Losing them, fixing them, forgetting to put them in
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Mark O’Brien lives in Berkeley, California, where he writes every day while lying naked. He is in search of a publisher for his autobiography, How I Became a Human Being.
A proponent of assisted suicide could be Moses, and it wouldn’t make assisted suicide right. That said, I think the motives of those promoting this agenda are mixed. I think there is a difference between the true believers in assisted suicide, who view it in an almost quasi-religious way, and people who support it because they believe it is the compassionate thing to do. The latter are merely misguided, in my opinion.
This month marks The Sun’s twenty-fifth anniversary. As the deadline for the January issue approached — and passed — we were still debating how to commemorate the occasion in print. We didn’t want to waste space on self-congratulation, but we also didn’t think we should let the moment pass unnoticed. At the eleventh hour, we came up with an idea: we would invite longtime contributors and current and former staff members to send us their thoughts, recollections, and anecdotes about The Sun. Maybe we would get enough to fill a few pages.
What we got was enough to fill the entire magazine.
Though we haven’t devoted the whole issue to the anniversary, we have allowed the section to grow beyond our original plans. After seeing the pieces, we felt that our readers would enjoy them as much as we did — for the information about the magazine’s history, for the glimpses into the writers’ lives, and (not least) for the quality of the writing.
In 1983, I wrote an article about sex and disabled people. In interviewing sexually active men and women, I felt removed, as though I were an anthropologist interviewing headhunters while endeavoring to maintain the value-neutral stance of a social scientist. Being disabled myself, but also being a virgin, I envied these people ferociously. It took me years to discover that what separated me from them was fear — fear of others, fear of making decisions, fear of my own sexuality, and a surpassing dread of my parents. Even though I no longer lived with them, I continued to live with a sense of their unrelenting presence, and their disapproval of sexuality in general, mine in particular. In my imagination, they seemed to have an uncanny ability to know what I was thinking, and were eager to punish me for any malfeasance.