Thursday, December 11, 2008

Advice from Virginia Woolf: “The way to rock oneself back into writing is this. First gentle exercise in the air. Second the reading of good literature. It is a mistake to think that literature can be produced from the raw.”
". . . [The poet] arrives at the unknown: and even if, half crazed, in the end, he loses the understanding of his visions, he has seen them! Let him be destroyed in his leap by those unnamable, unutterable and innumerable things: there will come other horrible workers: they will begin at the horizons where he has succumbed." —Arthur Rimbaud

getting inspired while im writing my final papers

"Where men say, 'I have a theory,' women are more likely to say, 'I wonder if, maybe...'"

"And in the words of a woman administrator I interviewed, 'male faculty and administrators pontificate and hog the floor. They announce, "I have three points to make," and that paves the way for them to hold the floor until they've made all three. They've claimed that floor. Women usually don't feel they have the right to do that.'

this would make an awesome comp topic.
"doing gender in academia, women academics performing gender through verbal and visual language during a transition stage toward a state of equality in the university..."something like that

i could interview female professors etc


im excited. and distracted. eek.

Friday, November 14, 2008


















possibly property.

Envelopment, sealed with a kiss.

I remember faintly the moment in my younger intellectual life in which I learned that the word “envelope” can be used as a verb. That is, conceptually, I learned how solitary objects-nouns- can become an action, a movement. I think that this realization, when explored m0re thoroughly and applied liberally in many ways changed my world and how I have evolved now to understand it and its potential.

But the word “envelope”…that’s a big one. When used and understood as its verb form, it means to fully and completely wrap around, to encompass all there is in a subject with the use of every limb (physical and otherwise), to securely hold the contents, to caress them with an all-encompassing embrace. The effort, expression and meaning of the act- to envelop another in something- is not accidental. Rather it exists with intention, fueled by desire. On the other side, to be the receiving subject of the action/concept is something quite different. To be enveloped in something or someone requires a kind of abandon- given its character by trust. To be enveloped by someone or something may feel something of accidental, just as one can suddenly seem to find oneself in the center of a storm or, just as likely, at the center of a miraculous stillness, calm and quiet. Though- I must admit that I am personally inclined to view situations of control and the actions that reflect them through the lens of Antonio Gramsci’s theories of hegemony- as the product of both coercion and consent. That is, what appears non-intended moments of envelopment occur only because of the presence of some form of consent, of agreement, of desire to be in the receiving position of control/power.

I really like the dual play of this action/concept based in a thing/object; on one side, the participatory/active intention of enveloping, one the other, the passive act of being enveloped (which as I mentioned earlier is not entirely passive in that it is powerless and voiceless, but is rather actively passive, passive with an awareness [ and perhaps a shy smile?]) and how both, in their performance of meaning, form a kind of solid unit characterized by the yin-and-yang-like intertwining of roles. This is one of my favorite conceptual images of all time (newly rethought, relived, renewed)!

I like to think of Love in terms (not verbal so much as conceptual-all encompassingly so) of this “envelope.” My lover poetically wrote to me of the consentual nature of the kiss, of our kiss being the result of two minds, two bodies coming together with the shared drive by desire to experience passive abandon whilst actively delivering. Perhaps it is in the kiss that we are made particularly aware of this manner in which our lives meet, intertwine, release.

But even if I were to lock lips with him for hours, kissing him repetitively over the course of a day without tiring into the night, the kiss, its performance, is played out in the moment. It is performed and experienced simultaneously but only so quickly as a lightning bug illuminates in a dark field to make others (and perhaps itself) aware of its own existence before once again disappearing. The kiss is a transient symbol of Us, replayed as wanted or needed as if in the reenactment of an action on a significant holiday to remind us of what’s there. (Light the candles at Christmas, we will bring light to the darkness, we will remember the spirit alive in the flicker of the flame.)

