I HAVE BEEN TOLD I DESERVE
“A FULL LIFE THAT ISN’T JUST ABOUT FIGHTING FOR THINGS”

Edmund White, in City Boy (p. 142), foresees the Twitters.

I knew I had to keep on writing or else I’d let the ambient cultural noise drown out my thoughts, which weren’t paraphrasable wisecracks or wisdom but rather a way of looking at the world or the self. French people dismiss the cultural chatter and self-cent[re]d attitudinizing of Paris as parisianisme. A similar noise is generated by hip New Yorkers, though we don’t have a word for it and perhaps we haven’t isolated it yet as a reprehensible phenomenon.

This “newyorkism” is so opinionated, so debilitating, so contagious with its knowingness, its instant formulas that replace any slow discoveries, that only people who are serious and ponderous can resist its blandishments, its quick substitutes for authenticity. No wonder the psychiatrist had said one should write first thing in the morning – before the tide of newyorkism swept over one, washing away actual honest thought and replacing it with trendy pronouncements.

(Cf. Mr. Crisp.)


Additionally:

  • White describes one writer friend’s withering, unsparing mentorship to another writer friend (p. 198):

    Bitchy and disagreeable as gays are sometimes thought to be, they don’t usually play lethal games like these. They don’t try to mo[u]ld behavio[u]r – perhaps they (we) aren’t confident enough to challenge another man in his heart of hearts, the private interior place where he lives. We gays don’t want to belong, we don’t want to play ball – we’re not team players, so how could we bow before someone evaluating us? We’d rather lose, quit the playing field – be a quitter. How can our father or father’s brother bully us when we’re all too ready to cry uncle? That sort of ducking out is our way of winning.

    (Cf. Merlis; Bouldrey.)

  • What does New York have that everywhere but Paris doesn’t? Cruising (p. 210):

    [In Baltimore] no one ever looked at me and I felt gr[e]y and invisible. I commuted on the Metroliner and the moment I stepped off the train in New York the swivel[l]ing eyes were all around me again, reassuringly. New York was the only place in America where everyone – young and old, straight and gay – cruised.

    People in big cities cruise; it’s no accident that in French the word cruise (draguer) is applied to straights and gays alike, since both groups do it. To put the make on someone (mater, literally “to subdue”) is also polysexual in French. In New York people check each other out to find out who they are, whereas in other cities there’s no reason to bother since no one is ever anyone.

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2010.07.15 13:25. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:
https://blog.fawny.org/2010/07/15/cityboy/

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