Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Today

I.
An inordinate amount of blog posts are titled "Today"—I've noticed this on the evershifting planetary index of the blog, which is the blogroll. Sometimes I scan through blogrolls, the ones that list the titles and the most recent in order, I haven't figured out how to function, I'm sorry, that function, and I think—is this blogger working on dead paper today, on the PROJECTS that we always refer to but which instead of really getting to we take notes about here? And perhaps this note-taking is the project? And I wonder: what is life like away from the screen? These are moments that flash through my head, they are not well-thought-out or connected, perhaps competitive, but more, kindred, this matrixial borderspace of BLOGLAND.

Would Anais Nin have blogged? (yes)
Would Jean Rhys have blogged (no, she wouldn't have a computer and wouldn't even be on the BOOK OF FACES)
Elfriede Jelinek has a blog. I read it sometimes even though I have the German of a very slow toddler. I read the exclamations, which are translatable. I feel for certain we would be great friends through technology, we would Skype each other for sure, and show each other over Skype the  clothes we've purchased over the phone, because we do not like to go to shops, and talk about getting tea or whiskey which will never happen because neither of us would want to leave the house, preferably.

Today, Today - we are the relentless documentarians of our own quotidian its gorgeous gasps and its banality. This reminds me of the beginning of Ingeborg Bachmann's Malina, ("in fact, today is a day which only suicides ought to use; it has no meaning for other people") which I'm really beginning to think about as a beautiful meditation on what it means to be a woman writer, both the publicity of it (her secretary dictating all those failed letters, Bachmann was quite a celebrity in Austria when she wrote it) and the privacy of it (how to be a woman and still be a writer, how to navigate all the impossible men and ghosts). Navigating the woman-writer and the woman-character. Thinking how Jelinek wrote the screenplay for Malina, which I've hunted for like some holy moly German feminist grail, if anyone has a copy I will give you anything to see it.

"Yesterday I almost wrote a book or a story," Zelda in a letter to her then-estranged husband. He with the patriotic name. Francis Scott. An American relic. They were an American pasttime. Star-spangled, star-cross, star-struck (he threw himself at the feet of Martha Graham, she threw herself over the bannister in retaliation." "Yestserday I almost wrote a book or a story, I hadn't decided which, but after two pages of my heroine I discovered I hadn't even started her, and since I just couldn't write forever about a charmingly impossible creature, I began to despair."

(But wasn't she already documented? Nicole Diver in Tender, Daisy in Gatsby?) She with her flapper's bon mots, "an artist in her particular field, the art of being young, being lovely, being an object," as Zelda herself once wrote. Her throwaways always thought through. More throwing. (They are always throwing things, parties, selves, fits. Cross-eyed Lucia Joyce institutionalized for throwing a chair. I am the artist, she insisted.)

You have caught me notebooking for this damn book-thing. Sorry.

In our meeting in Los Angeles, on her charming closed-in porch, me staring at my dead pages scattered across the table (dead and gone, gone gone gone), Chris tried to convince me that the notion of author had changed, that one could be a girl (character) now and an author at the same time. Also, that the notion of the "minor" and the "major" writer so prominent in modernism had changed. I still am in disbelief of that. I am still carrying around with me the slender rib of my first published novella, just a gesture towards something, an anorexia of excess, perhaps (is that possible), while others, while others I have known have recently published 1000 page tomes, much in the model of the geniuses of modernism, and are feted as such. I suppose the Tree of Knowledge has birthed only strange fruit for me. Or barren for the first wife even forgotten (the Viviennes, the Zeldas, the Janes.)

And perhaps this notetaking is the project...There is something here. Although I still strongly disagree that there is no longer a distinction between a "minor" and "major" contemporary writer, I do agree with the idea that even the "muse" "girl" "character" can also be an author now. And this is perhaps one of the reasons now. A sort of freeing space this is. And absolute permission not to push towards "finishing" towards "polish" towards "professionalism," I feel like Tao Lin with all of these quotes. But an urge perhaps and a permission to document the quotidian, the ephemeral.

I would like to rebel more against publishing, against writing the publishable document. What does publishing get you? Certainly not money. Perhaps entrance to a certain table - one in which you can say you are AUTHOR. To whom? No one cares. We live in a time where the author has lost all currency if the author does not make money, and the currency is mostly social. Publishing here is enough to be an author. 

