‘Dirt Always Wins’ (Part Six) — Conclusion

Another Country by JamesBaldwinThis would normally be where a guy like me concludes by showing how I resolved my dirt issues, or at least negotiated a balance between cleaning and living free. But that would be a kind of cleaning up, wouldn’t it.

At the same time, because pornography has entered the building, the dirty-string gatherer is tempted to state that he can literally visualize dark-blue passages in his introduction to printed dirt: James Baldwin’s  Another Country, which was passed around in high school till it disappeared.

Don’t believe me?

“Did he fuck you in the ass, did he make you suck his cock?”

A furious husband was breaking up with his wife because she cheated … with a homosexual, a faggot. I was 14, burning, and I bet I got that right, word for word.

To continue in the porn vein, I scoured textbook Freud for penises and explanations. Read de Sade on a train I took to see my first boyfriend, a lying creep. Wrote an essay that’s now in some book about how pornography educates queer men because we can’t get useful details anywhere else. Got out of writing a whole year of numbing graduate-school papers by giving a bunch of lectures on the history of pornography – they weren’t bad, I must admit, with plenty of details about the Vatican’s giant collection of smut and a meticulous outline of Victorian fetishes. The pissy smell of library archives became my personal scent.

That perfume’s long faded, but I’m sure you won’t faint if I tell you that I still bleach counters, read Baldwin, adore porn. As I finish filling in my adult outline, I may soon find it possible to hire someone to do our household cleaning. Yes, big joke, he’ll “clean up after the maid,” but not so funny when you’ve been both the cleaner and the cleaned all your life.

One more thing. In my emotional lexicon, dirt has never withered to a concept, a symbol, a metaphor. It’s always been utterly real, beneath or around me, whether I look down at my feet or up at the sky. For that, who could be anything but grateful.