Tuesday, August 30, 2011
I was in New York this weekend, visiting my sister who had a baby in that short period between an earthquake and a tropical storm. We had the tickets already booked - the plan was before to leave me there, so I would teach at The New School, instead a while ago I canceled the classes and rebooked a one-way ticket back home, because it was the only thing that really makes sense to me right now, that my home is with him and not away, always grasping to return. I held the three-day-old baby in my arms - it was the second time in a week I had held a sleeping niece, only months apart - and touched her growing fingernails and her downy cheek and thought about life and how magical it can sometimes be, even in my occasional antihumanism, which I am beginning to realize might be more of an ambivalent humanism. Or, no that's not right. More of a belief in human beings that is undercut by a certainty of how shadowed and hidden we are as well - maybe that's it. I don't know if I can think of one adjective to describe that. In finishing the essay collection I have developed a case of aphonia like Anna O. - I cannot articulate myself lucidly at all, I have a toybox of language now that I rearrange in my mouth and attempt to spit out (mixed metaphor, I believe, if I knew of such things). I began reading Vanessa Veselka's Zazen on the plane ride home, and even though I am digging the what of the book - all the stuff she gets into, a political rant inside a deeply felt and riveting novel about consumerism, anarchism, veganism, all the isms, it was the how I was blown away by - the mad rhythm and burn of Veselka's language that made me nod intently while reading. I have been reading some other contemporary novels lately, one especially that is this year's so popular, so popular that I got to a point where I needed to read it to peel open its secrets and attempt to understand what was inside the narrative that was feeding so many, was it fast food or an intricate gourmet, both impulses I understand. I am struck by how made for HBO so many contemporary novels are that are feted in the Times and such - this new model of the prize-winning novel that then becomes an HBO series - and I love narrative TV series that cast film actors tearing up the scenery - but wonder why this is the new model for literature, because the books that excite me are the ones that do what TV cannot, I suppose that's in the words on the page and the burn and the rhythm and the voice (I just read something by someone, forgot who, kind of ripping into this idea of applauding the voice in a novel, when my favorite works are marked by this, I think this extends beyond the artifice of the interior narration of a first-person, and is something about the vitality and rhythm of the whole thing and how it zings inside your head, Vanessa Veselka has mad voice, I feel this way reading Zazen that I did reading Laurie Weeks' Zipper Mouth, both works that write a sort of clear-eyed mania in the way that a film or TV show can never do, not even with a canned voiceover or Diablo Cody dialogue.).
Anyway, I am in a strange book state. I am slowly coming out of my reading anorexia that marks when I am deep within a project - I just ordered up The Orange Eats Creeps and cannot wait to read that, plus Blake Butler's novel, Pam Lu's Ambient Parking Lot. I crave the contemporary. I want to read Maggie Nelson's and Wayne Koestenbaum's new nonfiction books, both I have been putting off. I think because my natural intelligence is defined by my ability to be a sponge - and I cannot read anything or watch anything without wanting to throw everything in what I'm writing. John and I had a conversation about intelligence, specifically mine or my lack of last night as we were blaghed and blearied from traveled and I was hunched over Whole Foods guacomole. He said I'm self-deprecating about my intelligence, that this comes through in my writing, whether here or in the essay book. I don't know. I think this is a purposeful move, that I don't want to act like I know, because I don't, if anything I often feel I am just a tiny baby crawling in the dark, trying to figure out basic concepts. But I also think this is a circling around a childhood trauma, namely, we were all expected to be extremely accelerated, by we I mean my siblings, this was a known-known in our schools, how the Zambreno children were, the tiny runts of the litter, how they were expected to win all the academic prizes, I did but fell a little short, I never reached and was never expected to reach the prodigious accomplishments on the part of my brother, who was always considered a math&science genius and still is, and how that sort of intelligence was the only kind considered growing up, it wasn't until I got to university that I became aware that anyone would consider me smart or talented, and I think I'm still quite skeptical of this. I always had an extremely good, almost photographic memory, and I think I was aware that I memorized everything as opposed to really knowing or understanding things. Plus I had various learning issues with language growing up, I was in speech therapy for years. I'm not particularly intelligent I said to John. I possess an emotional intelligence. I am also often emotionally and socially retarded. I believe these two attributes make me want to figure things out by writing about them. Anyway what is intelligence? I was once asked this in a job interview to be the managing editor of a trade pub about theater - what is intelligence? I fucking hate those kind of creative job interviews. I remember saying: I don't know. I wasn't trying to be witty. I really don't know. I still don't know. I didn't get the job, obviously. I love in Zazen how the main character, a science Ph.D turned waitress at vegan restaurant, is both obviously an obsessive genius as well asemotionally and socially retarded. Maybe obsession has something to do with intelligence. Or maybe intelligence is the absence of obsession. A fully formedness. I don't know. Emersonian. (What terrified me about my one year at graduate school is that intelligence was defined by the ability to remember and spout tidbits and theses of great thinkers, and form it into an aggressive argument, which seems like a general pitbull theory of regurgitation, when I regurgitated it was usually some sort of vomit, not linear and neat and forceful.)
I honestly have no idea what I'm writing here. I think actually I came here today to tear down the blog, or announce I'm quitting the blog, or reflect on the why of the blog, perhaps have a discussion how to archive the blog, because to me I am now conscious of it as a promotional tool, now that Green Girl's coming out in a month or so. And this space here was never meant for that. I wonder if I should just tear this down and put up an author's site and be more plain with it. And I am wondering whether it's run its course, and needs to be put down. To be resurrected elsewhere or not. Instead I am writing a damn novel here. I am afflicted with Artaud's glossolalia.
I feel strangely relaxed from the weekend in New York. Everything was the momentousness of the baby, the possible momentousness of the storm, running around, stocking up, standing in eternal grocery lines. John and I holed up in a hotel in the 70s and slept and ate and watched bad movies on cable and I felt oddly elated. I realize I haven't really let myself go in so long. Or I am always letting myself go - procrastinating - but to relax and not feel guilt or shame - this is entirely novel. I need to do more of this. We ordered in breakfast from the diner next door who was still delivering, even the morning of the storm - I had an egg-white omelet - the first eggs I've had in years, I am slowly starting to add back some animal protein a few times a week, eggs and fish, to see if it's giving me more energy, which it is, actually. I need to do this more. Just be. Just relax. I am experiencing some strange melancholy - post finishing the book, pre-awaiting the second novel to come out. I can play the game of publicizing myself but ultimately it fills me with intense self-loathing. I just want the works to speak for themselves. Spit or vomit or articulate or not. I want to begin again. I need to return to the novel I abandoned when I began the Semiotext(e) book - Under the Shadow - my hidden girl and her hidden family - but I want to throw everything away and completely begin again. I feel this time - this time I will succeed. In communicating something. This time I will burn and not self-immolate.
The day after the storm the streets were slightly wet but it was sun and beautiful. We wandered around downtown before our flight, I bought a Panama hat from a boutique in Chinatown to shield myself from the sun, almost exactly like the one the girl wears in Duras' The Lover, except I am not Jodie-Foster jailbait, I am now I guess the woman who looks back and remembers.