I’m rereading Writing on Drugs by Sadie Plant, a book which is brilliant in its lateral connections, arguing amongst other things that the Industrial Revolution in England goes hand in hand with the legal use of opium as recreational drug.
Speaking of opium, I’ve published a photo of an oozing, exuding, secreting and leaking poppy seed head.
But that’s not what I wanted to show you.
On page 47 in Writing on Drugs is Flaubert and he is cited stating his desire to write ‘a book about nothing‘ (‘un livre sur rien’), in other words a plotless novel, an antinovel as it were.
“What strikes me as beautiful, what I would like to do, is a book about nothing, a book with no external tie, which would support itself by its internal force of style, a book which would have hardly any subject or at least where the subject would be almost invisible, if that can be so.” (Flaubert, Letters 170).
I was in my teens. One day, on television, an Italian film. The central scene takes place at a movie theater. A cowboy in a Western film points his gun at the theatre and pulls the trigger, killing one of the viewers in the audience.
When examined by the police, the projection screen reveals a small bullet hole.
Each time the film with in the film is played back someone else is shot. The last victim, a policeman who knows the shot is coming and who tries to evade the gunman by running up and down the theatre is followed by the cowboy, who merely adjusts his aim and mercilessly guns the man down. The cowboy then throws his cigar butt through the screen, which — if my memory doesn’t fail me — is later found by the police.
What this cowboy did was breaking the fourth wall. Breaking the fourth wall indicates self-awareness of the medium and can be found in all the arts. The practice is usually designated by the prefix “meta- ” + “art form x.”
HUNDREDS OF YOUNG MEN WENT ON A RAMPAGE IN GREENWICH VILLAGE, shortly after 3 A.M. yesterday after a force of plain-clothes men raided a bar that the police said was well known for its homo-sexual clientele.
Thirteen persons were arrested and four policemen injured. The young men threw bricks, bottles, garbage, pennies and a parking meter at the policemen, who had a search warrant authorizing them in investigate reports that liquor was sold illegally at the bar, the Stonewall Inn, 53 Christopher Street, just off Sheridan Square.–New York Times, June 29, 1969
The Stonewall riots were a series of violent conflicts between New York Citypolice officers and groups of gay and transgender people that began during the early morning of June 28, 1969, and lasted several days. Also called the Stonewall Rebellion or simply Stonewall, the clash was a watershed for the worldwide gay rights movement, as gay and transgender people had never before acted together in such large numbers to forcibly resist police.
Except for Illinois, which decriminalizedsodomy in 1961, homosexual acts, even between consenting adults acting in private homes, were a criminal offense in every U.S. state at the time the Stonewall Riots occurred: “An adult convicted of the crime of having sex with another consenting adult in the privacy of his or her home could get anywhere from a light fine to five, ten, or twenty years—or even life—in prison. In 1971, twenty states had ‘sex psychopath‘ laws that permitted the detaining of homosexuals for that reason alone. In Pennsylvania and California sex offenders could be locked in a mental institution for life, and [in] seven states they could be castrated.” (Stonewall: The Riots That Sparked the Gay Revolution, by David Carter, p. 15) Castration, emetics, hypnosis, electroshock therapy and lobotomies were used by psychiatrists to attempt to cure homosexuals through the 1950s and 1960s.(Katz, pp. 181–197.)(Adam, p. 60.)
Subsequent nightclubs, such as The Sanctuary, often billed as the first modern DJ-led nightclub of New York, epitomized the post-Stonewall era, “when gay men had won the right to dance intimately together without worrying about the police.” —Peter Braunstein