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Reading Phallos

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  • Pete Lenz
    I picked up a copy of the Bamberger edition of Phallos a few months ago, and I m considering reading it soon. I d like to get a discussion started about it. I
    Message 1 of 20 , Jun 15, 2006
      I picked up a copy of the Bamberger edition of Phallos a few months
      ago, and I'm considering reading it soon. I'd like to get a discussion
      started about it.

      I had wanted to get a copy of Phallos when it was being offered through
      Voyant Publishing (why can't I find their website?) as a chap book, but
      never got a copy. It seems as if it's going to be a really fun book to
      read, it's set up in an interesting way.

      So, anyone whose read Phallos, sound off!
    • Steve M
      I ve read it and loved it. Gave it as a gift to several people, as well. The chapbook version was just an excerpt--a delightful and tantalizing excerpt, to be
      Message 2 of 20 , Jun 15, 2006
        I've read it and loved it. Gave it as a gift to several people, as well.

        The chapbook version was just an excerpt--a delightful and
        tantalizing excerpt, to be sure, but it didn't have the impact of the
        full work.

        At 1:29 PM +0000 6/15/06, Pete Lenz wrote:
        >I picked up a copy of the Bamberger edition of Phallos a few months
        >ago, and I'm considering reading it soon. I'd like to get a discussion
        >started about it.
        >
        >I had wanted to get a copy of Phallos when it was being offered through
        >Voyant Publishing (why can't I find their website?) as a chap book, but
        >never got a copy. It seems as if it's going to be a really fun book to
        >read, it's set up in an interesting way.
        >
        >So, anyone whose read Phallos, sound off!
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >== Posted to delany-list, hosted at onelist^Wegroups^Wyahoo ==
        >== A mailing list for the discussion of the works of Samuel R. Delany. ==
        >Yahoo! Groups Links
        >
        >
        >
        >
      • d_cozy
        Assuming I can find a few minutes away from the stack of other books I am, for various reasons, obligated to read I d be up for a group-read of Phallos.
        Message 3 of 20 , Jun 15, 2006
          Assuming I can find a few minutes away from the stack of other books I am, for various
          reasons, obligated to read I'd be up for a group-read of Phallos. Actually, I was surprised
          that there's been so little discussion of the book on this list. One would have thought we'd
          be all over Delany's first new fiction in a while.

          And Voyant Publishing has, I believe, lost the struggle that all little literary presses face.
          They are no more.

          Best,

          David
        • David Carlton
          ... I read it a little more than a year ago; this is what I posted here at the time: I finished _Phallos_ a couple of days ago. On the one hand, I quite
          Message 4 of 20 , Jun 15, 2006
            On Thu, 15 Jun 2006 13:29:07 -0000, "Pete Lenz" <sinisterra23@...> said:

            > So, anyone whose read Phallos, sound off!

            I read it a little more than a year ago; this is what I posted here at
            the time:

            I finished _Phallos_ a couple of days ago. On the one hand, I quite
            enjoyed it. On the other hand, I'm rather disappointed by it, as
            well.

            I first read part of it in a chapbook that came with, I think, _1984_.
            From that, I got the idea that the book was about somebody searching
            for a copy of a book called Phallos. There was some summarizing and
            excerpting of the fictional Phallos (I'll write _Phallos_ when
            referring to Delany's book, and just Phallos for the book referred to
            within _Phallos_), but I assumed that the chapbook largely consisted
            of that just because that was the easiest way to get a coherent
            extract of the full novel.

            Unfortunately (as is fairly clear from the page count of the final
            novel), that summarizing and excerpting is pretty much all you get.
            It's actually quite a lot of fun; I like the plot he's made up for
            Phallos, I like the characters, and there's typical Delany playfulness
            (intellectual and otherwise). But my first reaction upon finishing
            the book was "that was all well and good, but I wish he'd tried to
            write Phallos instead of a summary of it". That would have been a
            book well worth reading. (Though I'm not sure he could have brought it
            off in the alleged 500-ish pages that Phallos is supposed to have
            taken up: just making the dirty bits explicit would probably have
            bumped up the page count most of the way to that level.)