But- more than the kiss, one small piece, is the complete envelopment that we are. I want to envelope him in all that I am (think, feel, believe), in my love and in my care. I will do this with an intention fueled by desire. I will actively engulf him in my sea. Similarly, I will be, I am, enveloped by him, in him. It feels as though accidental, but the abandonment happens with my consent. He envelops me in all that is him, and he must be careful and secure and all-encompassing and fueled by desire. He, at the same time, may be enveloped in me, passively giving into my physical and metaphysical embrace, and with trust. In the full performance of the meaning of the word-concept-action-image, from players who play their dual parts completely, the lovers embody the term, they become a solid object, a unit, intertwined – defined by action made to and through each other.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

wasted nature

The wind breathes of You
soft and clean
It sings to me, But I can't sing back.

Trees look to you
bright eyed, beautiful
They look at me, but a can't return the glance.

Rain funnels down your skin
cold, yet consuming
It touches me, but I can't hold it.

The sun shines down on you
soaring heights, warm yellow rays
It reaches for me, but I must constrain my affection.

A love that is not wholehearted does not deserve a title.
Words that are spoken with weak meaning do not deserve to be heard.
Actions carried out minimally deserve the same return.
Intentions that remain ambiguous are plagued to wander endlessly.

you would take me and place me in your box of pillows

And so you sit in the back of the room-Who knows what trails about in your head. Though, I do wish that I could control it, with a certain obliviousness (oblivion perhaps?) To answer my prayers, offer up tat hope that you might know what feelings are and can differentiate between significant and insignificant emotions, that if I spilled out my heart, you would take me and place me in your box of pillows
and bean bags
with walls decorated with neon reflecting traffic vests
and random sketches and tallies of things that you can do with your eyes closed,
and you'd come visit me and we'd play in the candle wax, drawing our names and melting plastic objects and maybe I'd find out that you really are amazing and not just a projection of the way I want to see you. If I could be proven right for once in my life, the air would sing to our skin.

slit open your stomach and let it all tumble out kid.

I scramble to the door, desperately lunge at the handle the second it comes into view- swing the door open and stumble in with a loud slam. I lay back against the wall, slide to the ground slowly and stare my Fucking Reality down. Thats when the cold linoleum sensation hits. It purges my mind, and suddenly I'm sucked back into this tunnel where the minuscule details tower over the broad ideas or the core subjects...and ALL THE DIRT SHOWS. The places that were missed juxtaposed with those over-cleaned so harshly they now lay pale and sterile. And so...this imbalance...I start screamingIletgoScreaming-with-every-forsaken-breath-in-this-damned- shadow-body.

old things,,,,from a rediscovered notebook

Like an indirect kiss that gives you a rash after-
makes you w0nder why you even tried.
Blasted thoughts.

Rain falls and I'm seduced
drawn to your existence
intrigued by your face
engulfed in that sound that remains constant
as though it were sent from some alien sky
to ensure
the rhythmic beat of my heart
pounding pounding
soft soft
pounding pounding
soft soft
everything melts together
a symphony of peace
the bass hits deep in my chest and soon my mind is locked
until once again finding myself entranced in euphoria.

Take me back to the time when I could breathe you in without your knowing:
Fall in love with your eyes on paper.
A diluted version of the real thing- still leaves a strong smell on the breath
as I lay glued to the floor, immobile, intoxicated.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

this morning's walk through the hills brought thoughts of Indian women with eyes of a fiery jade color whose skin tasted like the ash from earthy incense richly blended with milk and honey.
shake children.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

"It’s not that I’m in favor of difficulty for difficulty’s sake; it’s that I think there is a lot in ordinary language and in received grammar that constrains our thinking – indeed, about what a person is, what a subject is, what sexuality is, what politics can be – and that I’m not sure we’re going to be able to struggle effectively against those constrains or work within them in a productive way unless we see the ways in which grammar is both producing and constraining our sense of what the world is."
-judith butler.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

with her long string bow of wonder and curiosity

It is a common act to praise warriors throughout history for their aggressive bravery, devotion and undeniable impact on others. Although she has never been bloodied in war, my mother is a warrior. Tracie Rae Kidd: a woman whose name requires no carving on massive stone blocks to be placed in town square to remind others of her virtue. She carries her strength with her in everything she says and does, her presence is felt everywhere she goes and tangibly lingers when she leaves. Her weapons are ideas, feelings and words brandished across her chest like hand crafted arrows, which, upon impulse, she sets aflame and sends flying, piercing that which is everything new and unknown with her long string bow of wonder and curiosity. Those that have been so blessed to have crossed her path have felt her fire. As a woman who has forever preached the importance of fearlessness in every endeavor, urging the necessity to pour oneself unabashedly into everything one does with a sense of grandeur and daring, so too will I here attempt to boast the boundlessness of her being in such a way which echoes the very bold, boisterous and unbridled manner in which she breathes and blows through the world each day.

