Weight of the Earth: The Tape Journals of David Wojnarowicz

I read Wojnarowicz’s memoir earlier this year and was excited to see this new offering, an edited transcription of some of the tape journals he used to record in the 1980s. It’s gotten me excited about his work again, this writer, artist, poet, photographer, filmmaker. He begins with lots of musings about a new guy he’s seeing, Bill, and wondering where their relationship is going. His anticipation and excitement and tenderness about the new feelings are heartbreaking to witness.

He wonders if by hanging out with people older than himself—either when he was a young teen hustler or even in his twenties—he caught a fear of being old and penniless from hearing them all worry about it. “Yet here they are, penniless, homeless, or on the verge of being so. And they’re in their later age, and it’s that period of later age that I think scares most people into a solid relationship that they’re not even sure they desire but that they take in order to fight off any sort of fear of being alone.”

“I like ugly people or people with some sense of derangement, and that’s something I’ve always felt. Not necessarily deranged, but somebody who’s off in some way, somebody who’s interesting, who has character, through lack of beauty or whatever.”

Later, as he lives on in Peter Huljar’s house after Peter’s died of AIDS and now that David realizes he has it too, he seems to create art at a frenetic pace, philosophizing and writing and talking and dreaming and wondering whether or not he wants to die (he doesn’t). Struggling to understand how his entire group of friends is disappearing into death so soon, he has a moment of clarity on the toilet: