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A Gut Feeling – Part # 1 – From the G Tales

A Gut Feeling: Anal Pleasure, Holistic Sexual

Health, and Interpretations of AIDS
Serena Anderlini-D’Onofrio 
 

Part # 1 of 7

G called the other day–very excited.   She said someone found the cause of AIDS.  I replied that many of us believe we already know the cause of AIDS.  “Isn’t it HIV?” I asked. 
   She said, “yes, of course, that would be an infectious agent.”
   “This is a different cause, then?” I asked, excited.
   “Yes, it’s an interpretation that’s not related to an infectious agent, and yet accounts for everything we’ve seen in LGBT communities.”
   “Really?”  
   “Yes.”
   “Sounds great.  An interpretation, you said?” I probed.  I know G always thinks in literary terms.  
   “Yes, an interpretation.  That’s what a scientific hypothesis is:  a plausible interpretation of data that awaits confirmation.”
   “And does this one make sense?”
   “It does.”
   “So now the alarm is over, we don’t have to be afraid: to hell with protection, lubes, condoms, tests  .  .  .  . right?”
   “Wait a minute!  You’re jumping to conclusions.  Did I say anything goes?  I said that a biological, organic, holistic interpretation has been found that accounts for why certain behaviors and environmental conditions are so pathogenic, and how to avoid them.”
   “Ok.  So what’s the condition called?” I asked.
   “Intestinal Dysbiosis.”
    “Intestinal Dysbiosis?”
    “Intestinal Dysbiosis!”
    “And what is it?”
    “It’s a dysfunction of the gut–also called intestine–that’s due to abusive behavior toward its ecosystem–behavior that does not respect its biological function and integrity,” G explained.
    “Sounds  like it’s got something to do with anal pleasure.  Must be homophobic!  Feels like a new religious ploy to condemn anal sex.”
    “No.  Not at all.  First of all, anal sex is a very rich style of sexual pleasure that anyone can enjoy: Women, straight men, transsexuals.  Haven’t you read Tristan Taormino’s guides to anal pleasure for women and men?” G asked.[1]
   “Yes, I have.  They work very well.  They teach how to proceed with caution, prepare for penetration, communicate, generate the right amount of arousal first.  Anal pleasure is an art as she’d say.”
   “Yes, precisely.   This new interpretation is also artistic, it’s based on a different epistemic foundation for science that values the arts of loving.  It’s Gaian, in the sense that it assumes that life flows through ecosystems that are interconnected and need to be respected to function well.”
   “Including our bodies?” I asked, perplexed.
   “Including our bodies,” G replied, “why did you think we’d be the exception?   Respecting our bodies as ecosystems is the art of loving ourselves.”
   “Right,” I said, “as your friend Suzann Robins claims, ‘to have healthy relationships we must be healthy.’”[2]
   “You got it!  I’d say this interpretation is based on a holistic paradigm of sexual health.”
   “Ok,” I said.  “And what’s holistic about sexual health?”
   “Well, it’s a way to respect the body as an ecosystem that needs to stay in balance with itself when you practice love and any style of erotic expression,” G explained.
   “And so, is there any kind of pleasure that would threaten this balance?” I asked, uncertain.
   “I don’t think so.  Not if practiced naturally and in moderation.”
   “Ah, ok.  .  .  .  What about anal pleasure?  Wouldn’t a lot of people qualify anal pleasure as ‘unnatural’ per se?”
   “They would if they knew nothing about nature, which is queer and quirky in so many ways.  As Betty Dodson says, ‘we are all quite queer’ as long as we love ourselves.[3]  Diversity is the secret of life, remember?  Gaia is already always gay.  And so the arts of loving are infinite as well.”
   “Of course, G.  That’s your usual point,” I said.  “But I’m not sure I follow the connection between Gaia and anal pleasure.  Can you get into some more detail?”
   “I’d be happy to.  Gotto go right now though.  Let’s talk tomorrow, ok?”
   “Usual time.”
   “Yes.”

Notes
[1] Tristan Taormino.  The Anal Sex Position Guide.  New York: Quiver, 2009.  The Ultimate Guide to Anal Sex for Women.  New York: Cleis Press, 2006. Amazon.com: tristan taormino: Books
[2] Suzann Robins.  Exploring Intimacy.  New York: Rowman & Littlefield, 2010. Amazon.com: Exploring Intimacy:
[3] Betty Dodson.  “We Are All Quite Queer.”  In Plural Loves.  Serena Anderlini ed.  New York: Routledge, 2005.  Amazon.com: Plural Loves
Disclaimer:  This Tale does not constitute medical advice in any way.  Readers are invited to consult their own healers and health care providers. 

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A Gut Feeling – Part # 2 – From The G Tales

A Gut Feeling:  Anal Pleasure, Holistic Sexual Health, and Interpretations of AIDS
Serena Anderlini-D’Onofrio
Part # 2
“G,” I said as soon as we resumed the conversation, “ I’m not sure I can follow the connection between Gaia and anal pleasure, remember?  Can you get into some more detail?”
 “Sure.  Let me start with a question.  Did you know that Freud said that anal pleasure was the richest pleasure one could feel, and that experiencing this pleasure was healthy?”
“Really?  How do you know?”
“Well, my father used to say that when I was little,” G rushed to explain, “and then I read it in recent books that study the subculture of barebacking in San Francisco.” [1]
“I wonder if Freud would still say that today, when we know how dangerous barebacking is.”
“I bet he would,” G asserted, undeterred.
“How can you possibly say that?” I exclaimed.
“Because in his view what is most pleasurable is what is most repressed, and repression is bad for you because it’s unnatural–even though sometimes necessary for social peace.  He thought that the pursuit of pleasure was natural and good for you—I mean healthy.”
“So, because anal sex was so repressed in his time, this made him think that it’d be most pleasurable?” I asked.
“I suppose,” replied G.
“But barebacking can kill you! Can’t it?” I probed, concerned. 
“Only if you do it excessively and in unnatural ways, Freud would probably say.  Today we are so prejudiced against natural anal sex because we come from over twenty years of thinking that AIDS comes from infections passed through the anal mucous.”
“All right.  So, what’s a ‘natural’ way to have anal sex?’”
“A way that’s holistic: A way that enhances the main function of the rectum, which is of course, elimination of what’s unnecessary to the body’s homeostasis.”
“How can anal sex be holistic?” I asked, puzzled. 
“When one allows for a gradual opening of the sphincter, when one does it consciously and not under the effect of some substance, and when one doesn’t do it so violently or frequently as to damage the integrity of the organ and its lining and mucous.”
“Ok. I suppose one can do that.”
“Why just suppose?”
“Have you tried it?” I asked.
“You know I enjoy anal sex, and I’ve always done it naturally,” G affirmed.  “Holistic sexual health is very important to me.  I always expect respect for my body when I have sex.”
“All right.  I get the point about anal pleasure.  But how can this enhance the main function?” I asked, impatient.
“It helps one discover anal pleasure, develop a taste for it.  Then having a bowel movement becomes a pleasure too, and the body, who seeks pleasure, does it more naturally and willingly.”
“OMG.  I think of bowel movement as gross–not pleasurable!” I exclaimed.
“Well, that’s the problem, Freud would say,” G replied, amused.
“Really?  Have you thought all this up, or did you read it somewhere?” I asked, ruffled.
“I always read.  And I’ve been accused of holding heretical views in relation to this, so I research and think,” G replied, unperturbed. 
“All right.  All right,” I calmed down. “Tell me more about it.  Does this have anything to do with ‘finding the cause of AIDS?’”
“It does if you define AIDS as the depletion of the gut as a bioregion of the body that’s essential to the body’s health,” declared G, peaceful.
“But then this depletion can be related to anal sex?” I asked, curious. 
“Yes it can, if it’s not practiced in a holistic way.”  
“You mean, if it’s done violently, or excessively?”
“You’re getting there.  Turns out if anal sex is not practiced in a holistic way, it can cause intestinal dysbiosis, which happens when the biological function of one’s gut is compromised or disabled altogether.”
“If the gut is not respected, you mean?”
“Yes.”
“If it’s abused in some way?”
“That’s a way to put it,” G said.
“Thanks.  I get it,” I offered, appeased.  “Did you find out about this recently?” 
“I told you.  It’s from the guy who found the cause of AIDS.  I found a series of three videos, all about anal sex and how it can be done holistically.  Or–to be more specific–about how doing anal sex in ways that are not holistic can cause AIDS.”
“All right.  And where did you find the videos?” I asked.
“On YouTube.  They are from a presentation at the latest Rethinking AIDS Conference, in Oakland, where all those who are seriously thinking about sexual health in holistic ways got together to discuss what other hypothesis could be pursued to explain AIDS better than we do today.”[2]
“Woooooow.  That’s awesome, I exclaimed.  “And how does the presenter know about this?  Is s/he a doctor?  A scientist?  A Nobel laureate?”
“No,” G replied, serene.  “His name is Tony Lance, and he is a perfectly healthy gay man who tested ‘poz’ 13 years ago, has refused conventional treatments, and has done his own research.”
“How interesting.  Vernacular science, eh?”
“Yes, science by the people and for the people.  Very symbiotic, very Gaian indeed.  He claims the gut is an ecosystem.”
“Is it?”
“You bet,” G replied, eager.  “Any system that processes life’s energy is an ecosystem.  He compares the gut to a ‘rainforest, rich in species and interdependencies.’  Anything you do with it needs to support the system, including anal pleasure.  If you abuse it, you can destroy it.”
“And what could one do that would have that effect?” I asked.
“All kinds of things that undermine its biological function–but not anal sex per se.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, think of all the cultural obsessions that come from excessive emphasis on allopathic medicine and are opposed to holistic health.”
“That would involve practicing medicine as war against disease agents rather than as support of the body’s inherent balance and homeostasis.”
“Yes.”
“But how does that apply to anal pleasure?” I asked.  “I’m afraid I need some concrete examples.”
“Ok.  Back in the days before AIDS, many gay men who went to the bathhouses for anal pleasure did wide spectrum antibiotics on a regular basis to stave off the flu and other stuff one would get there.  It was a way to combat microbes as if they were enemies.  But in reality most microbes are very valuable symbiotic friends.  So those medicines destroyed the friendly bacterial flora that lines the gut and makes it able to absorb nutrients.  And when the gut fails to do its job you can end up with a mild case of intestinal dysbiosis.”
“Woooow.   Profound!” I exclaimed.  “And what would be a holistic way to handle that?”
“Well, doing anal pleasure only to the extent that is does not expose one to excessive flu microbes from one’s partners, for example.  Doing it in moderation and while one builds up one’s immune system with good nutrition as well.”
“Ok.  So holistic sexual health is not a way to condemn pleasure, but rather a way to enhance it and promote healthier and more conscious ways to enjoy it.”
“Yes,” G agreed.
“Is there more to it?” I asked, curious.
“Of course,” G replied.  “But I gotto go.  Can we talk about it in a couple of days?”
“Yes, call me when you’re ready.”
“Great!”