            Another possibility, suggested by my reading of the chapbook, would
            have been to add more of the outer story of the person searching for
            Phallos, as I'd initially assumed would have been the case. These
            days, my reading tastes don't lean to quite that much layering, but
            I'm sure Delany would have done a great job with it.

            Incidentally, as hinted at above, the explicit dirty bits have been
            almost entirely removed; there's description of the dirty bits, but I
            wouldn't call _Phallos_ pornography at all. (Certainly not in
            comparison to _Hogg_ or _The Mad Man_ or _Equinox_.)

            I probably would have had a different reaction if this had come out a
            year after _The Mad Man_. But we've been waiting a decade for another
            piece of Delany fiction; I expected something a little more
            substantial than this.

            I'm pretty curious where he's planning to go next, fiction-wise. And
            I'm glad that _On Writing_ is almost done. Though, these days, I find
            the idea of anything by Delany being in its "last edits" almost
            risible...

            David Carlton
            carlton@...
          • Ron Henry
            ... Curious. My reaction was almost exactly opposite -- I wished the novel had remained more lost or mysterious or cryptic. The quoting of long excerpts,
            Message 5 of 20 , Jun 16, 2006
              On 6/16/06, David Carlton <carlton@...> wrote:

              > But my first reaction upon finishing
              > the book was "that was all well and good, but I wish he'd tried to
              > write Phallos instead of a summary of it". That would have been a
              > book well worth reading.

              Curious. My reaction was almost exactly opposite -- I wished the novel
              had remained more lost or mysterious or cryptic. The quoting of long
              excerpts, entertaining as some of the excerpts were, deflated a bit of
              the mythos. But maybe my expectations were too Borghesian.

              (I have also assumed that somewhere, as prep for the meta-text of
              _Phallos_, SRD had in fact written the bulk of, or perhaps the
              entirety of Phallos -- but that text is only important for SRD as a
              stage prop to the published book.) I imagine other sections of
              Phallos that didn't appear in _Phallos_ may perhaps crop up someday in
              future books, perhaps as sections entitled "Notes Toward a Modular
              Calculus, Part XXVII (or whatever)"? :)

              > Another possibility, suggested by my reading of the chapbook, would
              > have been to add more of the outer story of the person searching for
              > Phallos, as I'd initially assumed would have been the case. These
              > days, my reading tastes don't lean to quite that much layering, but
              > I'm sure Delany would have done a great job with it.

              We only get gestures at the outermost layers, like the prefatory page.

              > I probably would have had a different reaction if this had come out a
              > year after _The Mad Man_. But we've been waiting a decade for another
              > piece of Delany fiction; I expected something a little more
              > substantial than this.

              It might be lighter in page count, but I think some of the conceptual
              and philosophical underpinnings of _Phallos_ made it a more difficult
              fiction to create than some of his higher page-count works.

              --
              Ron Henry | ron.henry@...
            • Pete Lenz
              ... books I am, for various ... Actually, I was surprised ... One would have thought we d ... I would be very interested in starting a group-read of Phallos. I
              Message 6 of 20 , Jun 16, 2006
                --- In delany-list@yahoogroups.com, "d_cozy" <dcozy@...> wrote:
                >
                > Assuming I can find a few minutes away from the stack of other
                books I am, for various
                > reasons, obligated to read I'd be up for a group-read of Phallos.
                Actually, I was surprised
                > that there's been so little discussion of the book on this list.
                One would have thought we'd
                > be all over Delany's first new fiction in a while.
                >
                > Best,
                >
                > David
                >

                I would be very interested in starting a group-read of Phallos. I
                also have a fair stack of books that I'm going through, but I'd enjoy
                perhaps taking small bits of Phallos at a time to read and then
                discuss. Let's work this out.

