Dennis Cooper on Derek Jarman

"The first time I heard the name Derek Jarman pronounced respectfully, I was living in Amsterdam in the mid-’80s. My friend the late filmmaker Howard Brookner (Burroughs, The Movie; The Bloodhounds of Broadway) had stopped through town for a visit. He’d just been in London to see Jarman, who, unbeknownst to me, was one of his heroes. While there, Howard had managed to see an almost-completed cut of Jarman’s film in progress, The Last of England, which he exuberantly declared the greatest piece of art he’d ever seen. I expressed huge reservations based on my experiences with Jarman’s earlier work, so Howard sat me down and conducted a little tour through the guy’s films, one by one, pointing out things I’d missed or misconstrued. The key, according to Howard, was to accept the films’ strange imbalances and pretensions, lags and lurches, as what naturally happens when an artist has had to wrest his material from countless years of heterosexual ownership. There were moments when the liberation was complete and the picture in focus, and moments when Jarman’s struggle became the point. It was a notion of distortion-as-beauty familiar to me from the rock music I knew, but less so from other media. So while I understood Howard’s theory, it wasn’t until I finally saw The Last of England—a staggering, hallucinatory meditation set in a desolated future London—that I began to see Jarman as an artist with specific, definable genius."

–Dennis Cooper. "The Queer King." Smothered in Hugs: Essays, Interviews, Feedback, and Obituaries.

I am invested in the full spectrum of transgression. When I was younger, I think I deliberately sought out the militantly transgressive (David Cronenberg, Kara Walker, J.G. Ballard, Valerie Solanas S.C.U.M., John Waters, etc.) As I get older I increasingly look for material that disrupts binary systems quietly and on a subconscious level (Derek Jarman's "Blue", Alice Munro, Todd Haynes "Far from Heaven", Janet Cardiff's sound work, etc.)

Next on my list to familiarize myself with – the queer theorist Guy Hocquenghem.