City of God (Part 2): p. 125-149

žThe Quilt Series
ž1. 911
ž2. ICU
ž3. REM
ž4. RM#
ž5. 4AM
ž6. DOA
žThe Quilt Series: Summary
žIn this part of the reading, the narrator recalls the experience of losing his partner, John.
žAt this point, John, who suffered from the AIDS virus, had become severely affected to the point where he, despite his reluctance, needed to be hospitalized.
žThe narrator stood by John’s side in the hospital, certain that it was only a matter of time before he would be gone.
žEventually, when the narrator had gone to their home to rest and wait, John passed. This was devastating for him.
žThe Quilt Series
ž2. ICU: “My future was planned: when he dies, I will go home, drink a glass of milk, pull a razor from the box, drag it across the lines in my palms up through the crooks of my arms. It will be clean, it will be over.” (Cuadro, p. 127)
ž4. RM#: “Friends cried and strangled the corridors. I ignored their open arms, it made me mad when they held me back so I’d push them away, tell them, He looks great. You should have seen him yesterday. They wiped their face unbelieving, their fingers wrenched the flowers, I felt like they should die instead, not John, cornered to the wall, unconscious, a halo of bare fluorescence.” (Cuadro, p. 131)
žDiscussion Question
žWhat do you think of the narrators reactions to the situation? Do you think they are too extreme? Are they justified?
žThe Quilt Series
ž3. REM: “John looked about, absorbing the metal pads taped to his chest, his wrist wired down, his waist tied to the bed. He pulled with withered arms taut, his mouth twitched in panic. He stared at me till I was shame-faced. His look said, ‘How can you do this?’” (Cuadro, p. 128)
ž4. RM#: “But all he could do was pick at my palm pull at the false skin of latex, stare past me like an animal who avoids the eyes. Still I tried to whisper sweet thoughts into his ears, ‘Baby I’m at your side, I love you so much, I don’t know what I’ll do.’” (Cuadro, p. 132)
ž5. 4AM: “Later on people said time would heal, but the pain was too much to forget, his life pounded out of my head and all that was left of mine, measured from that point, 4AM sharp and I began to howl.” (Cuadro, p. 134)
ž6. DOA: “I locked my fingers into his hand like a young lover’s grip. Still he felt more like meat then flesh. I wanted to throw it down, push him out of the bed, I started telling him, I’m sorry I wasn’t here, I’m sorry it wasn’t me.” (Cuadro, p. 135)
žDiscussion Question
žWhy do you think the narrator felt such a strong sense of guilt about Johns suffering and death?
žAt this time, the narrator himself was also infected with AIDS. How do you think it affected him mentally and emotionally to see what John went through?
žWhat do these quotes tell you about the depth of the relationship between the narrator and John?
žHow important is it to have a support system when coping with a disease?
žConquering Immortality
ž“At that time I was jacking-off regularly to fantasies of getting screwed by men, straight men, their wives in bed with us in pink, flurry nightgowns. The husband and I would simply forget the woman and when I was about to come it would just be him and me. I would sleep in the curve of his arm, the sinews of his bicep, a son wrapped in his father’s protection, as if masculinity could save me.” (p. 139)
ž“The usher’s hands were large and loud banging flat on the door, his face acne-scared and hair shorn. He called us damn faggots, as if this was all too common. A look of tiredness across his mouth. There were two other ushers in the bathroom, bored having to bust up another couple of fags like nameless creatures fucking in plain sight who needed to be shamed and we begged for it.” (Cuadro, p. 145)
žDiscussion Questions
žIn the quote on page 139, what do you think the narrator meant when he said “as if masculinity could save me”?
žWhy do you think that he engaged in such risky behavior, especially in such a public place?
žWhat does the way that the narrator  describes ushers reactions to the situation tell you not only about the way others view homosexuality, but also about his own insecurities?
žConquering immortality
ž“As I enter my seventh year of diagnosis where reports of anti-viral promise and T-cell counts have lost their assured importance, I see my life as a series of facades, each layer in erosion; white patches along the sides of my mouth, a shortening of breath, a burning pain in my calves, each taking an ability away from me, to where keeping simple food down is what is of value. Forgotten is career and income, no longer the depiction of my personality but disabilities are what frame me. And what is left after my body, torn down, is my soul. I notice as I stand here that today is beautiful, that the sand-colored walls of the Egyptian, yellow like dark mustard, set out against the blue sky.” (Cuadro, p. 148-149)
žAlberto Sandoval-Sánchez
žDiagnosed with AIDS over 20 years ago
žHomosexual Latino living with AIDS
žLover passed away by a heart attack
žDeath of lover more devastating then being diagnosed with AIDS
—The act of humiliating or degrading
—Extremely bad, unpleasant, and degrading
žPoliticizing Abjection
ž“Since 1981, with AIDS, and despite all of the changes in medications and their unequal distribution the world over, vivo immersed in abjection. The undead survived with the fear of contagion, with the horror of pollution, with the agony of memories living dead young men who either went to their homeland to die or whose dead bodies and ashes were brought home to their families to pay their final respects. How many coffins and secrets remained sealed to hide the disfigured and decaying cadavers? How were their early deaths explained en unasociedad latinoamericana que vive del que diran, where homosexuality and AIDS are still most often taboos?” (311)
ž“After my own AIDS diagnosis in 1990, I felt that I had no escape.” (312)
ž“I could not give up the freedom that migration had provided me, particularly the opportunity to articulate a gay identity shaped by a Latino consciousness.” (312)
ž“With AIDS, just as with migration, once again I had to reinvent life and my notion of home – this time in the shadow of death, en las entranas del monstruo.” (312)
žDiscussion Question
žHow do you think being Latino or having migrated to America, affect Sandoval-Sánchez when he was diagnosed with AIDS?
žPoliticizing Abjection
ž“I am fascinated with the abject body: if I were not, how would I be able to keep on living with AIDS? EL SIDA is the ultimate embodiment of abjection.” (313)
ž“What does it mean to have the monster under your skin? How can you love your abject body when it betrays you? how do you feel in a society that expels the sick, the Latino, the queer, the migrant, the Other” (313)
žDiscussion Question
žAccording to Sandoval-Sánchez’s description, how do you think our society views people who have AIDS? On top of that, Latinos, homosexuality, and immigrants?
žPoliticizing Abjection

