Sven Davisson produces Ashé Journal of Experimental Spirituality, a parallel of White Crane with a Foucaultian queer post-Gay edge. He’s a creative writer, a reporter with a wry sense of storytelling, a scholar (with a degree in Queer Theory from Hampshire College) and a poet.
The Starry Dynamo is a collection of diverse writing. It opens almost like a novel with a short story, the sub-eponymous “The Machinery of Night,” that tells of two Gay teenagers meeting for what turns out to be a sexual adventure. Davisson’s intro begins: “This work is driven by a critical analysis of love, control and control structures.” Consistently then, that budding romance transforms into a story about accidental death.
The most interesting and experimental piece, titled “Mutilations,” involves incest and child sexuality and abuse. It’s written in a way that violates all traditional “unities,”: place, time, person. And, in doing so, poignantly and beautifully captures the feeling of being “mutilated” the author means to communicate in the story, whether fiction or non-fiction.
Following is a series of essays about a variety of topics: the Indian guru Rajneesh and the rise and fall of his compound in Oregon, the French Symbolist poets, Oscar Wilde, the Beat Generation writer William S. Burroughs and several about the ideas of the French philosopher of sexuality Michael Foucault. I want to especially recommend this book for these specific chapters. I found I understood Foucault better while reading Sven Davisson than I have ever before (i.e. that at any given time and place in human history ideas about sex—and sexual orientation—are influenced by a vast array of factors of history, politics, culture, economics, etc. and so always have to be understood in context).
This is an interesting and—to use Davisson’s own term, experimental—book that deserves to be read, written by an important character in the long term history of Gay consciousness.
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Toby Johnson is the author and editor of countless fine books like Gay Spirituality, and Charmed Lives. He is also former publisher of White Crane Journal and currently Reviews editor. He lives in San Antonio Texas. Visit him at www.tobyjohnson.com