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.
Justin Blessinger
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