A Little Something for Korrektiv’s “Lives of Famous Catholics” Series

This week, the New Yorker gets around to gushing over the Wachowski siblings’ cinema adaptation of Cloud Atlas.  Would you believe it features Hugo “Agent Smith/Elrond” Weaving as a genderbending Nasty Nurse?  Not that you’ll read that here. What you will read here is some account of Lana (nee Larry) Wachowski’s transgenderism.

Perhaps not coincidentally, Lana’s gender consciousness started to emerge at around the same time. In third grade, Larry transferred to a Catholic school, where boys and girls wore different uniforms and stood in separate lines before class. “I have a formative memory of walking through the girls’ line and hesitating, knowing that my clothes didn’t match,” Lana told me. “But as I continued on I felt I did not belong in the other line, so I just stopped in between them. I stood for a long moment with everyone staring at me, including the nun. She told me to get in line. I was stuck—I couldn’t move. I think some unconscious part of me figured I was exactly where I belonged: betwixt.” Larry was often bullied for his betwixtness. “As a result, I hid and found tremendous solace in books, vastly preferring imagined worlds to this world,” Lana said.

The betwixtness apparently came to a head during the filming of the Matrix sequels.

Sensing that something was wrong, Lynne Wachowski flew to Australia the following day. The morning after her arrival, Larry told her, “I’m transgender. I’m a girl.” Lynne didn’t know what he meant. “I was there when you were born,” she said. “There’s a part of me that is a girl,” Larry insisted. “I’m still working at that.” Lynne had been distraught on the plane, worried that she might lose her son. “Instead, I’ve just found out there is more of you,” she said. Ron, who soon flew in, too, offered his unconditional support, as did Larry’s sisters and Andy, who had suspected for a while.

Eventually, the press retreated. Lana completed her divorce and met and fell in love with the woman who became her second wife, in 2009. “I chose to change my exteriority to bring it closer into alignment with my interiority,” she told me. “My biggest fears were all about losing my family. Once they accepted me, everything else has been a piece of cake. I know that many people are dying to know if I have a surgically constructed vagina or not, but I prefer to keep this information between my wife and me.”

Okay then!  But there are a couple of things that nag at me about this very friendly profile.  They don’t mention the whole S&M thing, and they don’t mention the hot mess that was Speed Racer.  If you’re going to do a piece that explores the subject’s sexuality and also discusses past work, you can’t just leave whole sections out.  It’s not like there are dozens of Wachowski movies, and it’s not like S&M isn’t a key part of Lana’s romantic history.

(I link to the HuffPo piece because the original Rolling Stone article is subscriber-only.  Love the author’s indignance: “You could also read this article and wonder at the point of it. Why are we interested in Larry Wachowski’s sexual proclivities anyway?” Well, maybe because he/she is throwing them up on the screen, and making questions of perceived vs. actual reality central to his/her films?)

Poets and Fame and the Lack Thereof

John Berryman, in an interview with The Paris Review from 1970:

Something else is in my head; a remark of Father Hopkins to Bridges. Two completely unknown poets in their thirties—fully mature—Hopkins, one of the great poets of the century, and Bridges, awfully good. Hopkins with no audience and Bridges with thirty readers. He says, “Fame in itself is nothing. The only thing that matters is virtue. Jesus Christ is the only true literary critic. But,” he said, “from any lesser level or standard than that, we must recognize that fame is the true and appointed setting of men of genius.” That seems to me appropriate. This business about geniuses in neglected garrets is for the birds. The idea that a man is somehow no good just because he becomes very popular, like Frost, is nonsense, also. There are exceptions—Chatterton, Hopkins, of course, Rimbaud, you can think of various cases—but on the whole, men of genius were judged by their contemporaries very much as posterity judges them. So if I were talking to a young writer, I would recommend the cultivation of extreme indifference to both praise and blame because praise will lead you to vanity, and blame will lead you to self-pity, and both are bad for writers.

Take heart, Kollektiv.

image source


That Southern Expat reminded me of the splendid Eve Tushnet.

That the splendid Eve Tushnet reminded me of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s new short story in The New Yorker.

That F. Scott Fitzgerald’s new short story in The New Yorker treats of grace in the manner in which it does.

Speaking of Gioia(s)


Doubt as an Avenue of Communication

I want to hang onto this comment of Angelico’s and the passage he quoted from Ratzinger’s Introduction to Christianity, because I see it as key, possibly, to the unique character of Korrektiv. I re-quote it here as a placemarker for further consideration.

No one can lay God and his Kingdom on the table before another man; even the believer cannot do it for himself. But however strongly unbelief may feel justified thereby, it cannot forget the eerie feeling induced by the words ‘Yet perhaps it is true.’ That ‘perhaps’ is the unavoidable temptation it cannot elude, the temptation in which it, too, in the very act of rejection, has to experience the unrejectability of belief. In other words, both the believer and the unbeliever share, each in his own way, doubt and belief, if they do not hide from themselves and from the truth of their being. Neither can quite escape either doubt or belief; for the one, faith is present against doubt; for the other, through doubt and in the form of doubt. It is the basic pattern of man’s destiny only to be allowed to find the finality of his existence in this unceasing rivalry between doubt and belief, temptation and certainty. Perhaps in precisely this way doubt, which saves both sides from being shut up in their own worlds, could become the avenue of communication.

