You know that moment in A Room of One's Own where Virginia is dogging on Charlotte Bronte? And basically saying, Charlotte, you need to desire less, look at Jane A., Jane A. desired less and so she could fit her desires into a sitting room. Or, perhaps, Virginia was saying, that desire, that overwhelm of desire, weakened your writing Charlotte, because you wanted to reach further than life allowed you. She is talking about the moment in Jane Eyre where the waterpainting horny governess is like on a cliff or something, and yearning. That yearning Virginia sees as misplaced emotion, as excessive emotion, akin to something like the red light of anger. She says Charlotte Bronte if she had been allowed could have been a world traveler, or a journalist or a biographer, and that would have fit her better, a writer must fit somehow in her given society, which I don't agree with, but anyway.
But anyway, this is a little like how I feel lately about William Vollman. I kind of want to be William Vollman, and publish experiential bat-shit rambling essays about like death and hookers and violence and war, and I kind of feel this is like Charlotte Bronte being at a cliff and feeling like she can't have adventures, and longing for that adventure. I think this lately as I skim through William Vollman's recent piece on death and euthanasia in Harper's, I'm only skimming it, only on the toilet, as I'm jealous, as jealousy is an emotion that prevents me from reading, as I guess Virginia is saying to Charlotte, condescendingly, through the years, that jealousy was an emotion that kept her from writing, which doesn't make sense, as Virginia was super jealous of Katherine Mansfield, but anyway. Where does jealousy fit into the creative process? Where does longing fit? Burning? Yearning? When my mother died the woman who came and flushed all of the morphine down the toilet left a pamphlet about grief. Signs to watch for: Yearning. I thought that was funny, like some cowboy song. The yearning, burning, yearning, of my grief.
I tell this to John at lunch today. I have been very dragging and under the weather, ill and sickly and kind of tragic so he took me to lunch - I have an old friend who always actually calls these my Bronte moments maybe because of Charlotte's hypochondria - and I announce to John that I wish I could be William Vollmann. This is a desire, perhaps, to return to journalism as opposed to teaching. The walls of the classroom closing in on me.
-Do you want to sneak in through the borders of Kurdistan? he asks.
-Of course not I answer.
-Do you want to go smoke a crack pipe in some surreptitious den? he asks.
-No I answer.
-Do you want to liason with tranny hookers? he asks. (I think of one ex and his longing for tranny hookers, I know that doesn't count)
-Well, no. Not really. Nothing that involves danger or wartorn territories.
-But then how do you want to be William Vollmann?
And it's hard to explain. My desire for adventure, which sometimes for me is like leaving the room, my circumscribed territory, like a spinster governess taking a walk, now I think of Elizabeth Harwick writing so wonderingly of these Bronte sisters in Seduction and Betrayal. And perhaps some adventures are just wild, internal, remembering Heathcliffs and Rochesters.