Sunday, January 13

Advice from a Caterpillar

In one of the most exciting and memorable passage of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, she encounters a sleepy hookah-smoking caterpillar. He asks her the all-important question, a question essential to all of us-- "Who are YOU?"

The hookah-smoking caterpillar is more direct than most of us. But one question I get asked at parties or bars is: "Where are you from?" This is a tricky question to answer, because at its core it is about geography relates to identity. Where I am from relates to who I am-- a gay Jewish east-coaster. But actually I was born in Chicago, yet I don't feel like a midwesterner.

Like Alice, I am constantly changing and "my self" is radically fractured. I agree with Alice that `all I know is, it would feel very queer to ME.'

Alice feels very queer and indeed she is. But the caterpillar, older, wiser and more centered gives her some solid advice.

The old caterpillars who will soon undergo the most incredible change, the transformation into a butterfly. Says that change is hard but must be embraced. The spectacular metamorphsis happens through the comming together of 'imaginal cells', which the caterpillar immune system resists and fights against, but eventualy the imaginal cells take over the caterpillar cells and give birth to a butterfly.

I am not just a gay New York Jew, I am also, a global citizen, post-gay, post-New York, post-Jew. We live in a post-ethnic world were we can choose what part of our identity we want to express, what part of Jewish or what part of gay. The Spertus musuem has an incredible exhibition, “The New Authentics.” The gay Canadian/American artist David Altmejd is the star of the show and is deffinately post-jew. "Free to choose their affiliations, they are Jewish culturally, religiously, spiritually, intellectually, emotionally, partially, biologically, or invisibly."

Samia Mirza is a young up-and-coming artist here in Chicago who is a mixed race women with incredible sculptures, with perverted childhood wonderment. Her don't miss exhibition is opening this Friday at the estudiotres gallery in Andersonville.

One last bit of advice from Alice's Adventures :

"But I don't want to go among mad people," Alice remarked.
"Oh, you can't help that," said the Cat: "We're all mad here. I'm mad. You're mad."
"How do you know I'm mad?" said Alice.
"You must be," said the Cat, "or you wouldn't have come here."

And so we are all a little mad.