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  • Ivan A. Kirchgaesser

A bag of love

Updated: Jan 20

Berlin, 5/12/22

This morning when we left the club, two architects, a professor of sociology, and me, the world was exquisitely gray. On a building close to us was a painting of the saddest, most disgruntled sun I had ever seen. In grayscale. It fitted so well, we all agreed. As we drove off in the taxi, I saw them standing there, the gays, in black, under the tree that rained red stains on Pavao's pink scarf and on my hand, tree blood or tree spit, appropriate little specks of drama.


What was also appropriate was the way your head appeared high above the walls of the toilets in the far right corner, just when Pavao and I went looking for you. Those cubicles were made out of metal and the space was reverberating with loud clangs and bangs. You wore a black cappi, silver chains but no frills, in a way that might be some kind of Northern English tough boy style, or at least I am reminded of apparently tough boys looking like that when I was living in Leeds. You are not a tough boy, you are soft-spoken and considerate and what you say reaches for what is real and what matters. All four of us share this reaching, we reached together in that club, we made deliberate appearances, striding from the darkroom to the club space through an icy corridor made of plastic sheets as if it were the place to be seen and celebrated. We turned it into this space. The party is everywhere if we make it so.



What do you want?, you asked me high up in that club toilet where I joined you so more people could fit in and because climbing is fun, and you confirm you mean it in the broadest sense. You are a beautiful person, a bit shy, but what comes out matters. I am struck by the question, because it embodies what I want, I want to get to the point, cut through the crap, I want connection. I want meaningful interactions. I want to learn, I want to surprise myself and be surprised by the world and by people. People are always surprises, everybody with their full life that I don't know, and their reasons for doing things that sometimes only become known when a kind someone asks a question that invites me to reflect, you to reflect, us coming to new insights about ourselves in each other's company, speaking them, and so both our worlds are expanded with this new understanding. That is what I love, and what I love and what I want are pretty much the same.

It is hard to know what I want in terms of long-term life plans, all those future possibilities are too much for me to contain in a present moment. But I'm scouting out whether I can develop this skill, how to do it, to see if I have use for it.

My desires are desires for something, and that something is something outside of me, or inside of me but still to be discovered or tended to or figured out. And so I meet my desires in response to situations, when I feel something could happen here, a story to be told, a person to be encountered, a game to be invented that will help us get to know each other. Us bringing out new versions of ourselves and sharing them. Social sculpture - it's never been so easy to explain what that means, since I can just say, it's what we are doing here!, and it's obvious. Then there are things that I already know I want to experience again and again in my life, and these things too are then always new because every moment is. I want to dance, tap into what my bodymindsoul is capable of, see what happens when we dance together, when we energy-induce each other. I want to have heartfelt conversations, where we share what we see in each other, like with Pavao in that booth in the antechamber of the party darkroom. My sweet orange peel Pavao. You inspire me. Your face lights up when you tell yet another story of how you met this or that person and what struck you about them. We share this excitement, and so there are always five million more stories to be told and we will never get to the end of it because the telling itself and the situation in which it happens becomes a story worth telling in itself. Exponential story-making.


In another moment in a booth where we get to talk undisturbed, I tell you that I want to write, but no longer in an academic way. I want to have full range of freedom in my writing, that queer space that arises from the desire to always move beyond the known. I don't want to justify myself, or follow the structure abstract, introduction, literature review, methodology, data, discussion, conclusion. I can see why people would want to capture the process of research in such a way, comparable, you know where to find what you are looking for, but most of the time it doesn't lead to a text that is joyful to read or is close to life. I want to write life, I want to write texts that would inspire me if I were to read them, and since I started reading more again recently, I have been reveling most in queer literature and genre-defying crossing transcending associative texts that follow what matters to the writer. I want to be close to that spirit, because those voices are the voices of freedom.

I want to play in all aspects of life, wherever possible, and I'm figuring out that I can in more situations than I ever anticipated. Many people actually want to play too, they don't want to be stuck uptight serious adults living according to what others tell them to be or do. The playing is at its best when it is taken seriously and done with real curiosity and care. Only dumb adults think that playing is unsubstantial or something for children. Playing is the space of movement and imagination and creation, the joy in what we can make out of this moment together, of tapping into our inner life and bringing it out, connecting it up with the situation, bringing in other people, and the sharing creates more joy in return, because it is nice to feel recognised and included in the ride.

Warmth I want too, because it makes everything easier to bare. The emptiness, the loneliness, the struggle with meaning, the struggle with people who make our lives difficult, the struggle with myself making my life difficult, the tedious things one must do to live. I am figuring out that some dark pleasure can be derived from embracing these feelings instead of not wanting them. Existential kink. I want what I have now, but it hasn't been like that for much of the time since I moved to Berlin. It was here where I woke up to many things in this world I don't want, that make me furious and sad and even occassionally cynical, harsher than I like myself to be, colder. I lost my ability to cry, that was part of the hardening, but I also hardened to protect something inside myself, the child that demands to live and refuses to be reduced to anything, and nobody has the power to stop it from continuing to seek joy among a lot of shit. At some point I realised it was time to soften again, I got stuck in the hardening, the path didn't lead me to new good places. I started to feel drained, alienated, upset with the sense of having lost connection to parts of myself that didn't want to be done away with alongside the parts that I did want to shed, and with regards to those, no regrets. So I started reclaiming myself, embracing the sad child, my approachability, my kindness, my vulnerability. My bodyworker brought me back to my tears, and sometimes there are weeks where I have many of them for breakfast. In that soft space between sleeping dreaming and coming into the day, when it is quiet enough to hear what my soul whispers.

I want to write in a way that does justice to the data of lived experience, but I don't want to talk about it like that anymore, that academic way, and thank you Pavao for saying I should be the last person to do that. Some people in academia still want me to, and because they have been the only ones asking for my writing I felt like maybe I somehow should, but then fortunately my soul refuses. I want to write like the kind of stories described in Ursula LeGuin's Carrier-Bag Theory of Fiction, writing that is like a bag with different important things in it, things with different statuses, things gathered up, and starting writing is always like putting my hand in this bag and reaching for that thing I am looking for, but first finding many other things I was not looking for but suddenly recognise the value of. Writing that doesn't know what it will become, but is rich from the outset and can therefore be trusted to go somewhere interesting. The parameters are good enough. I feel rich writing this. I feel rich wanting what I have.

Thank you for asking.



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