[1] Tim Dean. Beyond Sexuality. University of Chicago press, 2000. (A study of Freud and Lacan in their deepest and less popular implications.) Unlimited Intimacy. University of Chicago Press, 2009.  (An analysis of the subculture of barebacking in San Francisco.)  Amazon.com: Beyond Sexuality Amazon.com: Unlimited Intimacy
[2] Videos of Tony Lance’s presentation at Rethinking AIDS.  YouTube – Tony Lance
Disclaimer:  This Tale does not constitute medical advice in any way.  Readers are invited to consult their own healers and health care providers. 

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A Gut Feeling – Part # 3 – From The G Tales

A Gut Feeling:  Anal Pleasure, Holistic Sexual Health, and Interpretations of AIDS
Serena Anderlini-D’Onofrio
Part # 3
“We were talking about doing anal pleasure in ways that enhance the gut’s health,” I said when G and I resumed the conversation.
“Of course.  Wide-spectrum antibiotics are part of the combination of practices that can result in severe intestinal dysbiosis.  Another common practice among gay men back then, Lance claims–and a still common one apparently–is that of douching in preparation for anal sex.  Sometimes this is done as a regular enema, which is bad enough for natural elimination if practiced regularly.  But sometimes—apparently—a nozzle that can carry pressure equivalent to a shower head is used to shoot hot water up into one’s rectum.”
“Ouch!  That must feel terrible.”
“Apparently–though one becomes kind of numb to it after a while.  And what’s worse is that the water further washes away all of the mucous lining in the gut.  It can even damage its tissue.  It can perforate the walls.  Overall it makes the gut a lot more permeable than it’s supposed to be, so that what should stay into the body leaks out, and what should be pushed out stays in.”
“Ouch!” I grinned.
“Right,” G noted.  “But see, it’s not the penetration per se.  It’s the cultural obsession with cleanliness, the squeamishness about fecal matter most people have.”
“I see,” I commented.
“More to the point,” G continued, “that leakiness—remember–is what often causes a positive test.  Why? Because HIV tests are known to be co-reactive to many kinds of impurities in one’s blood.  And those impurities get in thorough a leaky gut mucous.”
“OMG.  So there is a meaning to those tests after all?” I offered.
“Apparently!” G agreed.
“Do you douche before anal sex?”
“I never have,” G replied.  “But I’ve done enemas for constipation, and am aware that they facilitate elimination in an emergency, but they are very debilitating of that function and addictive in the long run.”
“This Tony Lance has a lot of guts–as it were  .  .  .” I giggled, excited. 
“I know,” G giggled back.  “Very brave,” we giggled together. 
“Saying these things can be dangerous these days, though,” I comment, concerned.   “They go against the grain of what we’re supposed to believe, that most diseases are chronic and infectious and can be treated with daily meds.”
 “That’s right, today most doctors don’t even believe on can cure disease, in the sense of regenerating the body’s homeostasis that corresponds to natural, biological health.  They believe in ‘treatments,’ namely expensive drugs that supplement what the body is supposedly unable to do for itself,” G concurred.
“Can’t be too surprised when you know that doctors make money from the sale of medicines.”
“They do?” asked G. 
“Well, that’s what Melody Peterson claims in her expose, Our Daily Meds.[1]  They get wined and dined to lavish trips where big pharma advertises its latest products.  They get flooded with false ‘studies’ produced by advertising firms and signed by medical scientist paid as figureheads.  They don’t have to account if their patients die of overdose.”
“That’s allopathic medicine gone way overboard,” G responded.  “Lance makes a holistic point.  He claims one can heal from AIDS in a natural, biological way.”
“Sounds like it.  What else does he claim?”
“He does not emphasize poppers, I must say.”
“Why not?” I asked, curious.
“I suppose because it’s already well known in health-savvy queer circles that poppers artificially relax the sphincter and make penetration possible in a mechanical way,” G offered.
“Have you ever used them?” I probed, cautious.
“No,” G replied, positive.  “If you practice holistic sexual health, they’re unnecessary.  As you know, I don’t do a lot of anal sex–or any sex for that matter–but when I do it, I enjoy it tremendously.  Anal is the richest orgasm I can get!  I’ve always allowed natural arousal to happen when engaging in anal sex, both as top and as bottom.  And I agree with my guides in the matter–Tristan Taormino and Carol Queen–that it can be done gradually and proportionally to what a penetrated partner can take.  On the other hand, I can be easily persuaded that opening up the sphincter over and over in a mechanical way can damage its ability to regulate elimination.  It’s simply disrespectful.”
“Disrespectful of the colon, you mean?” I asked, amused.
“Yes, of the colon.  One wants to respect one’s colon, no?” G giggled.
“Well, this way of worshipping a body part most people considers shameful or gross or both runs a bit against the grain of current culture, don’t you think?”  
“Yes, that’s why we have to be grateful to gay men—those who do respect their colon, and there are many—for modeling for the rest of us how this area can be the site of love, and passion, and pleasure,” G concurred.
“Not excessively, though, correct?” I probed. 
“Of course, what’s excessive varies from person to person and in proportion to the time one can dedicate.”
“So you mean that if you’re under some kind of anesthesia, if you’re not consciously connected to your rectum when it’s penetrated, then you can damage it?”
“More or less,” G confirmed. 
“Makes sense,” I said.
“I know!” G concurred.  “Last but not least, Lance says, lubricants have the effect of further drying up the mucous.”
“Oh.  But that’s an even more dangerous thing to say!” I exclaimed, concerned.
“I know!  Especially since lubricants typically help when one is using a condom,” G agreed.
“Right!  Sounds as if he not only makes powerful enemies amidst the medical-pharmaceutical-disease-control lobbies– he takes on the safer-sex industry as well!” I commented, agitated. 
“Note, however,” G responded, calmly, “that Lance never says that protection when having sex with a stranger is a bad idea.  He simply warns against excessive reliance on mechanical safety and excessive use of some of its products. ”
“Which is a little bit what you were attacked about when your book Gaia and the New Politics of Love was reviewed by a board member of Loving More?” I offered, ardently.[2]
“Yes.  You got it. ”
“Talking about the gut as a rainforest.  Makes a lot of sense.  If you think of all these invasive practices so common back in the days, it sounds as if they did a thorough job of logging the forest away.  The forest of one’s gut, I mean,” I muttered, half to myself.
“Yeah, that’s exactly how Tony puts it,” G concurred, eager.  “It’s a matter of proportion.  You cut off a tree here and there–that’s good for the system.  But start logging the forest away, and your gut’s ecosystem is wiped out of commission before you know it.”
“Ouch!  I can see how that can get your immune system to collapse too.  Back in the days, did gay men know this?” I asked, apprehensive.
“No.  Official science was already controlled by big pharma interests.  Why would anybody find out?  There was no money in it.”
“There’s an old saying in Sardinia.  Comes to mind right now,” I offered: “‘madness is the only thing that water cannot wash away.’”
“Ok,” G responded, confused.  “And how does that apply?”
“Water is free, it runs in rivers and streams, and it can do most things, can heal most wounds.  It’s that simple.  When, on the other hand, medicine is for profit, if your illness can be healed cheaply you’ll never find out because nobody can make money off of you.”
“Got it,” said G, earnest.  “That’s why we’re lucky to have vernacular scientist like our friend Tony.”
“Exactly.”
“To me it made sense right away.”
“Because of Freud?” I asked, curious.
“Because of Freud–and other things.”
“How does Freud come into the picture? Did he try anal sex?” I probed.
“And you want me to tell you about that?”
“Perhaps.”
“Ok.  We’ll get to it in a few days.”

