Sutherland asks Malone. We may still choose to live like gods, like poets. Which brings us down to dancing. Dancing […] there is no other love in this city …. First things first: I am not an engineer.
I did my post-doctoral research, though, in Bioinformatics, which is the use of computations tools i. Which is to say: I use computers a lot, and so I use interconnected electrical circuits that process and store information in bits and bytes. They are simple things: electricity moving through a wire.
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These physical things can be connected in seemingly endless conformations to do all sorts of magic, like add two plus two, or type these words, or save these words to bits on a physical drive itself a magnetic device that can save each bit as a 0 or a 1, and erase, and rewrite this information. So circuits are a physical thing, placed together in an order, sitting there waiting, doing absolutely nothing.
You need electricity. Once the magic begins, we can begin to remember. Dancer from the Dance is about Sutherland, a drag queen? I actively avoided reading Dancer for years, preferring the stunning novels of James Baldwin. The novel, before I read it, represented the worst of homosexuality. So I bought the book, and I read it, and I saw myself, and I saw my friends, and I saw a beautiful world that a fucking virus and indifference or hatred from politicians, culture, media, everyone everyone everyone almost killed. Because of the crackdown on queer nightlife and sex spaces, the geography of New York pre- and post-AIDS is not the same.
I spent my 20s in New York mourning my lack of mentors. Sutherland and Malone go dancing. Malone and Sutherland talk shit about other queens. Malone does poppers, Sutherland does speed.
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Malone and Sutherland and our narrator go to Fire Island, Sutherland and Malone and our narrator come home from Fire Island, the city is hot, they cruise, they stay up all night talking shit in the park where I used to walk a borrowed dog, Sutherland and Malone fuck but never each other, these two sisters in subway stations and parks and empty warehouses, Malone fucks on the beach, Sutherland fucks in apartments, they fuck for fun, Malone fucks for money, and the money gets paid to Sutherland.
Books can tell us about who we were, and who we are. And they can connect us to a generation of faggots we lost, and to a city — to a New York — full of crime and grit and public sex, full of cheap housing and working-class fags, a version of this city that is unlikely to ever exist again.
The gritty neighborhoods of Dancer are now all luxury neighborhoods I could never afford. Dancer paints a version of New York that I never knew, but that, through the culture and art made there, helped make me. They warn you about drugs, but this city is the worst drug of all , warns our narrator, himself, of course, a circuit queen. I came to New York in because, after living in small towns in Washington State and Minnesota and even a small town in France, I was ready for a big city.
Not just any big city, but this one. The gayest one of all. What he was truly in love with — or any of us for that matter — our narrator writes of Malone — was not Rafael, or Jesus, or the man we had been watching on the dance floor for four years now, but our own senses, the animal bliss of being alive […] what he loved, finally, was only the city. After we broke up, and he wanted to win me back, he said we should go out together. We had drinks, and then we met up with his friends for more drinks before arriving early at the club, around a. It was a circuit party in some converted warehouse in Bushwick, a club only for that night, not glam.
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Just a disco ball hanging from a ceiling with a temporary bar made out of the cheapest plywood. No one does coke anymore, darling. Who can afford it? They were snorting K. I declined. We all popped a molly in the cab to the club. At around a. There were cute boys.
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But I never got high. They never let go. Binary code, essentially the language of computational circuits which combine electrical circuits and magnetic storage devices translate all information into signals in one of two states.
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You have the 0 and you have the 1. Since there are characters numbers, upper- and lower-case letters , you need seven bits of information to give each characters a unique binary identifier. And if you use more bits, you can encode all sorts of things, like a heart-eyes emoji four bytes in unicode 32 or a Liz Lemon eye-rolling gif , bytes.
It only matters that everyone agrees on the code, so that when I type a sentence like this one on a computer, any other computer can take the 0s and 1s and put them back together to make the meaning for you that I mean here, now, as I think and work and write. Dancer from the Dance became part of the decoder I needed to understand the pre-HIV queer past, something that I thought was dead, but that actually I see reflected, refracted, and reproduced not only in the world, but in myself.
In Dancer , the word love is used endlessly. Everyone is searching for love. But love never lasts long — maybe a night, or two, or maybe a week or month. But since the s, when gays started to more seriously integrate into the institutions of American life, we learned a tough lesson that assimilationists of all sorts have been learning for generations. Nuclear, atomized American families with 2. The smiles in Norman Rockwell paintings?
What then? What now? They scared me, too. I used to hate being shirtless around other gay men. I said to myself. But something drew me to them. The beautiful men, for one, and their inaccessibility, for two. The pleasure I once imagined being contained in those spaces. The pleasure I now know does indeed exist there.
Yes, the circuit queens do drugs. Our brain is a circuit, and mood comes from our brain. Our brain is a circuit, and memories are stored there. Electricity runs the computer where I sit and type, but it also is the only thing that runs my brain.
Our brain is full of cells — neurons — that are electrically charged, always, and ready to transmit signals, where the magic begins. People who in fact design and build them. No one on this earth understands the circuits of our brain. We have billion neurons, those electrified cells, and each cell makes a median of 1, connections, and so those billion wires have trillion connections, and each connection can insulate, amplify, or change and modify the circuit itself.
Memory, pleasure, kindness, connection, touch, sight, smell? We understand aspects, but never the circuit itself, never the entirety of input and processing and hard drive and storage.