Inspired by José Esteban Muñoz’s reading of Frank O’Hara’s poem “Having a Coke With You,” I decide to include O’Hara’s Collected Poems in a bag of books that I carry north with me on my trip to New York. O’Hara is, after all, a defining figure of the New York School. His is a poetry of parties, acts, and encounters. A friend writes about him in her book. Words of hers capture my thoughts for a moment — nay, linger still, all these hours later, here in the future, among what has become of the words of he who is lost in the story. I imagine again the characters in the O’Hara poem, “drifting back and forth / between each other like a tree breathing through its spectacles.” If one’s attention is not to hold and be held by such things, one must actively turn away.
José Esteban Muñoz finds a way forward through cruising: the gay subcultural practice of seeking sexual encounters in public places or online.
“I know little of my sexuality,” thinks the time traveler. “Catholicism got in there and fucked my shit up years ago – hence these sexless days and nights.”
Is that a thought to be made public or kept private? Fear not, dear readers. Have I any decency? Yes I do.
“Aspects of Love’s Body have been occulted, occluded, hidden from consciousness,” thinks the time traveler. “So, too, have years prior. Trance-scripts of years past have gone unpublished. They appear to me now as I sit here reading them like repressed memories manifesting as pages of old journals – and thus times to which I can journey. Hence the trance-scripts ahead.”
So thinketh one of our time travelers. The one who relives the past. Let there also be a traveler who seeks and conceives here in the dailiness of his lived experience a utopian future. As Joshua Chambers-Letson, Tavia Nyong’o, and Ann Pellegrini note in their foreword to the 10th Anniversary Edition of José Esteban Muñoz’s Cruising Utopia: The Then and There of Queer Futurity, “Hope is work; we are disappointed; what’s more, we repeatedly disappoint each other. But the crossing out of ‘this hoping’ is neither the cancellation of grounds for hope, nor a discharge of the responsibility to work to change present reality. It is rather a call to describe the obstacle without being undone by that very effort” (x). The obstacle is a challenge we must both survive and surpass, Muñoz argues, “to achieve hope in the face of an often heart breaking reality.”