                Best,

                -Pete
              • bllsln
                Right now, Phallos is my favorite Delany novel(la). Just this past week, on Wikipedia, a new article was posted on Phallos. A lot of it is just plot synopsis,
                Message 7 of 20 , Jun 16, 2006
                  Right now, Phallos is my favorite Delany novel(la). Just this past
                  week, on Wikipedia, a new article was posted on Phallos. A lot of it
                  is just plot synopsis, but toward the end, it has some interesting
                  things to say. It might be a good place to start a discussion, and it
                  has a link to S. Shaviro's article on the novella, which is also
                  thought-provoking. As an example of what Harold Bloom calls "wisdom"
                  writing, I think Phallos requires a slightly different approach to it
                  that does most ficition--although articulating what that difference is
                  is a little hard for me. I do it (automatically) when I read it, but
                  I'm not sure yet how to say exactly what it is I'm doing. Perhaps it
                  has something to do with reading the story as a more direct commentary
                  on my actual day to day life--my relationship with my lover of the
                  last seven years [I'm a gay man, though I've read at least two on-line
                  reviews where the reviewer has gone out of the way to say he's
                  straight and still finds the book both meaningful and moving--like
                  Shaviro], my goals at work, things of that sort--than I do with most
                  fiction. In general, because Delany writes so vividly, his stories
                  tend to stay with me. And he manages to convince me that what he's
                  talking about is important. That's quite a trick. I like living in his
                  head--even in works like Hogg, simply because of the clarity it
                  affords. (Though, yes, I like Phallos more than Hogg--which, I
                  suppose, I tend to respect, more than like, even when it turns me
                  on.)That's an overall response. What about responses to the various
                  sections of the story? I'd be curious to hear what parts talked most
                  directly to folks and why?
                • Dan'l Danehy-Oakes
                  ... I read _Phallos_ at the beginning of the year. Sadly, it s the first Delany book that has ever left me disappointed. I ve been enthralled, enraged,
                  Message 8 of 20 , Jun 19, 2006
                    >From: "Pete Lenz" <sinisterra23@...>

                    >I picked up a copy of the Bamberger edition of Phallos a few months
                    >ago, and I'm considering reading it soon. I'd like to get a discussion
                    >started about it.
                    >
                    >I had wanted to get a copy of Phallos when it was being offered through
                    >Voyant Publishing (why can't I find their website?) as a chap book, but
                    >never got a copy. It seems as if it's going to be a really fun book to
                    >read, it's set up in an interesting way.
                    >
                    >So, anyone whose read Phallos, sound off!


                    I read _Phallos_ at the beginning of the year.

                    Sadly, it's the first Delany book that has ever left me disappointed. I've
                    been enthralled, enraged, engorged, but never ennui'd before by an
                    SRD book. I'm tempted to dismiss it as what some clueless people
                    dismissed _The Lord of the Rings_ as: "a donnish joke." But I know
                    better; Delany doesn't write pointlessly.

                    Yet: I found _Phallos_ singularly unengaging, and unmemorable. I
                    doubt that I will ever reread it, and I've even managed to reread
                    _Hogg_ (the one that enraged me).

                    Assuming you've read other people's comments, I'm not giving
                    anymuch away when I say, A plot summary is not a book. And
                    that's what _Phallos_ is, basically; a summary of an imaginary book.
                    Why bother? Did Delany doubt his ability to write the actual book,
                    or perhaps to get it printed in the current state of the Union? I
                    don't know; I am inclined to believe that he had some better (at
                    least to him) reason for doing things this way -- but, really,
                    metafiction at this level is, by now, just trite, a winking at the
                    reader ("We know it's just a text, right, readers?") that adds
                    nothing while detracting from any "emotional" impact the text
                    might otherwise have had.

                    --Dan'l

                    PS: Side note to whoever it was that commented on "About
                    Writing" being almost finished ... I don't know what you're
                    talking about; I've had a copy for months, and it sure _looks_
                    finished.
                  • bllsln
                    Bill, here. Certainly I m in for a group read of Phallos--though I probably won t be able to start for another couple of weeks. But if it s still going on,
                    Message 9 of 20 , Jun 21, 2006
                      Bill, here. Certainly I'm in for a group read of Phallos--though I
                      probably won't be able to start for another couple of weeks. But if
                      it's still going on, I'll catch up. I've read it four or five times in
                      the past two years. As I said, it's my Delany fave, right through here.

