But since we’re on the topic of identity and narrative voice - here’s an interesting conundrum. You may know that The Correspondence Artist won a Lambda Award. I love the Lambda Literary Foundation and I was thrilled to win a Lammy. My book won in the category of Bisexual Fiction. The Awards (or nearly all of them) are categorized according to the sexual identity of the dominant character in a work of fiction, not the author. I’m not sure if dominant is the word they use, but you get the idea. The foregrounded character. In The Correspondence Artist, the narrator is a woman, but you’re never sure about the gender of her lover. You’re also never sure about the lover’s age or ethnicity - these things change too and pretty dramatically. Also, sometimes when the narrator corresponds with her lover by email, she (the narrator) makes reference to her hard on. That is, part of her erotic play with her lover has to do with destabilizing the ways she refers to her own sex (by which I mean both gender and naughty bits). So really, the narrator and her lover are only verifiably bisexual in the Freudian sense of the term - that is, it’s unclear if they have sex with people of the same sex, but they each have a complex gender identity that shifts over time. Looking at the various possible categorizations for that book, I think Bisexual Fiction was the most appropriate, but better, of course, would have been Queer Fiction. Maybe even trans, though surely that would have raised some hackles.So, I just submitted I’m Trying to Reach You for this year’s Lambda Awards and I had to choose a category. Well. As I said, the narrator identifies as a gay man. I guess you’d say the primary erotic relationship is with his boyfriend, Sven. But he has an obsession with a weird middle-aged white lady dancer on YouTube who happens to be me and ultimately you come to understand that she is involved in an erotic relationship with a lesbian electric guitarist. And this romance isn’t just a titillating spectacle for a voyeuristic narrator: it turns out to be the founding myth of our national poetics! They are Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman! Sorry for all the spoilers. I never mind spoilers because I never read for plot. Maybe the editor (hello Emily) will want to head plot-sensitive readers off at the pass if you publish this paragraph. Anyway, the question then is: does authorial self-referentiality matter? Does the national mythos matter? Is this a work of Bisexual or Lesbian Fiction? Is Walt trans? I ended up submitting the book as Gay (Male) Fiction. The administrator of the prizes also thought this was appropriate, since Gray is the narrator. And Gray is not me, but also not not me, just as Emily Dickinson is not me but also not not me and Walt Whitman is not my lover but also not not my lover. Again, it’s a really queer book, but the point is kind of to trip you up about what you thought you knew about gender anyway.
Barbara Browning
From an interview with Susie Bright:SB: You were recently reviewed by the New York Times. How do you think the mainstream media regards sex museums, schools and cultural centers these days? What's their spin versus your own observations?[Note: Here's the article Susie mentions: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/05/nat... ]CQ: Lots of people have seen the little NY Times article, which was about an event we did, the Belle Bizarre Bazaar -- a holiday shopping fair where most of the vendors were sex workers selling sexy stuff. Proceeds went to our Exotic Dancers' Education Project, providing dancers with skills that will help them maximize their potential and choices. This event got into the Times despite the worries of its author, a journalist who'd been posted over by her editor. She thought the Times was way too conservative for the likes of us, which may be true, except they now have so many column inches to fill with distracting stuff that isn't about Judith Miller!The one thing the Times article does not do is present the spectrum of the Center for Sex & Culture's work, especially the academic and serious side of what we do. This, I think, points to the real answer to your question: mainstream media culture remains quite nervous and touchy about sex-related issues, especially those that take sex really seriously. A frivolous take (or a good, juicy, shocking angle) on a sex story works for the mainstream press: a sex-positive and serious take, not so much. When the San Francisco Chronicle did its article about us a year ago, the writer focused just on our porn collection. Now, we very much value that, but we also collect academic journals and sex education materials and not a word about those! I think this is one really essential linchpin of sex-negative or erotophobic culture, that sex is only allowed to be either light or heavy and when it's heavy, it's about really heavy issues like abuse. Recently I gave some quotes about something-or-other for a Cosmo story and the editors didn't want to use the term sexologist to describe me, saying that it wasn't a real word! You know, stuff like that from the Times would not be all that surprising, but Cosmo is now policing the language? Please!
Carol Queen
Ocean Acidification is sometimes referred to as Global Warming's Equally Evil Twin. The irony is intentional and fair enough as far as it goes... No single mechanism explains all the mass extinctions in the record and yet changes in ocean chemistry seem to be a pretty good predictor. Ocean Acidification played a role in at least 2 of the Big Five Extinctions: the End-Permian and the End-Triassic. And quite possibly it was a major factor in a third, the End-Cretaceous. ...Why is ocean acidification so dangerous? The question is tough to answer only because the list of reasons is so long. Depending on how tightly organisms are able to regulate their internal chemistry, acidification may affect such basic processes as metabolism, enzyme activity and protein function. Because it will change the makeup of microbial communities, it will alter the availability of key nutrients, like iron and nitrogen. For similar reasons, it will change the amount of light that passes through the water and for somewhat different reasons, it will alter the way sound propagates. (In general, acidification is expected to make the seas noisier.) It seems likely to promote the growth of toxic algae. It will impact photosynthesis—many plant species are apt to benefit from elevated CO2 levels—and it will alter the compounds formed by dissolved metals, in some cases in ways that could be poisonous.Of the myriad possible impacts, probably the most significant involves the group of creatures known as calcifiers. (The term calcifier applies to any organism that builds a shell or external skeleton or, in the case of plants, a kind of internal scaffolding out of the mineral calcium carbonate.)...Ocean acidification increases the cost of calcification by reducing the number of carbonate ions available to organisms that build shells or exoskeletons. Imagine trying to build a house while someone keeps stealing your bricks. The more acidified the water, the greater the energy that’s required to complete the necessary steps. At a certain point, the water becomes positively corrosive and solid calcium carbonate begins to dissolve. This is why the limpets that wander too close to the vents at Castello Aragonese end up with holes in their shells.According to geologists who work in the area, the vents have been spewing carbon dioxide for at least several hundred years, maybe longer. Any mussel or barnacle or keel worm that can adapt to lower pH in a time frame of centuries presumably already would have done so. You give them generations on generations to survive in these conditions and yet they’re not there, Hall-Spencer observed.
Elizabeth Kolbert