Lane Goldzer: The Library That Never Existed, Some Other Title, Or No Title/Leather Mama Museum

The library that never existed or some other title or no title/ Leather Mama Museum

"There's been a weird natural selection whereby the people with my beliefs tend to have died. And the people who are cautious and prudish and pleasurephobic are the ones who survived, so you hear a lot from them. They preach to everybody and give a lot of lessons....”

Edmund White, "Line of Beauty: Laurie Taylor Interviews Edmund White." 2005.

My two friends who died, Richee and Nick, were both the best people I knew. Do we always feel like that when we lose someone? Nick died in Iraq, he was a marine, and Richee OD'd. The thing that I wanted to ask about was this question of talent and loss. Or, specialness. The question of who values what. Richee had this ability to encourage you to do what you loved against all odds. Richee would give you support in a world that did not value the things we did. That skill is so crucial in a world that sends kids to die killing other kids and calls them heroes. Nobody who starts a punk band gets called a hero, nobody who tells kids to do what they love gets called a hero. So I guess this is a little bit about loss to me. About what it means when your young friends die but also the loss I feel around possible worlds. I think queer people carry this feeling around a lot. The selves we could have been given the support, the love, the time we could have spent not fighting but living. It has gotten easier for me and my friends. We get to love who we want and fuck who we want some of the time.

A long white extension cord.

What are their names?

Two teens from Georgia, lovers, murdered Holly’s grandparents because they wouldn’t let them be together. Sandra and Holly. They stabbed the grandparents and ran away to Tybee Island with the jewelry, a neighbor turned them in. The list written on Holly’s arm said: Kill, Keys, Money, Jewelry.

At the table our hands move furiously, doing the living math, pounds per hour. People who work, we never have enough time for the things we love, which is supposedly why we are working. Listening to a podcast about trauma in the body, a man named Bessel says the deepest thing I ever heard, Dodie Bellamy reads a poem about art and labor, the artist escapes the fate of the working class family. [Can we let anything be, silent a little while] Building little doorways to freedom into every menial task. [Friendships are like this sometimes, the only way out, the only record, the living archive]

Mary Oliver talks about dedication in the forest and I hate her for it. I don’t want art to be a job. Foraging mussels and berries, her charmed life conversely an abuse survivor’s only option, escape. How do we make these paths for ourselves? [how do we steal the jewelry and run to the island to live there forever & never get caught?]

How do we throw the liferaft down to our future selves? How do we bring our families with us?
I used to mourn a lack of queer elders and the loss of my teenage self (why did she thirst for trouble and carry rage around with her like a secret inheritance, blessed with an impotent will and no language for it?)

Nobody taught us anything, stealing back our dreams from the hot breath of progress, passing notes, fucking up over and over again. Our schemes like a silvery slug trail into the future, illegible to adults and authorities, but who did we do it for? Who gets to know what when? How can we imagine a way out if it has been obscured. Who hid the berries? Can we survive in the forest? We need this history like water, we need it so we can see some way out, some other way. We run to the river and the river is poisoned, we need a different kind of poet, now.

I listen to the interview with Maggie Nelson, she drops names like some queer academic predecessor from hell, [who has the time to hunt through the dusty shelves for some shred of dignifying thought, written in code?] and I think about the things that saved my life. What I read when and what it meant. The Teenage Liberation Handbook taught me that school is a trap, Anarchy Can’t Fight Alone by Kuwasi Balagoon broke down what anarchism was in a way that meant something, the Support zine gave me language for my abuse. How did I not know what consent was until I was 25 and ran into it by chance, an anarchist subcultural accident? Until then, I had no tools to designate what was mine. The most basic of concepts. I can say what I want to happen to my body [most of the time], or what I don’t.

There’s a quote by Edmund White that I can’t quite recall. He’s talking about New York City in the eighties, all the curators and critics who died of AIDS, how they were the smartest and funniest, and they also fucked the most. He said this thing about the survivors being prudes, and this is a little reductive, but there is a certain ghost in his quote, I don’t know this ghost, but I know I don’t know this ghost and I mourn it.

This is the library I’m missing, the library of the living and the dead. The people that don’t have time to write history, the people whose lives were themselves a kind of art that nobody wrote about, whose death tore open the worlds of the possible.