Table of Contents
Also on this website:
SPIRITUALITY: The Role of
Gay Identity in the Transformation of Human Consciousness
Things Our Homosexuality Tells Us about the Nature
of God and the Universe
MATTER: updated, revised & expanded edition from Lethe Press
with Afterword by Mark Jordan
LIFE IN PERSPECTIVE: A romance novel set in the 1980s and the 1890s.
THE FOURTH QUILL, a
novel about attitudinal healing and the problem of evil
TWO SPIRITS: A Story of Life with the
Navajo, a collaboration with Walter L. Williams
CHARMED LIVES: Spinning Straw into
Gold: Reclaiming Our Queer Spirituality Through Story
A NOVEL ABOUT HEALING.
Books on Gay Spirituality:
Crane Gay Spirituality Series
Toby's review of Samuel Avery's The
Dimensional Structure of
Coincidence: "Aliens Settle in San
Simple Answer to the Gay Marriage Debate
Why gay people should NOT Marry
Wedding Cake Liberation
Gay Marriage in Texas
Shame on the American People
The "highest form of love"
Second March on
Bifurcation of Gay Spirituality
cause of homosexuality
origins of homophobia
about Jungian ideas in gay consciousness
What is homosexuality?
is Gay Spirituality?
What Jesus said about Gay
Common Experiences Unique to Gay
Is there a "uniquely gay
The purpose of homosexuality
The Reincarnation of Edward
The Gay Succession
Interview on the Nature of
What the Bible Says about
Mesosexual Ideal for Straight Men
of Gay Spirituality
of Gay Liberation Activity
Why Gay Spirituality: Spirituality
as Artistic Medium
Easton Mountain Retreat Center
Andrew Harvey &
Spirituality Summit in May 2004 and
the "Statement of Spirituality"
"It's Always About You"
The myth of the
Joseph Campbell's description of
Avalokiteshvara at the Baths.
Not A Wave
What is Enlightenment?
What is reincarnation?
How many lifetimes in an ego?
Emptiness & Religious Ideas
Experiencing experiencing experiencing
Going into the Light
Meditations for a Funeral
The way to get to heaven
Buddha's father was right
Advice to Travelers to India
The Danda Nata
& goddess Kalika
Nate Berkus is a bodhisattva
John Boswell was Immanuel Kant
The Two Loves
Toby Johnson Believes
The Joseph Campbell Connection
Campbell & The Pre/Trans Fallacy
The Nature of Religion
What's true about
Gay is a Blessing
Drawing Long Straws
Gay Spiritual Functions
The subtle workings of the spirit in gay men's lives.
The Sinfulness of
for a study of gay nondualism
"The Evolution of Gay Identity"
"St. John of the
Dark Night of the Soul."
Let Me Tell You a Secret
Religious Articulations of the
The Collective Unconscious
Driving as Spiritual Practice
Step in Evolution
The Moulting of the Holy Ghost
is a Bodhisattva
The Hero's Journey as archetype
Immaculate Conception & Assumption
Prostitution and the Nature of Evil
Hu: "God is present here"
The Life is in the Blood
retirement and the "freelance monastery"
Seeing with Different Eyes
experience at the Servites' Castle in Riverside
Great Dance according to C.S.Lewis
The Techniques Of The World Saviors
Part 1: Brer Rabbit and the
Part 2: The
Part 3: Jesus
and the Resurrection
Part 4: A
Course in Miracles
Secret of the Clear Light
Understanding the Clear Light
Souls Get Reincarnated
In honor of Sir Arthur C Clarke
Karellen was a homosexual
About Alien Abduction
are you looking for in a gay science fiction novel?
about Gay Mental Health
Ideas for gay
Kip and Toby,
and nicknamesake Toby Marotta.
