Monday, July 05, 2004

Nazis, Pynchon, and queers, oh my!

Nazis killed thousands of gay people in death camps and mistreated many more, but "Many of the leading European fascists of the past thirty years have been gay," reports self-described gay progressive activist Johann Hari in a recent article, The strange, unexplored overlap between homosexuality and fascism .

Gravity's Rainbow [665-666]:
They are 175s--homosexual prison-camp inmates. They have come north from the Dora camp at Nordhausen, north till the land ended, and have set up an all-male community between this marsh and the Oder estuary. Ordinarily, this would be Thanatz's notion of paradise, except that none of the men can bear to be out of Dora--Dora was home, and they are homesick. Their "liberation" was a banishment. So here in a new locationa they have made up a hypothetical SS chain of command--no longer restricted to what Destiny alloted then for jailers, they have now managed to come up with some really mean ass imaginary Nazi playmates

...from "Homoerotic Bonding as Escape from Heterosexual Responsibility in Pynchon's Slow Learner", by Mark Hawthorne:
In the stories collected in Slow Learner (1984) and in the uncollected "Morality and Mercy in Vienna" (1958), Thomas Pynchon deconstructs expectations of dominant male sex roles. He contrasts these expectations to fictional worlds where male protagonists consistently retreat from expected heterosexual responsibilities. Like Sal Paradise in Kerouac's On the Road (1957) and Gnossos Pappadopoulis in Richard Farina's Been Down So Long, It Looks Like Up to Me (1969), these protagonists retreat from women and social responsibilities by seeking the safety of intense male bonding. Though none of these authors directly suggests that the bonding may become genital (leaving that theme to Allan Ginsberg and William Burroughs), each constructs texts that call for decoding even while they insist that the subtextual eroticism is illusory. Balanced between desire and the desire to hide desire, the texts close in on themselves and create worlds of escape that deny their own foundations and thereby remain threatened by the rea l world that wants to collapse them.

Hawthorne's article, "Hi! My Name Is Arnold Snarb!': Homosexuality in The Crying of Lot 49", in Pynchon Notes 44-45, is also worth reading, but doesn't appear to be online.