Sunday, December 04, 2011


In the course of the past few weeks I have been composing my memoirs, covering the whole period from 1934 to 2011. The demands of this task have meant that I have neglected blogging--or perhaps been addressing it by other means.

I thought that I should attempt this job while I am still (relatively speaking) compos mentis.

I have now completed the text in draft form. Doubtless I will expand these observations later, but the main lines of my life story are discernible.

The full text is now available at my allied blog: For access, it may be more convenient simply to consult the sidebar on the right.

In the meantime, here are the opening pages of the Memoirs.


I have never been a believer in the formative role of childhood experiences. Instead, I have fashioned my own version of the existentialist concept of the self-creation. This process, I believe, takes place over many years. For better or worse, I am the one who has made me what I am.

Moreover, I have never been very interested in genealogy (though I am not averse to acknowledging biological elements in human behavior). Here is what I know. My ancestors have been on this continent for several generations, going back for the most part to the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century in the American south. They were chiefly of Protestant Irish stock. Yet they were not Scotch Irish, as they seem to have mainly come from southern Ireland. This combination would appear to be something of an anomaly. Further inquiry into the matter might be interesting, but it strikes me as otiose.

Both my biological parents came from families engaged in agriculture. The Conways, my father’s folks, maintained a large dairy farm near Fort Worth, Texas. The Colemans, my mother’s family, grew cotton at a place called Fate, east of Dallas.

Early on Brant, my biological father. showed an inclination for the natural sciences. Accordingly, he studied physics at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth. My mother Jean, who had come to Fort Worth to work as a secretary, met my father when she took some extension classes at the university. Unlike my father, she never completed her course work, but continued all her life to have a strong interest in literature. Between the two of them, then, my parents incarnated the binarism of the “two cultures”: science and the humanities.

After trying teaching for a while, Brant ended up as a guided-missiles specialist for the US Navy. He really was a rocket scientist, though a person I rarely saw.

For reasons that are not entirely clear, my parents divorced when I was three years old. My mother then sent me to live with my paternal grandparents on their dairy farm, where I was surrounded by a happy throng (or so it seems to me now) of aunts and uncles.

This idyll ended in 1939. My mother had decided to remarry and to go to live with her new husband in southern California. Accordingly, she collected me from the farm, and we went by train to San Diego, where Grady Dynes, the new husband, met us. First we lived in San Bernardino, and then in Los Angeles. It didn’t seem so at the time, but moving to California was probably much to my benefit. Later I took my adoptive father’s surname, changing from (Robert) Wayne Conway to Wayne R. Dynes.

It turned out that my stepfather, who had been educated at Pomona College, had been a Communist in the 1930s. Eventually, he converted my mother to these beliefs, and ipso facto me too. Yet fortified by reading the writings of Arthur Koestler and George Orwell I rebelled, becoming an “ex-Communist” at the tender age of 14.

On only one occasion (the funeral of my grandmother) can I ever remember being taken to a church. My parents were atheists, a creed I found arid--and an excuse, most years, for denying me Christmas presents. So this upbringing had an effect that was opposite to the one intended, giving me a strong interest in religion. Young people find things that are taboo inherently attractive. Yet this interest was not strong enough to make me convert to a particular faith.

When I was about six years old, a neighbor boy Jimmy (who was about twelve years old) inducted me into his male harem. Assembling in his parents’ garage, we would take our clothes off and play with each other’s penises. Some would say that these early experiences--which were enjoyable and never exposed to public knowledge--”made me” a homosexual. That I doubt.

Was it pedophilia? No, because we were all prepubertal kids. Above all, there was no penetration, not even digitally.

We all have our own personal horrors. One of them, to me, is the idea that a child might be subjected to penile penetration of the mouth, anus, or vagina. As for nonpenetrative intergenerational sex, it presents its own problems, but they strike me as being of lesser magnitude.

What I experienced with Jimmy and his charges was erotic play, but not sex in any fundamental sense. It was more akin to “playing doctor.”

In my view, one of the problems with the current concern with pedophilia, from whatever side, is that it tends to conflate categories that need to be carefully distinguished.

[And so on.]



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