WHAT IS HOMOSPECTRALITY AND HOW TO AVOID IT!BY STEVEN BENSON

HOMOSPECTRALITY: 2 DEFINTIONS

1.Usually used in critical theory in reference to Henry James, especially stories like “The Beast in the Jungle”, but can be applied to James’ personal life; also in Gothic fiction, eg “Lady Audley’s Secret”(Mary Elizabeth Braddon):in the latter, Robert Audley is a “bachelor” but the (sub/meta) text has a content rich in homosexuality; in other words the (homo) sexuality is occluded, or sublimated or symbolised into something that represents it, but that is put OUTSIDE it/the self: usually the trappings of Gothic fiction( houses with splits in them in , stagnant pools in the Braddon, all representing  an undeveloped and spectralised/ghosted form of the self that cannot be safely integrated into the sense of self.)Thus it is claimed that Ahab’s wooden leg, in “Moby Dick” is a symbol of his “castrated”, numb, repressed homosexuality. This thesis , and some applications thereof, are , of course, contested in heterosexist critical circles(they WOULD be-see earlier posts in this blog and “Decayetude”) Anyway, the homosexual/gay self is made into an actual ghost or, more likely, a dead(the useless leg; the stagnant, lifeless pools and the stunted trees in Gothic fiction) representation of the piece of the self(same self love affect)that cannot (yet or at all) be acknowledged in the overriding self-concept; it is thus a spectre/ a ghost, hence homospectrality.

2.In the section on Cosmo and Adelwarth in “The Emmigrants” by Sebald, Cosmo’s psyche gradually disappears( he ends up in a psychiatric institution) before our/the narrator’s/Adelwarth’s eyes as his/their lack of recognition as indivuals and a couple(INCLUDING but not reduced to their homosexuality)is marginalised-well, completely ignored-by the rest of the family and society at large; the same happens to Adelwarth later; perceived as, variously, master and servant, brother and sister, good friends, in others’ eyes; and being in the “glass closet” to their family, who know they are of “the other persuasion” but it is never spoken of; so there is a social homospectrality, which becomes psychologically internalised (self) homospectrality(spectre in the sense of being made invisibilised- a ghostly self- then eventually mentally defunct then physically dead). Dr. K, in “Vertigo”(1993)of course also exhibits this, as he cannot force himself through society’s proscriptions to satisfy his sexual lust for the young men he follows, at the same time Sebald indicating his homospectrality by him literally being omitted from a photograph (of the Prague workers), of whom he had been previously a part ; as  well as having to avoid the (Nazi) “jackboot of history.”

Of course these two meanings are related.

HOW TO AVOID BECOMING A SPECTRE OF YOURSELF

Well, coming out is the answer: firstly to yourself, throwing off the repressive shackles of social expectation and control, then to others; BEING yourself, in respect to OWNING your sexual orientation, (rather then externalising it or even fetishizing it outwards); so that you AVOID being a spectre of your (homosexual/gay) self. It is that simple; and that difficult. But we can learn the lesson from these figures-protagonists(fictional, narrative voices), and authors themselves , who lived in more difficult times, and were (mainly or only in a closeted or double-life way)consequently only able to ALLUDE to the gay/bisexual parts of themselves,or  censor it/have it censored.Not to mention learning from cataclysmically brave figures like Edward Carpenter who lived an openly gay life with his lover near working-class Sheffield towards the end of the last century(see Sheila Rowbotham’s book on Carpenter)

{with acknowledgements to writers like Sedgwick, particuarly her “”Between Men: English Literature and male Homosocial desire”(chapter on “Towards the Gothic:terrorism and homosexual Panic”,1985); and there are many essays on this subject in relation to James’ fiction}

Next, homosociality and its co-dependent dominatory relationship with homospectrality

Advertisements

About decayetude

ENTHUSIASMS: CLASSICAL MUSIC, ESPECIALLY OBSCURE ROMANTIC COMPOSERS; BACH/HANDEL LITERATURE, ESPECIALLY THOUGHTFUL, WELL-WRITTEN(STYLISTICALLY)NOVELS W G SEBALD WALTER BENJAMIN THEODOR ADORNO(JUST BEGINNING!) AESTHETIC PHILOSOPHY GAY MEN'S WRITING;QUEER THEORY STIMULATING DISCUSSIONS(EMOTIONALLY AND INTELLECTUALLY) GOOD RICH THICK ESPRESSO MICHAEL PONTI SPRITUALITY/LIFE'S "AURA"(BENJAMIN), WHATEVER TRANSCENDENTAL THING YOU WANT TO CALL THIS MEMORY-the elusiveness thereof. LOST TIME AND AN ATTEMPT AT ITS REDEMPTION(NON THEISTICALLY/RELIGIOUSLY)
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s