30 January 2006 | death, family, queer, the invisibles | No Comments

This week I picked up all but the final graphic novel collections of The Invisibles. Given that I’ve been in one of my analyze-my-life modes, I figured it’d be a good time to revisit the series, since I’ve found reading it is a good way to unfuck my head. Which says something, given that the series is something of a headfuck in itself. Really though, it’s good for reminding you that you’re in control of your own circumstance, or can be if you step up to it. Also attached to that is an awareness of authority, and how much you may have given up your own.

Another make-me-think issue was yet another death in the family. I don’t really ever discuss things in terms of capital-g God unless I’m around them, as they’re Catholic, and it’s just easier to use their language than it is to go down my pantheistic road. And really, we believe a lot of the same things, anyway, so it works out. And from talking the talk comes thinking the think, which gets me all comparitive, and I start making some mental connections based on this chapter from the book Japan’s New Middle Class (courtesy of George), the chapter being about (or at least what I’ve got out of it so far) Japanese social order and the influence of family in finding work and as a result, your general well-being. If I’m reading it right, you’d look to the head of your family to make the needed introductions to find work, even in another town. Subsequently, if you’re the head of the family, your position is secure, but only as stable as the connections you can maintain yourself, with no outside help. Suddenly, worshipping and revering your ancestors makes so much more sense.

So my uncle died and I headed back to my mom’s home town where much of our extended family lives and my youngest cousin asked me how come I only come to visit when someone dies. This is not entirely true, since she’s too young to remember some of my previous visits during the holidays, but more recently it holds. Lately we seem to have one family member drop off every year as well, so it’s not like I’m missing out on whole phases of her childhood. It’s not the best way to plan family visits, of course, but I’ve never been good at keeping in touch. Partly because for some time now, I’ve felt really disconnected from my extended family; there was a stage where I hit my twenties and all my cousins (all younger, here) were still college-aged or in their teens, and suddenly I’m different and adult and even just trying to have a conversation seemed unnecessarily awkward. Meanwhile, I was shifting into a role of fellow adult with my aunts and uncles, and my expectations on how to interact with them were also being tested. On a smaller scale, this wouldn’t be a big deal, but at the time, when I saw my family, it would be because we’d leave Chicago to head back there, and then we’d see them all at once. That meant dealing with parsing my shifting relations with twenty to thirty people at a time. Gladly, this phase is ending. My twenties are over and I’ve mostly gotten the hang of being an adult (as much as anyone does), my cousins are similarly aging and setting out on their lives and we’ve got things in common again, my aunts and uncles have gotten the hang of me and I them. I came back from this latest trip feeling more a part of my own family than I have in a long time.

One other thing that helped there was getting to spend time with one of my mother’s cousins, and meeting another one of them briefly. Both are gay and how fucking cool is it to have queer relatives? Having someone else around with whom to be catty is not a thing to be underestimated. Anyway, cousin J. and I got to hang out both evenings I was in town, having such misadventures as taking the youngest cousins to Target, the dollar store, and wherever else just to get out of the house, and critiquing High School Musical after my youngest cousin claimed the tv from 7 o’clock on. I also got to meet his partner, which was neat, having a gay couple at a family function when for the longest time I wasn’t sure how my family would even react to my own gayness. Once again I was told I should be in radio, what with my voice. It also smoothed out my view of gay Republicans, meeting J.’s partner. Granted, I’m sure we could get into political arguments (and this guy would probably argue me off the island since he’s had more experience and involvement in politics) if I felt inclined, but it illuminated for me that I’m less and less prone to think of things in terms of us/them.

Of course, that was one of the themes underlying The Invisibles; the more hellish of two metaverses being driven by an illusion of I/YOU, as the way we view ourselves reveals only part of ourselves, being four-dimensional beings being cross-sectioned by time, similar to if you were on two-dimensional planes viewing a sphere’s cross-section as being a circle, and our universe being the larval stage of a 5th-dimensional being waiting to be born… therefore we’re all connected in more than just action. But that’s just one way of looking at it.

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