(This is the introduction. I can't find the rest of it on my computer, but when I do, I will post it)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

3am Saturday night/early morning

3am Saturday night/early morning. You knocked soft on my window, I guess you figured I would be awake. I have had trouble sleeping recently, and everyone knows that you never rest. I pulled up the blinds, slid open the window pane. There you stood, your face lit up only by the streetlight, partial and secretive with that look on like you’re up to something, arched eyebrows, eyes wide and dark and impatient, like your scheming. I ran around to the door, opened it and led you with my hand past the fluorescent lights in the hallways that stay on through the night.
In the name of beauty and truth and damning the man you’d say. Romance and radicalism never tasted sweeter together. I guess the most troubling part is that somewhere in my mind I already had a bag packed, willing to follow you anywhere you wanted to take me.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

I evaporate into a fine mist,
tasting like cotton candy when you breathe me in.
But I'm no pastel colors.

And I don't wear camouflage,
it makes me look invisible.


My mind is full of dust balls
with faces.
They don't talk.
Their mouths are covered by nappy dust-hair.
They just dust-mumble. (or d'umble for short)
Dumblage and moist musty dew
spews from the droplets trapped in
broken umbrellas that have been


in the back of Our Closet since last fall.

old writings of old feelings

tonight you made me sad.
It wasn't your fault.
It wasn't mine either.
It wasn't because you didn't come over.
It wasn't because of something stupid, something simple.
I just feel a little hollow.
A little bit like that home that I had found inside of you,
that warm place that I so loved to curl up in,
I feel a though I weren't allowed, weren't able
to feel it a safe place any longer.
It's as if you could suddenly choose to move it,
like it were on wheels or could just up and fly off into heavy clouds.
It just makes me wonder if I should just pretend like it was never here, close, holding me safe and soft,
wanting to wrap its walls around me.
I should just convince myself that
the projects are just the projects
even if it seemed like home growing up.
(The place you call home doesn't give a fuck about you.)

But I know (think?) you give a fuck.
I think you care. I don't think that you want to be temporary housing.
No. Wishful thinking and imposed ideals.
I wish you were a beautiful house of brick,
the kind that cools in the summer and holds heat in the winter.
The kind that likes where its at.
The kind that'll stick around for a while.

Monday, March 31, 2008

love lion

(excerpts on a review of a collaborative performance of poetry and piano)

In this way, one might understand his playing of music to be capable of standing on its own, but choosing (with the same kind of intentionality behind McClure’s conception of poetry) to interact with outside impulses which may inspire a new response or direction. The image here is of a kind of playful rippling which, moment to moment, refuses stagnation but rather continues in an organic fashion to play off the impulses of those elements which interacts with its otherwise purist course. The simultaneous performance of both poetry and music by the two artists seems to express an understanding of both mediums through each one’s individual essence and mode of operation in counter to one another (in other words, seen more clearly and known more fully through contrast to a different form of expression) as well as through one another (for example, in being more aware of a kind of depth of sound in the spoken words and rhythm of poetry or seeing imagery in the intricate melodies of the piano) that would not be experienced in the same way if performed in isolation. I feel that this expression of depth and intensity of experience through the use of both mediums simultaneously is explained by McClure when he said “we’re here to wake people up.” How? By opening their minds to both the complexities of the mediums in their process of expression and to the sensual depths of that which is expressed through them. In the very act of performing alongside one another, with the intention of co-inspiring and guiding one another rhythmically (and through other means of sensual guidance – visually, even physically), the artists present the essences of their art forms as bodies through which to express ideas and meaning.

It is as if the art forms interact with one another in performance much like bodies might exist and interact in nature. There were moments where the music and words seemed to be fully aware of one another and they seemed to linger in a kind of rhythmic embrace. This embrace and awareness was played out either with an intensity of emotion or with a sense of stability and structure which added strength to the moment in the kind of security born from the consistency that comes from any lingering interplay between bodies in nature.

