Emergent digital ecologies and Pynchon’s male homosexual

Ms. Oedipa Maas, protagonist of Thomas Pynchon’s 1965 novella The Crying of Lot 49, in the process of executing the sizeable estate of her former boyfriend, California real-estate mogul Pierce Inverarity, stumbles upon or imagines, all on her own or courtesy of Pierce’s pre-death machinations, Trystero: a long-established underground organization of mail couriers whose power has killed off, figuratively and literally, Thurn and Taxis, the dominant European mail service from 1290 to 1867, and the early U.S. private posts, Wells, Fargo, and the Pony Express. Trystero’s geographic and temporal scopes extend frighteningly from the heyday of the Holy Roman Empire to Oedipa’s present in the 1960s, postwar United States, where Trystero capitalizes on atmospheric mistrust of the federal government to set itself up as a rival to the national communication network controlled by the government: the United States Postal Service. Sound ominous? It does to many; and so, unsurprisingly, paranoid perceptions of interconnected plots are the most common subjects of analysis in the substantial body of criticism on The Crying of Lot 49 (Foster Wallace 182; Jameson 17; Puetz 136-137; Palmeri 988-996).

But Pynchon’s first mention of a “plot” refers not to a plot or conspiracy concerning Trystero, but to the attempt of Metzger, Pierce’s former lawyer and Oedipa’s co-executor, to seduce the executrix by arranging for Cashiered, a movie in which he, years ago, under the screen name Baby Igor, played the son of a cowardly submarine-building dishonorable-discharge from the British Army, to be aired on television the very time he shows up at the door of her motel room, “so good looking that Oedipa thought at first that They, somebody up there, was putting her on” (17-19). Whether he arranged for the broadcast or not, his ploy is successful—as Pynchon suggests it will be when Oedipa thinks suddenly: “Either he made up the whole thing […] or he bribed the engineer over at the local station to run this, it’s all part of a plot, an elaborate, seduction, plot”—and then, with lusty anticipation—“O Metzger” (20). Oedipa’s first reaction to the novella’s first potential “plot” is an “O,” both a numerical zero and an “O” of arousal at this man who would go to such lengths to seduce her. What about “Metzger”? “O Metzger,” the coming together of an “O” and a “Metzger,” anticipates Oedipa and Metzger’s imminent sexual union: the joining of Oedipa’s vagina and Metzger’s penis, the joining of Showalterian empty circle and phallus, the joining of the anatomical equivalent of a zero with the anatomical equivalent of a one—anticipates, in short, the creation of a fully-constituted digital system (Showalter 222).

I use “digital” here literally, metaphorically, and in the crudest of senses. Literally, because my discussions of the digital are of digits—specifically, ones and zeros—digits that do not constitute, but are clearly a prerequisite for, the creation and use of digital information. Metaphorically, because the ones and zeros I point to in Pynchon are not literal ones and zeros in the world of the text, but are anatomical and sexual metaphors for ones and zeros: phalluses, vaginas, anuses, and mouths. Reading these aspects of the anatomy as metaphors for the digital is clearly not necessary, but doing so allows us to draw parallels between the slowly digitizing media ecology [1] of the 1960s and a movement in civil rights that accompanied it—the partial and gradual “liberation,” at least in many urban centers, of male homosexuals. [2]

My reading of Pynchon’s novella will cast the emergence of digital media and the societal outing of the gay man as a single, fused development. I aim to make two linked points. First, and most simply, I wish to cast Pynchon as anticipating the digital era by sketching out a proto-new media [3] ecology that is saturated with the digital. Second, and more importantly, I wish to offer Pynchon’s male homosexual in the abstract as an analog to digital developments within Pynchon’s text, thereby making the traditionally marginalized homosexual subject central to our understanding—or at least to one way of understanding—of digital technological innovation. [4] In doing so, I will both “queer up” Pynchon’s text and suggest that Pynchon’s male homosexual is inexorably tied to his novella’s treatment of the digital. [5]

Before proceeding to queer up Pynchon’s digital discussions—or, perhaps better, to digitize Pynchon’s queers—I will establish Pynchon’s general concern with the digital. The digital is not, at least superficially, painted rosily. Consider Oedipa,

walking among matrices of a great digital computer, the zeros and ones twinned above, hanging like balanced mobiles right and left, ahead, thick, maybe endless. Behind the hieroglyphic streets there would either be transcendent meaning, or only the earth. In the songs Miles, Dean, Serge and Leonard sing was either some fraction of the truth’s numinous beauty (as Mucho now believed) or only a power spectrum. Tremaine the Swastika Salesman’s reprieve from holocaust was either an injustice, or the absence of a wind; the bones of the GI’s at the bottom of Lake Inverarity were either there for a reason that mattered to the world, or for skin divers and cigarette smokers. Ones and zeros. So did the couples arrange themselves. (150)

