Thursday, December 17, 2015

Threat and Promise and Glory

When I emerged from the E Train onto 35th Street & 8th Avenue early this morning and saw this magnificent monster of a sparsely lit building - it zapped me back to my earliest memories of being driven into and through Manhattan to get to Jersey City to visit relatives on my father's (German) side (often for Christmas, so it would have been around this time) - how fearfully curious I was about similarly lit windows in big buildings - wondered who was behind them, what they were like, what it would be like to BE up there, what it would mean to live in a mountainous maze like that -- it was horrifying and magnetic all at once. I got my first seminal dose of the power of this city as a small child -- I felt it like an electric charge: unconquerable, terrifying, riveting.
So interesting to have so deeply 'colonized' it since then - with me mostly now pulling to my heart the more human-sized cityscape of the east and west village - immersing myself, as you know, in my compelling love of 19th century ornament & proportion & zeitgeist -- the vibrantly living past of the city -- and yet and yet - always always - psychically harboring that mixture of awe and love and terror which the sight of huge dark partly lit buildings like this sent blasting thru me as a child -- & without which I don't think you can say you've 'gotten' New York even a little. I got it when I was little, and it's never left. The thrill is dimensional: it threatens to kill and it promises un-dreamed-of life, and probably eventually (if you stay here, as I shall) always delivers on both threat and promise.
My facebook friend 'landscape' is wonderfully global - and comprises all manner of sexual, affectional, political, social, family, geographical and stage-of-life proclivity - but those of you who were not a gay man in 1970s Manhattan cannot, I think, know the ways my tribe of beings were able, all but literally, to 'make love' from and in and with and out of the dark strangeness of this place -- and if we survived, which many of us didn't -- to make real homes out of and in it - in a way, to requite the psychoanalytic hope of coalescing beast with angel, sadness with joy and ennui - to become parent and child and lover to ourselves - and when we could (& can) to people we find we love - and to the terror and joy which New York breeds so beautifully & indiscriminately. I have always felt that New York is the only 'actual' place I have ever known which in every respect is equal to, mirrors the infinity of, being human. Inner and outer meet here with complete success and abandon. For me.
Anyway, seeing this building brought all of this to a fine nourishing simmer in me today. I love that simmer.

(dupe of facebook post, 12.16.15)


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