[1] Melody Peterson.  Our Daily Meds. New York: Picador, 2009.  (An expose of corruption in all areas of allopathic medicine.)  Our Daily Meds
[2] Serena Anderlini. Gaia and the New Politics of Love.  Berkeley: North Atlantic Books, 2009. GaiaOnAmazon

Disclaimer:  This Tale does not constitute medical advice in any way.  Readers are invited to consult their own healers and health care providers. 

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A Gut Feeling – Part # 4 – from The G Tales

A Gut Feeling:  Anal Pleasure, Holistic Sexual Health, and Interpretations of AIDS
Serena Anderlini-D’Onofrio

Part # 4

“You were going to tell me all about Freud and anal pleasure” I said when G and I resumed the conversation.”
“That’s right,” she concurred.  “You were wondering if he tried anal sex.”
“Did he?”
“I suppose he didn’t, not directly at least,” G replied.   “At the time a man who enjoyed being penetrated would be considered mentally ill.  So Freud would have lost his license and none of his writings would exist.  But he might have experienced anal pleasure in sublimated form. “
“How?” I asked. 
“Well, for example, if some of his female lovers liked it.”
“Do you know that some did?” I probed. 
“To be honest, I don’t,” G replied, defensive.  “But many took the hint from him.”
“For example?”
“My parents,” she said.  “They were from the generation that heard about Freud’s writings when they were still forbidden.  They grew up during Fascism, when many good books were off-limits.  But people heard about them.  Then, when Mussolini was defeated, they all rushed to read those forbidden books.”
“Forbidden books,” I commented.
“Right,” said G.
“Like yours,” I teased.
“Exactly.  I am also the author of forbidden books.  I take pride in it.  It gets intelligent people to want to rush and read them.  But that’s for another story,” said G, rhapsodic.  “Let’s stay on topic now.”
“OK.”
“My parents read Freud and used to joke about anal pleasure in relation to bowel movements.”
“Really?”
“Yeah, when we were kids, we had a large bathroom with a wall-to-wall mirror.  We all used it, and, as you know, no locks were allowed, so someone could be sitting on the toilet when one walked in.”
“Pushing?” I taunted.
“Yeah . . . pushing—sometimes,” she giggled.  “We had a family joke about how one’s voice sounds squeezed if one talks while ‘doing it’.”
“Sure .  .  .” I considered, “you’ve told me about that peculiar clothing-optional family of yours.”
“Have I?” G asks, curious.  She often gets confused about what she tells.  One has to be a bit guarded with her kind of background, especially a foreigner.
“Yes you have.  There were no locks on the bathroom doors and your mother was very beautiful–your father a bit more scrawny and skimpy.  Why are you thinking about it this time?”
“If you caught my father while doing number two, he’d tell you what a pleasure it was to have a bowel movement.  ‘Ah, what a relief,’ he’d say, and add a comment about how psychoanalysis approved of this–since Freud confirmed that anal pleasure was deeper and richer.”
“Was your father gay?” I teased.
“Not that I know of,” she giggled.  “Besides,” she continued, eager, “let’s not define anal pleasure as gay, ok?  It was common in the era among people who’d read Freud to be familiar with his theories about anal pleasure, and how feeling this pleasure was good for the rectum, even if just in the context of bowel movements.”
“Wouldn’t that inspire one to experience anal pleasure in sex?” I probed.
“Yes, but being receptive was not admissible for a man,” G replied, defensive, “and so one would sublimate that experience into proposing anal sex to one’s spouse.”
“Did your father do so?”
“I’m not sure.  But my mother was more of a constipated type than he was, and off and on I’d hear him tell her things like, ‘oh, if you were less inhibited (sexually), you’d be less constipated too,’ meaning, ‘if you started to experience bowel movements as anal pleasure, you’d have more fun with them and maybe you’d let me play with your ass too, which might further help with your constipation.’”
“I see, so it was a bit self-interested,” I pondered.
“What do you mean?” G asked, defensive.
“Well, maybe your father was too inhibited to try anal sex as a penetrated partner, and wanted your mother to submit to him.”
“My mother would not submit,” G reacted, incensed.  “She’d decide what to do.  And he was only trying to propose something new to her.”
“Do you think she agreed?  I mean, did she do it?” I insisted.
“I don’t know,” she replied, sad.  “My mother didn’t live long enough to tell me.  When she died of cancer I was only 13.”
“Oh.  I’m sorry to hear,” I offered. 
“It’s way back now.  It really hurt me then.  But I’ve healed.  She was a very progressive woman.  Told me everything about how babies are born.  Even so, she would not have talked about anal sex with a child my age.” 
“Sure,” I agreed.  “And you don’t think your father’s comments were damaging to her?”
 “Well, they might have been, if he insisted too much, or made fun of her,” she conceded.  “But to be honest, I feel that was part of family banter, an in-joke if you will.  At times she did complain about constipation and he only meant it for her to benefit too. “
“Perhaps she wanted to try out anal sex but constipation made her feel squeamish,” I offered.
“Exactly.   A bit of a Catch 22.  If you consider.   She was 48.  It was her colon–it betrayed her.  That’s where the cancer grew.   It killed her,” G concluded, confident.
“Ouch!”
“And over the years, as I was coping with the fear that I’d end up like her, I kept thinking of my father, the way he took pride in the anal pleasure of his bowel movements.  After all, he was not constipated and he lived to be almost 80.”
 “Ok.  And how does this relate to you?” I asked, puzzled.
“Well, when my long-time boyfriend proposed anal sex, back in graduate school, I said yes.  I was curious.  We lived in California, the gay Mecca where ‘sodomy,’ the practice of anal sex, that had been so demonized back in the Middle Ages, was becoming the great rage–the thing to do.”
“Aha.”
“So I did it.  I was afraid.  I trusted him.  He went slowly.  He excited me properly so my system would gradually open up.  And there I was.  I realized why Freud called this the richest, the deepest pleasure there is.  In fact, I felt sorry for my boyfriend who could not experience it.”
“No Carol Queen videos back then.”
“No.”
“No Tristan Taormino guides to anal pleasure.”
“No.  This was in the early 1980s, before the outbreaks that came to be known as AIDS.  I love Bend Over Boyfriend, and I’ve learned a lot from it.  There were no sex-positive educational videos back then, only plain porn.” [1]
“Did this anal sex have a good effect on your rectal ecosystem?” I teased.
“Good question.  I’m not sure,” G giggled.  “The system worked quite well then: I was young and of course everything about good health seemed easy.  But over the years, staying in good health became more difficult.  It required more effort.  And as I became more holistic, I started to relate to my ass as an erogenous area on a regular basis.  I invited partners to stimulate it, and often did it myself.  It was now an area where I regularly experienced pleasure.   That helped me feel good about my gut and keep its elimination function active even when I had not yet found the right diet yet.”
“What kind of diet would that be?” I probed.
“Well, you know.  I don’t use medicines, and so I rely on nutrition to regulate my health.  My food is my medicine, and I stay tuned to the ecosystemic needs of my body.  Now I do mostly raw foods, and also, often, liquid foods, including juice fasting periods to detox the system.”
“So, do you get an anal orgasm when you have a bowel movement?” I asked, curious.
“Uh?” Giggled G. “Not quite an orgasm, dear.  But a sense of pleasure.  And you?”
“Me too.  I like to feel my gut active in its metabolic function.  I feel connected to it.  I integrate it in my holistic sexual health maintenance,” I offered.
“Good.  And what about anal sex?  Do you enjoy it too?”
“I do.  But in moderation.  And only when I’m very aroused in a natural way and with a lover who is very, very careful about me.”
“Right,” G approved, blissful.
“So, when you heard about AIDS Dissidence, did it ring a bell for you?” I asked.
“Of course it did, and I’ll tell you all about it in a few days.”


[1] Carol Queen.  Bend Over Boyfriend.  N.P. N.D.

Disclaimer:  This Tale does not constitute medical advice in any way.  Readers are invited to consult their own healers and health care providers. 

