Monday, June 8, 2009

Recent Letters Between Belgium and Ohio

Belgium: Hi again

Ohio: I'll try to answer your e-mail letter questions this way -- the rain has stopped and the heat and humidity have set in I can't write a proper letter to answer your great and kind letters...

Belgium: Matt... there is so much sadness and bitterness in your mail. That is so, so sad.

Ohio: jawell c'est la vie, non?

Belgium: I always like to remember you as the guy that made us crack up when he was talking about the things he experienced in good ole' Brussels.

Ohio: yeh well its still me - i was always depressed - its the source of my art and humor...

Belgium: Never thought you'd miss it!

Ohio: what Belgium, Brussels, Bart anything with a B in it?

I miss people and places... Bart got the house, the neighborhood, all my belongings that were shipped over, even the things from before I met him - stuff from my family - they are still there (i hope - Bart says they are but who really knows), the dogs, my friends - jeezus - all he needed was a power dildo and dishwasher and he wouldn't need me or Gert.

Belgium: Why on earth are you staying in Ohio!!!! I don't get that.

Ohio: well you just answered your own questions... where am i going to buy a house in Belgique for 12,ooo dollars... Aalst? Genk?

Belgium: Of course you have your house there now - but still. If you're not happy, go away. You lived here - and I KNOW how different it is - and even if we're the 'old country' we are SO MUCH more 'modern' (the word is 'vooruitstrevend' but I don't know that in English)

Ohio: Progressive i think is the closest match... but yeh you all are very modern - and sometimes i think trapped in that very modernity.

Belgium: ....(more modern) than the States.God, it IS better to live here! We saw some real poverty last year, quite amazing. Patrick's host mother lives on 2 euro a day for food. That is incredible! I don't think I can make breakfast for that money - at least not a breakfast that is good & healthy.

Ohio: yeh life here is really bad - i have never seen it like this.... Europeans just have no idea... I am glad you have a feel for things tho.

Belgium: About Bart... We see him once in a while. We meet. I've always liked Bart a lot and I still do. Don't be too hard on him. I think he's a rather traditional guy and he needs things he can 'hold on to'. Gert is more like that I think. A lot more traditional. I'm sorry I talk about him - but that'll be all.

Ohio: I love Bart a lot more than my own life - he is my best friend and my only family. He divorced me - whatever... good for him and Gert...

Belgium: You were a VERY different person in the end than when we first met. We didn't really understand things in the end.

Belgium: What with Yemen?

Ohio: (i consider Yemen my home - i live to go back - i belong there - it might seem like a contradiction but its a very good way of life)

Belgium: With the beard?

Ohio: (what is it with post Roman society still being obsessed by a clean shaven face - after Yemen and those places - western men all look effeminate to me now - like you can see their mothers faces in their clean shaven face - I call it the Gillette Conspiracy)...

Belgium: The Muslim thing?

Ohio: 1.6 billion people can't be wrong can they? Or do you just think they are - all - wrong - all one big thing - all with the same views etc... Lahore - my god i never saw so much sex drugs and rock and roll - it beats Amsterdam any day - and none of it commodified... it is not based on money...

Belgium: I mean - those people are very homophobic,
aren't they?

Ohio: again I think you answer your own questions... you have a bright mind - don't fall into the traps of dominate (white) cultures ways of thinking....

Belgium: We don't have anything against Muslims - not at all - but there are some of their ideas I really find appalling.Not like they're all that good with minorities or even majorities - like women!

Ohio: You can deconstruct and analyse that sentence for yourself - it sort of really says it all...

They all find the wests attitude very frightening... our relentless support of Zionism despite the appalling human rights abuses by the Israelis... The US's economy would tank even more than it has already if the US didn't invade other places and create enemies to manufacture war....

