Friday, June 19, 2015

Morrissey - Autobiography

Last month: 100 pages in. It's pretty much these harrowing descriptions of the casual brutality of post-war working class life in northern England interspersed with some of the best writing about what music can do to a human being that I've ever read. It is clearly penned by a self-taught Irish/northerner from a ravaged, poverty-stricken, red-brick wasteland, and as such hasn't the slickness or the sheen of journalistic prose. A trustworthy editor may have improved a number of passages here and there (like a lyricist (duh), Morrissey appreciates alliteration a bit too much for prose, which gives the average sentence a strange sing-song structure all its own), but it's all Morrissey.

Regarding his passions, his politics, his sexuality, Morrissey is not "this" or "that," doesn't belong "here" or "there," he exists between the temporal meaning of those words - those labels - and it is from here that he steadfastly writes of the felt experiences of life. I thought at first, when I saw that the memoir was going to be released as a Penguin Classic, that this was just another of Morrissey's whimsical appropriations of the things he loves (like getting EMI to reopen the "His Master's Voice" label again just for him), but after 100 pages, the biopic seems eerily prophetic, a truly affecting autobiography, like finding the lost journals of Oscar Wilde.

Update: After revealing in his memoir that his first serious relationship was with a man, Morrissey denied rumors about his sexuality, saying he is not gay, but simply "attracted to humans." The memoir details his two-year relationship with Jake Owen Walters while in his 30s. "For the first time in my life the eternal 'I' becomes 'we' as, finally, I can get on with someone. Jake and I fell together in deep collusion whereby the thorough and personal could be the only possible way and we ate up each minute of the day."

In a statement released recently, however, Morrissey declined implications from the text about his sexuality, and of course he did so in typical Morrissey fashion. "Unfortunately, I am not homosexual. In technical fact I am humasexual. I am attracted to humans. But, of course … not many." In the book he admitted he wasn't sexually attracted to girls as a teenager and was missing the "electrifying" chemistry with the female sex. He said: "Girls remained mysteriously attracted to me and I had no idea why, since although each fumbling foray hit the target, nothing electrifying took place, and I turned a thousand corners without caring.… Far more exciting were the array of stylish racing bikes that my father would bring home."

Of course there is, as with anything Morrissey, controversy surrounding the statements and the bio, and yet it seems to this writer that Morrissey is once again taking the intellectual route with a philosophical bent. Why do we define ourselves with a sexuality which at times is limited in our lives. We are indeed sexual beings, but sexuality is one of those factors that play a relatively small role in the grand scheme of things. We spend far less time in our lives sexually than we do, for instance, eating breakfast, or waiting at red lights for that matter. Morrissey doesn't need me defending him, but I'm not convinced of the "born that way" philosophy; we need not exclude desire, change, growth, and certainly the beauty in the human form. Are we indeed at 50 who we were at 25? 

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