Wednesday, May 14, 2008

A BOOK CLUB and Jeanette Winterson

Consisting of just me.

I am currently reading a book by one of my favorite authors, Jeanette Winterson. Her new book, The Stone Gods is a cross into dystopian Sci-Fi, in 4 parts. Or maybe 4 parts. You see everything is connected to the next, past and future. A strong theme in all her novels is love and this novel does not lack the theme, but brings new light into the way we love, who or what we love, how we teach love and how love is learned. Most importantly the survival of "us" in connection to said theme and the planet/planets we inhabit. It is a very obvious social commentary and an interplanetary love story. Maybe too obvious. I am one for subtlety and perhaps that is why I am so torn reading this book. Does it measure up or does she fall short? I really do not know. I can not say its unlike anything I have read before, but the concept is eternally interesting of course; especially historical and present. My assessments are incomplete, but if I did have a book club I would suggest picking it up. It is worth it. That I do know. Oh and did i mention it is very queer? PLUS.

Below is an excerpt of, The Stone Gods.

The Stone Gods - extract

This new world weighs a yatto-gram.
But everything is trial-size; tread-on-me tiny or blurred-out-of-focus huge. There are leaves that have grown as big as cities, and there are birds that nest in cockleshells. On the white sand there are long-toed clawprints deep as nightmares, and there are rock pools in hand-hollows finned by invisible fish.
Trees like skyscrapers, and housing as many. Grass the height of hedges, nuts the swell of pumpkins. Sardines that would take two men to land them. Eggs, pale-blue-shelled, each the weight of a breaking universe.
And, underneath, mushrooms soft and small as a mouse ear. A crack like a cut, and inside a million million microbes wondering what to do next. Spores that wait for the wind and never look back.
Moss that is concentrating on being green.

A man pushes forward with a microphone – 'And is there oxygen?' Yes, there is. 'And fresh water?' Abundant. 'And no pollution?' None. Are there minerals? Is there gold? What's the weather like? Does it rain a lot? Has anyone tried the fish? Are there any humans? No, there are not any humans. Any intelligent life at all?
Depends what you mean by intelligent. There is something there, yes, and it's very big and very good at its job.
A picture of a scaly-coated monster with metal-plated jaws appears on the overhead screen. The crowd shrieks and swoons. No! Yes! No! Yes!
The most efficient killing machine ever invented before gunpowder. Not bad for a thing with a body the size of a stadium and a brain the size of a jam-jar.

I am here today to answer questions: 'The lady in pink –'
'Are these monsters we can see vegetarian?'
'Ma'am, would you be vegetarian with teeth like that?'
It's the wrong answer. I am here to reassure. A scientist steps forward. That's better. Scientists are automatically reassuring.
This is a very exciting, and very reassuring, day.

We are here today to witness the chance of a lifetime. The chance of many lifetimes. The best chance we have had since life began. We are running out of planet and we have found a new one. Through all the bright-formed rocks that jewel the sky, we searched until we found the one we will call home. We're moving on, that's all. Everyone has to do that some time or other, sooner or later, it's only natural.

My name is Billie Crusoe.
'Excuse me, is your name Billie Crusoe?'
'That's me.'
'From Enhancement Services?'
'Yes, Every Day a New Day.' (As we say in Enhancement.)
'Can you tell viewers how the new planet will affect their lives?'
'Yes, I can. The new planet offers us the opportunity to do things differently. We've had a lot of brilliant successes here on Orbus – well, we are the success story of the universe, aren't we? I mean to say, no other planet hosts human life.'
The interviewer nods and smiles vigorously.
'But we have taken a few wrong turnings. Made a few mistakes. We have limited natural resources at our disposal, and a rising population that is by no means in agreement as to how our world as a whole should share out these remaining resources. Conflict is likely. A new planet means that we can begin to redistribute ourselves. It will mean a better quality of life for everyone – the ones who leave, and the ones who stay.'
'So a win-win situation?'
'That's right, winning numbers all the way.'

Through the golden arches that are the city gates, the President of the Central Power is arriving. The arches stand like angels, their wings folded back against the lesser lights of the skyline.
The laser-gates, which look so solid, appear and disappear, like the wall that rings the city, a visible and invisible sign of progress and power.
Look in the light – the slight shimmer is their long energy. They are the aura of the city: emblem and warning, its halo and shield.
The President's cavalcade has reached the Circle. Flags, carpets, flowers, flunkeys, hitmen, pressmen, frontmen, back-up, support, medics, techies, crew, rig, lights, sound, real-time, archive, relay, vox-pop, popcorn, polish, makeup, dust-down, ready, green – go.

The President is making a speech. The Central Power has funded the space mission for hundreds of years, and it is understood that any discoveries belong to us. He compares us to the men who found the Indies, the Americas, the Arctic Circle; he becomes emotional, he reaches for a line of poetry. For a moment, there it is, in handwriting that nobody can read, slanting under the images of Planet Blue – She is all States, all Princes I...

