Self Portrait. 2007. Approx 2.5’x2.5′, oil on Masonite.
Norman Mailer died. I have The Executioner’s Song checked out from the library, and I have put it to the top of my list of books to read. I need a catalyst to do things, and death seems as good as a reason as any. There’s something very appealing about death to us, even if the man was an extreme misogynist.
I also just finished Hwang’s M. Butterfly. I love it. I think, however, all of its critics would sum it up with this quote:
Helgo asks Gallimard, “Politics again? Why can’t they just hear it as a piece of beautiful music?” [On why Asians don’t like Madame Butterfly.]
Why the big deal about racial stereotypes in Madame Butterfly? Because it IS racist, and we should never forget that when listening to Puccini’s opera. M. Butterfly points that out in a beautiful, darkly hilarious way that I think is lost on many watchers/readers. Every time somebody listens to the opera, the lyrics and events reinforce an imperialistic attitude about the East. And it is deeply insulting, too. People accuse me of being “too serious” about some things. Give it up for a change, they urge, have some fun.
Perhaps I’m passionate about these things. Language and literature are weapons to be handled carefully. M. Butterfly has changed the way I look at Western and Eastern relationships (and the way I phrased that last sentence is a prime example of the current state of affairs. Western before Eastern, and, oh my, “Eastern” is with Europe as a reference frame).