It is these wives and mistresses who would have surely blogged their fragments, all of their delicious brilliant witty urges they instead scrawled into journals and notebooks like Zelda and Jane Bowles, into letters, into conversation later snatched up by the male "author." Those who did not for the most part in most of their writing write their own books.  Jane Bowles especially would have found this form rather freeing, she who suffered from thirty years from writer's block, which I think about now as really being blocked because of this notion of a BOOK of a massive TOME which I think is in a way rather masculine. And certainly oppressive. Perhaps we can consider this blogging space that favors the ephemeral, the unfinished, the scraps and fragments, to be a freeing feminine space.

So Alix Roubaud would have blogged. Laure would have snapped photos of her labia with strange fragments scrawled across the Polaroid, a sort of volatile impromptu performance art. The Baroness von Elsa would have posted pictures of herself in her costumes, a visual diary.  Claude Cahun would have started up a bunch of different blogs under different aliases and abandoned all of them when she grew bored with them. Unica Zurn, whose EXTRAORDINARY SICK AND GORGEOUS AND DEPRAVED Dark Spring I just read, Hans Bellmer's muse, would have certainly blogged. Yes. Not the published authors (Anais, Jean) but the witty muses, the flapper wits and Surrealist femme-enfants.

Am I onto something here? As I now teach composition, and am bored generally with the shrill sound of my voice from too much time teaching, I am struck how "thesis" so often sounds like "faeces."

II
I know it might seem I just keep on repeating these ideas, over and over, but it's because I'm pretty sure I only come up with one or two original ideas a year. And mostly I just chew over them, sip them, skip them like rocks, position them under the sun, run them through a scratch test, to see whether this is truly a thought that I am having. There are some writers that are flash minds and whose works are puzzles or codes to be cracked. I feel perhaps I am a writer because of this slowness, not the pace of my thoughts but what actually resides in them, and writing allows me to slow down and circle, and circumambulate, and repeat.

Yes books can be oppressive. I used to always as a writer work on the BOOK, and now I'm realizing I want to rebel against that, and collect fragments and journals and resist the urge to consolidate. THE BOOK. My book and your books and all the books one has to read. Some pressure in that. As if they are all on top of you. 56 books from the University of Akron Library? Last week I went to get the first 30 or so, they were in the main collection, and the adolescent lean boy workers were shocked and amused that ANYONE would take out that many books. I snapped at them the correct pronunciations of Artaud, of misogyny. Gathered my books huffily into three shopping bags.

And in three shopping bags they still sit.

Today after class I go to get the second round, the interlibrary loan books. Halfway through the process my period begins again, and I worry about bleeding over my black jeans, which are John's black jeans, and the only pair of pants I like to wear, so really the only bottoms I like to wear, and the pockets have completely been torn up, so I hurry to the bathroom and stuff toilet paper down my jeans and waddle back to the front desk. Still not done. Finally I put everything in my Whole Foods bag - the onion skins line the bottom - and the whole bag breaks.

I'm sure the bag will be in the backseat of the Vulva station wagon for a while. I have no time to read. The only thing I want to read is what I don't have to read for anything. Like I deliriously drank down CA Conrad's Book of Frank, the new edition I ordered from Wave Books. Totally fucked and freaked. A dizzying hilarity to the haikus, this tale of a life, it reminds me the most of prose counterparts especially Deborah Levy's Billy and Girl, one of my favorite freak-lit books.

I have now three more hours until heading to Pittsburgh now, the two hour drive, I am supposed to write notes on student stories, for now I will take a hot bath which I will make too hot and have to jump around for about an hour waiting for it to cool down, and I will drag books in the bathroom with me - the other Unica Zurn, Laure's book, Penelope Rosemont's Women and Surrealism, and I will look at them but then not look at them because I cannot think about the book. Not right now.


The girl in the bathtub. Floating in the whirlpool of her own emotions. I believe I use that in O Fallen Angel for Maggie. I believe I also use that in Green Girl, for Ruth. Oh, well. This is the image I want to use for the cover of Green Girl, this drawing by Tracey Emin. Well, it's not this one, it's this one, but I couldn't figure out how to drag it. Very contemporary Ophelia. (UPDATE: the artist's recent political Bardot-like-bent has been pointed out to me, so I'm still on the lookout for images for the cover of GG.)