As I think of Spinoza’s lonesome life, night after night in his room, musing over his thoughts or worrying over his lenses, I can’t help but feel sad for him. He had lots of friends, yes. But who could make him laugh when he got lost in his thoughts and anxious? Who was there to remind him to eat when he spent too much time working out some question? Who was there at the end of a good day when he wanted to share some happy news? Whose comforting breath did he hear when he woke in the middle of the night, and who did he get to shower his attention on?
Suppose I’m right, Spinoza was a gay man in the 1600s who needed to hide the very essence of who he was. How would that color his actions? How would that determine the way he behaves? Would it change how he publicly acts toward the man he has or did have a romantic relationship with — someone like Simon de Vries?
Spinoza respected emotion in the way someone who spends a lot of time outdoors respects thunderstorms or black bears — a powerful, awe-inspiring force that can wreak great damage before you know what hit you. And like storms and bears, he believed they couldn’t be controlled. They could, however, be understood. In fact, to do so was the only way to obtain any sort of freedom in a world he viewed as devoid of free will.
It was beyond heretical in the mid-1600s. To even say such a thing was monstrous. But I’m fairly certain — in fact, I stake my reputation on it — there’s a reason Spinoza was so tight-lipped about his most personal side. That reason? He was gay.
What now, with the world changing? What if you don’t want to pretend your life’s love is “just a friend” any longer? What if you are no longer content to lurk in shadows, afraid to step into the light?
There’s no such thing as a Dutch vampire. Or is there? Does the vampire actually have to be Dutch or just speak it? Ah, no matter, #TimesUp for the vampire world.
I finally did it: bit the bullet and got the PBS Passport membership so I could watch “The Miniaturist.” Suffice it to say, I loved it. But it also got me thinking, how good was it, historically speaking?
These days, Amsterdam is known as haven for human rights and open-minded people. The Netherlands was the first country to allow same-sex marriage, in 2001, and it had been known as a city of come-as-you-are inclusiveness for decades before that. As you might imagine, it wasn’t always that way.
People are always* asking me, “Why do you like vampires so much.” I admit, I’m sometimes embarrassed by the question. I know it’s often thought to be the realm of angsty teenage girls. And if you’re demanding my honesty, that’s when I first became enamored of them myself.