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Raphael, Steve, and others,

Raphael wrote:

>  in the early twentieth century; [Michelangelo's] powerful representations
of sinewy males did attract comment. Remember Yeats's 
> passage
 
>Michaelangelo left proof 
>on the Sistine Chapel roof
>Where but half-awakened Adam
>Can disturb globe-trotting madam
>Till her bowels are in heat 

I have no problem at all accepting that the masculine form was and is a
topic of some discussion regarding Michelangelo.  I'm asserting that it
seems too many steps to begin at women, not men, talking of Michelangelo,
then step to one of many of Michelangelo's preferred subjects -- the
masculine form --, then step to the masculine form as somehow sexualized,
then step back and presume that Prufrock reacts to their discussion in this
way, and then say that even if he connects Michelangelo to masculinity to
sexuality that he takes the even further step of saying a sexualized male is
a homosexual male.  It is this tenuous string which troubles me.  Of course,
only in the most narrow of ways can one define a male painter / sculptor
creating a male as homosexual in the first place (I'm not inviting a
discussion of MichelA's sexuality).

>One doesn't need to interpret the reference in 'Prufrock' as homoerotic, of
course. 
>On the other hand, an awareness of Michaelangelo's skill at painting the
male form can increase our sense of the discrepancy between >the topic of
the women's conversation and the genteel nature of its context. 

And then there's the Pieta, which M's name evokes too, certainly
incorporating woman / mother -hood.  AND the fact that the picture at the
center of the Sistine Chapel is NOT the creation of man but the creation of
woman.  It seems to me that with so many options latent in the name of
Michelangelo (or any artist), one can easily find a way to connect it to
homosexuality -- something like the six steps to Kevin Bacon game.  I know
that sounds dismissive, but I feel that the argument is that tenuous.  The
poem is so incredibly heavy with women and sex that it would take, to my
mind, very direct evidence to suggest homosexuality.  This is why, I think,
many people react to these readings by likening it to code-breaking.

Finally, there is a distinct problem with using the historically secretive
nature of homosexuality to buttress arguments which use three, four, or more
cognitive links to homosexuality:  The realm is simply too speculative for
any solid evidence to be produced.  I'm not trying to discount all
homosexual readings out of hand; some I find very convincing, but by virtue
of their more direct connections in the text.

Best,
Justin Blessinger