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A Gut Feeling – Part # 5 – From The G Tales

 A Gut Feeling:  Anal Pleasure, Holistic Sexual Health, and Interpretations of AIDS
Serena Anderlini-D’Onofrio
Part # 5 
“We were talking about AIDS Dissidence and why it rang a bell for you when you first heard,” I said when G and I connected again.
 “Of course it rang a bell,” G replied, convinced.  “I didn’t jump to conclusions, though.  Scientists of the highest reputation were now saying HIV was not a problem.  I tend to respect research independent of pharmaceutical companies.  But I would typically play it safe, just in case.  What about you?”
“In many ways I did the same.  I still rarely fluid bond.  For one thing, not all lovers really inspire one to do so.  Many have fluid-bonded partners of their own, and one would have to negotiate with them.  Nonetheless, the ideas of the dissenters helped to keep my focus on the strength of my immune system,” I offered. 
“Over the years, I’ve navigated the AIDS era as a sexually active bi woman with multiple partners and with a taste for the richness of anal pleasure.  My immune system has maintained its function thoroughly thanks to the holistic health practices I chose more that two decades ago.”
“We’ve done well,” I concurred.  The suddenly my mood changed.   G must have felt it. 
“What are you thinking?” she asked, perplexed.    
“This seems all well and good–but I’m not sure I can go along with the political implications,” I replied, nervous. 
“What do you mean?” G inquired, alarmed,
“Well, put yourself in the shoes of a gay man like Tony Lance, for example.  Do you realize what it means for him to be ‘telling’ on his people?  To spread the word to ‘straights’ that what gay men did in bed back then made them sick–not a bad bug?”
“Oh, I know what you mean.  That’s how his first video begins.  He explains how difficult it is to be a gay man, a ‘poz’ person, and a dissident–all at once.  It gives you a community of ‘zero’ people, he says.”
“Right.  Are your surprised?”
“No.  Look at my poly friends.  First the public humiliation by a poly gay man in a New York bookstore. [1] Then the book review that paints Sub-Saharan Africa as the abysmal land of promiscuity and infection, and falls short of blaming me for importing its bad bugs to pristine poly America.”[2]
“Right.  See what I mean.  And you’d think poly’s would know better.”
“Some do.  Many people came to my rescue.  And the concept was established that dissidence deserved to be called by its own name.”[3]
“All right.  If you don’t mind.”
“It’s not that I don’t mind.  It’s more that I know that new ideas meet with disagreement at first.  There is a central paradigm and it has the power to keep itself in place.  It won’t yield of its own accord.  One has to push against it.  And push.  And push again.  There’s a power imbalance here.  Big interests are at stake.  Politics.  That’s why it’s called dissidence.  And yet, it’s from disagreement that knowledge evolves.”
“So, does Lance disagree with everything allopathic medicine recommends?”
“He points to the paradoxes of current wisdom and to how the hypothesis of intestinal dysbiosis explains them.  But he also admits that some of the treatments actually work.”
“For example?”
“Well, when you have dysbiosis, your gut becomes depleted of its natural flora that would help do its job.  You lose your symbionts.  These are replaced by fungi, known to cause trouble, as in Candidasis, which then can give you Pneumocystis. ”
“Ok.”
“In the allopathic interpretation, you take Anti-Retroviral Drugs to treat HIV with the protease inhibitors as active ingredients.  It turns out, claims Lance, that protease inhibitors also attack fungi.  So, in the holistic interpretation, that’s how ARVs help to alleviate the dysbiosis.”[4]
“Then the holistic interpretation does not rule out the presence of a virus altogether.”
“Right, that’s besides the point.  It’s a matter of interpretation.”
“Turns out, if I understand you correctly, that intestinal dysbiosis can explain what we came to know as AIDS as a plague of the gay male population back in the 1980s with or without HIV, and it also explains why the current tests and treatments work for this group in some roundabout way.”
“Right.  That shows how important it is to listen to those with a different explanation.  Imagine that by some strange twist of fate intestinal dysbiosis turns out to be the correct interpretation, don’t you think we better know?” Asked G, passionate.
 “Of course.  I bet that’s why Lance went forward, exposed himself.”
“Consider, he is vibrant with health after 13 years:  a role model –a beacon for others ‘poz’ people also seeking to heal themselves from AIDS in a holistic way.”
“But I was getting at something different.  Health is also made of physical freedom, freedom to love, to fall in love, to express oneself erotically.  And if you become a dissident–if you embrace this cause–you immediately become profiled as a sexual offender even if you are celibate.” I observed.  “It’s a very difficult to be in if you’re a sexual healer or educator–if you practice or advocate some alternative style of love or are part of a sexual minority.”
“Tell me about it.  The flack I got from the Loving More board.  They basically profiled me as profligate even though they know I exercise a lot of restraint.  They did it because they’re afraid.”
 “I know, G, but that’s not comparable to what a ‘poz’ gay man who embraces dissidence can face.”
“I’m not sure what you mean.  Can you explain?” G asked.
“Yes I will,” I replied, “when we talk next.”


[1] Serena Anderlini.  What’s in a Word? Poly Planet GAIA. What-sInAWord-1-8
[2] Review of Gaia and the New Politics of Love.  Polyamory in the News. GaiaOnAlan-sBlog
[3] Serena Anderlini. What’s in a Word? Poly Planet GAIA.  What-sInAWord-1-8
[4] Tony Lance.  “GRID: Gay Related Intestinal Dysbiosis?” First Rethinking AIDS Conference. Oakland, November 2009.   TonyLanceArticle  RethinkingAIDS-Program
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A Gut Feeling – Part # 6 – From The G Tales

A Gut Feeling:  Anal Pleasure, Holistic Sexual Health, and Interpretations of AIDS
Serena Anderlini-D’Onofrio
Part # 6 
“We were talking about the legal threats a ‘poz’ gay man faces as a dissident,” G remembered as son as we connected again.
“Yes.”
“What about them?” she asked. 
“Well, as a result of the allopathic hypothesis about AIDS, statutes that regulate the sexual behavior of ‘poz’ persons are now in place in a number of states.”
 “I’ve heard.  That’s the basis for the Darren Chiacchia case, correct? [1]
“Correct,” I concurred.
“Do you have more details?” G asked.
“Well, suppose you’re ‘poz’ and you start going out with someone who’s not.  You tell them.  They agree to have unprotected sex with you.  Then they change their mind and go to the police to accuse you of attempting murder.  They have the right to do so, based on the law.”
“I suppose if you’re ‘poz’ you better use protection or have sex with other ‘poz’ persons,” G offered.
“And most of the time that’s what happens, I hear.  It’s called ‘sero sorting’,”[2] I concurred.
“All right.”
“But then now, with Tony Lance, the new theory is that lubes can further dry out your mucous and make your dysbiosis worse.”
“Well, he does advise caution about that.  Does not talk about condoms.  And he is right I believe, since that’s an interpersonal, case-by-case decision to be made.”
“What do you mean? Can’t you see that he can be accused of promoting reckless behavior for his own benefit?”
“All dissidents are vulnerable to that.”
“But can you see that as a gay man who at least at some point has tested positive, his whole theory can be constructed as a self-serving ploy,” I probed.
“Sure.  That’s why I think he is so brave.  If his interpretation acquires credibility in sex-positive, liberal, holistic circles, then some fundamentalists will try to discredit it as a seductive ploy.  But is that really credible?  The article cites some 75 references.  It’s sound research.  Just thinking about it as mere perversion is perverse.”
“Still, I can’t really see how the transition between interpretations can happen without causing problems,” I commented. 
“Of course.  Shall we leave that for next phone call?”
“Yes.”


[1] Zugler, Abigail.  “With AIDS, Time to Get Beyond Blame.” NY Times, April 19, 2010.  With AIDS, Time to Get Beyond Blame
[2] David Halperin.  What Do Gay men Want? University of Michigan Press, 2008.  Amazon.com: What Do Gay Men Want?

Disclaimer:  This Tale does not constitute medical advice in any way.  Readers are invited to consult their own healers and health care providers. 

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A Gut Feeling – Part # 7 – From The G Tales