                      Here's something to add a resonance to Delany's opening few pages
                      (just to get things started): a theory has been going around
                      recently--i.e., the last dozen years or so: Thomas Mann's novella
                      (about the same length as, or perhaps a little shorter than, Phallos),
                      Death in Venice, is a story that critics have now ascertained is, in
                      many, if not most, of its details practically a photographic
                      replication of a visit Mann took with his family on a summer holiday
                      to Venice in 1911[?]. (1912 was the publication year. This is all off
                      the top of my head.) Many of the details of the story are recorded in
                      Mann's journals: The aging queen on the boat to Venice, the Polish
                      family at the hotel, the progress of the cholera plague and the
                      government's attempt to suppress knowledge of it--these are all
                      directly taken from life. Also, there is the somewhat menacing
                      gondolier who takes Achenbach, the story's protoagonist, to his
                      hotel--who is notable because he is not Italian, but foreign. In that
                      same summer, we know, Frederick Rolfe (the English writer Baron
                      Corvo), in his late thirties, was working in Venice as a gondolier.
                      Someone, I seem to remember, did some research and ascertained that
                      there were only two non-Italian gondoliers working that year--so
                      there's a fifty-fifty chance that the non-Italian gondolier who
                      managed to snag Mann (and his family) for their ride to the Lido was,
                      indeed, Rolfe:

                      "He was a man of unpleasant even brutal appearance, dressed in sailor
                      blue, with a yellow sash; a formless straw hat, its weave partially
                      unraveled, was tilted insolently on his head. The set of his face, the
                      blond moustache beneath a curtly turned up nose, undoubtedly meant he
                      was not Italian. Although of somewhat frail build, so that one would
                      not have thought him especially well suited to his trade, he handled
                      the oar with great energy, throwing his entire body into each stroke.
                      Occasionally he drew back his lips from the excertion and disclosed
                      his white teeth."

                      The above is the Kenneth Burke translation, from Mann's finished
                      story. The point of the incident in Mann's tale is the mix up over the
                      hero's luggage, his torpor and inability to deal with the brusque
                      rower, who is quite sure he knows how everything should be done,
                      despite Achenbach's desires. (Famously, Rolfe had no social skills
                      what so ever, and was probably incapable of being a good servant to
                      anyone!) The gondola itself is, of course, equated in its discription
                      with a coffin, which is one of the early overt images of death in the
                      tale. And why is all this interesting in terms of Phallos? Well, Rolfe
                      and his partner at the time, Richard M. Dawkin, are "characters" in
                      the early pages of Delany's tale, and it is during their Venetian stay
                      (to have the pornographic novel published by Italian typesetters), or,
                      indeed, just after Dawkin's departure for Athens, that Rolfe, to pick
                      up extra cash, was known to be moonlighting as a gondolier. Because we
                      know of so many cases in Mann's novella where his descriptions
                      followed the reality with almost photographic exactitude (from
                      comparisons with his journals), we may, here, have another image of
                      the the man, which lends a certain stereoptical depth to the image
                      given in Delany's text.

                      And for those who enjoy more rarified correspondances, both Mann's
                      story of repressed, tragic, and hopeless gay life and Delany's story
                      of an emotionally satisfying gay life make interesting use of the word
                      "psychogogue." (Burke translates it as "Summoner" [Modern Library
                      College Eiditions, p. 98] but the German [as does Helen Lowe-Porter,
                      in her more widely disseminated translation [Vintage Books]] uses the
                      Greek word--which means "mind-guide" or "soul-guide".)

                      --Best,
                      Bill
                    • d_cozy
                      ... Hi Bill. Thanks for your fascinating post about Mann, Rolfe, et al. Though I expressed interest in reading Phallos with the gang early on I haven t
                      Message 10 of 20 , Jun 21, 2006
                        > Bill, here.

