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phantom thread


I woke up early to mark my territory. George’s dishes in the sink gave grounds for my gruff repartee. I wanted my space this morning, and I would make it clear to him first.


I have lived with three lovers including George. He is the most pleasant. He puts up with bursts of energy that can be sharp attention to detail. ‘Wash your own dishes, George’ before kissing him good morning. He wisely ignores — first deciphering — attitudes that are less about his dishes and more about my disposition. I should not require that. He advised me that if I didn’t like the dishes, I could have more gently woken him up and asked him to wash them.


We watched ‘Phantom Thread’, the new film starring Daniel Day Lewis on Sunday night. I had read that it would be Lewis’ last film. He goes through depressive bouts after each project and has decided to stop. Makes sense. This detail piqued my interest. He is a fashion designer in the film, which interests George. Lewis’ character is intolerable, demanding. I see myself in this character. His muse begins to poison him with mushrooms to slow him down for periods of convalescence, during which she brings him back to a good state.


I saw Lewis in the West Village post office on 10th Street once. Whenever I see him on screen I always compare his presence with what I remember from that chance encounter. Not to over-do the ‘art imitating life’ turn of phrase, but I find myself wondering how contrived it might be, his public denoument on the occasion of this particular film. I don’t mind if it is contrived.


George told me that I shared qualities with the character as we walked down Avenida Paulista after the film. He was giving me a compliment, an observation that my pride would otherwise have kept at armslength. This morning I was aggressive, terrible if you will. Some work stuff funking up my sleep and generating anxiety. I am tempermental. Taurus … a bull that does not care to know if he is ascending or descending. Passive before I turn aggressive. The other side of the coin. I’m sorry George.


I was freshly stressed for the Monday to come. It would be a week of speculative planning in hopes of generating resources for cultural projects. Freelancing. Selling ideas. Being poorly behaved in the face of institutions.


Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama has lived in a psychiatric institution since 1977. While it is a jagged-fit theoretically, I like the idea of ‘worldmaking’ by José Esteban Muñoz dealing with the jagged-fit of Ernest Bloch’s thoughts on utopia in Muñoz’s Cruising Utopia: the Then and There of Queer Futurity (2009). I also like the oft-used Prison Notebooks quote from Gramsci:

The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear.

Kusami and Lewis’ Mr. Woodcock — both enterprises unto themselves — may well want the old systems to ‘be still’ as they conjure new worlds.


Postscript: George has taken to joking about preparing cogumelos for me, while his mother urges from afar that he take me to the spiritual shop for a prescribed healing bath for which the ingredients are on a note she left on the fridge when visiting last month.

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