Harry Hay, Founder of the gay movement
About Hay and The New Myth
About Karl Heinrich Ulrichs, the first
man to really "come out"
Michael Talbot, gay mystic
About Fr. Bernard Lynch
About Richard Baltzell
About Guy Mannheimer
About David Weyrauch
About Dennis Paddie
About Ask the Fire
About Arthur Evans
About Christopher Larkin
About Sterling Houston
About Michael Stevens
Our friend Tom Nash
Be Done on Earth
by Howard E. Cook
Pay Me What I'm Worth by
The Way Out by Christopher
The Gay Disciple by John Henson
Art That Dares by Kittredge Cherry
Coming Out, Coming Home by Kennth
the Light by B. Alan Bourgeois
Over Coffee: A conversation For Gay
Partnership & Conservative Faith by D.a. Thompson
Dark Knowledge by
Janet Planet by Eleanor
Kairos by Paul E. Hartman
with Jesus by D.K.Maylor
Kali Rising by Rudolph
Missing Myth by Gilles Herrada
Secret of the Second Coming by Howard E. Cook
The Scar Letters: A Novel
by Richard Alther
Future is Queer by Labonte & Schimel
by Charlene Spretnak
Spirituality 101 by Joe Perez
Cut Hand: A
Nineteeth Century Love Story on the American Frontier by Mark Wildyr
by Eleanor Lerman
Rizzoli by Felice Picano
to Unlocking the Closet Door by Chelsea Griffo
The Door of the
Heart by Diana Finfrock Farrar
by David Duncan
and Demion by Mel White
Gay Men and The New Way Forward by Raymond L.
Dimensional Stucture of Consciousness by Samuel Avery
Manly Pursuit of Desire and Love by Perry Brass
from Secret Matter
Mark D. Jordan
Picking up this new edition of Secret Matter, I recall how many
thanks we owe to science fiction. For keeping our imaginations queer, I
As a boy, I found in sci-fi novels (SF, s-f, fantasy...) a whole
gallery of queer lives. I wouldn’t have known to call them that, at
least not at first, but I studied the portrayals as intently as if they
held my secret. They did. During bleached Texas summers, sprawled on a
thin rug in the coolest room of my grandmother’s house, I read my way
onto exotic worlds where people were allowed to be... unusual. Their
lives had more colors and shapes than got mentioned around her formica
dinette. Under wispy red suns or moons of ice, beside murmuring ruins
of alien cities, men and women got to become what they could never have
been earthside. Or in south Dallas. They unriddled strange religions.
They endured demonic visions that transfigured them into gods. And
often they ended by preferring life out there, beyond terrestrial
Then came the allure of sci-fi authors. I still remember the strange
thrill I felt, over the thrum of the window unit, when I read that
"Andre Norton" was the pen name of a woman. I knew from French class
that "Andre" was "Andrew." How could a woman be an Andrew? And why had
some of her novels been published originally under the cross-sex name
"Andrew North"? Somewhat later, I was stopped at the local branch
library when I tried to check out Brian Aldiss's Starship. The
librarian looked at me sourly and explained that the book, now firmly
in her hands, "talks about things that aren't for boys." My amused
mother returned the next day to sign a form giving me permission to
check out whatever I fancied. But the embarrassing episode taught me
that some sci-fi writers, like dirty words and pictures of naked
bodies, were restricted to adults. So I sought them out.
. . .
Secret Matter stands in a line of speculative novels
that try to picture healthy queer lives beyond heterosexist
institutions. Like lesbian-feminist dreams of utopia, or the myths told
around Radical Faerie campfires, this novel proposes queer
consciousness as an alternative to familiar prejudices and conventions.
They tell us, "Sex can only be between one man and one woman bound in a
monogamous marriage ordered to child-rearing and social stability." No.
"Jealousy is an important safeguard on sexual purity." Not really.
"Love needs lies." Imagine it otherwise.
In Toby's novel, the function of literary imagination is presented as a
play within the play: people give meaning to their encounter with the
visitors by appealing to sci-fi stories like Childhood's End by Arthur C. Clarke. The
stories--Toby's too--help them to resist the bondage of familiar lies.