                        Hi Bill. Thanks for your fascinating post about Mann, Rolfe, et al.
                        Though I expressed interest in reading Phallos with the gang early on I
                        haven't managed to start it yet, but after reading your very
                        stimulating thoughts I plan to dive in today. I've got a nice long
                        train ride ahead of me, and I have a feeling that, with the help of
                        Phallos, it will go by quickly.

                        Best,

                        David Cozy
                      • bllsln
                        Hey, David C. and Pete L. and Heidi L. and anyone else who s interested in (re)reading Phallos-- I m glad you found my auxiliary scriblings on Mann and Corvo
                        Message 11 of 20 , Jun 22, 2006
                          Hey, David C. and Pete L. and Heidi L.
                          and anyone else who's interested in (re)reading Phallos--

                          I'm glad you found my auxiliary scriblings on Mann and Corvo of
                          interest. As we all know, Delany is often a pretty bookish
                          writer--that is, his texts are frequently supported, sometime overtly,
                          sometimes covertly, by other texts. I find a steady dialogue almost
                          always at work between his own non-fiction and his fiction. And
                          *Phallos* is certainly one of the places where that dialogue can be
                          most clearly heard. As it says on the back of the book, *Phallos*
                          leans largely on Lacan (who else?)--which, frankly, is like leaning on
                          an immense whipped cream puff. Which is to say, in turn, Lacan is one
                          of those writers/thinkers whom you can fall into and drown in
                          and never come out. (Socrates is reputed to have said the same of
                          Haraclitus, when Euripides slipped him the *Peri Phuseos* treaties.
                          Ain't there nothin' new under the sun . . .?) But Delany has done some
                          of the work for us--in that I (at any rate) found it useful to look at
                          some of what Delany himself has written about Lacan, specifically
                          about Lacan's writing on the "Phallus" (yeah, that's with the Latin
                          ending, not the Greek)as a guide to his overall project in the
                          novella. I mean, probably it's reasonable to assume that what Delany's
                          written about it what he's most interested in, no . . .?

                          Anyway. Delany's essay collection *Shorter Views* contains a
                          fascinating extended essay called "Neither the First Word Nor the Last
                          on Deconstruction, Structuralism, Poststructuralism, and Semiotics for
                          SF Readers" (p 141), which contains, in its turn, a succinct and
                          remarkably clear exposition of a couple of points about Lacanian
                          psychoanalysis: It runs from the last paragraph on page 152 through
                          page 156. I'd suggest anyone who owns that Delany volume (*Shorter
                          Views*)read those four pages. He or she will find a lot of light
                          thrown both on the overall idea of the phallus/phallos and on the
                          final scene of *Phallos*-the-novel, when Neoptolomus and Nivek embrace
                          on the shore at Syracuse, listening to "[t]he *Da*, *Da*, *Da* of the
                          talking thunder."

                          I'm tempted to type out the whole four pages, with footnotes. But
                          that's a bit much--I'll assume, rather, most of us, as Delany fans,
                          have the book . . . or at least, I hope, have access to it. Those
                          pages really do make things clearer, though.

                          I will quote this much, however, which might tug a few of you on to
                          look up the rest: Delany has just finished talking about Lacan's first
                          major *ecrit*, his seminar on Poe's "The Purloined Letter" and is now
                          talking directly about Lacan's piece, "The Signification of the
                          phallus." There Delany writes:

                          "For Lacan the phallus was specificially *not* the penis or the
                          clitoris which symbolized it. Rather it was a structure of meaning
                          that, like the narrative structures that form around the purloined
                          letter as it journeys on its way through Poe's tale, any 'signifier of
                          desire' must inhabit--and the signifier of desire (that is, the
                          structure that creates such a signifier) is what the phallus *is*."
                          (*Shorter Views*, p 153)

                          I think at least one of the things Delany wants to do in *Phallos* is
                          give us a dramatic experience of what that structure of meaning
                          is--and even take the reader on a journey which starts *with* the
                          confusion of the phallos with what symbolizes it; and by stages,
                          clarify that confusion. But look at the whole four-page passage.
                          Generally speaking, I've found Delany a pretty good guide to all of
                          his own novels, but that's especially true for *Phallos*.