Oedipa’s exasperation here takes the form of entrapment within a computer—maintaining her sanity and her grip on her reality are reduced to negotiating a maze of ones and zeros. Experiences, thoughts, memories, and individuals undergo, to borrow from Jean Baudrillard, an “absorption into the transparency of computers” and are “forced despite [themselves] into the undivided coherency” of the digital (“The Masses” 582). And we hear here echoes of Friedrich Kittler’s warning that the essence of human beings is “escap[ing] into apparatuses,” and that “[i]nside the computers themselves everything becomes a number: quantity without image, sound, or voice” (16; 1). We’re also prompted to return to an earlier and less conspicuous reference to a “digital computer,” which occurs early in the novella when Oedipa

made the mistake of looking at herself in the full-length mirror, saw a beach ball with feet, and laughed so violently she fell over, taking a can of hair spray on the sink with her. The can hit the floor, something broke, and with a great outsurge of pressure the stuff commenced atomizing, propelling the can swiftly around the bathroom. The can, hissing malignantly, bounced off the toilet and whizzed by Metzger’s right ear, missing by maybe a quarter of an inch. Metzger hit the deck and cowered with Oedipa as the can continued its high-speed caroming. […] She looked up past his eyelids, into the staring ceiling light, her field of vision cut across by wild, flashing overflights of the can, whose pressure seemed inexhaustible. She was scared […]. The can knew where it was going, she sensed, or something fast enough, God or a digital machine, might have computed in advance the complex web of its travel; but she wasn’t fast enough, and knew only that it might hit them at any moment, at whatever clip it was doing, a hundred miles an hour. The can collided with a mirror and bounced away, […] zoomed over to the enclosed shower, where it crashed into a suddenly destroyed a panel of frosted glass; thence around three tile walls, up to the ceiling, past the light, over the two prostrate bodies […]. She could imagine no end to it […]. (24-25)

The fuel of our aerosol mini-rocket operates by “atomizing,” by converting from apparently continuous mass to discontinuous individual particles, from the analog to the digital. If we take the atomizing hairspray as a metaphor for the conversion of information into discrete ones and zeros, the can’s stochastic trajectory and seemingly tirelessness are reminiscent of Kittler’s notion that “[i]nstead of wiring people”—people, who here cower in the face of a directed digital explosion—the “absolute knowledge” within the digital computer will “run,” like the can, “as an endless loop” (2) [6]. Whether we accept Pynchon’s can as an allegory for the dangers of the digital is inconsequential: the point is that Pynchon is clearly absorbed in issues of digitization. Other indications of the digital, such as “cybernetic objects” and “computer circuits,” exist within the world of the novella, are, as Jameson maintains, “endowed with a suggestive power they cannot muster on their own” (17). The source of this power, I submit, is the saturation of the novel and its subjects by the digital, a superficial manifestation of which is the way in which vocabulary from the realm of cybernetics and computers seeps into the narration and dialogue. Pierce, for instance, is described as “coding” [7] rather than writing his will; a face, when it disappears from Oedipa’s view, is said to “switch off” [8]; and both a quantity of money and a fantasy are described in terms of “bits” [9] (98; 149; 62; 17; 121). The digital here is “all-encompassing [and] seemingly omnipotent” yet it is also not fully realized; it is unmistakably present and “yet somehow inaccessible” (Geyh 20). The digital’s existence here is not easily described—it is, for instance, both ubiquitous and latent—but the digital does, without question, exist here.

Like the digital, the male homosexual in the 1960s was becoming increasingly conspicuous by gradually revealing his own latent omnipresence. Homosexual relations are clearly different from heterosexual ones, so our sexual metaphor here looks different from that of “O Metzger,” but the digital system it helps us to see is equally complete and more versatile. In reading “O Metzger,” I have posited heterosexual copulation as a metaphorical digital system, as the union of a zero and a one. Until this fusion occurs, the zero and one exist apart from one another, in separate beings; the components of a digital system are trapped, suspended in the anticipation of potential penetration of the vagina—or the anus, or the mouth—by the penis. For the female has no penis with which to potentially penetrate, and there exists no chance that the heterosexual man, by definition, will himself be penetrated. Only the male penis, along with the female vagina, anus, or mouth, can potentially contribute in the constitution of metaphorical digital system. Because neither the heterosexual male nor the heterosexual female carries both a one and a zero, both are necessary for any digital system to be realized.