In this way, the listener must be open to the complexity of sensual impulses being presented so as to absorb the whole impact and power of the words and music as they play off of and through one another. The best way that I can explain this mode of experiencing the performance would be to liken it to sitting on a bench on top of a mountain or on a beach in which the landscape extends beyond the greatest horizontal width of one’s visual field. In order to fully consume the experience of seeing this landscape, one must see through a kind of extended periphery, both hazy and general, yet still focused on the subject of what is being seen, aware of its more textural qualities (color, light, line; ect) and complexity of meaning.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

opening my legs to open your mind.

Below is the conclusion of a speech I gave on Bohemianism and free love. Ive never been more brave in front of people I don't know. ha.

At Allegheny, as a liberal arts college, we are free to make love to words, concepts and ideas. When we recognize this liberty, and each time we take advantage of it, when we cease to passively participate in higher education ala’ missionary position but instead choose to climb on top, we can each be called a little bohemian. And in this way, I am cigarette-in-bed satisfied to have been able to pleasure you all by disrobing the very essentials of the Bohemian lifestyle exemplified by their attitude towards sexuality, To be Bohemian is to exist full-bodied, sensually, experimentally, free. A walking revolution.

Maybe you were already familiar with the idea, and went through the motions with me like an ex-lover you just can’t shake in the hopes of feeling something new or because you don’t have a choice. Maybe this was your (*pause*) first time, and you fumbled with the details a bit. My 6-8 minutes may label me a tease in your eyes. Still, I hope that by opening my legs, and enveloping you in my intimate

body of information,

I was able to open your minds to a concept who’s focus on a sensual, experimental and liberated means of experiencing life may be more at play around you than you had once thought.

Friday, March 21, 2008

i remember back in the day when the best thing about a dvd was that you didn't have to rewind.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

sometimes i forget that i live in a world of contexts. i feel as though I'm living in some sweet tasting intoxicant smoke bubble that no one can see into, and I certainly choose not to see out of. i forget that the world operates in contexts, in pasts and presents and futures and i want to deny it all but it all just comes back to me like bathing in a pool of liquid photographs that keep their shape no matter how much you slosh around, no matter how joyful or violent the underwater horseplay. im playing chicken with myself in a surrealist pool of destiny where my senses erotically mingle with my memories, where my laughter is both muffled and amplified in its ability to shoot through the water medium. i am not drowning. nor floating. but im certainly not aware of anything happening outside of this space. Jacquelyn: life operates in contexts, contexts are complicated, complications are confusing. i dont really know if it matters at the moment. not if the very essential things feel right. right? i like how things are both comfortable and safe and volatile and free. but amidst all this choosing to not think about it, to not take things to seriously, to remove myself from this external context that complicates things like a victorian corset, hot but hard, right but restricting, controlling but willingly?
despite it all, i cant stop pondering the both subtle and drastic differences between me and we. in the mere flip side of a letter a lost world turned upside down or a world centered but always on the move? and what is the nature of this movement?

Monday, March 17, 2008


There will come a point when all Control will cease to exist
And the lives of the righteous
will turn upside-down
And the lives of the "poor decision makers"
right-side up
And all the animals without moral standing
will be scattered - this way and that
to fill up the spaces in between until there is no definable
Direction - anymore.
And the world will cave in on itself.
A self-implosion sparked by the clashes
of lost beings
living the wrong life
like jagged pieces of metal
against flint.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Our generation isn't afraid of death. i.e. seeing multitudinous pictures of many sent home in coffins or piles of bodies. Rather, being an information-driven people, we are interested/driven to act when we feel we are lied to or we are being swindled.
Our concern lies in the Conspiracy versus the Atrocity.


As a counter to self-destruction and feelings of powerlessness.
Artistic creation is a medium to define and understand ones self. (but it has certain limitations and is therefore not entirely "free")

Sylvia Plath wrote before her suicide of the indifference of the world.