“Life is breathless.

Colors are blindness.

Music is deafness.”

“It is a feeling of terminal loss

For what is left behind.

Life is in ruins. So is the body.”

“At that point you are homeless.

You are a wanderer

Lost in a cemetery without finding a tomb.”

“I run to the mirror.

There is no image: my face is gone.

There is no memory of what I looked like.”

“I run away from my body.

I can not even recognize my body.”

“I scream: The Alien is inside me.

What’s inside me? What is it?”

žDiscussion Question
žWhat do you think Sandoval-Sánchez was trying to share with the readers with John Lechte’s poem?
žHow do you think it represents a man with AIDS?
žPoliticizing Abjection
ž“The politics of abjection that I suggest engages the Latino gay body with AIDS – a body marked by race, ethnicity, class, sexuality, and migration, a body that endangers and troubles the cohesion of the social order by destabilizing the borders between normal and deviant, insider and outsider, sameness and difference, health and illness, life and death.” (317)
žI want to inquire specifically how Latino queer bodies materialize and enact abjection as a strategic performance in which identity is always in the making.” (318)
žWhat do you think Sandoval-Sánchez means by this?
žLatino living with AIDS
žCuadros, G. (1994). City of God. San Francisco, California: City Lights Books.
žAlberto Sandoval-Sànchez Up Close and Personal.” News & Events. Mount Holyoke, 27 Sept. 2007.
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