Theater people. - Edward Gorey
That is what I used to call stuff in junk-antique shops.
Yesterday I went to an estate sale of a well known costume designer. He worked in Hollywood and came to fame as director of costume design for the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis for many years. A flamboyant and theatrical character, I met him a couple of times at event 'openings' over the years. He always dressed the part of a Maestro, capes, jewels, Tudor-style, with attitude. He was quite a snob, very much an egotist and hedonist, although - and I hate saying it this way - he always impressed me as sort of 'dirty' and 'greasy' - physically and morally. Not long ago, he had a retrospective of his designs at a local museum. He had been feeling his age and ill for some time, and died last year, no funeral from what I understand, although a memorial of some sorts may yet be scheduled. 'Friends' who later surrounded him in his weakened state, held the estate sale, which ended yesterday. I went to the sale hoping to find art materials or European style frames, but found nothing for my use.
Needless to say, the Maestro - which is the only way I want to identify him here - was obviously gay and obviously non-religious. It was a strange feeling looking through his possessions at the sale, which was held in the banquette room of a local German restaurant, the walls fittingly decorated in Bavarian style trompe l'oeil. Some of his design sketches were for sale, amongst which was a male nude study, a young man masturbating. The curator running the sale, feigning lecherous amusement, asked me what I thought he was doing. He facetiously protested that it must be gay! He then rather lasciviously described another large painting from the Maestro's collection, a large nude male, oil on canvas, by an unknown artist. He wasn't so much trying to be provocative, rather I think he believed he was being entertaining and friendly. I was polite and friendly, but never played into his game.
The visit haunted me however. I got the impression I was indeed going through a dead man's possessions - very much like the scene from A Christmas Carol, where Scrooge looks on as scavengers go through his things. I had the impression or intuition I 'knew' all about his life.
Every once in a while, the man running the sale shouted across the room to customers, "I can take more off that if you are interested." The Maestro had tons of junk, endless CDs and DVDs and VHS tapes, fabrics and trims for costumes, weird Neapolitan style angels he crafted for a Christmas shop in a local department store - they were never purchased BTW. Everything at the sale was just a portion of all the stuff he had accumulated in his lifetime. Later in the day, another friend told me the designer had a room full of books, mostly pornography and gay erotica.
In fact the deceased was quite obsessed with young men, call boys and hustlers, therefore the one drawing by him was most likely some kid he hired to entertain him. I don't have words to express the level of desolation I felt over what impressed me as vain emptiness. All the precious possessions, now dilapidated, currently on sale to the lowest bidder, objets d'art once most likely so coveted, luxurious possessions which the owner surrounded himself with to enhance his status and impress his fans... now useless to the owner and to some extent, the curator of the estate.
If a man is fundamentally egotistical, his intimate conversation with himself is inspired by sensuality or pride. He converses with himself about the object of his cupidity, of his envy; finding therein sadness and death, he tries to flee from himself, to live outside of himself, to divert himself in order to forget the emptiness and the nothingness of his life. In this intimate conversation of the egoist with himself there is a certain very inferior self-knowledge and a no less inferior self-love.
The intimate conversation of the egoist with himself proceeds thus to death and is therefore not an interior life. His self-love leads him I to wish to make himself the center of everything, to draw everything to himself, both persons and things. Since this is impossible, he frequently ends in disillusionment and disgust; he becomes unbearable to himself and to others, and ends by hating himself because he wished to love himself excessively. At times he ends by hating life because he desired too greatly what is inferior in it - Garrigou-Lagrange
I've been to other important estate sales of antique dealers, my own gallery curator, and other local personalities in the arts I've known or was acquainted with. I've usually had the same disquieted feelings. They all had their 'collections', their social circles - public and 'private' - think Tina Turner Private Dancer. Their celebrity, their status, such as they deemed important, all come to nothing at death - to some extent, demonstrating the sterile separation of their existence.
I get the impression young gay men today think they are different - more pure - in the sense they can handle gay sex, gay relationships, be monogamous, and so on. Hence they become more respectable, appear more centered, insist they are more integrated - and accepting of themselves. No doubt, some of the more religious types really do project a more respectable image and lifestyle, but gay is gay, and gay men will be gay men. "All their plans come to nothing." The facades crack and fall apart sooner or later.
I'm not fooled. Homosexual acts are disordered, immoral and gravely sinful. Fill your life with whatever you want, project the cleanest, most well ordered conventional lifestyle - it doesn't make it right. There are no compromises to be had. You can't serve two masters. One cannot do evil, condone evil, promote evil, and remain in the state of grace.
[P]ride is a bandage over the eyes of the spirit, which hinders us from seeing the truth, especially that relative to the majesty of God and the excellence of those who surpass us. It prevents us from wishing to be instructed by them, or it prompts us not to accept direction without argument. Pride thus perverts our life as one would bend a spring; it hinders us from asking light from God, who consequently hides His truth from the proud. - Garrigou-Lagrange