None of this. Absolutely none of this will be thought through.
I want to vomit. Vomit up such ecstasy of the terror and caffeine pumping up against my cage yes like I am a wild heart. I will vomit and I will most likely apologize and I thinking about this why is Katie apologizing for all the mess why does everything need to be clean and tight and orderly please please don't let me die in the house not the house the clean house.
I have decided if I number my insanity, that it will seem ordered and will hence be read as a philosophical inquiry and not the mutterings of a madwoman. Wittgenstein or Maggie Nelson's Bluets. If I must realize my eventuality as a lyric essayist of the anorexic mode, I think, perhaps I just need to hit Return often and number my sentences. I am trying this but I am not convincing myself. I long instead to rain down a page in blocks as thick and momentous as the wall as the wall I keep on beating my tiny fragile body against like an exclamation point no like a question mark always always a question mark.
I am reading Cixous' Coming to Writing and just as Cixous writes of reading I am suckling this text I am sucking this text I am inhaling this text I am wet open mouth kissing this text like an inappropriate six year old cursed by Freud's seduction theory I am polymorphously perverse with this text I am rolling around in the pages of this text I am taking off my clothes and baring myself to the world in this text I am fucking the text I am dripping myself onto the pages of this library book I am licking the paper I am rolling up the paper and stuffing it into my mouth into my cunt like Carolee Schneemann I am pressing myself up up against the wall of these words.
I worship at the altar of these words of Helene Cixous. Reading is my religion. Except the language makes me want to explode inside. "I am the innumerable child of their masses."
I feel actually I have written this book myself I am reading what I have in fact written except I have not written this my mother has written this.
this is my (m)other, who I write to (through)
"I entered into alliances with my paper soulmates." First Jean Rhys and Jane Bowles and Anna Kavan. Then Elfriede Jelinek and Ingeborg Bachmann and Thomas Bernhard. They are the ones who wrote the family for me. They wrote of the deep closets of the past, of history. They wrote around the silence.
I wanted to throw myself on top of her. When she was in her hospital bed. I wanted to give myself to her completely. I crawled up inside of her. Mommy Mommy. As I held her. As I held her as she died. I am the daughter of the housewife that Cixous writes about. Peter Handke's "stations of a woman's life." I knew that I must write her, I knew I must bring her back to life, I must write through this silence, scream through this silence, the closed spaces of the family, the penitentiary walls, I am giving little nubs of pencil and scraps of paper and I write desperately, furiously, I must announce myself or I will disappear, like they all disappear, I refuse to be cloaked anymore in this silence, the silence of Catholicism the silence of family the silence of politeness the silence of dutiful daughterhood. I am choking. I am choking on the damp blanket of this silence. All the terror of the family. And new news. New news plus this old ancient terrible news, the familiar news of death. News so horrible it is unspeakable. Don't say anything. Don't breathe a word. One must suffer through. One must suffer silently or one must allow oneself to be named as mad.
From a profile of Cindy McCain, describing her husband John: "He preferred his women to suffer in silence."
That scene in Jelinek's The Piano Teacher - Erika climbs on top of her mother, as if to fuck herself back through the womb, to devour the devouring.
My coming to writing, as Cixous writes, was when my mother got sick and went mad and then died. I learned how to speak again, I learned how to read again, the words danced on the page for me in my dead mouth, and I wrote. Trauma. Repetition. Fort. Da. I wrote myself into a new birth. I drew myself a new body. I wrote because I felt compelled to pay witness. This is when I wrote and wrote and wrote. When my other self died. I wrote to pummel myself against death, like Cixous writes. I wrote because I refused to be silent, I refused to fade, I refused to die. I needed to write to her Face, I needed to remember her Face. The Faces that hang on poster boards at funeral homes smiling and forgiving, the Faces in banal vacation snapshots, the Faces clipped from a convenient past.
"Loving: keeping alive: naming." She was a gale/a gael. A strong wind. A prison. He was named after the worker, after the adopted father, and he was both of those to me, but not because of some sainted card that you touch lovingly through the plastic with the secure answers of a tarot pack, but because of who he was, he was a person, he was a person and not a person, all these people, who are people and not people.
My family doesn't speak of anything. The love-ache I feel for my family. Is at conflict with how they erase me, how they erase themselves, how I am a shuddering spasm of bright pain, the energy I exert not to let them erase me, not to let them erase themselves. They who rely on the rites and rituals for the dead that are deadening, that obliterate interiority, that demolish the self. I I I. I refuse to go gently no I refuse to be a poem learned in high school I refuse no I refuse I refuse. I will not let my memories be rewritten. I will not let horrific things happen to me and call it a blessing. I will not say in God's Name. No God. I am my own God. I am me. I create myself. Over and over and over again. Do not. Do not annihilate me. That is my commandment. And Cixous who writes of the burning bushes that only speak for the man-prophets. I set my self on fire. And this is how I write. I write through a furious self-immolation.