The President is making a speech.
Unique moment for mankind ... unrivalled opportunity ... war averted ... summit planned between the Central Power, Eastern Caliphate, and our friends in the SinoMosco Pact. Peaceful compromise promised. New planets for old. Full pictures and information across the twenty-two geo-cities of the Central Power by tomorrow morning. New colonizing mission being made ready. Monsters will be humanely destroyed, with the possible exception of scientific capture of one or two types for the Zooeum.
Into the Circle come the spacemen themselves, in shiny titanium pressure suits, oversize helmets under their arms. These are men glamorous as comets, trailing fame in fire-tails.
There's a robot with them – well, a Robo sapiens, incredibly sexy, with that look of regret they all have before they are dismantled. It's policy; all information-sensitive robots are dismantled after mission, so that their data cannot be accessed by hostile forces. She's been across the universe, and now she's going to the recycling unit. The great thing about robots, even these Robo sapiens, is that nobody feels sorry for them. They are only machines.
She stands there, while the silver-suited saviours shake the President's hand. She's going to tell us all about the chemical and mineral composition of the new planet, its atmospheric readings, its possible history and potential evolution. Then, when the public part is done, she'll go backstage, transfer all her data, and open her power cells until her last robot flicker.
The End.
It's a kind of suicide, a kind of bleeding to death, but they show no emotion because emotions are not part of their programming.
Amazing to look so convincing and be nothing but silicon and a circuit-board.
She glances over to the Support Stand and catches my eye. I can't help blushing. I think she has read my mind. They can do that.

This is a great day for science. The last hundred years have been hell. The doomsters and the environmentalists kept telling us we were as good as dead and, hey presto, not only do we find a new planet, but it is perfect for new life. This time, we'll be more careful. This time we will learn from our mistakes. The new planet will be home to the universe's first advanced civilization. It will be a democracy – because whatever we say in public, the Eastern Caliphate isn't going to be allowed within a yatto-mile of the place. We'll shoot 'em down before they land. No, we won't shoot them down, because the President of the Central Power has just announced a new world programme of No War. We will not shoot down the Eastern Caliphate, we will robustly repel them.
The way the thinking is going in private, we'll leave this run-down rotting planet to the Caliphate and the SinoMosco Pact, and they can bomb each other to paste while the peace-loving folks of the Central Power ship civilization to the new world.

The new world – El Dorado, Atlantis, the Gold Coast, Newfoundland, Plymouth Rock, Rapanaui, Utopia, Planet Blue. Chanc'd upon, spied through a glass darkly, drunken stories strapped to a barrel of rum, shipwreck, a Bible Compass, a giant fish led us there, a storm whirled us to this isle. In the wilderness of space, we found...

Taken from
To read the full excerpt provided by Jeanette Winterson, please go to

Above: Jeanette Winterson
Photo taken from:

In 1987 Jeanette Winterson wrote The Passion, which is a must read. I say this because I truly believe with each little dark and dusty crevice of my heart, that everyone MUST read this book. It definitely had a very lasting affect on parts of my being I neglected and had forgotten. Its beauty is absolute.

The story is cut into four sections. Another theme. These sections seemingly distinct in the first two parts then intertwine together to create a marveling story about survival, war, love, risk and loss. The first section is the story of Henri, a young Frenchman sent to fight in the Napoleonic wars. The Second section is the story of Villanelle, a cross-dressing, queer Venetian woman, born with webbed feet and with a love for a woman who keeps Villanelle's heart in a jar. Henri and Villanelle meet in Russia and from there the story twists around the pair, switches narrative, connects and disconnects.

An Excerpt from The Passion, By Jeanette Winterson:

Our companion loosed her laces but kept her boots on, and seeing my surprise at forgoing this unexpected luxury said, 'My father was a boatman. Boatmen do not take off their boots.' We were silent, either out of respect for her customs or sheer exhaustion, but it was she who offered to tell us her story if we chose to listen.

'A fire and a tale,' said Patrick. 'Now all we need is a drop of something hot,' and he fathomed from the bottom of his unfathomable pockets another stoppered jar of evil spirit.

This was her story.

I have always been a gambler. It's a skill that comes naturally to me like thieving and loving. What I didn't know by instinct I picked up from working the Casino, from watching others play and learning what it is that people value and therefore what it is they will risk. I learned how to put a challenge in such a way as to make it irresistible. We gamble with the hope of winning. But it's the thought of what we might lose that excites us.

How you play is a temperamental thing; cards, dice, dominoes, jacks, such preferences are frills merely. All gamblers sweat. I come from the city of chances, where everything is possible but where everything has a price. In this city great fortunes are won and lost overnight. It has always been so. Ships that carry silk and spices sink, the servant betrays the master, the secret is out and the bell tolls another accidental death. But penniless adventurers have always been welcome here too, they are good luck and very often their good luck rubs off on themselves. Some who come on foot leave on horseback and others who trumpeted their estate beg on the Rialto. It has always been so.