In other places and times, the imagination of radically better and
truer possibilities for human living has been a sacred task. Priests
construe patterns for other lives in sacred texts. Prophets call them
down. Oracles dream them in trance. Bards, seized by another sort of
divine madness, sing them. I discovered Secret Matter while I
was looking for queer religion, and I was not disappointed. It not only
imagines queer lives, it proposes that they be religious through a
combination of text, prophecy, trance, and song.
(to continue, please buy the book . . .)
Preface to the Updated Edition
Secret Matter was first published in 1990. It was set
in "the near future." Fifteen years later, the little soft sci-fi
romance has become a genre classic, but the near future it was set in
has come and gone. And so for this rerelease by Lethe Press a little
updating was needed.
With a few changes to the plot and some tweaking of politics and
high-tech devices, I think I've made the story accessible to
contemporary readers. I've introduced a new explanation of the
Visitors' reality (based on--and extrapolated and fictionalized
from--the mind-transforming concepts in the remarkable book The Dimensional Structure of
Consciousness by Samuel
Avery). And I've honed the message and, I think, made the revised
and updated Secret Matter a better novel.
As a frontispiece and in memoriam for the first edition, I'd
used a calligraphy exercise done back in the late '70s by my
first lover Guy Mannheimer (1943-1989). It was a quote from the
novelist E.M. Forster, friend of proto gay spiritual philosopher Edward
Carpenter and best known in gay culture for the novel Maurice.
Guy's sampler used the provocative word "queer" in the most charming
way. It seemed perfectly to capture the innocent message of Secret
Matter and the meeting with the Visitors.
I've used the wonderful words "queer victory" in many things I've
written. I loved how the adjective "queer,"with its meaning of strange
yet also slightly alluring, implied homosexuality without appealing to
the word as the mean-spirited epithet. This quotation exemplifies just
the right use of this contentious word of self-identification. So now
for this updated edition of Secret Matter, I went searching for its
E.M. Forster's words come from an essay "What I Believe" in a
book called Two Cheers For Democracy. But they
turn out to be slightly different from the words Guy used in his
Forster actually wrote: "They represent the one permanent victory of
our queer race over cruelty and chaos." Not as neat, and not as
gay-specific. It now seems to be about the contrariness of human
nature, not about the "aristocracy of the sensitive, considerate and
plucky." Too bad!
Did Guy Mannheimer change the wording? Was it to give special meaning?
Or was it simply to fit space constraints? And then where did he get
the quote from? Guy had been in attendance at the First Radical Faerie
Gathering in Arizona in 1979 only shortly before. Did he learn the
quote there? Maybe from Harry Hay, titular Father of Gay Liberation?
Did Harry change the words? (Hay's first exposure to what--in great
part thanks to him--would later become "gay consciousness" was a book
about the spiritual nature of "homogenic love" by Forster's friend and
influence Edward Carpenter which Harry discovered in a public library
when he was 11.) He'd have certainly preferred the gay-specific
That I've used these words in so many essays about our queer gay
consciousness--and then discovered the words were different from those
I knew--has made me question whether the past might change around
behind us. What an audacious idea!
Time is a quirky thing.
Well, "the near future" has certainly changed from what we thought it
was going to be in 1990. The queer lives of lesbians and gay men have
been vilified and devalued--because of AIDS, because of the priest
pedophile scandal and the fight over same-sex marriage, because of the
cultural coup of Fundamentalism worldwide--even while we achieved
amazing, but maybe self-defeating, visibility in TV, movies, and the
news media. Could the negative spin on what it means to be gay and
queer have changed the Forster quote out from behind me?
That's certainly a topic for a science fiction novel! That's not what Secret
Matter is about, but this novel is about a different way to
understand the nature of gay consciousness.
Maybe what determines what we experience in life is our focus and
expectation and intention, more than "hard reality." If not able to
change the past, how gayness gets spun and how we think about ourselves
certainly changes the future. So maybe holding in mind Secret Matter's
innocent and hopeful little myth of what gay consciousness is really
about is one of the ways we can change how time is changing around us.