                          Saturday Joe (my partner) and I have to run off to visit Joe's aunt
                          and uncle in Maryland for two weeks. Hope there's lots of interesting
                          stuff to chew over here. I'll be lurking, listening, and commenting.
                          But I won't have my library with me.

                          All best--
                          Bill
                        • sknhdjohn@aol.com
                          ... I took it as a pisstake on Lacan, in contrast to the Mad Man which involved taking piss.
                          Message 12 of 20 , Jun 22, 2006
                            In a message dated 6/22/06 12:48:54, bllsln@... writes:

                            >*Phallos* leans largely on Lacan

                            I took it as a pisstake on Lacan, in contrast to the Mad Man which involved
                            taking piss.
                          • ricbest2001
                            Hello All! I hope to reread Phallos! this week, I enjoyed it the first time. I ran into Mr. Delany (yes, he asked me to call him Chip, sigh) a couple weeks
                            Message 13 of 20 , Jun 23, 2006
                              Hello All!

                              I hope to reread Phallos! this week, I enjoyed it the first time.
                              I ran into Mr. Delany (yes, he asked me to call him Chip, sigh) a couple weeks ago. He gave
                              me a spiral photocopy of Phallos!
                              with his ball point corrections and 10extra pages!!! I was thrilled!
                              He also told me he had just sold a novel. So new fictions soon!
                              Ric
                            • Pete Lenz
                              ... interesting ... Bill, Thanks so much for the incredibly informative post! I do own a copy of Longer Views, but sadly, not Shorter Views. Hopefully I will
                              Message 14 of 20 , Jun 23, 2006
                                > Saturday Joe (my partner) and I have to run off to visit Joe's aunt
                                > and uncle in Maryland for two weeks. Hope there's lots of
                                interesting
                                > stuff to chew over here. I'll be lurking, listening, and commenting.
                                > But I won't have my library with me.
                                >
                                > All best--
                                > Bill
                                >

                                Bill,

                                Thanks so much for the incredibly informative post! I do own a copy
                                of Longer Views, but sadly, not Shorter Views. Hopefully I will be
                                able to track down a copy in order to read those passages. Your
                                description, and added actual text, is very helpful nonetheless!

                                I am going to begin reading Phallos this weekend, and will post my
                                thoughts/questions at some point. Hopefully we can continue this
                                discussion.

                                Best,

                                -Pete
                              • Pete Lenz
                                ... couple weeks ago. He gave ... This is quite a story! That s absolutely amazing that Chip gave you a galley copy of Phallos - with his own marked
                                Message 15 of 20 , Jun 23, 2006
                                  --- In delany-list@yahoogroups.com, "ricbest2001" <RicBest@...> wrote:
                                  >
                                  > Hello All!
                                  >
                                  > I hope to reread Phallos! this week, I enjoyed it the first time.
                                  > I ran into Mr. Delany (yes, he asked me to call him Chip, sigh) a
                                  couple weeks ago. He gave
                                  > me a spiral photocopy of Phallos!
                                  > with his ball point corrections and 10extra pages!!! I was thrilled!
                                  > He also told me he had just sold a novel. So new fictions soon!
                                  > Ric
                                  >

                                  This is quite a story! That's absolutely amazing that Chip gave you a
                                  galley copy of Phallos - with his own marked corrections! Excellent.

