Saturday, September 17, 2005

Drawing: Samuel R. Delany

Here's the drawing of one of the writers I most admire, the exemplary Samuel R. Delany. I initially thought that this drawing of him was from the Afro-Futurist/SF conference that was really a festschrift for him, but according to the notes on the back of the piece, it turns out that I drew it when he was delivering the university's annual Leon Forrest lecture, which preceded the mini-conference by a day. (Last year's speaker was another writer I tremendously admire and have also drawn, Toni Morrison. I even presented the drawing to her in person around the time she published Jazz, when she gave a lecture at MIT.)

Some notes from his talk, "The Politics of the Paraliterary" (he presented a selection, I believe, from The Black Discourse, a cross-genre/gender work); he was making a very sophisticated argument about the nexus of race and racism, and homosexuality and homophobia/heterosexism. The quotes below should be read not as his settled views, but as fragments from a larger, highly provocative argument:

  • The one-drop rule sought to fix the racial vector in one way--black tainted white but not the reverse
  • The untrammeled pursuit of pleasure [is thought to be] the opposite of social responsibility
  • [According to social norms, and his uncle] pleasure must be doled out rigorously, with a contract.
  • Desire is never outside all social constraints.
  • Race is a construct that has no opposite.
  • Race is mediated by heredity, not geography; you can't have heredity without sex.
  • Race is the thing in the body that is inherited.
  • The thing that is inherited is the thing that can be polluting.
  • The sign of pollution is often homosexuality.
  • [For racists] To lift or end racism is to allow pollution to run wild.
  • To lift the stigma of homosexuality is to opt out of the pollution issue altogether.
  • [According to their argument, then] Race exists to pollute procreation.
  • [And accordingly] Homosexuality brings it to a halt altogether....


  1. yet another fabulous post from you. its become quite the routine. please---for my own guilty pleasure(s)--keep it up!

  2. *applause* thanks for putting this up, john!

    We're both fans of his fact, im about to start searching for The Mad Man--remember that project I told you I wanted to do with the book? I'm on the hunt for a copy of it so I can get started this's all in the hopes of a) getting it made and b) making the final product good enough for samuel to approve of and LIKE IT>..:)

  3. Hi Frank and Ryan, as always thanks for reading. Ryan, have you checked for Delany's book? It was published by Richard Kasak books, I believe, and Advanced Book Exchange probably has 1-2 copies available at a decent price. The text is quite extreme, though; while it doesn't go as far as his Hogg, which is a "limit" text, it does shatter any number of societal taboos and boundaries (in terms of depiction of race and racism, class, sexuality, etc.), so filming it would probably require that you find a production company outside the US. Having just seen Garçon Stupide last night (which I'm going to blog about later), I'd say Switzerland would join France, Belgium, the UK, Italy, Spain, Germany, and even Portugal as places where you would probably have to go to seek funding. There may be some American backers out there, or a guerilla approach, sort of like what John Waters achieved in the early and mid-1970s, would work, but...well, it is possible. But it will require a Herculean effort, I think.

  4. I too enjoy SRD having befriended him thru one of my best friends, Steven G. Fullwood. SRD and Ibrahim Abdurrahman Farajaje (formerly Elias Farajaje-Jones) are two spiritual-sexual elders for me. I wrote a review of Hogg on my site and you can purchase Hogg and The Mad Man there. Go to: .

    Ibrahim has done amazing, groundbreaking early work at the intersection of race, color, class, gender, sex, sexuality, and embodiment. Ibrahim served as the external examiner on my dissertation committee. For those who want to learn more about him go to: or google his name.

  5. J:
    As you well know, I'm yet another of Chip's disciples!:) I'm not familiar with the work you mention his speech was from ("The Black Discourse"). I will however say that what you report is NOT the same as the essay in the Wesleyan collection SHORTER VIEWS with the same title ("The Politics of the Paraliterary"). Don't want folks see that and think "Oh, that's what he was blogging about..."

  6. Hey Heru, I've met Elias/Ibrahim before and am very familiar with his work. He definitely is a pathblazer. Reggie, I think SRD was reading from a newer work, but the title of the talk, I think, drew upon the earlier title "Politics of the Paraliterary."

  7. John, have you read is work Holy Fuck in the anthology Male Lust? Vintage Ibrahim.