It would be a wonderful near future if we can actually achieve that
queer victory over cruelty and chaos.
Here's that quote from E.M. Forster as it appeared on Guy Mannheimer's
aristocracy of the sensitive, the considerate, and the plucky are to be
found in all nations and classes, and through all the ages. And there
is a secret undertanding between them when they meet. They represent
the true human tradition, the one queer victory of our race over
cruelty and chaos.
The Dimensional Structure of Consciousness:
A Physical Basis for Immaterialism
By Samuel Avery
Compari Press, pb, $10.00 108 pages
from Barnes & Noble
Reviewed by Toby Johnson
This is not a gay book, but it is such a treat--and
a challenge--that I want to share it. I think it would be of very
special interest to "spiritually oriented" gay men.
The Dimensional Structure of Consciousness
is a relatively succinct presentation of the proposition that instead
of consciousness as an artifact in the material universe, rather the
opposite is so: the material universe is a creation of consciousness.
Beginning with the "experience" of a single-celled
microorganism in the primal oceans, Avery shows how sensory experience
generates dimensional representations of patterns as consciousness
sorts its experience of itself. Those single-celled organisms, for
instance, have only one experience and one sort of choice. The sense is
taste; when a new chemical enters the cell it will be "experienced" as
a good taste, i.e., food, or a bad taste, a chemical the cell can't use
(or perhaps that kills it). The choice is whether to let new molecules
through the cell wall. The cell executes this by controlling the charge
along the wall, keeping the molecules that comprise the wall tight
packed together or relaxing and opening up space for outside molecules
to come in. That charge, mediated by potassium and sodium ions, is the
basis of consciousness. When a new molecule comes inside, it is tasted.
The sensation happens inside the cell wall.
The physical senses correlate with the dimensions of
the experienced world. That first dimension is taste; it's opening or
closing the cell wall. So a series of patterns of open and
closed--which in modern math is the binary pattern of 1s and 0s which
can be represented along a line of one dimension.
The second sense is smell. The cell learns to sniff
around looking for good tastes by picking up chemical clues to its
environment outside the cell wall. Not only does the cell experience
being open or closed, it experiences being here or there in relation to
the other molecules around it. It moves around seeking good tastes by
sensing good smells. And thereby generates the second dimension.
Five senses would generate five dimensions. Sound is
the third dimension, light the fourth, and touch the fifth.
Avery observes that our normal model of the material
universe actually is of five dimensions: three spatial and two
temporal. The second temporal dimension is a novel concept in this
book. The clue to the second dimension of time is the squared unit of
time in the formula for acceleration: A = d/t2. We say, for instance,
that the acceleration of a falling body is 32 ft per second per second.
The second dimension of time is mass. It is
experienced as inertia. The reason you have to push hard on a massive
object to get it to move is because it is moving at a slower rate of
time than you. What seems like resistance to motion is drag in relation
to the second dimension of time.
What a neat idea! What a challenge to conceive.
The whole book is a series of arguments, thought
experiments, and discussions of how to see that materiality arises from
consciousness rather than the other way around. It never gets
"spiritual"--in the sense of talking about meaning or of the content of
religious myths (like God). Though the argument does hypothesize an
"observational realm" by which consciousness is conscious of itself
within its dimensional projection of space.
Along the way, Avery offers explanations for what
matter and light are that solves the various paradoxes of quantum
mechanics. He explains mass in a way that physics has never been able
to, leaving it simply as one of the undefined elements of space, like
distance or time. He even explains the speed of light.
You should read this book! (For more about the nature of reality,
look at Michael Talbot and the
Holographic Universe and "Experiencing
from Barnes & Noble
In 2013 Samuel Avery had a new
book titled The Pipeline and the
Paradigm: Keystone XL, Tar Sands, and the Battle to Defuse the Carbon
Bomb. Here's the publisher link