Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Spazmataz

I am feeling very inspired by Johannes's latest post on the spazmataz yes I am, or ashamed that I am so LAZY lately so I think I'm going to try to write a coherent post or at least try to write a post maybe it'll be a post that will fling words out like Linda Blair's revolving head around and around I will spit out words and you you will have to patch them together. Or I will be like Mercy Short who I mimick for Under the Shadow, she was this Puritan woman captured by the American Indians, but that's not what fucked her up, what fucked her up was this Puritan minister guy named Cotton Mather, who became her disciplinarian/seer, and Mercy would get all possessed very Linda Blair and would become this demonic spitting rage thing I mimic her for my Monkey narrative, very spazmataz (this is from my novel under the shadow of my roof):

in these Ludicrous intervals my Memory was Riper than ever in my Life and yett when thy was herself, i could remember other Accidents my Afflictions but Forgot almost everything during these intervals, such as when i asked cotton mather to pull up my Skirts and stick his stick in Thou, yes Thou liketh who you are a Wild Cat, cotton mather, this is the new Savage in Thou, i have learned Games that are aplenty, Games involving Cock Sucking and other Sports, Games involving French Kisses and i can do a Savage Dance for Thou Cotton Mather, and Ride you into Daybreak and i am downright Profane in these Fitts so Cotton Mather tells me, and i wake up Dazed and Confused, and i am again a Helpless Puritan Girl who doesn't remember being Slatternly or Whorish or any of it, doesn't remember the Torture or the Frolick.

Mercy Short my spazmataz, the descendent of other spazmatazes like Margery of Kempe, my favorite mystic because she was the housewife hysteric-mystic Margery who fainted dead away in the church because of her visions and then other spazmatazes like the Papin Sisters their fits of frenzied violence followed by amnesia and then spazmatazes like Dora or Anna O and then spazmatazes like Clara Bow or Joan Crawford (early Crawford Our Dancing Daughters Crawford Dancing Daughters sounds psychoanalytic non?) a new hysteric flap-flapping wildly on tables doing the Charleston they cannot speak it is a silent film they cannot speak they are stricken with aphonia my hysterics they wildly dance this reminds me of Peggy Phelan's essay on the dance of the hysterics, their spazzy moves, their stricken limbs their convulsive beauty Breton fetishized and reappropriated from his days at La Salpetriere made a manifesto out of it and Nadja was a spazmataz and the Baroness was a super-duper spazmataz and Kiki of Montparnasse was a spazmataz and Laure was a spazmataz drunken dizzy dancing oh and all the flap-flappers the glorious spazzes got locked up just like Nadja they locked up Zelda who vaulted herself off a staircase Zelda got locked up Zelda and Vivienne and Lucia who all took dance lessons Louise Brooks at the Institute for Living she later taught dance classes in Kansas City they locked up Clara Bow just like they locked up Clara Bow's mother who was a prostitute she'd hide Clara in the cupboards they locked up Marilyn Monroe just like they locked up Marilyn Monroe's mother Marilyn who thought Clara was like a mother Marilyn Monroe's mother cut films for a living I loved that image always

                                                    early Joan dancing daughters Joan a spazmataz

                                                    marilyn as clara on the table a spazmataz

and then after that Frances Farmer is a spazmataz she is being held back by police she is kicking and screaming FRANCES FARMER ICON OF THE RESISTANCE Frances Farmer is a spazmataz she is yelling (allegedly) HAVE ANY OF YOU EVER HAD A BROKEN HEART?

                                        frances farmer: Icon of the Resistance? I love the Before and After, like
                                      the Before and After of the Papin Sisters the Surrealists were so jizzed about

I love Frances Farmer's spirit of revolution in her body like the hysterics tying to break down walls always kicking and screaming and resisting and telling others to fuck off although do we know the real Frances Farmer? we do not. We know Jessica Lange as Frances telling the judge to fuck off we know the demure Frances in the films the camera sucked the vigor out of Frances she was not meant for the movies we know the  awful terrible juicy wonderful pulp section on Frances Farmer in Kenneth Anger's gossipy Hollywood Babylon (Anger who spread the rumor that Clara fucked the whole USC football team and later her Doberman pinschers) we know the awful terrible juicy wonderful pulp ghostwritten work Will There Ever Be A Morning? written by her "friend"/hanger-on Jean Radcliffe where she revolts she tells everyone to go to hell she kicks and screams we have the pictures of course.