A Gut Feeling:  Anal Pleasure, Holistic Sexual Health, and Interpretations of AIDS
Serena Anderlini-D’Onofrio
Part # 7
“We were talking about the transition between interpretations, correct?” G asked as we connected again.
“We were,” I said.  “Have you thought about it?”
“Yes.  It’s part of switching to the holistic health paradigm.  The allopathic paradigm is based on what’s called patriarchy in feminism.  It’s a way to interpret health as war against disease.  It translates as ‘barrier’ when it comes to sexual health, as in ‘do as much ‘war’ on my body as I am willing to say yes to, and barriers will protect the ecosystem that’s me.’  The holistic paradigm is based on connectedness.  It creates health by respecting life, by treating its ecosystems as part of the feminine divine.  It translates as fluidity when it comes to sexual health.  Understanding the flow of life and using pleasure to enhance it.”
“But how do you navigate the transition in a way that is safe?” I probed.
“Good question.  I guess it depends on where you’re at when you start the journey.  Lance talks about proportion.  He never says that using a condom in a one-night stand will kill you.  In fact, I bet he’d agree that barriers are quite appropriate for those occasions.  But when it comes to healing from AIDS, when it comes to finding one’s own balance between pleasure and health, the emphasis really is on proportion.  Being conscious, feeling connected to one’s body and its ecosystems, practicing that connection in ways that bring together the erotic and the sacred, that minister pleasure to the body as they generate health. “
“Right, but suppose you’re a gay man who is positive and has AIDS.  How do you get from point A to point B without being criminalized or thrown in jail?”
“Good question again my friend.  I guess you’d need a lot of good luck and patience.  But suppose you focus on getting proportion.  Then there is the leaky mucous, remember?  The impurities in your blood that get you to test ‘poz’ in the first place.  Keep looking at it from a holistic perspective.  Suppose you’ve tested positive because you’ve got a mild case of intestinal dysbiosis.  You can practice abstinence or protection with moderate amounts of sex until you get better.   Then you may test again, and maybe it will be negative.  Another option is becoming active in the AIDS dissidence movement, meet others who are healing themselves from intestinal dysbiosis and no longer have AIDS.  Lance was one of them.”
“Right, that’s if you’re lucky and very determined.  It could also happen that you get profiled as a sex offender, lose your job, lose your home, and end up in jail.”
“I know.  And if you’re already, for some reason, subject to being profiled in a negative way, like say as part of a minority that’s considered hyper-sexed, that makes it even worse.”
“Like, for example, if you’re black, or Latino, or bi , or poly, or all of the above?” I asked. 
“Exactly!  But wait a minute, are you implying that this is Tony Lance’s fault?  That the problems you’re describing are a result of his research?”
“No.  But the severity of these problems is, I think, what makes all LGBT institutions react so negatively when they hear about AIDS dissidence.  They’re afraid.”
“I know.  It’s sad.” G reflected, somber.
“Besides, consider this.  Experiencing anal pleasure in moderation, practicing holistic sexual health: those are wonderful ideas.  But who will truly understand them?  The minute some fundamentalist sect hears about them, they’ll be upon us.  They’ll will simply turn the whole concept around and claim that science found out that anal sex is bad, that it’s the true cause of AIDS, and will use this to claim that those who have it only deserve what they got.”
“I have no doubts that some people will hear that, unfortunately.  Not everybody on Earth can be sex-positive.  But consider the situation we have today.  Suppose Tony Lance is right.  Suppose intestinal dysbiosis is really what causes AIDS, not a virus.  Then everyone can heal from it, and continue to practice anal sex proportionally to the time and energy they have for this to happen naturally and in a holistic way.”
“That would be nice,” I offered.
“Right,” G approves.  And she continues: “Then people will understand that love is an art that can be practiced in many different ways, that there are many styles of pleasure and it’s good to learn about all of them.  People will learn to integrate the arts of loving with the arts of healing themselves.  The entire human species will become more holistic, healthier, and happier.  Don’t you think that the hope for such a world is worth the effort of facing the hostility of those who are sex-positive in principle, and cannot see the light of this vision yet?”
“Oh well G,” I responded, “you always get so wrapped up in your utopias.  You’re incorrigible.  I’m not sure all that can happen.  But I’ll admit that if Tony Lance is right, if AIDS turns out to be just a bad case of intestinal dysbiosis that can be cured with proper nutrition and respect for one’s rectum, then the world will be much better off than it is today.”
“Oh, great!  I’m so glad you can see that,” G exclaimed.
“For one thing,” I continued, “people will stop being afraid of one another.  They’ll lose the fear of their own desire for closeness, for intimacy, that now so often turns into repression and hatred.  More people will become proactive about being happy and loving and healthy.  They will overcome their dependence on products that can mechanically generate those states.  This will lower the cost of health care and free us of the twin tyranny of the pharmaceutical industry and medical profession.  It will pave the way for affordable and organic universal health care.  And it may even afford people more free time and vacation to enjoy amorous company, healthy sex, and conscious loving.”
“So, you see how important what Tony Lance did can be?  Doesn’t he deserve a medal?” G asked. 
“He does, especially if he is right,” I observed.
“Yes, and it’s easy to find out, and inexpensive.  All it takes is really an experiment.  Try douching a few rats, giving them wide spectrum antibiotics, having them inhale poppers, and sodomize them daily with plenty of lube and condoms.  I bet their gut would cave in quickly enough to diagnose them with intestinal dysbiosis.”
“But G dear,” I said, “it seems really unfair to take it out on rats.  Don’t we have enough sickness already?”
“It was really just a suggestion,” G responded.  “People tend to trust laboratory experiments.  That’s how allopathic science has operated for the past few centuries.  Personally, I don’t need this kind of evidence.  I find it in those long-time ‘poz’ people who are healthy and have healed themselves.”
 “The experiment you were suggesting could be a shortcut, though.  It could help redress health policies,” I offer.  “For example, those statutes about murder by infection .  .  . “
“Right.  And if you consider the damage that acting on the wrong hypothesis can cause, if you consider all the earthquake devastation that comes from poverty that is often interpreted as AIDS in countries where poor sanitation causes all kinds of intestinal problems, if you consider all the money spent in programs that cannot be effective because they do not bring people what can cure their intestinal dysbiosis, if you consider how this fear of love, fear of expressing the erotic energy of love in natural ways, is transmuting into hatred, war, destruction, and devastation of entire bioregions and their population, if you consider that all the money spent on these futile projects could be used to stop global warming and create the climate stability that can save us all, then, you know, if sacrificing a few rats can to the trick, if it can persuade the powers that be, or at least the honest people in them, that dysbosis is worth considering as a legitimate cause, then so be it, I say.”
“That’s a nice thought.  Now, is Tony Lance alone?”
“No.  He is part of a team, he presented his work at the first edition of the conference Rethinking AIDS, in Oakland last November.”
“What other scientists were there?  Where did they come from?”
“There were vernacular and professional scientists, as well as activists and clinicians, I understand.  Many of the professional scientists are based in the US, but they are of foreign origin.”
“Do you think that’s why they don’t get profiled very favorably?”
“That’s part f it, of curse.  They can be dismissed as Un-American, in a new form of McCarthyism, as some would say.”
“Perhaps they can afford to be more honest because they are less involved with the pharmaceutical companies.  I mean all those marketing  efforts to create the need for a drug by persuading average Americans that they suffer from some under-diagnosed ailment.”[1]
“Yes, pharmaceutical companies pay lavish money to professors of medicine ready to act as consultants who promote their drugs and the medical disorders invented to market them.[2]  Foreign scientists can do that as well.  It’s just that some of them are not game.”
“I get it.  Even though, of course, being a foreigner is not a plus in that role since the public tends to trust your vintage American better.”
“You have a point.  That’s why, also, people like Duesberg, form Germany, and Bauer, from Austria, have trouble getting heard.”[3]
“But again, when you think of Tony Lance, and other American heroes like him, who self-trained as scientists to save their lives, and are now sharing their knowledge to save others at the risk of losing everything, you see that it’s happening.  Dissident science is making inroads.  It’s pushing against the paradigm that generates so much paradox that it almost fall of its own weight, like a giant that can no longer walk because it’s too heavy with its own false consciousness.”
“Are there any other countries where holistic interpretations of AIDs are being researched?”
“At the Oakland conference there was a scientist from the University of Florence, Italy, Marco Ruggiero.[4]  His team focuses on AIDS and body ecology, including the effects of chemicals.”
“Interesting.”
“Yes, and remember that in these countries where health care is universal, the government has to pay for curing all disease outbreaks, including those caused by pharmaceutical companies eager to sell the wrong meds for the wrong diseases.  So that’s an incentive to fund studies that disagree with the main paradigm as well: A way to force integration of allopathic and holistic methods for the common good.”
“Yes.  So there is hope.”
“Being the author of a ‘forbidden book’ that has become controversial on account of my intellectual honesty about AIDS, I can tell only one thing for sure: No one on earth (Nobel laureate or vernacular scientist) knows everything that there is to know about AIDS.  That’s why it is necessary to open up to all avenues of investigation.   The criminalization of knowledge is the crime.  Fear the true enemy.”
 “Let’s hope fear evaporates then.”
 “Let’s,” said G.
“Meanwhile, congrats to Tony Lance and good luck to all of those who are healing themselves from intestinal dysbiosis.”
“Yes, for all those volunteer scientific efforts the world will be absolutely grateful.  Knowledge always evolves by disagreement.  It’s the same data.  But now they make a whole lot of sense.  It’s always a matter of interpretation.”
“Science is an art,” I offer as a way to wrap up the conversation.
“Isn’t it?  I’ve always claimed we need more people trained in critical theory like myself.”
“Stop bragging about your specialties, G,” I giggle.
“Ok, ok,” she giggles back.
“It was great talking with you, G.”
“Same.”
“Keep me posted.”
“Will do.”
“Namaste.”
“Namaste.”


[1] Peterson, Melody. Our daily Meds. New York: Picador, 2009. Our Daily Meds
[2] Lane, Christopher.  Shyness.  Yale University Press, 2008. (A study of the invention of recent mental illnesses in the sociability spectrum.)
[3] Peter Duesberg.  Inventing the AIDS Virus.  New York: Regnery, 2007. (A classic of non-infective AIDS theory.)  Henry Bauer.  The Origin, Persistence, and Failings of HIV/AIDS Theory.  New York: McFarland, 2007.  (A recapitulation of and reflection about the inconsistencies of mainstream theories.)
[4] First Rethinking AIDS Conference.  Oakland, CA: November 2009.  Online proceedings.  RethinkingAIDS-Program. Prof. Marco Ruggiero, Univ. of  Florence: http://www.marcoruggiero.org/
Disclaimer:  This Tale does not constitute medical advice in any way.  Readers are invited to consult their own healers and health care providers. 
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Connecting More Dots: Shutter Island and The Shock Doctrine

A while after the conversations of ‘What’s in a Name?’ G and I resume our calls.  We talk about movies.  ‘T is the season, after all.
“Teaching film helps,” G says as soon as we connect.
“Why is that?” I ask.
“Well, when you go to the movies, you activate a little mechanism in your brain and it helps you to connect the dots . . .”
“Dots? What dots?”
“Dots between movies and books you’ve read, for example.”
“As in?”
“As in, Shutter Island and The Shock Doctrine, for example.”
Shutter Island, Marin Scorsese’s latest, and Naomi Klein’s book about the Chicago School and it break-the-economy-and-control-the-people-politics?”
“Uhu.”
“Tell me more . . . “
“Let me tell you the whole story then.”
“Ok.”
“So yesterday we were bound to see Crazy Heart in San Juan, and the Fine Arts Theater, when we find out that the program has changed and we need to adjust our plans.”
“Who was your company?”
“Melvin, the leader of my Area Oeste LGBT friends group here, a sophisticated speaker, a discussant, a great facilitator.  I’m so happy to have his company, you know, it’s ok to go to the movies by oneself, but the company of a sensitive person makes puts the experience on a completely different level.”
“Sure.”
“So of course we watch the whole film then we try to figure out if Teddy/Lewaddis is really honest and sane or really insane and a criminal.”
“Yes . . . “
“It’s a story about an asylum on this island off of Massachusetts where apparently some human experiments were going on in the 1950s, on human brains: how to treat them with electroshock therapy and lobotomy, how to persuade sane people that they are not only insane, but also criminals with a shady history of murders whose memory they are trying to push away.  The idea is that these therapies will persuade the patients not only to adopt the life stories and identities that psychiatrists are fabricating for them, but also that they will go along and help those in charge to play the game.”

