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.
Pish posh, my old friend says. If you’re uncertain about a thing, be uncertain. Sit with it. Don’t flatter yourself into thinking that feeling hopeful about it will make it any better. Or that by worrying yourself into a heart attack, you can stop it. Those are different flavors of ignorance.
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?
The latest Bain report on diamonds is out, and it puts a sparkle on what is definitely a trying time for the world’s diamond industry. So will the coming year shine or is the future cloudy? Let’s take a look.
A few months back, I joyfully received the news that a fresh new take on the old Dracula story was headed to my telly. A joint production from Netflix and the BBC, this version of the Dracula story promised to be a fresh, modern take on the great-granddaddy of all vampire tales. It would be smart. It would be sassy.
My great-grands in Axel had a front-row seat to a wide sweep of history. Maybe they weren’t sophisticated and citified, but they got caught up in the social movements and major battles of their time. They helped shape the country borders that exist to this day.
An apology is in order, and I owe it to my great-grands. So here it is: I’m sorry I thought the lot of them were a bunch of boring clayhoppers.