When creation is also a cry for help, it is actually subversive to self-creation.
(it is self-destruction.)

dancing with our shadows

dancing with our shadows:
in a space:
light source mal zwei
real figure -> shadow, real figure -> shadow,

a study of how the tangible and intangible can share a space,
how invisible forces make themselves known.
the feeling of hunger.
that nagging childish, demanding force inside, can be overcome. and its methods used to propel one forward. Live off the hunger. Feed it with knowledge, with books. words. ideas. love embedded in the grainy texture of endless pages. say to it:
"calm down! I'm reading and writing and thinking as fast as I can."
two times in a row? two times in one day.
two opposite sides of the spectrum. creativity/creation in a battle to the death with intellect and academia.

the old union song plays in the white noise of my colored mind.
"which side are you on? which side are you on?"

i dance the arch of your eyebrows.

I dance the arch of your eyebrows.

yeah I dance the arch of your eyebrows with my pen.
I follow it up and bring it back down, back round
again. I
follow the trail and I cry when it ends
but the line was fun.
yeah- Lines: they end like they begin
Lines begin and end.
Why can't your eyebrows be a sphere? Circular and rotate forever.
Why can't you embody infinity and let me in?
They will now.
I draw them in so you can't escape.
I draw then in with my dainty felt tip pen.
I draw them somewhere they've as of yet never been.
Round and round they go.
Carousel Eyes.
"everything you are," with the understanding that you are what you can do yourself, and sometimes "you got to create what you wanna be a part of." -> make it as if someone else made it for you. The concept of understanding yourself through someone else.

The someone else as a collective of "everyone else." We can be multiple things to multiple people, but it All comes back to one point, who we actually, essentially are - ourselves, our soul-self.



of interest

seems to have desires

which you are


not equipped to accommodate.

Sex in the Dirt - Fetishization of the Black Male

Current representations of the Black male result from a long history comprised of a multifaceted and all around messy interwoven relationship between race, politics and gender. Sexuality emerges as the center around which the complexity revolves. This is evident in the manner in which commonly held sexual myths of the black man are manifested in his representation. The differing representations are based largely on binaries established during years of imperialism between the (white) norm and the “Other,” including such themes as the bodily and earthly (Boime, 1990; Dyer, 1997; Kovel, 1988), heterosexual desire and threat (Dyer, 1997; Katz, 1995; Mercer, 1994), homoerotic appeal (Fraiman, 1994; Mercer, 1994; Stokes, 2001; Young, 1995), imperialistic property (Bhabha, 1983; Franklin II, 1994; hooks, 1981, 92; J. Hall, 1983; Mercer, 1994; S. Hall, 1977, 82; Staples, 1982), and masculine hypersexualization (Fanon, 1967; Franklin II, 1994; Marable, 1994; Staples, 1986; Stokes, 2001; Wiegman, 1995). It is in variations of each theme through which the Black male is objectified and fetishized (Fanon, 1961; Mulvey, 1989) through both the acts of castration and lynching (Stokes, 2001) and the process of image making (Bhabha, 1983; Dyer, 1982, 97; Mercer, 1993, 94). Out of this more general understanding, I am particularly interested in the manner in which this sexualized definition of the Black male is commodified and fetishized within a white patriarchal society through artistic renderings, with attention paid closely to the photographic medium. In reading images through this medium with the applied understanding of each as the “projection, in terms more or less psychological, of our way of handling texts” (Foucault, 1977, p.127), one is made more aware of the capacity of the medium in facilitating viewer’s projection of racial and sexual fantasies of the Black male body. Working from this base, I plan to eventually explore the manner in which this representation relates to the white female both in her historical definition and fetishized representation, focusing on the symbolic interaction between the black male and white female as a challenge to the established normalcy of white male heterosexual power.

