Maybe there's something sick about all this confessionalism. I think there was always the essayist-me, the self I allowed to be revealed in my essays, online, in revelations about my quotidian or my past as it related to some inquiry or text. But there was a distance, still with the essayist-me, one that perhaps I allowed myself to reveal/revel in more in the essay collection. Lately online way too much of the Real has burst through, except curiously enough this most broadcast instance of the Real was fraudulent - the panicked message claiming that I had been assaulted in London, in a shaky poorly written missive begging for money - begging to be seen. If it was true it would have been a freakout of monstrous proportions - hit Send. And then what happened was a sort of rupturing through of the Real, I had to come out- not the author-I, but the I as I've conducted myself in public, as well in private - in an attempt to bandage the situation. Someone mentioned to me that I must feel like I'm being punished. Of course there's this sense that I've written too much about the private in the public sphere - that I've overflowed with too much self, in many ways a carefully chosen theatrical self but in other ways a raw immediate self.
The fraudulent message was brilliant. I still keep reading it. It implicates me absolutely. The girl who cried and cried and wolfed everything down and vomited everything up. There was always the sliver of a chance the message was true, and how could it not be, since I am often so depressed and desperate online? It is a form letter - it has been sent before - but felt so much more personal somehow coming ostensibly from me. An identity theft that morphed into a freakout about my own identity, how others used to see me, still might see me, the damaged damaged girl, broken and taped up again. A colleague at the creative writing program where I will be teaching originally received it - but I think people are far less likely to think an accomplished man was going to write this desperate cry for help crying as he writes it. As I am a girl - was a girl - was a fucked fucked up girl - people are way more likely to wonder how abject and broken I still am, wonder for a split second whether it was true, whether I had done this colossally damaging thing - not being mugged, but desperately writing anyone I knew for help. And in my response to the theft and manipulation of my public identity, I felt myself a girl losing it in public, which is everything I write to in my novel Green Girl. The spectacle of the unraveling woman. In a strange way I felt like Lindsey Lohan, the burst of the Real as I watched her receive her sentence in the courtroom - this is not reality television this is not fake she is not acting. Those are real tears she tries to cry behind the curtain of her hands a sort of shield. All of a sudden she's a pathetic fucked up girl who is punished so publicly, disciplined so publicly, for being a toxic girl. Look at her losing it in public.
This is what I've been reflecting on lately - I became very dramatic and took to bed yesterday, exhausted from the trip to and from Chicago, from all of this insanity - sometimes that period in bed is the only way I can repair myself. But thinking of the 800 people from over 10 years who were receiving that email. Thinking of who I was 10 years ago. Thinking of myself and my character Maggie in O Fallen Angel, my exorcism of past selves. Her crimes might have been more heightened, but they were the same crimes. The girl who loved wolves who cried wolf.
Roz tells me about an interview in which Foucault urged authors to be anonymous for a year. I wonder if I should treat the events of the past few days as a cautionary tale.
Also, because this also feels thematically appropriate, make sure to check out Kate D's latest brilliant online series, in which she juxtaposes images of fashion models with Simone Weil quotes.
Lately I have been the opposite of Simone Weil. Too much I.