Author News Archive

A Primary Source: The First, Blonde

The primary source discussed here is a Daily News newspaper article out of New York City from Monday, December 1, 1952. The author is credited as Ben White. On page eight of the paper, the article is titled “Ex- GI Becomes Blonde Beauty” with the subtitle “Bronx Youth Is a Happy Woman After Medication, 6 Operations”, and three large photographs sit below the title, leaving small-fonted text blurbs below. There is a square ad to the right that says “21 Shopping Days to Christmas”. All three photos are of Christine Jorgensen: on the right a full-body portrait of the subject in a dark long skirt, heels, and suit jacket. She smiles beyond the camera, hand outstretched fluidly; then, to the right, a set of two up-close face shots, with Jorgenson in makeup and with long blonde hair in the first, barefaced with larger brows and shorter hair in the second. The text below describes Jorgenson’s medical transformation and her own reasoning for transitioning from male to female, as detailed in a letter to her parents and a transcription of some of the text of the letter is attached. This object pertains to ideas of identity through consumption and media since it is an early example of a coming-out narrative for trans people that both highlights to tropes that persist today while also relating a uniquely subjective account of self-understanding.  Certain descriptions expose a changing technological reality that would come to manifest identities claimed now, and altogether as a literal dialogue about subversive and innate qualities in self, natural existence the simultaneous striving for authenticity through the artificial.

An Acrostic:



  Coming home; that’s what its meant to feel like, I think.


        Holding onto myself is inadequate,

and I’m trying for others,

I think.


                   Repeated explanations and metaphors and exaggerations

of unstable concepts in even less stable  

language that makes me up,

that makes me

  make me up.  

I am afraid to make up the wrong parts,

or forget some part

I used to know.




it up.


 “Those things are all a part of life,

but we do not accept them.”


“It is often that we think of the individuality of each person,

and yet we are all basically the same.”


                                                                                    Naming something yet to be named,

something I’m still naming in me.

Eclipsing me.

Posted: May 19th, 2017
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A Slightly Tense Gathering

  1. An Interview: Timothy Halligan, my best friend. We met my freshman year of high school and he was the other half of my first gay relationship. In an hour-long conversation on the tenth of April 2017, we discussed our friendship and experience together, and I asked him to meditate around the concepts of identity and community. I attempted to figure the shape of our shared culture from his answers. Tangentially, he brought up intersections of capitalism in the gay community, and his remarks inspired many of my later sources and structure.

  2. A Primary Source: Benjamin, Walter. The Arcades Project. 1927-1940. I am assuming that Benjamin’s final, personal notes on his city constitute a primary source. His endlessly inspirational fragments continue to guide my work. Specific passages, like “Collector” resonate particularly with my idea of identity as intrinsically tied to cultural objects. I will most likely use other interpretations of Benjamin, e.g. Susan Buck-Morss’ The Dialectics of Seeing, to more precisely find productive material in the vastness of the original source.

  3. An Aesthetic Choice: Nietzsche, Friedrich. Thus Spoke Zarathustra. 1891. This book has laid on my to-read pile for a few years, and I recently read an article about a new book constellating Nietzsche’s influence on Benjamin so I thought I would try to bring the two together in my work. I am excited by the messianic and omnipotent language, albeit perhaps ironic, as well as the ability to interweave philosophical meaning through a narrative.

  4. A Resource: Moran, Marie. Identity and Capitalism. SAGE Publications Ltd, 2014. Described titularly as an attempt to grapple the modern concept of identity through the structure of modern capitalism, specifically from the author’s cultural-materialist viewpoint. This framework is immediately beneficial to my project through subject alone. Summaries and chapter titles expose an argument for identity conceptualization itself as a manifestation of modern consumption, a theory that adds tension to my ideas about the value of identity.

  5. An Image: Raphael, The Transfiguration. 1516-1520. Like Benjamin’s Arcades, this is Rafael’s last work and magnum opus. It depicts two scenes from the Gospels, the transfiguration of Christ in the upper panel and the miraculous healing of a possessed boy in the lower, depicting a dichotomy, and more than that a relationship, between reason/purity/divinity and emotion/chaos/mankind. Transfiguration is a central metaphor to my project, so this image invigorates my descriptive capacities and leads me through new allegorical dances. 

  6. Other Sources: Donna Haraway’s “A Cyborg Manifesto”; Annie Dillard’s “Transfiguration”; Cary Howie’s “On Transfiguration”; Maggie Nelson’s Argonauts; and The Catholic Encyclopedia.
Posted: April 26th, 2017
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A Constellation of Influences

“Quotations are useful in periods
of ignorance or

  The formal rules i set
for myself were simple:

[A]. Let the Objects tell the Stories.

The world image of the allegorist
cannot be explained
apart from the
distraught concern
with this
[of scattered,
in the world]…

If we could do something
about what the images show,
we might not care so much.
Where the real world changes into simple images,
the simple images become
real beings
and effective motivations
of hypnotic behavior.

Momento Mori:
Objects of Contemplation
Secular Icons

the spectacle’s estrangement from the
acting subject is expressed by the fact
that the individual’s gestures are
no longer h[er] own;
they are the gestures of
someone else
who represents
them to h[er].

the belief that remembering is an ethical act is deep in our nature
as humans who know we are going to die
and who mourn those who in
normal course of things
die before us.

[B]. understand how great [collectors]… become   interpreters of fate. it suffices to observe just one   collector as [s]he handles the items in h[er] showcase. no sooner does [s]he hold them in h[er] hand than [s]he appears inspired by them and seems to look through them into
distance, like an

Empirically speaking,
we are made of star stuff.
Why aren’t we talking more about that?

[S]he has given up the attempt
to elucidate things through research
into their properties and relations.
[S]he dislodges things from their
context and, from the outset,
relies on h[er] Profundity to
Illuminate their Meaning.

The leaning against I’m talking about takes place
on a horizontal plane of action, not a vertical one.
It brings one into the land of wild associations,
rather than that of grim congenital lineage.
It is a place, as Gertrude Stein
would have it, in which
“the difference
is spreading.”


To speak of Reality
becoming a Spectacle
is a breath-taking provincialism…

I had her image, without any effort of imagination, surrounded by everything that was foreign to its nature, and farthest removed from the sympathies of her sex and age… It is very possible that I would have been less impressed with her strange and solitary state. As it was, she seemed to exist in a kind of allegory.

There are hundreds of millions of
Television Watchers
who are far from inured
to what they see on television.
They do not have the luxury of patronizing Reality.

the reigning economic system
is a vicious circle of isolation
(hopeless) fantasy
of complete
the more [s]he identifies
with the dominant images of need,
the less [s]he understands h[er] own
life and h[er] own desires.


Watching up close-
Is still just watching.

The angel would like to stay,
Awaken the Dead,
And make whole what has been smashed.
But the storm is blowing from Paradise
And has got caught in h[er] wings;
It is so strong that the angel
can no longer close them.

Heartlessness and amnesia
Seem to go together.
The strong emotion
Will become a transient one.

Even the dead
will not be safe
if the enemy is victorious.


Conversation with Nable in class on the thirteenth of April 2017.
Society of the Spectacle by Guy Debord.
The Arcades Project and “On the Concept of History” by Walter Benjamin.
The Old Curiosity Shop by Charles Dickens.
Regarding the Pain of Others by Susan Sontag.
Voyage of the Sable Venus by Robin Coste Lewis.
Argonauts and “A Sort of Leaning Against”: Writing With, From, and For Others by Maggie Nelson.

Posted: April 18th, 2017
Categories: Uncategorized
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