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My academic research and writing on Arthur Russell has taken other dimensions besides poetry, including in creative nonfiction form. In a senior paper for the Swarthmore English major entitled "Wonder Boy": Arthur Russell, Allen Ginsberg, and Queer Time/Fame/Failure, I examine my personal investment in — and romanticization of — Russell's music and the way in which it creates queer time & futures, drawing on theories of José Esteban Muñoz in Cruising Utopia (and the Russell scholarship of Brian Hyunsuk Lee and Matt Marble). I relate Russell's search for a queer, Buddhist truth to his collaborations with Ginsberg, arguing that Russell — called Ginsberg's music teacher by a friend — queers this search for enlightenment more than his mentor does, reflecting his potentially deeper and more scholarly engagement with Buddhism. Both figures, in a complex — and, as is obvious now, incredibly fraught — position as white Western artists swept up in the Beat fascination with Eastern religions, were deeply inspired by Buddhist dictums like "first thought, best thought." Yet as Matt Marble documents, Russell used his Shingon Buddhist learning to inform his compositional practices throughout his life, and his search for some form of enlightenment through music, while parallel to Ginsberg's poetic project, seems queerer in its rejection of straight time. This queering stands out especially because Russell, a full 25 years younger than Ginsberg, died 5 years before him, and Ginsberg gave a eulogy for his young friend. A wonder boy, indeed, and stay tuned as I submit this piece to various venues. An excerpt of this appeared in Booth: The Record Scratch in November 2023!

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