I wrote my bio today. I started writing different bios. It is a lot of pressure, to think of how one has lived, and what is worth remembering. I started experimenting with different ones:
Kate Zambreno is a peripatetic writer of bastard forms.
Kate Zambreno is a bastard.
(What is the girl equivalent of bastard? Or is it just girl? Orphan girl?)
Kate Zambreno is an orphan.
Kate Zambreno is peripatetic.
In Green Girl a character named Teddy asks the main character Ruth: Are you peri-pa-tetic? And then quotes Keats poem about Ruth to her (Through the sad heart of Ruth/when sick for home/She stood in tears amidst the alien corn.)And Ruth doesn't know what that means. She says, trying to be witty, "No but I'm rather pathetic." Teddy is a con/music man sort of Svengali androgyne, looks modelled after a sort of sinister Buster Keaton + a fashion model I saw in a magazine who kind of had a Hedi Slimane thing about him + a bartender at the pub where John worked in London. Kind of modeled after several boy-men I knew at once, the Baptist twin who recently contacted me on Facebook confessing that I was still the love of his life, after rejecting me in college for a red-haired virgin with a Klimt-like glow, the critic who loved to mold ingenues, courting them with references and elaborate libraries, name taken from a boy I met while drunken and confused one night, mourning the suicide of a boy I really didn't know while in graduate school through nursing a watered-down Scotch and a bad journal entry at the Rainbo bar, who I wandered with through the streets of Chicago, letting him shout drunken insults at me, and grab at me, and twist my hair, sometimes passionately, spitting epithets at me, confusing me in his state perhaps for someone else. And why did I follow along with him? Why not?
You see. Nothing is biographical or auto-. It is all a composite. Everyone who has read the novel has issues with the Teddy section. I love it. I have to remember I love things about the book and I love the book and there's all sorts of filtered experience poured in. Those who have issues with it say it happens so suddenly, the Teddy section, towards the end of the novel, it is after another transient temporary love affair - and then she finds Teddy, at this costume party, where her flatmate Agnes is dressed like the aerial performer in Nightwood, and then they happen, and then they don't happen. But that is how it is, to be searching for the meaning of life and think you have found it in people. On one of my notes that I scribbled down in my boxes of archives for the novel - I wrote about the Teddy scenes - She has stumbled onto him, another sort of plant life. And that's all he is to her. Just another sort of plant life.
Today I am reading Jean Rhys' bio in bed. Not the new one, which I hated, the old, pocket one by Carole Angiers. Hoping to get to Voyage in the Dark today. The fragmented, first-person Rhys. The youngest Rhys heroine (besides Antoinette Cosway in Wide Sargasso Sea). I am bleeding heavily today and boxed in - all the boxes are outside, and so I am inside, the bedroom, the box. Cannot go outside- blizzard and insanity.
I have been thinking lately about the subject of mothers and foremothers, I wrote about it here previously, the whole Gilbert/Gubar question, which I think....??? is supposed to be what my book is about, all tied to modernism, modernism and mommies, and both Jackie and Tim have written about it as well, recently, and at the end of his post (both are great, very smart), Tim mentions me and how I always blah-blah about all of these sort of foremothers...are they foremothers or sisters or what...and I nodded and thought, yes, I do do that, I think this is what my book is supposed to be about...It is so fuzzy yet distinct, this book. Today reading the Rhys bio (bios always help me revisit this life), I thought, I understood the connection, finally, really, between myself and modernism, that's what Chris asked me Why modernism? and today, today, I think I understood, Rhys and Kavan and Fitzgerald and Zurn, and Bowles and Barnes and Virginia and Vivienne, I think it has something to do with being a woman, and being a writer, but I haven't figured it all out yet. But I'm thinking of it, so hazy and indistinct, thinking of all of this, this idea of ancestry and our foremothers and the idea of creating a new lineage that is in some ways oppositional to the traditional canon.