"Writing: a way of leaving no space for death, of pushing back forgetfulness, of never letting oneself be surprised by the abyss. Of never becoming resigned, consoled; never turning over in bed to face the wall and drift asleep again as if nothing had happened; as if nothing could happen." All of these walls. I am using, I think, threaded imagery. Perhaps I should check before I begin teaching writing? Can one teach writing? Or does one write because one is compelled propelled and it is impossible to think of anyway to live if documentation did not occur, one would feel like one was stifled and needed to scream and felt itchy and exhausted and not there.
I will not let teaching erase me. I will not be obliterated through deadlike pinkish walls, by playing the subaltern adjunct game. Every day a new chair to sit in, a new temporary office. I threaten to disappear. Will not. I will steal myself away. Sylvia Plath at Smith (you are not Sylvia, you are not at Smith). I write so that I can be I. I write to say fuck-all with reason. To say fuck-all with composition. I will not compose myself. Compose yourselves class. Compose yourselves.
We will make him good and new the funeral director assured me. Oh he's good he's very very good all the gestures of warmth and empathy. They drew on eyeliner and darkened his mustache and he looked like John Waters. Which is funny because everyone thinks I'm so cruel, my novel is compared to John Waters. But I don't want the good and new and erased - I want to remember. I must remember. I insist on remembering.
My family makes me want to birth out great big novels of the family, my family makes me want to be fucking Faulkner, the deathbed scene, Faulkner, how would Faulkner write this, how would Flannery O'Connor write this, I need these texts to sit there inside of me while I am blank, when I have been agreed to be blank in order to participate in the proceedings. Everything so fucking Midwestern gothic.
I am actually supposed to be working on class notes. I was supposed to pick out a page of Coming to Writing to read to my creative nonfiction class tomorrow. We will write about our coming to writing. And for fiction I will ask them to give me language they makes me have paroxyms of sadness or silence, that makes me spasm from within, that makes me FEEL for fuck's sake let me FEEL. Let me rant rant rant Medusa rant rant.
Cumming to writing. I wish I could make that word play with my students. I need some guide for appropriate ways to act in front of students in order to teach ecstasy through the walls of an institution, for how how how could you read Cixous and not want to run around and throw your skirt up and conduct yourself completely inappropriately? Shouldn't we be like crazy Sibyls howling with our voices in the jar shouldn't we be like fucked-up Maenads all possessed by the word by our words by their words by all the priestess-prophets?
Another coming to writing. My Maggie. My Maggie is me. My Maggie is me but she is also other Maggies. My other twin who killed herself two years after my mother died. Who signed her suicide note with a smiley face. Two experiences of death, of the dying of these other selves and how they were banished by the Catholic Church and muttering, muttering, muttering of words that are meant to protect but only put a wall up against any further inquiry or meditations. I wrote to get past this wall. I wanted to know WHY. WHY WHY WHY the words littered on a page. Why when we talk of death or dying we look up, like we're hoping to find the belly of a traveling hotel? I wrote my novel Green Girl as a way to ward off death. I wrote Book of Mutter as a way to resurrect. I wrote O Fallen Angel as a reminder of how people choose to forget the death and ugliness and cloak it in silence. And a question haunting me today, which is actually taken from an profile on the actress Anne Heche in the NYT Sunday magazine: How do people survive their lives? I am walking around feeling vile, violated. Not only because of the sickening of grief. I had felt clear about my grief, sad but clear and sure. Death that makes one realize one is still living. Death that makes one wake up and look at one's life. But then there's always something. There's always more tragedy. How can one bear it if one cannot write it? I do not know. Perhaps that is an impossible question. Although I know: If I did not have words I would be dead. And when I don't have words I am dead.
"You are born; you live; everyone does it, with an animal force of blindness. Woe unto you if you want the human gaze, if you want to know what's happening to you."
When I was in NY a couple of weeks ago an entire flock of anabaptists were testifying in Washington Square Park, the men preaching arrogant, the women meek and silent dressed in their prairie chic. I kept on looking at the little girls. I stayed there forever and stared at the little girls, the squirming little girls, did they feel embarrassed, would they ever reach a higher consciousness, would that be possible. I recently also read the ghostwritten memoir of Carolyn Jessup, who was a child bride for the FDLS, and she wrote about the often admonition that girls not question and "keep sweet."
I am not the writer in my family. My aunt, who writes young adult fantasy novels, is the writer of my family. I do not exist in my family except as a little girl. I must contain the clawing animal. I must contain the seethe and the seize in order for me to exist with my family. I do not need to be the writer of my family. I do not need to exist through a superego. But I need to exist. I need to have the space and time to exist. Oh I will not have the space and time to exist. And all of it needs to be rewritten.
"A desire was seeking its home. I was that desire. I was the question. The question with this strange destiny: to seek, to pursue the answers that will appease it, that will annul it. What prompts it, animates it, makes it want to be asked, is the feeling that the other is there, so close, exists, so far away; the feeling that somewhere, in some part of the world, once it is through the door, there is the face that promises, the answer for which one continues to move onwards, because of which one can never rest, for the love of which one holds back from renouncing, from giving in - to death. yet what misfortune if the question should happen to meet its answer! Its end!"