                                           (Leonardo DiCaprio and Ben Kingsley in Shutter Island)

“OMG! And is this based on fact?  Is the film some kind of documentary?  Did anything like this really happen?”
“Well, the film is based on a novel, which of course is likely to be a fictionalization of some historical event or combination of events reconfigured in some recombined way.  The time when lobotomies were a common clinical practice is appropriate. Same goes for electroshock therapy.”
“How do you know?”
“Well, I read about Tennessee Williams, the famous American playwright of the mid Twentieth Century, who was also gay–closeted at the time of course.  His sister was lobotomized because as kids she and her brother were playing some innocent games that were at the time considered completely out of bounds.  The family became worried about her.  Lobotomy was recommended for women whose sexuality was unruly.”
“Oh, and how did she respond?”
“I don’t really know a lot of specifics, but she became a zombie like most people whose pre-frontal cortex has been removed.  That, as we know now, is not a superfluous part of the brain.  It’s the seat of creative intelligence, of the imagination, of desire, of ideas, of what makes you capable to think the world in a different way.”
“Of genius, you mean . . .”
“Yeah, that’s one way to put it.”
“And another way?”
“Another way is in what my bi and poly friends typically will say: That one’s biggest sexual organ is between one’s ears, not one’s legs.”
“If you lobotomize the imagination, then the desire for pleasure goes away,” I comment.
“Exactly!”
“Must have been terrible for her.”
“And for him as well, he always felt guilty that his creative intelligence was still alive while hers had been so cruelly excised.  Many of his nostalgic, tender female characters are based on her.”
“Like Blanche Dubois, in Streetcar Named Desire?”I ask.
“Like Blanche Dubois.”
“So then, going back to Shutter Island, what was the point of practicing lobotomy there?” I continue with my questions.
“The film presents this as part of a model asylum for the rehabilitation of criminals who are mental patients, and are treated humanely.  The place is actually a penitentiary, but it doesn’t look like one: It looks more like a manor in the midst of manicured gardens, until you look more closely and find out that food, smokes, water are all drugged with sedatives that make the patients practically incapable to think for themselves.  And then you also find out that the people there are not really criminals, but rather victims of this human experiment in which a team of psychiatrists is trying to figure out how to control human brains.”
“Inventing mental illnesses they don’t have, as causes of crimes they never committed?” I comment.
“Yes.”
“Sounds a bit like Nazi Germany, or Stalin’s USSR, for that matter.”
“Sure, and indeed the Leonardo di Caprio character is an American who fought in World War II, killed at Dachau, and is horrified at the idea that Nazi methods might have migrated to the US.  He is incensed by some uncertainty he has abut a fire that burned his home and killed his wife.  He is a US Marshall, and gets to be assigned to the job of investigating the disappearance of a patient to figure out what’s going on.”
“This happens of course when J. Edgar Hoover is head of the CIA, the famous McCarthyite who was a closet gay and instigated the activities of the House of Un-American Activities back then,” I add.
“Yes, and Hoover gets mentioned once in the movie,” G confirms.
“So what’s the connection with The Shock Doctrine?”
“Well, you know that Klein claims that the whole idea of engineering a crisis in order to break people’s resistance and then take control started in the medical profession.  In other words, it was psychiatrists who used electroshock and lobotomy that first experimented with these forms of shock therapy to reduce people to patients–and patients to blank slates whose personalities, minds, and memories were now empty and could be filled with whatever content the dominant ideology wanted to implant,” G explains, in her typical professorial tone.
“And how does she claim that the practice transfers from psychiatry to the economy?” I ask, a bit shyly.
“Well, the political powers make some shady allies and, say, create an atmosphere of panic where everyone is afraid that a terrorist cell is conspiring next door.  This makes every one feel fearful and out of control.  It crushes the economy because no one wants to invest any more.  Then a new political class takes over and establishes a regime of total control.”
“Like what happened in Chile with Pinochet?” I ask?
“Yeah, you got it.  And many other cases. Klein examines the wave of interventions by so-called ‘Chicago boys,’ economists from the school of Milton Friedman, who precisely promoted the ideology that public assets are a nuisance to be sold away, and privatization will resolve all financial problems. These interventions happened in South America, then the wave moved to East Asia, then to Russia and Eastern Europe, then eventually, with Bush II, to the United States.”
“But the character in Shutter Island thinks what happens in the asylum is part of a Nazi plot.”
“Well, not exactly: He is aware of how some ideas migrated, as the people who held them managed to smuggle themselves over to the US shores when the Nazi house of cards fell to the floor.”
“You mean that after World War II some Nazi ideology made it into the US?”
“Some ideologues made it, and their ideas came with them.”
“Did your friend Melvin know about lobotomies?” I asked, curious.
“Surprisingly, he didn’t know too much about them.  We talked about it, and I explained about the pre-frontal cortex, the fact that a lobotomized person initially seems to be ok, just a little more tranquil and sedated then before.  Then one realizes that this person has lost the capability to learn new things, ideas, actions, because s/he has lost the power of the imagination, s/he cannot put things together in any new way, s/he can only repeat mechanically things that s/he has done before.”
“OMG! And how come the pre-frontal cortex is so important?” I keep pressing on with my questions.
“That’s what I learn from Up From Dragons, Dorion Sagan’s co-authored study of human intelligence.  In the evolution of the brain, across species, the pre-frontal cortex is the last section that evolved.  Reptilian brains don’t have it.  They’re reactive brains.  They respond, but do not invent.  Also, in any human person, the pre-frontal cortex is the last one to become completely formed, with the process ending at about 25 years old.”
“Got it.  And, had your friend heard about other lobotomies?”
“I don’t think so.  I did tell him about Rose Kennedy, the sister of the three beautiful brothers who died for the ideals of American politics. She had been lobotomized as well.  The family was a bit shy and shameful about it.  Of course, when this happened, nobody really knew the consequences.  They were victims of human experiments, those patients.”
“How terrible!”
“I agree.  Do you see now the connection?”
“Yes, of course.  Scorsese is trying to send a message.  Perhaps he has read Naomi Klein.”
“Perhaps, yet Klein is a lot more adamant than Scorsese ever will be.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, at the end of the story, one finds out that the hero, Edward, really could be Lewaddis, the criminal he is trying to connect with, to ask questions from, the guy who set fire to his house and killed his wife after she had drowned the three children they had.”
“How is that?”
“Well, there are all these nightmares, these memories that parse the film, memories of Dachau, of fires, of family, of children crying for help.”
“Memories?”
“Yes, it’s the Leonardo di Caprio character, he has these nightmares. And in the end, when the new criminal/insane personality has been implanted into his brain by the psychiatrist team, it all jells up together that he is actually the criminal he is seeking–a bit like in Oedipus.”
“Oh, the Oedipal syndrome, uh?”
“Yes, of course, we live in an Oedipal world where parents own their children and the nuclear family is the norm.  We still don’t know very well how to expand family beyond kinship and biology, do we?” G asks, facetious.
“Some of us try.”
“Yes, queer families, poly families–but they’re the exception.”
“Sure.  Still the exception, unfortunately.  How was the acting, the direction, BTW.  Did you guys enjoy?”
“A Scorsese film is always enjoyable.  Those stylish frames, wide stroke backgrounds, mysterious settings, ominous clouds, ferocious storms, cliffs that require acrobatic performances.  Swagger male characters who walk the fine line between hero and outlaw, cops who turn out allies of criminal gangs.  It’s staple.  And all done with Italian bravado and elegance impervious to the situation.  It’s impressive.  Suspense that works: it’s not sensation per se, it’s the right measure of sensation to achieve the desired effect.”  
“And what exactly would that effect be?” I interrupt the rhapsodic tone: The Italian stuff always gets G carried away.
“Well, what about instilling the shadow of a doubt that conspiracy is really possible? That it’s not just a theory stored in minds of those with psychological problems.”
“You mean of those profiled that way.”
“Yes. With Scorsese you get the message that laboratories for human experiments to control our minds could be just next door.”
“That’s the film’s political effect, you mean?”
“Yes, the visual version of Naomi Klein’s theory.”
“Visual, uh?”
“Yes, I have become more and more impressed with cinema’s ability to convey ideas in images on a large scale.  As I taught cinema over the years, I have become aware of how, for the new generations, cinema  holds the promise of visual effects that mark the collective consciousness of a culture as objective correlatives of the emotions people have difficulty expressing in other ways.”
“A bit like Michael Moore’s documentaries?”
“Exactly.”
“What about the acting?  How was it?” I asked, to change the subject.
“I hadn’t seen Leonardo di Caprio since Titanic.  Had heard bad things about his subsequent movies–lack of environmental respect in the shooting process.  I liked him at the time, though.  He did embody that rugged instinct, that trust in one’s good luck I tend to admire in people.  He has matured a lot.  Makes me think of how fast time goes by for us all.”
“Yes, as Ronsard puts it,” I interject,
“‘le temps s’en va, le temps s’en va, madame.’ (time passes, away, time passes away, my lady)
le temps non, mais nous nous en allons, et bientot seront sous la lame.’ (time doesn’t, but we pass away and soon will be under the stone)
How about his looks?”