The root of all visual representations of the Black man derives from his identification as “the Other” within the characteristic binaries established by those in positions of power, mainly white European males, during times of conquest. Richard Dyer (1997) explored the role of Christianity within this construction more fully, focusing on the association of the black male with the body in contrast to the white male identification with the “spirit, mind, soul or God (p.67).” This ground for equating racial blackness with the body was taken up by Robert Staples (1987) who explained its role in the creation of the myth of male black sexual “superiority,” as classic biologically supported racial ideology claimed the African inferiority in mind and morals to be due to the nature of their bodies. Within a religion focused on the ideal of sinless and pure spiritual existence, the body’s link with sexual behavior also presented with it the image of dirt. Joel Kovel (1988) conducted a study which looked at the manner in which Martin Luther’s challenge to the church moral authority further emphasized that ‘a principle of God was in man himself,’ highlighting the value of the spiritual abstraction and simultaneously devaluing that of a concrete nature such as the body. “Dirt,” he claimed, “is the fate of sensuousness lost to the world in the regime of whiteness.” The sensual body was understood as dirty. With the black man’s definition by that which is bodily, he too is made dirty. Albert Boime (1990) added an art historical dimension to this association between blackness and soil. Historically, black pigment was composed of soil and products of the earth. In addition, the representation of the humours provided characteristic values to colors; bile, a bodily fluid associated with melancholy, passion and emotion, would give a dark tone to the skin and therefore linked dark-skinned individuals with presumed emotional qualities.

The modern identity of the black man is often more explicitly understood as stemming from roots in imperialistic America through his role in the institution of slavery. Clyde W. Franklin II (1994) expanded on the various views of the black man’s character as a product of his being considered non-human property, including the black man as submissive, nonprotective, powerless and “stud supreme.” Sexual myths of the black man, particularly of his possession of an exceptionally large penis, derived from his having been expected to be healthy, strong and a “good breeder (p.273).” According to Homi Bhabha (1983), the manner in which these images of the black man rehearse situations of desire through expounding on a history slavery and empire indicate a “colonial fantasy.” This fantasy is divided between the racial other as subject of a sexual ideal and of an anxiety which stems from a need to defend white male identity. The visibility of this division in representational texts is what Stuart Hall (1982) called the split in the “imperial eye.” For each image of the black man as threatening savage, he is also shown as tame servant or jolly entertainer (p.41). One of the greatest threats posed by the black man was his possible sexual engagement with a white woman, a symbol of white man’s property and, according to bell hooks (1981), the ultimate reward for masculine success (p.113). Franz Fanon (1967) highlighted how this threat was made visible through the symbol of interracial rape. This symbol then strengthened images of the black man as aggressive and violent.

It is this image of violent sexuality that Robert J. C. Young (1995) worked from, having stated that racial theory is rooted in the almost neurotic imagining of interracial sex (p.181). Dyer (1997) expanded on this notion, explaining how the black man came to symbolize heterosexual desire through concepts of race as rooted in the body and in heterosexuality as a “means of categorizing different types of human body which reproduce themselves…the means of ensuring but also the site of endangering these differences (p.20).” The view of the black man as a threat in this heterosexual arena results from the white man’s tension in participating in what Jonathan Katz (1995) called the “heterosexual ideal” in which sexual bodily pleasure conflicts with the striving towards a chaste, fleshless spirit (p.30). Kobena Mercer (1993) discussed how the black man’s constructed sexual symbolic nature, defined visually by the phallus, was seen not only as a threat to the white master but to the greater civilized world through miscegenation and racial degeneration (p.353). Manning Marable (1994) noted how the black male stereotypes as being a sexual subhuman and a threat to white power and white female purity both fed into and helped perpetuate the value and sensitivity of the interracial sex/rape symbol through historical acts of punishment and discipline of a sexual nature, primarily through castration and sexual mutilation that occurred prior to lynching (p.71).

Despite symbolizing heterosexual desire, representations of the black man are often homoerotic in nature. Susan Fraiman (1994) suggested that this homoeroticism derives from the erotic undertones of social and political relationships, such as those between different races, which are “characterized by domination and resistance to that domination (p.68).” According to Mason Stokes (2001), this homoerotic power relationship between races can be seen in the act of lynching, “a ritual of sexual fascination and revulsion,” in which castration becomes a socially acceptable point of interaction between white men and black male genitalia. The myth backed threat of the black male phallus “becomes less strange through the white man’s control of it (p.134, 49).” The black male body was also made the subject of homoerotic attention in that, as explained by Young (1995), “playing the imperial game was already an implicitly homo-erotic practice.” Same sex interracial sex posed little threat because it did not result in children, but was rather “silent, covert, and unmarked (p.25-6).” Kobena Mercer (1994) expanded on this imperialistic homoeroticism by claiming that the image of the black man’s body encourages a fantasy of “appropriating the Other’s body as virgin territory to be penetrated and possessed.” In the aggressive act of looking, the black male subject is likened to the passive female. The homosexual element arises from the viewer’s transfer between a “fantasy of mastery from gender to racial difference (p.176-7).”