The answers to your question that relate to me personally are in all my blogs and on Facebook whether it's about sex, drugs and rock and roll or my own quest for personal spirituality and mysticism - its all there and been self published and charted and posted as it all evolved from the point my mother died until now - past my father death and past the relationship that will remain the love of my life - i will not have another relationship like that nor do i want one... I just hope i don't kill myself hurting from Love Lost - I am trying to evolve beyond that but I actually might not... time for me might just have stopped when I got served those divorce papers.

c'est la vie... ultimately life is really sad. every relationship ends - either in life or death, both are murder for those who survive.

The answers to your questions about Islam and the Muslims are apparent to me in how you have framed those questions - which come across more like accusations... your mind has already been made up about the answers with western media like views based in fear and misunderstanding so lets not waste each others time on that.

Belgium: What's with your sister? A maximum security prison? What on earth happened?

it was a terrible tragedy of banality:

She was raped at 13 which sent her life on a different course than any my parents could comprehend - she ended up with a very bad man - had three kids before she was 21 and all in less than four years and then he abandoned her - she tried to commit suicide after a long history - since the initial rape (the first of three violent ones) of mental illness - (no surprise there) and in the process killed her children but didn't succeed with herself... she received a paupers plea bargain of three life sentences rather than the electric chair. She wanted the electric chair but my parents didn't want to do that to me and my brother. In Europe she would have received mental health care for a few years and been rehabilitated - not locked away for three life sentences which she will never live long enough to serve. It is very hard to live with - grow up with. Very, very hard... Most people i know find it fascinating but they do not ever have the capacity to comprehend the grind of it all over three decades - Margo is the only family I have now - She is my best friend - we talk and talk and talk - we joke about how we carry out the tradition of the family Sunday dinner at Grandmas at the prison once a month... it's our way of laughing at the whole tragedy of our lives. I need to be near her - she is much older than me and going blind. The sadness just doesn't end.

I am learning to embrace sadness - run towards it - die with it. like making peace with my own mortality - my own limitation - the fact that I will die with a broken heart from the summation of all of this....

when I got back from Belgium i was called up for jury duty coincidentally for the Judge who was Margo's prosecuting attorney at the time - he was young then - now ready to retire after a successful career - she made his career - i refused to sit on jury duty for him. Life is Gothic. This is my own American Gothic.

Belgium: Matt, I hope you will find some happiness inside of you. Don't let the bitterness take over. Life has it's turns and one has to accept it. People die, they go away, shit happens all the time. And we all get our share, you can be sure of that! It's a lot about the choices you make. Don't let unhappiness or bitterness choose for you, but look at all the options and go for it. Sometimes life doesn't treat you all that nice - but often that's because of the choices YOU and only YOU made. All things that are happening now, are your choice. If you realise that, you can change things for yourself in the future. Choose with your heart and only choose what makes you happy. You really, really, really need that!

Ohio: Well what you say is very true but it is also very Southern Lowland sort of thinking, typical to Northern Europe - it's just not my way. My friends from the Den Haag write to me in much the same way as you - it's all post Catholic/post Calvinist post religious thinking which doesn't set with well most other cultures.... The US is a very religious place in a grocery store variety selection sort of way. Bart never got that about me -- but it was my upbringing because my parents though mostly secular thought after Margo i needed a moral upbringing and all. Meeting up with Moroccans and Muslims and Islam in Belgium - where Catholicism is like an exquisite corpse was an interesting experience for me. It reminded me of the Christian Nazi upbringing i had. It was fun to reframe all that American Christian gay identity with Muslim same-sexers Moroccan transvestite Belly Dancers and bearded men in galalibiyyas - it was too much for the little Flemish Quartier of Brussel - but who cares... I feel like i contributed to Flemish culture in Brussel - but it was the Marocians in Brussels who spoke Flemish that I love - So that is probably why i bonded so well with Marocians and North Africans in Bruxelles - who though born there - were like me - we shared a commonality that I am very happy to have experienced - we were mutually confined to a life outside of the two Belgian mainstreams - occassionally we would get let in to be a part of things but it's not comfortable for either the indigenous Belgians or the Belgians whose culture is from abroad. There is some overlap but honestly Europeans don't want all that multi-culti stuff that has been forced on them. I just never expected my intellectual Belgian pals - be they Flemish or Francophone or both (lol) - to take my Orientalist bohemian ways as treasonous and cut me off - I thought they could just roll with it and evolve with their New North African origin Brothers and veiled Sisters - boy was I naive - even my Americaness was too much for most Francophones... but all of that was a surprise - so much for progressive northern Europe...

