In 2010, HBO airs Public Speaking, directed by Martin Scorsese the documentary takes the form of an extended interview with Fran Lebowitz interspersed with public engagements. In the extended interview, one of her observations is that the level of connoisseurship in New York City was severely damaged by the AIDS epidemic. It devastated homosexual audiences.
Conducting a World Wide Web search of the term “homosexual audience” I come across a Wikipedia entry on a film by Derek Jarman Sebastiane (1976) which entry ends with a quotation from Margaret Walters, author of The Nude Male (1978) to the effect that
Sebastiane, “where male nudes in various stages of ecstacy positively littered the screen”, was “successfully aimed at a very specialized homosexual audience.”
No connection with the elite New York City Ballet set that Lebowitz is commenting upon. Except to distinguish a “homosexual audience” from a “gay audience”. Of course this is a point that Ms. Lebowitz makes with more panache.
Connoisseurship may be making a come back (if it ever really did leave). It may no longer inhabit merely the metropolis. Nor be the monopoly of a peculiar sexual orientation.
Please note that Ms. Lebowitz’s remarks as she contextualizes them pertain to a specific time and place — it’s my paraphrase that pluralizes “audiences” and broadens where she would specify. But it’s that wide angle that permits me to bring in a reference to a film by Jarman whose 1993 Blue provided some lessons on styles of departure with its closing words:
No one will remember our work
Our life will pass like the traces of a cloud
And be scattered like
Mist that is chased by the
Rays of the sun
For our time is the passing of a shadow
And our lives will run like
Sparks through the stubble. I place a delphinium, Blue, upon your grave
Of course if you garden and know plants you have a sense of how fragile a plant delphinium can be. There are many sorts of connoisseurship: ballet, film, gardening. And many amazing ways their discourses intersect. (And yes, there is a connoisseurship of intersections).
And so for day 842