The development of a black male masculinity, still undefined and problematic, is the result of a history of white man’s various exercises of racial power. Robert Staples (1982) explained the “macho” code behavior within black masculinity as displaying an attempt to recover some degree of power in relation to the white male in response to having historically been denied commonly held masculine traits, mainly, “autonomy over and mastery of one’s environment (p.2).” According to Franklin II (1994), Black male slaves were perceived as possessing a sex, but not a gender (p.276). It was in the rising attempts to secure a state of masculinity in the movements of the 60s through universally held masculine traits such as violence and sexism (Staples, 1986) that has come to shape modern conceptions of the black man, still based in a history of oppression. As Fanon (1967) argued, the hypersexualized images of the “animalistic” black male, either as the aggressive symbol of heterosexual desire or the passive recipient of homoerotic desire, were constructed and utilized as a means to justify the (often violent) acts taken by white men to retain power and mastery over difference. Mason Stokes (2001) explored the manner in which the black man was identified as sexually tempting and sinful by having been equated with the snake in the Garden of Eden in the Christian story of creation. This story highlighted his purely sexual nature in connection with the fall of man, thus justifying the white man’s methods of control of his unbridled sexuality as a preventative measure against apocalypse (p.83, 7). Robyn Weigman (1995) showed how the very act of castration as a means of control is dependent on “an intense masculinization in the figure of the black male as mythically endowed rapist (p.83).” It was this hypersexualization of the black male as a result of the threat of rape which hypervisualized white female sexuality, fueling the image of interracial rape to the position of being what Jacquelyn Dowd Hall (1983) called “the folk pornography of the Bible Belt (p. 335).”

It is through this historic construction of the black male identity which has influenced the manner in which he is depicted pictorially. Stokes (2001) discussed how the central imagination of the black male body’s to the act of interracial sex and of lynching with a focus on ritualized castration brought the black penis to the forefront of representations of the black male (p.149). As Fanon (1967) put it, “one is no longer aware of the Negro, but only of a penis; the Negro is eclipsed. He is turned into a penis. He is a penis (p.170).” In essence, the black male has been objectified in the cultural conception of his identity. This conception is then solidified through the photographic image. He becomes the product of a medium that functions through methods of control (according to Dyer [1997] photographic “lighting” is “controlled visibility”) with claims to truth (p.84). In her analysis of Robert Mapplethorpe’s photographs, Mercer (1994) discussed the photograph as objectifying by capturing the “thingness” of the subject through “clinical precision of master vision, control of technique (p.173).” Bhabha (1983) called this the photograph’s quality of “fixity” which plays off of “colonial fantasy” of freezing and image to reflect or produce stereotype linked to imperialism. In his objectified representation, the black male is made into the subject of Laura Mulvey’s “male gaze” (1989) as the unseen viewer plays out the masculine fantasy of master and control over that which is framed through a kind of erotic voyeurism. Mercer delineated the various aesthetic methods through which the black male body is then fetishized, focusing specifically on a lack of context and the central focus on as well as detailing of the body through a “scopophilic dissection” of its parts (p.178-83).

It is valuable to study human sexuality at the center of this discourse because of the tangled nature of sexuality with identity and power due to its having been, as highlighted by Foucault (1978), historically constructed, crafted and perpetuated by a “regime of truth.” Artistic representations of human sexuality, such as through the simultaneous crafting and documenting nature of the photograph, present the complex intricacies and messy abstractions of and relationships between race and gender within a grander system of power and politics. A few scholars have began to link the cultural characterization and representation of the black male and the white female as a result of social constructions of sexuality based in history within and at the hand of white male heterosexual patriarchal interests. However, there seems to be a sufficient lack of attention placed on the manner in which the representations have interacted with one another over time. Although it has been established that the imaginings of both the black male and of the white woman represent(ed) a threat to the normative power of the white heterosexual male, in what ways has each subjective group utilized the visual rhetoric of the other in its conscious struggles within and against oppression? It is my intention from here to take a much closer look at the manner in which this dirty “truth” concerning both the racial and gendered “Other” has not only been materialized but has been consciously utilized and appropriated for progressive purposes.