“Oh, those are much better.  He is not what I’d call a beauty.  Not enough sensual for that, to my taste.  A tad too intense.  But his looks have improved because now he knows what to do with what nature gave him much better than before.”
“So, it was a nice evening after all.”
“It was great.  We spent time discussing the movie, figuring out the plot, the various hypotheses for interpretation, put our brains together to figure out what we saw.”
“Did you miss Crazy Heart?”
“I did. A bit.  I explained my friend why I wanted to see it and we agreed to stay tuned.  Talked about our emotions, what’s happening in our lives and what feelings are dominating. I always find movies good for that. We made plans for more movie days next weekend.”
“Until that time then,” I said as we prepared to end the call.
Arrivederci.”
Arrivederci, my Italian friend, arrivederci.”

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Echinacea & the Swine Flu – From The G Tales

“when we see things in [a Gaian] perspective, it becomes very easy to understand the basic principle of holistic health. If an individual is a cell in a superorganism, his or her disease cannot be a foreign agent, for all agents are part of the larger entity of which that individual is an element”
    from Gaia and the New Politics of Love 

The periodo lectivo is approaching and G tells me her classes are starting again.  She was at the school office and found it plastered with notices discouraging people from kissing on the cheek and shaking hands.
“It’s the swine flu” she told me on the phone, “nobody wants to be held responsible for someone getting it, and so they post those disclaimers so that if you do get it, you can’t blame them.”
“But people are getting the swine flu, G,” I replied, “they’re even dying from it, haven’t you heard?”

“Of course I have” she said, “but do you think that those disclaimers really help?”

“Well, what’s wrong with reminding people to wash their hands, keep from getting too close to someone who could be contagious?  I got friends who almost got it, it was scary, loads of tests, anxiety, we all got a bit nervous and wary.  It was hard to keep one’s cool.  But nothing really bad, it turned out everyone was ok.  How about you?  Anybody you know?”

“Oh yeah, my massage therapist got it, she had to quit her job.  She was abject.  She got depressed.  She called me and I spent hours with her, then I went out and got a bottle of Echinacea for her.” 
“Your massage therapist?  The one who calls you mi abuela postiza, my pretend grandma?”

“Yeah, and imagine, a week earlier I had a two hour massage with her.  As soon as I get into the parlor, we hug and she tells in how much pain she is.  I sit her on the table and ask her to show me where it hurts.  Then I work and work and work on her, the neck, the chest, the shoulders, the back.”
“You mean you start massaging her?”

“Yeah, what else?  She was sick, she needed the help.”

“But this was your massage time, no?”

“It was, and there I am, giving a massage to my massage therapist.  Getting her well enough that she can do me, eventually. And telling her not to worry, that it’s just fine–I had offered to exchange with her many times because I knew she was overworking.”

“OMG!  What a situation.  And then she gets the swine flu?”

“Well, I found that out later.  Meanwhile, I didn’t get anything–so no harm done.  And when I hear she has it, I go out and get Echinacea for her.  A little bottle.”

“Oh, yeah, I got that too.  A special dosage, even though this time, with the swine flu being so potent, I didn’t really have a lot of trust in these flimsy remedies.”

“Flimsy?  You know we’ve been taking it for years now.  Once in a while–just so enough of it is in circulation that the immune system can respond before anything happens, before any microbe has its way.”

“Don’t tell me that you have such faith in it.  I take it too, but it’s more as a way to touch wood for good luck–a superstition if you want.”

“Really?  But don’t you know that it’s indigenous knowledge.  Echinacea comes from the center of a daisy, it’s the powder found in there.  It has been used for immune system strength by generation after generation.  This has been known for centuries.  It’s time-tested knowledge.  Better than laboratory, because there’s so much history of it having been effective.”

“Nobody knows why though.”

“If you consider that a problem.”

“Could be a problem.  Perhaps one could run some experiment as to why.”

“Or, those ultra-scientific all-knowing health authorities could simply collect data from people who regularly take Echinacea, and find out how rare the flu is among them compared to those who don’t.”

“Are you sure that’s so?”

“It is well known in the holistic health community.  Everybody knows and takes it.  And take a look at them—I mean people who do holistic health–they don’t call the doctor every day, they’re not afraid to get sick, they often radiate health and resist pathogens much better.”
“Yeah, I must admit their lives are not as medicalized as those of some other people I know.  In any event, it sure would be worth trying to get some data.  I know I don’t get the flu often.  How about you, G?”

“I used to get it.  Before Echinacea.  When I used antibiotics.  Now I don’t.  And I use all kinds of remedies–there’s one for every situation, once you get the knack of it.  And my daughter.  A flu after a flu after a flu. Lots of antibiotics.  Until she was ready to go to college.  And then I said, ‘what’s the point of sending her to college if she’s always in bed?’ So we stopped antibiotics, and did Propolis topically to quench throat infections, and Echinacea when she was well, as a preventative.  It was quite effective.  She graduated on time and with good grades!”

“But then, why do you think people still do antibiotics so often?”

“They’re afraid, they’ve been taught not to trust their immune system.  They’re used to depend on meds.  Sometimes it’s as banal as the taste of these remedies.  People are used to pills.  A potion–with its own taste and flavor–scares them, it appears medieval to them, a witch’s brew.”
Giggling over the phone . . . “A witch’s brew” we giggle together. 

“And witch’s brew it is,” I continue, “when you think about it, the only evidence being experience, tradition, indigenous knowledge, historical evidence–opposite of what modern science understands.”

“And who’s short of understanding?  Indigenous knowledge works.  Just because something’s modern doesn’t mean it’s good.”

“Take it easy, G.  You tend to get carried away.  Allopathic medicine is not worth bumping heads against.  You never know.”

“Of course my dear.  You know my weakness.  An accident, a trauma, a birth defect, a sudden outbreak: allopathic medicine is much faster, has an immediate effect.  Take my cousin’s club foot that she was born with,” G said.  “They open up, they switch the tendon to the right position, and the baby’s gonna grow with a regular foot, like everybody else.  Can you imagine not having access to that?  Having to watch your baby grow up with a twisted, upside-down foot just because you cannot get surgery?”

“Oh my gosh, that would be horrible, G.  Good to hear that surgery went well.  Doesn’t matter how many massages, manipulations . . . ”

“Yeah, and doesn’t mean that applies to all situations.  Sometimes the effects of that kind of aggressive interventions are more than secondary.  Sometimes they override the benefit.  Remedies are much more gradual and benign, with more positive and durable effects.”

“And how about those images in the office.  Were you telling me how you they made you feel?”
“They made me feel terrible.  Here in the Caribbean people touch when they shake hands and kiss each other on the cheek, once.  It’s a bonding ritual that is good for one’s sense of connectedness, immunity and health.  Now, with the excuse of the swine flu, public health officers are trying to take that away.  Those posters made me feel depressed.  And that’s bad for one’s immune system.  I’m sure I’m not alone.  Others probably feel their social manners are being criminalized in some ways.”
“Oh, one kiss you said?  It’s three in France and two in Italy, correct?”

“Yes,” said G.

“I wonder what’s being posted there?” I asked.

“I bet not much” she replied.  “I’m just speculating, yet I can’t imagine the French or Italian government criminalizing affectionate behavior–what has been considered good social manners for centuries.  But you never know.  Have no direct reports at this point.”

“Have you heard any comments? From colleagues at the university, I mean, people you know?”

“Not really, I’ve seen people pull out these little bottles of hand disinfectant and rubbing their hands with it.  They pour it on mine as well, and I comply.  It feels clean, has a strange smell.  I abstain from getting my own.  And you know, as I watch all this, as I hear that people are dying from the swine flu, that it is very serious, that it was almost fatal to somebody as close as my pretend granddaughter, I get really upset.  First of all, the flu could not be so serious if the world was in better heath, I mean if the biota was stronger and more whole, if the web of life where we are embedded was more wholesome and healthier.  And then, for %^&**’s sakes, at this time when the threat is really serious, what would public health authorities lose from making some surprising declarations.”

“Declarations like what?” I ask.