                                  Best,

                                  -Pete
                                • bllsln
                                  Hi, all-- It s half an hour till Joe and I pile in the car. But I just wanted to add a note to things. Ric, I have one of the spiral-bound photocopies of
                                  Message 16 of 20 , Jun 24, 2006
                                    Hi, all--
                                    It's half an hour till Joe and I pile in the car. But I just wanted to
                                    add a note to things. Ric, I have one of the spiral-bound photocopies of
                                    *Phallos*, too. I get the impression that, recently, Mr. Delany has
                                    been pretty generous with these photocopies. I gather he's expecting a
                                    second edition of the book within the next year or so. He seems to be
                                    eager for people to read the updated version "with the ten new pages."
                                    I was going to hold that back unless it was relevant. But I wouldn't
                                    be surprised if there were a couple of other up-dated photocopies
                                    floating around out there in list-land. (He gave me one just a week
                                    after the Buffalo conference, which--Damn!--I wasn't able to make.)
                                    The opening paragraph seems to have been rewritten pretty thuroughly,
                                    but the content is much the same. Also, he corrects a misspelling of
                                    the great Victorian pornographic bibliographer Henry Spencer Ashbee's
                                    pen-name, "Pisanus Fraxi." (Not "Pisnaus Fraxi"!) Gotta go. Joe is
                                    looking at me sternly . . .

                                    Best--

                                    Bill
                                  • bllsln
                                    I ll be back home in New York City, next Tuesday (July 10th). If the folks who were interested in a group great of Phallos could look at the first third of the
                                    Message 17 of 20 , Jul 3, 2006
                                      I'll be back home in New York City, next Tuesday (July 10th). If the
                                      folks who were interested in a group great of Phallos could look at
                                      the first third of the novella, I'll try to come up with some more
                                      interesting stuff to post. Perhaps if you folks had some questions
                                      that you could stick up for us all to consider, we might have
                                      something to consider as a group.

                                      I'll throw out a few here.

                                      Why do you think John Addington Symonds is in the introduction?

                                      Why the composer Marc Blitzstein ("Cradle Will Rock" "Three Penny
                                      Opera")? Not to mention Gregory Battock?

                                      And why all that folderol in the first place, if none of it is true?

                                      These are some question I found it fun to think about after my first
                                      reading.

                                      Best--
                                      Bill
                                    • pete lenz
                                      I will take a look at the 1/3 of Phallos and try and come up with some questions of my own. I m excited to get a reading of Phallos started. Best, -Pete ... Do
                                      Message 18 of 20 , Jul 4, 2006
                                        I will take a look at the 1/3 of Phallos and try and come up with some questions of my own. I'm excited to get a reading of Phallos started.

                                        Best,

                                        -Pete


                                        ---------------------------------
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                                      • bllsln
                                        Bill here again, back from Maryland. My apologies to those who were waiting for me on the 10th. At the risk of a little overkill, I thought I d get together
                                        Message 19 of 20 , Jul 12, 2006
                                          Bill here again, back from Maryland. My apologies to those who were
                                          waiting for me on the 10th. At the risk of a little overkill, I
                                          thought I'd get together some links for those who were still
                                          interested in the Phallos Group Read. Bellow are all names referred to
                                          in the first four pages of Delany's novella. No one is obliged to
                                          follow all the links I provide or to read everything, but even looking
                                          at a few of them at random should be interesting. Okay, here goes.


                                          Walter Pater: A gay critic of the late 19th's century. He was a great
                                          influence on all the modernists, including Joyce and Woolf. In About
                                          Writing Delany cites him repeatedly as a critic important for writers
                                          even today. The link below will lead you to Edmond Gosse's
                                          appreciation of Pater, written on his death.)

                                          <http://www.pseudopodium.org/repress/gosse/walter-pater-a-portrait.html>

                                          Lionel Pigot Johnson (1867–02) was a poet, a member of the Rhymers'
                                          Club, a critic, and religious thinker. Nearly a midget, Johnson was a
                                          gay alcoholic, a friend of Pater's and Earnest Dowson. The love of his
                                          life was the adventurer and soldier of fortune Austin Ferrand, who was
                                          killed at Ladysmith. A volume of Johnson's selected poems, published
                                          in 1915, was introduced by a major essay by Ezra Pound. A cherished
                                          copy of this edition was in the poet Hart Crane's adolescent library.

