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Eric Wells
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HUMANITIES 263 are toes an erotogenic site for some, while others are left wondering at the mystery? While Waugh's study stops at the end of the 19605, one might wonder at the 'buffed' look of recent years, only to be followed by the new androgyny now in evidence. Waugh is particularly instructive on the various I covers' that have allowed for the circulation offorbidden rnaterial- such as nudism orbodybuilding . Not all of the images produced in these fields are gay (that is, the product of a gay man), but all are capable of a gay reading, of appropriation . Many of these photographs and journals needed to pretend, of course, to a non-erotic purpose in order to escape censorship, and conveyed their 'true' erotic message with a wink. Other images, such as those of the German FKK or nude physical culture league, have amore complex relation to eros. As someone like Hans Bliiher makes clear, these images of men frolicking or exercising were already political. If they were not already fascistic, they were appropriable with little change. They inscribed a body type and a relation to nature that could then be used against the unnatural, or entartet. The erotics ofthe gymnasium go back as far as Greece, of course, and they rest upon the assumption that nudity is non-erotic, even when the fictionality of that claim is self-evident. What does the closet allow that the tulvarnished (or undressed) may foreclose? Waugh's importantnew studybegins to asksuch questions, and thereby opens a new era of the study of gay male culture based not merely on verbal texts but on images, their construction, their distribution, and ultimately their effect. (ROBERT"K. MARTIN) Ronald Rompkey, editor. Labrador: The Journal and Photography of Eliot Curwen on the Second Voyage ofWilfred Grenfell, 1893 McGill-Queen's University Press. xxxiii, 31. $29.95 Graham w. Rowley. Cold Comfort: My Love Affair with the Arctic McGill-Queen's University Press. xv, 255 $29.95 James Houston. Confessions ofan Igloo Dweller McClelland and Stewart 1995. xiii, 322. $19.99 There is a long tradition of men going north into the Canadian Arctic to explore, map" engage in missionary work, study the Inuit and earlier cultures, or seek adventure. There is an equally long tradition of writing about these journeys. This writing is neither scientific or scholarly articles, which exist in the thousands, nor professional reports required of government personnel. It is personal writing: journals, diaries, memoirs, J confessions ,' as James Houston calis it. These adventurers seem to be compelled to tell their tales when they come outside (as leaving the North is called), as if the experience itself were incomplete without this narration. 264 LETTERS IN CANADA 1996 This tradition of Arctic memoir-cum-confession is an illustrious one, including such famous accOlmts as Vilhjalmur Stefansson's The Friendly Arctic (1921), Robert flaherty's My Eskimo Friends (1924), Gontran de Poncins's Kabloona (1941), and, more recently, Rudy Wieb's Playing Dead (1989) and John Moss's Enduring Dreams (1994). I am not sure what to call this writing or how best to categorize it. It has something fundamental in common with travel narrative, but it is also autobiography. Indeed, there is a carefully constructed narrative ofself and,self-discovery in these stories because going to the Arctic constitutes a watershed experience in the lives of these men; in some profound way, it has made them what they are. But there is a third element in this travel-autobiography mode, without which it would not have its unique flavour: each of these men has encountered and had to come to terms with (albeit to differing degrees) the Other; each has had to see himself as the Inuit see him, with other eyes, and each has had to face profound challenges tohis ownidentity, values, communication and survival skills, and sheer endurance. This encounter with the Other is byno means a one-way matter. For me, at least, the more complex and selfcritical this encounter, the more stimulating and satisfying the narrative. In the process, sometimes, the white southerner becomes rus own Other. Now, to convey the complex experience of going north, to make it interesting to...

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