The homosexual male in the abstract, in contrast, always already constitutes his own uniquely adaptable set of potential digital systems. First, he embodies a digital potentiality all on his own—for he does not, like the heterosexual male or the heterosexual female, lack either a zero or a one; he has a one and multiple zeros, all of which carry the potential of contributing to a digital system. Second, in copulation, he can always contribute a metaphorical one, or one of at least two metaphorical zeros, or both ones and zeros, helping to constitute more than one simultaneous digital system. The homosexual male’s potential for forming digital systems is at least threefold that of the heterosexual male; and compared to the heterosexual female—who herself can potentially contribute a zero to at least three digital systems—the homosexual male is able to contribute both a one and a zero. He is, as a maker of digital systems, appreciably more adaptable. [10]

To turn our sexual discussion to the technological realm, the homosexual male can be said to represent a step forward in, or a step forward into, digital technology. [11] For if we extend our conception of the sexual as a metaphor for the digital into the context of digital storage and representation, we see that each the heterosexual male and a female of any orientation has but one type of information he or she can represent, one message he or she can convey. The heterosexual male can represent a single one, and that is all; the female can represent up to three zeros, but as all are zeros, there is potential only for the reinforcement of a single message, not variations on it. The homosexual male, like a computer bit, can represent both a one and a zero; he can convey more than a single, continuous string of information. It is this dual capacity that makes the male homosexual in The Crying of Lot 49 a walking embodiment of a digital potentiality.

Indeed, like the digital, the male homosexual is nearly ubiquitous, popping up in thought, in speech, and in fact all up and down Oedipa’s California coast. He is a major part of Oedipa’s visit to San Francisco, to be sure. But he also extends into the past of the book. We find his defining feature, an affinity for male genitalia, a physical incorporation himself into and by other males, associated with both Richard Wharfinger, the fictional Jacobean playwright whose play The Courier’s Tragedy is the catalyst for Oedipa’s pursuit of the elusive Trystero. And Randolph Driblette, director of the relevant production of The Courier’s Tragedy, has a complex relationship to the male homosexual and is likely a homosexual himself. In all cases in the book’s present—the 1960s—the male homosexual is either seen as a spectacle, avoided, or clandestinely sought out. He is never acknowledged legitimately in open air; he is an object of dread and a source of despair. We will see that the male homosexual, in his ubiquity, his forebodingness, and his potential to exclude, is a perfect metaphor for the digital.

Oedipa, wandering the streets of North Beach in San Francisco, absorbed into a crowd of tourists (and renamed after one of them, one “Arnold Snarb,” by an errantly placed nametag), finds “herself being herded, along with other badged citizens, toward a bar called The Greek Way; “Oh, no,” she finds herself thinking, “not a fag joint; no” (89). The tour group with whom she has inadvertently fallen in is electrified as they flow into the “fag joint,” but their motivations for the visit are voyeuristic and mocking: they’ve come to investigate the natives who animate “the gay night life to be found […] in famous North Beach”; to be “propositioned” by them “in good fun”; to “see the members of the third sex, the lavender crowd” that the “city by the Bay is […] famous for” (89). Oedipa resists entering The Greek Way, unlike her new group, which enters with a patronizing exuberance. Oedipa’s bad mood doesn’t improve inside the bar. She interrogates her surroundings, scrutinizing the room in detail—noting, for instance, “an Indian kid hardly out of his teens, with frosted shoulder-length hair tucked behind his ears and pointed cowboy boots”—and identifies herself as “the only woman […] in a room full of drunken male homosexuals” (94). “Despair” then “c[o]mes over her, as it will when nobody around you has any sexual relevance to you” (94). Driblette is, with respect to the male homosexual, in a fix that appears at first to be similar to Oedipa’s. Like Oedipa he seeks to evade the male homosexual; unlike Oedipa, his motivations for evasion are unclear. When Oedipa and Driblette converse backstage after she views his production, he is noticeably anxious because, he says, he has “sweat like hell” that night and had “better get a shower [,] before the Drop-The-Soap crowd get here” (60). Driblette’s implication here is that if he waits for the lustful homosexuals who compose the majority of the company to arrive before he goes to wash up, he’ll get caught up in, or become an involuntary voyeur of, a penile melee, an oral and anal-sex free-for-all, a scenario he clearly—for whatever reason—wants to avoid. The male homosexual in Pynchon’s 1960s is naturally lascivious; he inspires hopelessness and angst; he is good, like the zoo animal, chiefly to be ogled at and played with. He is clearly powerful in a sense—Oedipa and Driblette are decidedly affected by him—but his power here is a negative one, a power to repel and revolt.