Could this serve as a formative piece of that Korrektiv Press manifesto or mission statement we’ve been casting about for? The fine print at the bottom of that gravestone?

Today in Porn: E-Commerce Edition


‘At lunch, the most common question, aside from “Which offensive d-ck-shaped product did you handle the most of today?” is “Why are you here?” like in prison.’

That line (in its original, unredacted form) comes from Mac McClelland’s ‘I Was a Warehouse Wage Slave’, an undercover report on what it’s like to work at a hellish hinterland packing facility for a certain, but unnamed, e-commerce entity. There’s a bit to unpack here (as it were), what with the dehumanized workforce rushing at breakneck speed to fulfill orders for products that objectify the human body.

‘I Was a Warehouse Wage Slave’ appeared in — sorry, Mr Webb — Mother Jones, whose website seems to be down at the moment. But Google caches of the article’s four pages are available here:

Page 1          Page 2          Page 3         Page 4

Also worth a look — or, if you’re pressed for time, even more worth a look — is Cory Doctorow’s featurette on ‘I Was a Warehoue Wage Slave’. Scroll down to find a comment thread that will be of interest to readers of Korrektiv. The first commenter, one Deidzoeb, begins the discussion:

How do they deal with sexual harassment in a place that produces “offensive d-ck-shaped products”, or say a person who wants to do the lighting on a porn shoot? Do we assume that employees become asexual if they agree to work on a sex-related job? For a while, part of my job included preparing journals like Playboy and Penthouse to be microfilmed. Playboy microfilm made enough money that we were supposed to check every page for missing pages, printing errors, things like that.

We had one of those sensitivity and sexual harassment workshops one day like you see on The Office, not quite as ridiculous. I asked the instructor how I can avoid creating a hostile work environment or an accusation of sexual harassment when my job could seriously involve asking my female supervisor what to do about a torn page or printing error on a centerfold.

The instructor seemed a little annoyed by the question. He said it should be clear from the context of the situation. […]

More here.

I thought they killed you first and then worshipped you

I only get three minutes, but the poster is pretty damn kool. I’ll take it. Speaking of Robert Wrigley, I suspect he is the poet alluded to in a recent Dappled Things poem about envy. LOST-like interconnectedness once again rears its freaky head.

Room in Heaven

Son of Sam Doesn’t Want Out of Jail Because of Jesus

No (more) heart attacks for me, thankyouverymuch.

Exile Over

from Exiled In The Dobruja

The poet is screwed in a place like this –
No one comes to talk, no one ever thinks to.
–Ovid, Tristia

This country house is troubled with evening.
In hills beyond, waving frantically high,
The dying grass is thatching ground to sky.
I came here knowing I’d not be leaving,
Where stars and darkness always trade off roles.
Disturbances no greater than a breeze
Are enough to astonish one’s kept muse
Like lace fenestrations frayed at the sills.
Nothing here can be observed except through
Remotest of accidents. Here, a song
Is played like a millhouse door on its hinge
Every time the winds show a will to blow.
But things will happen – capricious as Zeus,
Whenever exile’s goddess haunts a place.

Here’s found a colder muse’s eloquence —
I starve on her lips’ crisp sound when they part
Or in a kind of religious observance
Invite her silken legs to pinch my heart.
She crosses them now, drawing cigarette
With deft fingerings from a golden case.
She looks away from me. The tapered light
Reset great Juno’s eyes in Circe’s face.

The tart talk starts to magnify the ache
That fills the air. She waxes topical:
”Don’t worry, dummy. Caesars’ poets take
The march of many feet to count their rule
A monuments to lost souls. Dead bodies
Like yours winter out, you’ll see. You won’t freeze.”

Kierkegaarded Thought of the Day

“If I were a father and had a daughter who was seduced, I should not despair
over her;  I would hope for her salvation.  But if I had a son who became a
journalist, and continued to be one for five years, I would give him up” (A
Kierkegaard Anthology,  ed. Robert Bretall).

The quote was provided by my sister-in-law Elizabeth (to whom, incidentally, I dedicated “Anthology” – aka “The Hothouse Sonnets”).

I drank a drink!


The closest thing to that curious oxymoron known as an Irish cocktail


The Shadow Scholar

This article fills me with a strange mixture of horror and admiration, loathing and self-loathing uncomfortably intermingled with something like manic schadenfreudish glee.

I work hard for a living. I’m nice to people. But I understand that in simple terms, I’m the bad guy. I see where I’m vulnerable to ethical scrutiny.

But pointing the finger at me is too easy. Why does my business thrive? Why do so many students prefer to cheat rather than do their own work?

Say what you want about me, but I am not the reason your students cheat.

And I still feel icky about the college paper I wrote for a girlfriend one time … but also kind of proud of the workmanship involved. The pride of the mercenary.