Sunday, June 06, 2010

A novel excuse

The Telegraph has an amusing story about the novelist E.M Forester, which says that he gave up writing novels after his first homosexual experience, at the age of 38.

After suppressing his sexuality as a young man, Forster, who was known to his friends as Morgan, lost his virginity to a wounded soldier in 1917 while working for the Red Cross in Egypt.

That sexual awakening in his late 30s led to a series of romances with working class men including a tram conductor and two policemen.

After publishing A Passage to India, arguably his greatest work, in 1924, Forster spurned the novel and most creative endeavours for the rest of his life, publishing only occasional short stories, essays and plays.

Wendy Moffat, associate professor of English at Dickinson College, Pennsylvania, who uncovered Forster's secret "sex diary" while researching a new biography of the novelist, said that the energy of his early years was drained by physical fulfilment.

I love the details: he lost his virginity to a wounded soldier, while working for the Red Cross? Was the soldier was just lying on the battlefield with shrapnel wounds all over him and, well, one thing led to another? Or maybe the soldier been hit by a mortar bomb, and was just blown to buggery? And then after that 'Morgan' moved on to tram conductors and (two! at the same time?) policemen. And I love the euphemism of the "energy of his early years was drained by physical fulfilment". You bet it was.

He only started at 38, so there's hope for me then. But I knew there was a good reason to keep away from the prowling gayers - too much cock saps your creative juices. Basically they're saying that E.M stopped plugging away at his novels, cos he was too busy just plugging away. It gives the homophobes a new angle: it's for your own good, we don't want you to dry up and stop being creative! Now for the first time they can say: Don't be gay, you want to be an artist, darling! So E.M wrote some classic novels, but once he discovered buggery he stopped writing, making it one of those few times that the sword is mightier than the pen. I can just imagine his Victorian father saying to him: "Now E.M, I don't think a novelist is a suitable career for you, I think you should go into banking with Ronald." And then at 38 E.M comes home and says: "Dad, I've got some good news, and some bad news." It is true to say that a lot of creativity comes out of pain, and maybe E.M was just having such a whale of a time, so to speak, that he couldn't keep churning out the middle-class rom coms, which makes you think that perhaps it's time Richard Curtis got himself down Old Compton Street.

Of course the story is probably not true, being in the Torygraph. Their website is actually quite good, if you swerve around the comment pages, ignore the gratuitious slant on the politics stories, and take a hefty pinch of salt with the Obama-is-doomed stuff, but apart from that, it is a busy site with lots of news that doesn't appear on the Guardian or Times sites. But still a story that says gaying ended famous novelist's career does seem a bit too much like moral wishful thinking on their part. And of course it doesn't occur to them that perhaps he felt that he couldn't write about the true romance of his later years because it was illegal, and that blocked his creativity much more than a bit of rough trade round the back of the Vauxhall Tavern. Or maybe he just got to 40 and got rubbish, like the aforementioned Richard Curtis. Which is a depressing thought, but marginally less depressing than the thought that sexual fulfilment will ruin your creativity.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

"Photography, which was a trade, has now become art."

Brian Duffy, one of the 'Terrible Trio' photographers of the 1960s, has died aged 76. Duffy, along with fellow working-class London boys David Bailey and Terence Donovan, revolutionised fashion photography with a brash, sexual, personal style and helped to define the Swinging Sixties.

Duffy went on to photograph the great and the good and the not-so-good, but his best-known shot was probably the Aladdin Sane cover. In the 1970s he turned to advertising and created shots for the landmark Benson & Hedges campaign. Feeling that photography was 'dead', in 1979 he famously attempted to burn all his negatives. Despite not having the enduring success of his two counterparts, he enjoyed a revival and was the subject of a BBC Four documentary in the last few years.

as posted here

regrets, I've had a few

Meet the man who sold his 10% share in Apple for $800. (via)

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Perils of the countryside

The terrible scenes in Cumbria, which I'm not going to make some tasteless jokes about, I don't know what sort of fuck you think I am but I am much more responsible than that, also I can't think of any, anyway, there were terrible scenes in Cumbria, where a deranged 52-year-old man went on a grudge-fuelled shooting spree, killing 12, including his twin brother, before killing himself. The nation was shocked: the Queen made a rare comment to say she was shocked; Mr Cameron said he was shocked; Such was the national shock that Corrie had to be cancelled; while Lady Gaga was so shocked she pretended to be murdered in her stage show, the little imp.

I was shocked, of course, but I was able to wonder why it is that these shooting sprees - which invariably involve some ne'er-do-well, generally with acne and halitosis, getting upset after years of mild slights and sexual failures and finally taking a military approach to recompense - why do they always happen in tiny little quiet peaceful hamlets, far far away from the tortured morass of the big cities, where, if you were to believe films like Taxi Driver or Falling Down, you'd be far more likely to encounter deranged souls just one throwaway remark from armed armageddon. And that's what I'd expect as well, despite clear messages from the likes of Agatha Christie about the true nature of the rural character. And now the evidence is in and can't be denied (and look at all the research I've done): Hungerford, Dunblane, Whitehaven, Egremont and Seascale, Columbine, of course, Blacksburg, in Virginia, Erfut and Winnenden, both in Germany, Kauhajoki in Finland, the brilliantly named Zug, in Switzerland, and so on. The list of modern day mass murder backwaters grows by the day. Admit it, you don't know a thing about any of those places, apart from that they had spree shootings. The most notable place to have had a spree shooting that I can find was Nepal's Narayanhity Royal Palace. But apart from the odd mentally masticated royal, spree shootings are a hick thing - you might get mugged, burgled, raped, ripped off, violated and generally shat on in the big city, but you can be sure as eggs is eggs you ain't gonna get spree shot in a spree shooting.

So why is this? I can venture a few ideas: because the countryside is so piss boring that mass murder is the only thing lively enough to shatter the tedium, after sheep shagging, magic mushrooms and burning out the newcomers have run their course; because in the big city if you started letting off a shotgun at all and sundry you'd probably get shot yourself by the local teenagers, mistaking you for one of their postcardcode rivals; because in actual fact the big city plays near enough constant host to shooting sprees, but they go unremarked in and amongst all the other brutality, venality, criminality, inhospitality and psychosexuality of the urban swamp; because countryside folk have a lot more guns generally, for shooting uh things; because countryside folk are just fucking weird, otherwise they'd move to the aforementioned city; because what would a rural idyll be without a shock to shatter it?

But whatever the reason, the lesson is clear - run from the hills!