the Greek Way

This treatment of the male homosexual as a deviant who is acknowledged publicly only as an object of gleeful amusement can also be said to apply to homosexuals in Renaissance England. Pynchon’s fictional Wharfinger, as a contemporary of Shakespeare, existed in a cultural moment when the tendency to prefer phalluses, to engage in homosexual [12] acts (usually the act that we today refer to as sodomy) behind closed doors, to lust after what Camille Paglia calls the “beautiful boy,” was common among gentlemen. While we cannot show conclusively that Wharfinger participated in this sodomitical culture, we can show clearly that he is very much associated with its distinguishing implement: the phallus. Wharfinger is an amalgamation of phalluses. We in fact know very little else about him. We know that he was a contemporary of Shakespeare; we know that his texts, like those of Shakespeare and many popular playwrights in Elizabethan and Jacobean England, were circulated in bowdlerized and adulterated versions (124-125). The only substantial bit of information we have to distinguish Wharfinger as an individual from any number of other Jacobean playwrights is his name: Richard Wharfinger. The contemporary shortening of “Richard” to “Dick” is almost too obvious to warrant mentioning, and if it were Wharfinger’s only tie to the phallus, I would not mention it. But scrutinizing his last name reveals no fewer than two more, separate phallic symbols, and posits a series of phallic arrangements that mime homosexual relations. “Wharfinger,” when split into two words, is two phalluses: a wharf, or a built extension or floating platform that extends from the shore into a body of water; and a finger; “Wharfinger” is the coming together of these two phalluses. The first four-fifths of “Wharfinger,” “Wharfing,” is itself a word: it is the plural form of either “wharves” or “wharfs,” each of which is itself a plural form of the singular “wharf.” It is notable, too, that “fing,” which penetrates the middle of “Wharfinger,” is a vulgar slang verb for stimulating the anus or the vagina with one or more fingers. “Wharfinger,” then—or “wharfing” with the affixing of the suffix “er”—can be read, in common parlance, as one who “does” wharfing or a wharfing: just as one who swims or does swimming is a swimmer, as one who gardens or does gardening is a gardener. This, indeed, is precisely what a “wharfinger” is: one who does, one who tends to, one who services a wharf, wharves, or an entire wharfing. Wharfinger the playwright is not only made up of the union of two phalluses (three if we count “fing”; four if we count “Dick”); etymologically, his purpose is to service multiple phalluses or multiple groups of multiple phalluses. He is, at least nominally, a patent homosexual.




Perhaps this nominal proclivity toward the phallus—combined with the resistance to male homosexuals exhibited in Pynchon’s 1960s—is why Wharfinger is kept so very much at bay throughout the novella, why we know so distinctive little about him aside from his name, why his 20th-century reputation doesn’t go deeper than “he was no Shakespeare” (60). We cannot peg Wharfinger as a “homosexual” in the contemporary sense, because he would have almost surely been the dominant partner, according to the conventions of the day, when he, presumably as a mature man, authored The Courier’s Tragedy. Unlike members of most 20th-century male homosexual communities, Wharfinger would not have been permitted to be both dominant and submissive. But sexually dominant men were usually once submissive boys. Wharfinger, when we take this entire history into account, would be both penetrator and penetrated; he would, over a span of time, mimic the less hierarchical sexual activities of the 1960s homosexual; the “historical Wharfinger” would be a not only a sodomite, but looked back on as a man with a homosexual history. This history is in large part tied to the “present” of the 1960s, for Wharfinger is also tied to the 1960s male homosexual in two extraordinarily subtle ways. First, on the occasions when male homosexuals worry Oedipa and worry Driblette, they are referred to as a “crowd” (as the “lavender crowd” and the “Drop-The-Soap crowd,” respectively); “wharf,” in medieval England, meant “crowd”—these “wharfs” of homosexuals are literally part of “Wharfinger.” Second, the “fag joint” Oedipa visits in North Beach is, geographically, just south of, or below, what is perhaps the most well-known wharfing in the world, San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf, placing a metaphorical “wharfinger” “on top” of a large group of male homosexuals. Wharfinger may not be a homosexual in the 1960s sense, but he is, clearly, in some sense of them. In light of this, and when viewed beside the ritual avoidance of 1960s homosexuals, the unhesitant dismissal of a “historical Wharfinger,” by Emory Bortz—the world’s most prominent Wharfingerian—makes sense: the historical, perhaps sodomitical Wharfinger is not a Wharfinger Bortz wants to talk or think about (124). [13]

