PRINT Summer 1993


Mourning (the Sadness) finds itself in the in-between. I mean, it (the Sadness) is a stuttering toward a word which will not . . . out. One word—not a word but an acronym for the experience beyond it: DEATH.

Bodies come and go (I am stuttering now) but only in memory, only without pain—not “real” (the memory of that dead person’s alive smell, say) but as flat as demanding no space whatsoever, no reflection whatsoever.

Which images are tolerable in the Sadness? Images that are in between, representative of the Sadness (Mourning) and therefore able to transcend it. One image that is in between: Jaye Davidson. Between colored and not colored, male and female, kindness and not kindness. What a peculiar spelling of a boy’s name—the feminizing “e” on the end: a declaration on its own insistence to . . . what? (I am stuttering now.) Probably some people are born to insist, just by their physicality, on exposing the culture’s dishonesty vis-à-vis the body. Did you know it was a man? I did not seek Jaye Davidson in order to define my thought around Jaye Davidson, but he (it) may insist on this nevertheless as he/she/it does in The Crying Game: “Give me a bit more babe, a bit more . . . more endearment.”

Psycho was about Mourning (the Sadness) and marketed like The Crying Game as a secret (“Don’t tell your friends about the surprise ending!” one advertisement for Hitchcock’s film reads). Like The Crying Game, Psycho was about the idea of the feminine body as dupe: a mother, a girl not in evidence. That is my desire sometimes: a shape I cannot define, the thing not in evidence but imagined to be so.

Jaye Davidson, real and imagined, lives in between him-/herself as an “it.” I went to London to find this out (and to find my desire for Jaye Davidson out) but it/he/she would not be found. One press agent: “Jaye doesn’t do the press.” If not the press, would Jaye “do” me? (Selfish to the end, I am. In The Crying Game, Jaye Davidson cries for one man at first: Forest Whitaker. Because I have mourned for others it is possible to imagine that Jaye Davidson would mourn for me, having once been large and colored too. That is how movies work.) Would my stuttering be a press card Jaye Davidson would honor? Would I eventually ask Jaye Davidson the baby question I ask of everyone: Are you my mother?

In Patricia Bosworth’s biography of Montgomery Clift, there is a photograph of Montgomery Clift and Elizabeth Taylor on the lot during the filming of A Place in the Sun. Twins they are—heavily browed, belonging to one another through what the world will make of their bodies. Jaye and I may not be photographed together on a lot, but I know a similar photograph is coming. It is in the making as I write this.

In the Sadness (Mourning) I make of Jaye Davidson these things: my last chance to understand desire emptied (nearly) of meaning; to understand an “e” is just an “e”; that it/he/she is just desire, and that is a loan; that the in-between is the bed we will eventually lie in and then make, each for the other.

Hilton Als is a staff writer at The Village Voice and a frequent contributor to Artforum.