All we have is the book the ghostwritten memoirs the unauthorized biographies but with these actresses anyway we never know them we don't we only have their image especially the early actresses the Clara Bows and Louise Brooks and even Frances Farmers whose lives are created by the publicity machine MGM starlets spit out and then sucked dry. And we know that Frances Farmer revolted against the publicity department she refused to play the game even in high school her essay she wrote "God Is Dead," that won the prize, the trip to Russia, she fought against her tyrannical mother all these actresses with tyrannical mothers Jean Harlow Frances Farmer Vivien Leigh Veronica Lake I think Veronica Lake is my favorite Hollywood rebel besides Frances Farmer and she was destroyed too wasn't she yes and both her and Frances sunk to the way bottom Veronica waiting tables at the Martha Washington Hotel Frances Farmer also working making beds at a hotel the same hotel where she was formerly feted in Seattle her big coming-home. I wrote a whole book called Sirens monologues of these stars after their breakdowns but it's an awful failure not a good failure I have to revisit it sometime.

Anyway. Yesterday I referred to "Will There Ever Be a Morning?" as a fairytale. I was quasi-joking. It is such a strange, garish text however, such a work of some sort of wreaking of revenge, especially in the prurient prison scenes, Jean Radcliffe admitted later she juiced up the lesbian sex scenes to get more readers, but the institution scenes are so VIOLENT and SADISTIC. There is so much vomiting and eating faeces and torrid torrid shit in the prison scenes it is straight-up Sade, STRAIGHT-UP SADE, it's crazy, although of course there are some accounts of Frances' experiences that do ring true, so horrifying and holocaustal, especially the repetitive shock treatments, the cold baths, the ways they try to break you, make you pliable, so you behave, as long as you behave.

But most remarkable about the institution section of the book is this one sex scene, which is violent and sadistic but kind of erotic (what revolts us can be the source of our greatest pleasure, Bersani writes in The Freudian Body). There is a sadistic guard named Clara who Frances watches  abuse a young female prisoner/inmate, but what's going on in the scene is so weirdly interesting, because it's basically a scene of Frances being the voyeur, watching, with horror, but watching, compelled, like a car crash, this lesbian torture scene, and so it becomes this sort of triangle, there is the female gaze, although the (straight, so quasi-horrified or at least pretend-horrified) female gaze, but it's described in the language of porn, so it really is a desiring gaze, and the butch butcher Clara is basically mauling the girl like a piece of meat, and for a while the girl is really into it, and then Clara basically destroys her. It's grotesque and horrifying and yes also erotic.

So basically a Sadean version of the pop-grrl-riot/genderbending going on in the prison yard scene in the new Lada Gaga video. Although Sade wouldn't really be appropriate, or at least Juliette, maybe Justine would, because Justine is the passive, horrified, victim, while Juliette had many women lovers, the only characters she fell in love with, women lovers who plotted murder and destroying the world (quick, someone write an essay about the new Lady Gaga video and the lesbian femme fatale murderesses in Sade's Juliette!)

Anyway, in Under the Shadow of my Roof, Monkey stages plays, like Sade at Charenton, and she puts on scenes from Will There Ever be A Morning? focusing on the prison sex scene, and she plays all the parts.

The sex scene in Frances Farmer's ghostwritten autobiography also reminds me of Breton & co. seducing the female patients at La Salpetriere, fucking their lovely spazmataz bodies, sucking on their bodily revolution, they made a manifesto out of it. CONVULSIVE BEAUTY.

I am thinking, I am thinking, I am thinking.

And the last final image of the spazmataz: Emma Bovary, the lovely hysteric, she has taken the poison fantasy, she is twitching on the floor, she is foaming at the mouth, she is a lovestruck Linda Blair.