If we conceptualize the male homosexual as an embodiment of digital advancement, what are we to make of Oedipa’s and Driblette’s anxieties about him? As we’ve noted, Oedipa for her part is simply excluded. She is rebuffed as a sexual actor the moment she enters the bar: no one here wants to have sex with her, and she, for that very reason, has no desire for sex with them. She has zeros that don’t interest the surrounding ones, and so the potential for creating a digital system is little to none. Oedipa’s alienation in The Greek Way among the already digitally-complete male homosexuals is reminiscent her alienation “among matrices of a great digital computer” filled with similarly complete digital systems, with “[o]nes and zeros” already coupled, leaving Oedipa searching for an “excluded middle” she can run to and bond with (150). The digitized male homosexual estranges Oedipa just as the literally digital does.

Driblette’s situation is more complex. He wants to remove himself from the showers before the Drop-The-Soap crowd insert themselves into the showers, but we don’t know why. It could be some form of revulsion, or a more mild disinclination. [14] Or he could simply be lying altogether, either to get rid of Oedipa in general or to get rid of her so that the impending homosexual orgy may begin. All of his actions are consistent with this second interpretation. Oedipa goes backstage to ask Driblette about his production, Wharfinger, and their relation to Trystero. From the moment she appears before him, he’s pushing her out: he “discourage[s]” her from asking about the play; when she does anyway, he says, “Don’t ask me”; when she presses him further, he asks why she’s “so interested,” tells her that she simply “do[es]n’t understand”’ when she presses him even further, he supposes that he could “dissolve in [the shower],” which would be the ultimate escape (60-62). Not escape from the Drop-The-Soap crowd—for dissolving would place him throughout the shower, covering the men, entangling himself with the them, entering them—but escape from Oedipa. He isn’t trying to rush from the shower at all; he’s doing all he can to linger in it and await the coming homosexual onslaught.

My notion that Driblette is not only amenable to but enthusiastic about the prospect of a homosexual encounter finds further support in the beginning of his and Oedipa’s discussion. When Oedipa first sees him he is sweaty and stripping, presumably to nudity, so he can enter the shower as quickly as possible (60). And yet, in such a persistently kinky book, one so filled with sexual tension and intrigue (Oedipa and Metzger’s tryst; an illicit proposition to Oedipa from John Nefastis; the philandering of Oedipa’s husband Mucho Maas; etc.), we have no indication that either Oedipa or Driblette feels the slightest bit of attraction or discomfort in this situation (17-30; 86; 118). Awkwardness generally should reign when someone you’ve just met, with whom you have any chance of becoming sexually intimate, strips naked in front of you—or, conversely, watches you strip naked. But Driblette doesn’t give a second thought to Oedipa’s presence before stripping, and Oedipa doesn’t give a second thought to the man stripping before her. In fact, Oedipa acts toward Driblette much like she acts toward the homosexuals in The Greek Way: she scrutinizes and interrogates him in detail (60-63; 94). Our protagonist treats Driblette as though he were a homosexual; and Driblette’s desire for other men is strong enough and enough of secret that he lies to protect it. Driblette is not, in fact, averse to the digital at all; he is of it. His attitude toward Oedipa, like that of the homosexuals in The Greek Way, like the great digital computer’s zeros and ones, is one of marginalization and indifference. Oedipa has no place among the ones and zeros, she has no place in the bar, and she has no place with the digital Driblette.

Examining Pynchon’s male homosexual shows us that the novella’s evidence of a proto-new media ecology—the beginnings of digital technologies—is bound up with him. Indeed, for Oedipa, anxiety about the male homosexual and anxiety about the digital are the same anxiety. Both the digital and the queer are self-sufficient, both are variable and versatile, both are clandestinely everywhere and in every era, and both, as they advance, have the potential to create social upheaval. The effects of this union—or, if “union” seems too bold, the effects of the pseudo-mimetic potentialities shared by the digital and the male homosexual—in The Crying of Lot 49 and in cultural theory require a good deal more study than I can offer in this limited space. We can conclude, though, that in Pynchon’s 1960s, the digital and the male homosexual, though not yet fully or widely realized, lie, separately and together, developing, in wait, and inevitable.