Over here even in Ohio - i have the space and freedom to continue doing Moroccan mens drag instead of transvestite drag... lol there are now many Muslims here - unlike in Belgium here they are the very rich and they missed out - like me - on the economic crisis that has brought so many people down from the tyranny of the Bush II years. Here we have Somalians - Palestinians - all Arabs - Pakistanis and a few Moroccans - I stay in their parts of town... African Americans just hate Somalians and the "sand niggers" as they call em - African Americans display acts of blatant racism to these new Americans that Whites from the nineteen fifties showed blacks... oooh times have changed and turned in on themselves... it is all rather interesting.... but there is space in North America - that Flanders reduced in size as it has been over the unkind centuries doesn't have the hospitality for. The mindset here is more medieval but we have the space to live in our own fantasies of life. But i prefer Brussels to be honest.

Belgium: You 'feel' very, very lonely to me. I'm sorry about that. I hope you will find a new, better way, one that makes you happier anyway! You have so much talent! You have a great sense of humour! Use it!

Ohio: Ever since my sister's demise in 1976 I have been a depressive - it is my struggle - it is a hard thing to grow up with - alongside... burdened by the state - then my love life with Bart was burdened by the state with all those residency issues (all of which were resolved ironically in time for the great divorce) - my life was harder than it should have needed to be... it made me a better person... Once bart achieved a petit bourgious sort of way of life in Brussel - something he would not have had the courage to find without me - he was content to level off - i still have to evolve even now... Right now I am just trying to figure out what is next. I really don't know... I am just trying to get over Bart - but he is with me 24 hours a day - i curse him for that.
I miss Bart
I miss home there
I miss "our" things

I don't like the world Bart wants with Gert anymore than Bart wants my Arabesque Internationalist, post Western, post gay, world - where being gay is considered a from of white colonialist decadence and a byproduct of an aging demographic phenomenon... not that the Arabian world or Pakistan don't have same sexers - they do - they, just - like Marocians in Belgium - do not subscribe to the middle class, middle age, white identity of being gay - it doesn't apply in their world anyways.... All of that - their courage and their adaptations of our culture - really impressed me... Palestinian gay guys, whether Christian or Muslim in culture, are just the sweetest people you will meet and with the saddest family stories - stories that we can relate to each others with.

Like feminism in those places is hard work that goes on unrecognized by the women in the west - here where Feminism is a theory confined to academia and suburban rich women who complain a lot but know nothing of the struggle of women beyond Western media shock headlines... feminism is dead in the West but very much alive and confrontational and working itself out in Arabia and Asia... The West has closed its mind to everything - it just forces it all on the rest of the world but it is a one way exchange - the West doesn't learn from the East but the East is learning from the West and adapting... those civilizations that adapt will succeed - I am afraid the West won't - it certainly isn't working in the states....

Everyone says that i should write a book - i hear this all the time... people don't read. Publishing and journalism and newspapers are in a crisis of modernity and changing technologies... i fell through that huge crack... oh well...
but i do hear this a lot - why don't you write a book (it gets annoying to hear this) i know i already have - i have self published it on the Internet unedited - raw... now you need to read... go read... send me your money while you are at it....

I just wish my writing and illustrating would pay the bills...

I'm not impressed.

but yeh I do miss Brussels very much - i just couldn't do it again... it would break my heart to go back anyway with things as they are...

wasn't it weird though...

that time in the old Flemish quartier of Brussel/Bruxelles/Brussels/Bruselas....

and then it was over

just like this essay of letters I'm posting right now....