                                          Arthur Symons (who, while he was not gay, was deeply sympathetic
                                          to a number of men and artists who were, including Pater, Johnson,
                                          and Verlaine. Click on the chronology):

                                          <http://homepages.nildram.co.uk/~simmers/symons1.htm>

                                          John Addington Symonds:

                                          <http://www.infopt.demon.co.uk/symindex.htm>

                                          Baron Crovo (a.k.a Frederic Rolfe):

                                          <http://www.studiocleo.com/librarie/rolfe/main.html>

                                          Marc Blitzstein (1905–63):

                                          <http://www.glbtq.com/arts/blitzstein_m.html>

                                          Leonard Bernstein borrowed the tune for "There's a Place for Us . . ."
                                          from a Blitzstein song that never found its way into one of
                                          Blitzstein's own actual shows/operas, called "Mr. What's His Name . .
                                          ."—certainly Blitzstein's best known melody today. He was beaten and
                                          killed in Martinique by some Portuguese sailors he cruised one night.
                                          As well as his own shows, Cradle Will Rock, No for an Answer, and
                                          Regina, he was the arranger for the phenomenally successful production
                                          of the Brecht/Weill Threepenny Opera in the 1954 production.

                                          Gregory Battcock (1937–80), writer and art critic, was part of the
                                          circle around the radical Dutch psychiatrist Dr. Hendrick Rouytenbeek,
                                          and his young protégé, Richard McConckie, in the early 1960, along
                                          with film-maker Gregory Markopoulus (Twice a Man, The Illiac Passion),
                                          a circle with which Delany himself was briefly associated during his
                                          year at CUNY and just after it. (Personal communication with SRD.)
                                          Delany several times dined with Battcock at Ruytenbeek's NYCiy home.
                                          In 1980, Battcock was murdered during a visit to Puerto Rico when he
                                          picked up a young hustler on the beach and brought him back to his
                                          hotel room.

                                          The Bibliotheque Nationale is the national library of France,
                                          comparable to the Library of the British Museum or the U. S. Library
                                          of Congress. The Enfer is the nickname for the BN's considerable
                                          holdings in the genre of pornography, in which, at the beginning of
                                          the century, the surrealist poet Guillaume Apollinaire was a managing
                                          librarian. Henry Spencer Ashbee and Jules Gay are 19th century
                                          biographers, respectively English and French, famous for keeping track
                                          of the erotica published in and out of their respective languages.

                                          Now, what do all these figures have in common? They are involved with
                                          gay rights, gay art, or—in the case of Winkelmann, Blitzstein and
                                          Battock—they were the victims of moral homophobic oppression.

                                          I believe this web of associations suggest both the history out of
                                          wjhich Phallos grows and the audience to which it addressed—an
                                          audience who might be concerned with such a history. I suspect this
                                          is really meaningful in terms of where the tale told in Phallos takes us.

                                          Any comments?

                                          Best—
                                          Bill
                                        • bllsln
                                          Bill here, once more. Apologies for the occasional mis-typings in my last long message. The one that might actually confuse people: Gay and Ashbee are, of
                                          Message 20 of 20 , Jul 13, 2006
                                            Bill here, once more.
                                            Apologies for the occasional mis-typings in my last long message. The
                                            one that might actually confuse people: Gay and Ashbee are, of course,
                                            19th century "bibliographers," not "biographers." (And their works
                                            with the fancy titles--*Cetena Liborum Tacandorum* [1885],
                                            *Bibliographie des ouvrages relatifs a l'Amour* [six vols., 1871-73],
                                            etc.--are large, annotated bibliographies of pornography.) Sorry,
                                            folks. If you want more information about any of this, see Steven
                                            Marcus's book *The Other Victorians* [1964]. Oh, and the production of
                                            the Marc Blitzstein arrangememnt of *The Threepenny Opera* I referred
                                            to opened in 1952, not '54. You will find others.
                                            Too much sun down in Maryland . . .

                                            Best,
                                            Bill
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