Roz Kaveney (rozk) wrote,
Roz Kaveney

John C. Wright

Half-way decent writer, no kind of human being whatever...A man who demonstrates that ultra-montane Catholicism is just one of those world-views which becomes functionally indistinguishable from teh Crazy. Apart from the homophobic rant that everyone has been mentioning all day - and it is a classic of weirdness with all its crotch-licking and so on - there is a lot of strange libertoonian nonsense about the British NHS and British social workers, and this particular masterpiece of literary criticism.

Need I mention that Sappho, even though she was a woman, wrote poetry from the point of view of a man, that is, love poems with woman as the love-object? Rather than being a sign of nonconformity in sexual orientation, this is a sign of rigid adherence to tradition. Sappho wrote as a poet because there were no poetesses in those days, no such thing as love poems directed at men. That had to wait for Christendom.

I do find myself wondering whether Wright has actually read much of the little that survives of Sappho's work, and I find it fascinating that he is so determined, in the face of almost all scholarship down several centuries, to rewrite her as heterosexual.

It's no longer as clear as it used to seem that our loss of much of her work is a function of a deliberate attempt by the Church to remove her from human memory - Margaret Reynolds makes quite a good revisionist case that much of the loss happened earlier and had to do with changing literary, and linguistic, taste.

Nonetheless, she is one of the great inspirations of other poets:

Like the very gods in my sight is he who
sits where he can look in your eyes, who listens
close to you, to hear the soft voice, its sweetness
murmur in love and

laughter, all for him. But it breaks my spirit;
underneath my breast all the heart is shaken.
Let me only glance where you are, the voice dies,
I can say nothing,

but my lips are stricken to silence, under-
neath my skin the tenuous flame suffuses;
nothing shows in front of my eyes, my ears are
muted in thunder.

And the sweat breaks running upon me, fever
shakes my body, paler I turn than grass is;
I can feel that I have been changed, I feel that
death has come near me. (Lattimore)

Yes, John C Wright, that is certainly meant to be read as a man's voice....And if you believe that, I have this bridge you might want to buy...

Oh, and needless to say, that sent me off and here's my own go at what has to be one of the most imitated poems in world literature.

All the luck
As lucky as a god.
He sits close to you
Almost touching
All eyes
All ears
You give him everything,
Your looks, your laugh,
All of it.

I cannot bear it.
I cannot talk to you.
I stammer
I mumble
I look away
I feel too much
It hurts.

Like when
storms are coming
I have a migraine
And the air fizzes round my eyes
And bowling balls
cannon from the walls of my skull.
I have to go
Lie down
The sight of him
with you
Sick and blind.

More versions here

Maybe the answer to John C. Wright is for us all to write a homage to some great work of queer literature. Don't get mad, get even.
Tags: poetry ashleigh desire sappho translatio
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