Dear Misters Simpson and Zeeland,
I haven’t finished with you yet.
One of the things I loved about The Queen Is Dead was the way it was written as if nobody would read it. The letters you wrote read to me like intimate missives between two friends, as if they were meant for your eyes only. I felt at times a kind of flush of shame, reading that book, as if I was eavesdropping on a very private conversation, or reading someone’s personal diary, despite (or because of?) the sign on the front in red marker pen: PRIVATE! KEEP OUT!
The Queen Is Dead could in one sense have been the correspondance between two historical literary homos. It has that air of lost narratives, of untold stories, hanging over it. The love that dare not speak its name. It might have been discovered after their deaths and published posthumously, without their consent or indeed their knowledge. I was flushed with another feeling on reading your words, gentlemen. I cannot describe it precisely except as a physical sensation- a tightening in my throat, and a heaviness in my heart. I suppose the nearest I can get in words is ‘loss’.
I have my own losses, that I heard echoing through yours. I can’t pretend I didn’t transfer them a little, onto you. I have also been involved with a man who loved men, the kind of love you described, despite yourselves, so poignantly. And reading your letters, I felt a familiar stab of pain, that I used to feel with him, when I knew that he got something from his love for his brothers, that he could never get from me. I felt left out. Isn’t that queer? How can a reader feel left out from a story? But I did.
And onto that loss I/you/we have to add another. The loss that we all know is encroaching upon us. Death comes to us all, thankfully, as an everlasting life would probably be a grim affair. But no I mean the death of the homosexual. That man of letters, in breeches and boots. Who would write to his dear friend Sebastian, pen poems to his lover, when he was supposed to be doing his accounts, or minding his children, or listening to his wife. You two meat chasers, as much as you have dragged yourselves into the neon lights of the twenty first century, you’re the last of a dying breed. You’re like two fine examples of a rare endangered species of bird, fluttering and chirping for dear life. And I am the ornithologist, in sensible shoes, cataloguing the demise of this poor, doomed creature that she has come to know and love. So spare a thought for me.
‘Be careful Steve, if gay studies are like murder novels then you’d better watch out for the final plot twist in which the hunter becomes the hunted, the analyser the analysed, the deducer the deducted.’ – Mark Simpson said.
It is too late Steve. The hunter has already become the hunted, the analyser the analysed, the deducer the deducted. You are not going to get away with it that easily.
There is a chance, too, that you may find my investigations irritating and intrusive. But as you know full well, queer theory has always been about intruding on the establishment:
‘David Halperin talks in Saint Foucault about ‘queering theory’ and this suggests to me that queer theory has always been about, in a way, gaining erotic pleasure from theory (and that if it is to have a future it needs to be fisted); indeed, Ed Cohen, with double entendre intended offers the motto for queer theorists: “we fuck with categories”.
There was one point in reading QUEEN that I began to count the number of women you mentioned in your letters. I wasn’t bored of all the bumming, I promise, I just started to wonder. That is what I do. Anyway, you mentioned Judith Butler (the most masculine dykiest dyke I can think of), Camille Paglia (who is probably actually a man), Lady Ferry (a M to F trans woman) and a porn star whose name I have forgotten. Oh, and some nameless faceless ‘mothers’, the ones you have all spent your lives trying to escape, and ended up becoming. I am not citing these examples as an indication of a weakness in your story. I love cock as much as the next homo. But I think it is a subject that warrants further investigation, don’t you?
That was a lie. I do think it was a weakness in your story. Especially from the literary point of view. How can I fully trust a treatment of queerness, of homosexuality in literature, that does not even mention Goblin Market by Rossetti, or Nightwood by Barnes, or Sexing The Fucking Cherry by Winterson? Walt Whitman is all very well, but stood out there alone on the beach in his birthday suit in the cold, singing his ‘body electric’, he looks a bit naked, a bit limp, a bit emasculated. It is something that ‘macho fags’ the world over never realise, and what you of all people should know – that all this obsessive focussing on the ‘masculine’, it actually makes you seem so very … faggy. Your version of homosexuality, my dear homos, in emphasising the importance of the phallus, that which makes you ‘men’, it ignores something that only a cockless cunt can truly know. It fails to acknowledge the fact that queerness is as much about what we are missing, as what we have dangling between our legs (not to mention where we put that which dangles. But you don’t need me to tell you about that).
‘Nobody knows what I lack’ wrote Plath. Except she did know, didn’t she?. And so do I.
Maybe think of it as it being time for you to take a taste of your own medicine, boys. Foucault’s Daughter is here to ensure the dosage is correct (we would not want to make a fatal mistake), and to make sure you both swallow.
I haven’t finished with you yet. And anyway, you’re asking for it.
With love from QRG (on behalf of Foucault’s Daughters everywhere).
Metrosexy, Mark Simpson’s latest book, is out on May 24th on Amazon Kindle.