[1] I use “media ecology” as Neil Postman defines it: “the study of media as environments” in which media act together like elements of a biological or sociological environment to form “a complex message system which imposes on human beings certain ways of thinking, feeling and behaving” and “affect[s] human perception…understanding, and value” (161).

[2] A simple, stock example of this social movement is the solidarity of the gay community in the aftermath of the June 1969 Stonewall riots in New York City’s Greenwich Village.

[3] “New media” here is identified with distributing, exhibiting, and producing media with the use of a computer. For Lev Manovich, a “new media object”—a category that includes everything from websites to voice-over IP (VOIP) conversations to movies shot in analog that are produced as DVDs—is characterized by five “new media principles,” or “general tendencies of a culture undergoing computerization”: “numerical representation, modularity, automation, variability, and cultural transcoding” (27; 20). By “proto-new media ecology” I mean a new media ecology in an early state of becoming; an emergent, evolving or developing new media ecology.

[4] The issue-bundle of media, technology, and information in The Crying of Lot 49 is deftly charted critical ground; for examples that deal mostly with paranoia, entropy, and the broadly conceived “postmodern condition,” see David Foster Wallace, Dan Geddes, Paula Geyh, Fredric Jameson, John Johnston, Frank Palmeri, Richard Poirier, Manfred Puetz, and Lisa Yaszek.

[5] I feel compelled to stress that I am positing no causal relationship(s) between the digital and the queer here, but am rather calling attention to their anomalously extreme, and thus to me noteworthy, interconnectedness.

[6] Things become increasingly complicated if we extend the comparison between Pynchon’s aerosol can and Kittler’s view, for the can, unlike Kittler’s information loop, does eventually “give up in midflight and fall to the floor” (Pynchon 25).

[7] To “code” in computers or cybernetics is to utilize a “system of symbols and rules for expressing information or instructions in a form usable by a computer.” Each definition referenced in this essay is courtesy of the online version of the Oxford English Dictionary, unless I cite another source or specifically note it as a colloquialism.

[8] A “switch” in computers is a “program instruction that selects one or other of a number of possible paths according” to whether it is switched on or off.

[9] A “bit” is a “unit of information derived from a choice between two equally probable alternatives or ‘events’; such a unit stored electronically in a computer.”

[10] Camille Paglia makes a similar, more generally applicable point on the adaptability of the male homosexual: “Male homosexuality may be the most valorous of attempts to evade the femme fatale and to defeat nature. By turning away from the Medusan mother, whether in honor or detestation of her, the male homosexual is one of the greatest forgers of absolutist western identity” (14-15).

[11] Whether “in” or “into” is the better characterization here rests upon whether we take the metaphorical formation of a digital system as evidence of the digital or we require an aspect of the digital—in this case, information storage—to manifest itself. Regardless, the digital is latent in both.

[12] Despite the fact that the “homosexual” was neither conceptualized as such nor used in Renaissance England, I use this unsatisfactory marked term in reference to those of that era who committed sodomitical acts for the sake of terminological ease. The shift, in the 19th century, from thinking of a man who participates in “homosexual” acts as a sodomite to structuring that man’s entire identity around these acts—the birth of “the homosexual”—has of course been explored in depth by Michel Foucault in The History of Sexuality. The “sexuality” of the “nineteenth-century homosexual,” says Foucault, “was everywhere present in him: at the root of all his actions because it was their insidious and indefinitely active principle,” “a secret that always gave itself away,” less a “habitual sin than […] a singular nature […].” “Homosexuality” became a “sexuality when it was transposed from the practice of sodomy onto a kind of interior androgyny. […] The sodomite had been a temporary aberration; the homosexual was now a species” (4).

[13] Bortz and his cadre of sycophantic graduate students also dismiss the notion of a historical Shakespeare, Marx, or Jesus—not just a historical Wharfinger. While there is little disagreement over Marx’s sexual preferences, Shakespeare is widely thought to have had intimate and potentially erotic relationships with men, and many theologians and religious scholars in the past 100 years have made the argument that Jesus not only was not chaste, as is maintained by most strains of Christianity, but engaged in, and perhaps preferred, sexual relationships with men. (“Was/Is Yeshua of Nazareth (Jesus Christ) Gay?”)

[12] His motivation could also be restraint; he could be fleeing the licentious actors to keep himself from joining in.


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