Works Cited

Bhabha, Homi K. 1983. “The Other Question: the Stereotype and Colonial Discourse.” Screen, 24.

Boime, Albert. 1990. The Art of Exclusion: Representing Blacks in the Nineteenth Century. Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1990.

Dyer, Richard. 1982. "Don’t Look Now - The Male Pin-Up." Screen, 23.

Dyer, Richard. 1997. “The Matter of Whiteness,” “Colored White, Not Colored,” “Light of the World.” White. London: Routledge.

Fanon, Franz. 1961. The Wretched of the Earth. Harmondsworth: Penguin.

Fanon, Franz. 1967. Black Skin, White Mask. Trans. Charles L. Markmann. New York: Grove.

Foucault, Michel. 1978. The History of Sexuality, Vol 1. London: Allen Lane.

Fraiman, Susan. 1994. "Geometries of Race and Gender: Eve Sedgwick, Spike Lee, Charlayne Hunter-Gault." Feminist Studies 20: 67-84.

Franklin II, Clyde W. 1994. "’Ain't I a Man?’ The Efficacy of Black Masculinities for Men's Studies in The 1990's," "Men's Studies, the Men's Movement, and the Study of Black Masculinities: Further Demystification of Masculinities in America.” The American Black Male: His Present Status and His Future. Ed. Richard G. Majors and Jacob U.Gordon. Chicago: Nelson-Hall, 3-20, 271-284.

Hall, Jacquelyn Dowd. 1983. "'The Mind That Burns Each Body’: Women, Rape, and Racial Violence." Powers of Desire: the Politics of Sexuality. New York: Monthly Review. 328-49.

Hall, Stuart. 1977. "Pluralism, Race and Class in Caribbean Society." Race and Class in Post- Colonial Society. New York: UNESCO.

Hall, Stuart. 1982. "The Whites of Their Eyes: Racist Ideologies and the Media." Silver Lininings: Some Strategies for the Eighties. Ed. George Bridges and Rosalind Brunt. London: Lawrence & Wishart.

hooks, bell. 1981. Ain't I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism. Boston: South End P.

hooks, bell. 1992. "Representations of Whiteness." Black Looks: Race and Representation. Boston: South End P. 195-78.

Katz, Jonathan N. 1995. The Invention of Heterosexuality. New York: Penguin.

Kovel, Joel. 1988. White Racism: a Psychohistory. London: Free Association Books.

Marable, Manning. 1994. "The Black Male: Searching Beyond Stereotypes." The American Black Male: His Present Status and His Future. Ed. Richard G. Majors and Jacob U.Gordon. Chicago: Nelson-Hall, 69-78.

Mercer, Kobena. 1993. "Looking for Trouble." The Lesbian and Gay Studies Reader. Ed. Henry Abelove, Michele A. Barale, and David M. Halperin. New York: Routledge.330-59.

Mercer, Kobena. 1994. “Black Masculinity and the Politics of Race,” “Reading Racial Fetishism: The Photographs of Robert Mapplethorpe.” Welcome to the Jungle: New Positions in Black Cultural Studies. New York: Routledge. 131-220.

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Weigman, Robyn. 1995. American Anatomies: Theorizing Race and Gender. Durham: Duke UP.

Young, Robert J.C. 1995. Colonial Desire: Hybridity in Theory, Culture, and Race. London: Routledge.

Bow and Arrow ready
all dressed in green,
likely, soon, to be imprisoned.


I am broken.
You are broken.
Everything is broken.
Drop the wine glasses.
The bottle, slam it down. I want to feel something cut into my feet.

What would we do without creation?
What would we do without moving? without the Move?
away from the tangible and losing
ourselves in the murky depths of
pure ideas and fancy.

"Murky Depths"
I call art clarity.
It may be a drunken one. In Vino Veritas. or whatever the fuck.
It may be a bit mad. a bit Mad.
But clear still.
I'd much prefer to use it as a wormhole
than some bloke's physical law.

and DOWN the hatchet she flies -
she flies.