“You know, like, that they really don’t know why, but they hear reports that Echinacea is very effective, that people in the holistic health collective have something to offer, and that they, the authorities–those in charge of public health–are willing to break a lance.  That they are willing to make fools of themselves and endorse a witch’s brew, put their weight behind it, so the public at large–I mean those who commonly believe in authority–can finally benefit.”

“Arrgh, what a scene you’re making, G.  Now suppose the surgeon general recommended Echinacea on CNN tomorrow, what do you think would happen?  Wouldn’t everybody think she’s gone crazy?  Would your average Joe who watches TV all day go and get the remedy?  Or would this rather end up causing a big ruckus in the high spheres–with her being fired, and some pharmaceutical company declaring her insane and locking her up?” 

“Well, I guess you have a point.  And yet, they talk about health care reform.  What kind of reform?  Nothing is going to change if people don’t start to think differently about health.  Look at this example.  Many people have died of the swine flu.  Something as cheap and accessible as Echinacea could have saved some of them.  And yet, of those in authority, nobody said a word.  I did buy Echinacea for my pretend granddaughter.  It’s here on my table.  I invited her to come and get it.  Hopefully she will, when she’s better and before she gets sick again.  But you know, had she heard it in the media, she’d be here already.  I mean, isn’t it unconscionable that they haven’t told her?”
“I can see your point.  The stakes were high this time.  And it’s always on us–we who practice holistic health–to spread the word.  And we have no authority.  As good old Lillian Hellman would have said, ‘I’d rather make the attempt and fail than fail to make the attempt’.”

“Thank you dear.  It’s good to talk to you.  Hopefully, it will happen.  And meanwhile we have SexGenderBody blog where our voice can be heard.”
Note: This is a fictional dialog and its contents do not constitute any kind of advice.  Each person is different and responses to remedies vary accordingly. 
End of G Tale # 2 
Please note: The time references in some of the G Tales are off because they first appeared in SexGenderBody
Reprinted here with thanks to Arvan Reese
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Why Is Mono Poly Too? – From The G Tales

“one must learn to love one before one can love many,” from Intimate Dialogs
“amor ch’a nullo amato amar perdona,” from La Divina Commedia
“love, that releases no beloved from loving” (Allen Mandelbaum tr)
I have this friend, her name is G.  G for gentle.  G for giddy.  G for “gay.”  G . . . for g-spot, or was it g-string?  Anyway, she’s like a little girl, I mean, she’s a bit like a thirteen year old, still has the intensity, the trepidation, the relentless, the hubris, the utopianism of that age.  Bless her heart. 

She tells me everything about herself.  And yet I don’t really know her.  She’s a mystery to herself.  She’s a philosopher, and yet, she’s still a little girl . . .

The latest about G is that she’s alive and well.  She’s actually enjoying the dry tropical season, and thinking about numbers. 


“Is mono part of poly?” she asks on the phone. 

“How can it be,” I say, “if you’re mono you’re not poly.  It’s either poly or mono.  Don’t you know about those famous mono partners and the havoc they can cause–how they always manage to spoil the game?”

“But listen,” she says, “the number one is just the first in a series from one to infinity.  So if you can truly love many you can love one, because one is less than many.  No?  If you understand infinity, the number one is easy to understand.  It’s just a matter of multiplication.”

“Well G,” I say, “this is a bit utopian.  The reality is that we often don’t even have the courage to love one, forget many.”

“I know,” she replies, “but love expands to infinity as well, love that is wishing the best even when nothing comes back, love that is empowerment, fulfillment of the other’s potential, love that is free of desire or possession, love that corresponds to the free vital energy of eros.  Love that traverses us and weds us together in the communion of life shared on the gay planet earth.”

“Sure,” I say, “that’s how one is part of many, one love that multiplies for everyone that there is to love, like, say, a parent who loves all of his/her children, no matter how many.  But when sexuality is involved, things are not so simple.”

“Let me explain it with Dante” she giggles.  She’s so literary.  She’s read too many books.  Her mind’s so convoluted nobody can really follow her.  “Three was his favorite number, did you know?  Perfectly balanced and open.  He’s a bit of a pain in the butt, when you have to study him in school, you know, but he did get something right: numerology.”

“What’s so good about three?” I ask.

“Well, it’s the first of the truly plural numbers, the first that looks upon the infinity of subsequent numbers and is part of them.  There is the singular, ‘one,’ the dual, which is, in some cases, still singular in language, as in ‘a couple,’ then there is the plural proper, what cannot be reduced to the singular, except in poly language, where you find words like ‘triad,’ or ‘quad,’ or ‘pod,’ to indicate relationships that include more participants than a dyad, or couple, can.”

“And what does this have to do with Dante?” I probe, “was he poly?”

Giggles.  Then silence. 
“Oh no, but he loved Beatrice and was married to one Gemma Donati, whom he saw everyday.  He saw Beatrice only once, in his entire life, and he loved her to the point that she accompanied him in his trip to paradise and back.”
(Image courtesy of AllPosters.com)
 
“Perfect number, three,” I reflect.

“You’re getting somewhere now,” she winks.  “Consider this other line he wrote, ‘love, that releases no beloved from loving,’ it’s more beautiful in Italian of course, ‘amor ch’a nullo amato amar perdona.’ It’s been interpreted for the longest time, and nobody really knows what it means for sure.  Does it mean that when A loves B, then B loves A?  Namely, that when someone loves you completely you cannot escape that love, that if that love is true, you will recognize it and reciprocate it?  Or does it mean the opposite, that when you are touched by the vital energy of eros because someone loves you, then you start loving someone, and so on and so forth.  In other words, that loves is contagious but not necessarily reciprocal.  As in, A, touched by the flame of eros, loves B; and B, when touched by the same flame, will love C, who, when touched by eros, will love D, who, touched, will love E, and so on and so forth, until, many, many plural loves later, the movement may come to a full circle.”

“OMG,” I exclaim.  “But that’s very messy, and everybody gets upset, and it’s so unsettled.”

“I know,” G says. “Sounds like poly, uh?” she giggles.

“Sounds like poly to me,” I confirm.

“Well, Dante knew about it back in the fourteenth century.”

“Oh,” I wonder, “what evidence do you have?”

“This sentence, ‘love, that releases no beloved from loving,’ nobody knows what he intended because it really means both.”

“What do you mean both?”

 “It’s ambivalent,” she replies, “it means both the reciprocity of love, as in A loves B and viceversa, and the circulatory nature of erotic energies, as in A loves B loves C loves D loves E and so on.  And all translators, readers, critics, theorists, have been baffled by it for centuries.  Yet they all refer to it.”
“Oh, I get it, a literary trope.”

“You may say that.  It’s more that the number three was in Dante’s mind, I think.  He knew that perfect reciprocity is virtually impossible, that there is always some triangulation, even in the most perfect, most reciprocated type of love.”

“But then, that means that one cannot be really mono, because there is really no system of love that includes solely and exclusively two persons.” 

“You’re beginning to get it.  From one triangulation, to the next, to the next, to the next, all adjacent to one another, as in an Aids quilt one might say.”

“Then mono is poly. Granted, to some extent.  But why is poly mono?” I ask her. 

“That’s a little more complicated,” G replies.  “Suppose you manage to be as mono as possible, to really focus on one person until s/he feels so loved that life comes to a standstill, that there is really nothing to desire any more.”

“Suppose . . . then what?” I ask.

“Then, from that experience, from having been present to that celestial, hyper-Uranian type of love, you can generate infinite compersion that allows you to love everyone like you’ve loved that person.”
“Ah, but . . . errrrr . . . wait a minute,’ I respond, “I’m a bit confused.  Sounds so philosophical, G, can you explain for us common mortals, my love?”

“Well, you know compersionCompersion, that feeling that replaces jealousy, supposedly, in poly language? Well, it’s nothing really but a sublimation of desire into eros, a way to process the greed, the want for sex, for attention, into an ethereal energy that traverses time and space and expands that mono, that one-to-one reciprocity, to every person.”

“That sounds to me like creative energy.  Art, creative expression, in all its forms, has some of that, no?”

“Yes,” G admits, “that’s the point.  Especially art that’s part of a healing process, art that generates community, peace, joy.  In fact, on might even say that all such art is a form of the arts of loving.”
“Handsome, G, thanks,” I offer.

“You’re welcome.  What’s on your mind?”

“Oh, well . . . it’s so extreme, so exaggerated.  I’m not sure.  Sounds like that story about demanding to test anonymously or not at all.”

“Oh, that’s right.  You’ve not forgotten, uh?”

“No.  Is this the lesson for the day?  I’ll mull it over.  Thanks for sharing.  Now let’s get back to work.  Keep me posted on developments.  And when you test again, be a good patient, ok?”

The Three of Us, by Regina Reinhardt
End of G Tale # 1

“The dichotomy between selfless and selfish love is deluded because affectional types of love are necessary for our survival as a species, and are therefore not as selfless as they are believed to be. It is self-defeating because all forms of love have an erotic component, the denial of which causes unhappiness and produces substantial amounts of hatred, often enough to defeat the forces of love.”
      From Gaia and the New Politics of Love: Notes for a Poly Planet

Please note: The time references to some of the G Tales are off because they first appeared in SexGenderBody.

Reprinted here with thanks to Arvan Reese.


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