The astute gambler always keeps something back, something to play with another time; a pocket watch, a hunting dog. But the Devil's gambler keeps back something precious, something to gamble with only once in a lifetime. Behind the secret panel he keeps it, the valuable, fabulous thing that no one suspects he has.

I knew a man like that; not a drunkard sniffing after every wager nor an addict stripping the clothes off his back rather than go home. A thoughtful man who they say had trade with gold and death. He lost heavily, as gamblers do; he won surprisingly, as gamblers do, but he never showed much emotion, never led me to suspect that much important was at stake. A hobbyist, I thought, dismissing him. You see, I like passion, I like to be among the desperate.

I was wrong to dismiss him. He was waiting for the wager that would seduce him into risking what he valued. He was a true gambler, he was prepared to risk the valuable, fabulous thing but not for a dog or a cock or the casual dice.

On a quiet evening, when the tables were half empty and the domino sets lay in their boxes, he was there, wandering, fluttering, drinking and flirting.

I was bored.

Then a man came into the room, not one of our regulars, not one any of us knew, and after a few half-hearted games of chance he spied this figure and engaged him in conversation. They talked for upwards of half an hour and so intently that we thought they must be old friends and lost our curiosity in the assumption of habit. But the rich man with his strangely bowed companion by his side asked leave to make an announcement, a most remarkable wager, and we cleared the central floor and let him speak.

It seemed that his companion, this stranger, had come from the wastes of the Levant, where exotic lizards breed and all is unusual. In his country, no man bothered with paltry fortunes at the gaming table, they played for higher stakes.

A life.

The wager was a life. The winner should take the life of the loser in whatsoever way he chose. However slowly he chose, with whatever instruments he chose. What was certain was that only one life would be spared.

Taken from:
For a full excerpt, please visit :

Thursday, May 8, 2008

For Rebecca Marie Susan Ohlson

dances are rituals

shoulders are hunched forward
bodies slumped. its a desperate move with desperate ties to something dark and unseen
just a feeling
the dragging of calloused filthy feet. it sounds like death but it feels much deeper
with two tiny gold strings attached to brittle pelvises bumping into one another while
tiny stones scurry to make up a furious, vengeful sky
it screams silence and dust pushes out of various cavities
its what we call a body
temporary, chilled and crying for something more than the tangible
the spaces between the stars, or cells
try within and between the dirt trapped between finger and nail
a convulsive laugh breaks up the circles
shakes the mind

i miss her. its desperate.

-Sujey Lee

Rebecca Ohlson and Sujey Lee.
photo taken by the photobooth at POPS. San Francisco, CA. 2004.

Airships by Metallic Falcons

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Anne Sexton

The Starry Night by Anne Sexton

That does not keep me from having a terrible need of -- shall I say the word -- religion. Then
I go out at night to paint the stars.

--Vincent Van Gogh in a letter to his brother

The town does not exist
except where one black-haired tree slips
up like a drowned woman into the hot sky.
The town is silent. The night boils with eleven stars.
Oh starry starry night! This is how
I want to die.

It moves. They are all alive.
Even the moon bulges in its orange irons
to push children, like a god, from its eye.
The old unseen serpent swallows up the stars.
Oh starry starry night! This is how
I want to die:

into that rushing beast of the night,
sucked up by that great dragon, to split
from my life with no flag,
no belly,
no cry

November 9, 1928—October 4, 1974

Anne Sexton committed suicide at the age of 46.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

seins means senos

meet mon amie.

i am feeling very romantic today

Photo taken from:

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Work in progress.

An excerpt from a piece I am working on. A dedication to Stefan, Amy, Adele and Brooklyn, NY:

Sometimes sleep does not come easy. My eyes jolted open, to an immense darkness wrapped in cold. The tiny window above my head opened onto a brick wall, which stood firmly a foot away, allowing very little room for the air around me to move. It was winter, the air was chilled but it still felt stuck in my throat. Welcome to Brooklyn.

I threw the covers off me and walked into my roommate’s room. Our apartment was what they call “railroad style”. My room led into her room, and her room led into my room, which led into a skinny hallway leading to other rooms. By rooms I mean small, linear holding cells. One of the other rooms had a tarp separating it from the hallway and my space was no bigger then 150 sq ft. It was our voluntary prison that seemed to swallow everything around it, including conversations and socks. She was awake and facing an old 13” TV she stole from her mothers house. The blue light from the TV devoured her face as she ripped away and looked over. We were past the point of knocking; the walls could have been a thin clear plastic.

“Let’s get out of here.” As the TV softly chattered.

Those words were like a secret code opening heavy steel doors in us; leading to bare, damp, open streets. We dressed for the winter outside and leapt into the city.

-Sujey Lee