By Mark W. Turner
Backward Glances is the 1st homosexual city historical past of its sort, studying those concerns throughout a variety of cultural fabric, together with novels, poems, pornography, journalism, homosexual publications, work, the net, and fragments of writing in regards to the urban akin to Whitman's notebooks and David Hockney's graffiti. It presents a brand new method of figuring out what it capacity for a guy to stroll the streets of the fashionable Western city.
Backward Glances is geared toward all these attracted to the tradition of the town, queer cultural heritage and the appropriation of public space.
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Additional resources for Backward Glances: Cruising Queer Streets in London and New York
I don’t think we need to spend much time trying to pin down these nineteenth-century street walkers in terms of twentieth-century sexualities. The reductive critical move is to define them when there really is no way of knowing. What I want to emphasize is the need to explore the meanings of their urban movement, rather than speculating about a specific sex act that is never offered, and to accept their contingency as agents walking the city. From Flâneur to Cruiser In their post-liberation, celebratory guide for gay men in the 1970s, The Joy of Gay Sex, Charles Silverstein and Edmund White discuss explicitly the practice of cruising and offer a helpful ‘how-to’: There’s an art to cruising and it has a lot to do with timing and with the eyes.
It is one reason I find Benjamin’s ideas about the city of modernity so provocative and appealing – the Benjamin who embraces contingency, ambiguity, randomness and the unlooked-for in the Arcades Project. It is Benjamin more than anyone else who has considered the fragment and the trace as a basis for understanding of past and present. 3 Benjamin’s modernity is a contingent one. My own queer reading of the city is one in which the spaces of modernity are up for grabs and always liable to be contested and appropriated; in which the overlapping passing moments on the streets imply many ways of moving and seeing; in which the city allows for alternative and divergent kinds of experience.
According to Simmel, ‘the swift and continuous shift of external and internal stimuli’ experienced in the city takes its toll. 24 This is the modern condition for Simmel. Yet, in his work on the sociology of the senses, Simmel offers what I take to be a kind of resistance to the overwhelming implications of that condition. He links the significance of seeing to the everyday experiences of individuals in urban modernity and suggests that there are ways of living amid the violent ruptures of external stimuli that allow one to connect with others and hold alienation temporarily at a distance.