently, I met the young professor last summer when he was in
Bloomington--he is completing the doctorate here and came to spend time
with his lover; he was here again over break and I had them over for

Gabriel, on the pink triangle, I think that was a brilliant piece that
you wrote.  I have never been able to bring myself to wear a pink triangle
either as an ornament or on a tee shirt or sweat shirt.  I think that the
triangle has come to mean a sort of "sign", a point of refence and
identification for many, but as you say, perhaps we should cling to the
symbols which affirm our inclusion in the human community and not those
which excise us.  Perhaps deep in my psyche I have felt this all along,
but I never analyzed it really, I had never thought of why I had never
been able to do this.  I have often wanted to wear one, but could never
bring myself to purchase one or place such a symbol on my being.  But the
triangle does serve as a reminder, of tragedy, and too, of hope.  That in
remembering, we will not forget the horror of human ignorance and delusion,
but will cling steadfast to the amazing potential of humanity while
recognizing our flaws and failures, our fears and our greed, our egos and
our deep pains, our laughter and beauty, our freedoms and our limitations--
our efforts for peace, justice and survival.

Also, Gabriel, the question you posed on Eddie and Sam, the commedians
are difficult and painful to me.  I don't know who Sam Kinnison is (I
really try to tune out the television for periods of time).  Eddie Murphy
is one whose behavior I have many problems with, yes.  But it's not just
his behavior, his comedy routines, it's the whole power structure which
back his routines and the distorted images of Blacks which he acts out.
20th century minstrelsly.  As a folklorist who is black, this is simply
another dissapointment with the representation of our culture, of who
we are.  I don't think that Eddie even attempts to transform the stereotypes
that he uses.  Some, perhaps, would argue that he does, that he is taking
stereotypes created by whites and exposing them what for they are.  I don't
think so.  What I see when I look at his routines--or what I saw, for I can
no longer bear the pain of watching them--is a system of oppression which
reveals at once the racism, sexism and homophobia of our culture of violence.
Violence in American culture is a type of norm and contributes to the many
present dangers to all of our lives and to our governmental policy, both
home and abroad.  As a nation, we are by no means any kinder or more gentle
than the harsh, repressive Reagan era and I fear for my country and the
darkness that is just down the road.

Many gay people that I know /laugh/ at their own distorted images.  I cannot
laugh at them anymore because it means being embarrassed at who I am and at
qualities of difference which are natural but not laughable.  Eddie's
remarks on Michael Jackson, for instance, I can only take as irresponsible
and dangerous.  I think of Michael, in many ways, as a young Langston Hughes
(not quite, but similar) and really, for all we know, he may be much more
evolved than any of us, more transformed.  I respect his wishes to be as
he is and to be left alone.  He is an amazing human being who is wonderfully
talented and illuminating.  I like the light that surrounds him.

To all, be good to yourselves; opens your windows, let the sun shine in.
No matter what happens, We Are Here To Stay!  If we aim toward truth,
bring forth what is within ourselves, letting all the light shine, it will
be like a prison breaking open, an illuminating release!

Pass it on.  Bill.