Monday, October 31, 2011
I am home for two days. From Chicago. Going (again) to Los Angeles. Everything here is so autumnal and calm that I feel meditative and inside of myself, at least for a bit. After bleary-eyed flight at 7:30am. This afternoon I sat on my porch for a bit and read. Bhanu Kapil's Schizophrene - a notebook circling around an other, epic, failed text, the one that would *explain*, and this work doesn't explain, instead it listens, swirls, secretes, traces, trauma and memory. I've placed it here next on top of the Artforum that came today in my rather old-fashioned mailbox, a tribute to Cy Twombly. Rohini Kapil's beautiful partitioned garden image next to one of Twombly's luscious flowers. Next to my golden white tea, my silver needle. And then just the lip of the gold of the pine needles in my front yard. It seems right. I read Artforum for the ads. And I lament that I cannot focus enough to read the articles, any articles anymore, except on a plane. And wish I had access to more underground films. This afternoon I bought flour sack tea towels on Amazon and bought the new St. Vincent, which I'm listening to now. "I've told whole lies with a half smile." This past weekend two readings. I felt strong, reading. I felt almost voluptuous or dangerous, reading. And then in two days LA, CalArts, Kate D. and Skylight. Then Philadelphia and NYC later in November and THAT'S IT. For a while at least. Until I finish this book. And all I long to do is return to my fiction. Perhaps that's a safer space for me right now. A realm where I can cavort around in my fucked-up id.
I want to get back, to burrow under. Back to writing. Or maybe actually just back to reading. Perhaps one becomes a writer in order to just participate in the conversation about what is read. Today I read Kristen Stone's text, part of which is published here on Montevidayo, and also Gina Abelkop's essay on Anna Joy Springer's new book, here on HTML Giant. Both Gina and Kristen seemed to have bitten the top off of something so urgent and important, and I read each of their pieces several times, like Bhanu's book, which is the first time today I've read in the book form, which absolutes, baptizes a work somehow, it's a different way of seeing, or maybe it doesn't, I have been having an internal debate with myself this weekend or last week or some prolonged time, about the book, and whether I write books, or I write here, or about books, what is a book, do we need to write books, the book is a form, yes, but a commodity, sure, and it goes through a machine to get born, a machine that can be one of the violence of smiles and half-lies. Or something. I haven't thought it through yet.
I also saw Suzanne this weekend, we sat with John at her kitchen table drinking red wine and mint tea and spreading out the pages of my book which made me feel pale and vulnerable and like I was sitting with my legs spread while also extremely lucky to have two such brilliant readers considering and discussing what I was trying to say, maybe about the tyranny of the novel, or the girl as character and author, and the rewrite will be a reconsideration, I need to do it, here, tomorrow, there, the next three weeks. But thinking of Suzanne's writing of the girl, and Kristen's, and Gina's, and Anna Joy's, and Lidia Y's, and Laurie Weeks, and Bhanu's, and Jackie Wang's, and Kate D's, and Angela Simione's, and others, yes, others, there's something extraordinarily exciting going on, what either Jackie or Bhanu call the writing or resurrecting of an extreme girlhood, I don't remember,the trauma and messes and revolutions, and I like to think perhaps I'm contributing too, or if not, reading and witnessing. It is not epic but it traces the epic and is lyric because of her winnowed-down, nervous body, but it's messy and devouring too. And so much of this beginning in these online notebook spaces, at least the newer generation of these writings.
Perhaps though my role is to read. Reading so much brilliance online lately, I'm realizing that I am being repetitive here. This is something I've been meditating on - a lot. Too much. The blog. I've become too self-aware of myself here. Roz would maybe say that I'm too aware or self-conscious of my author-function. I think that's true. It can be oppressive, publicness, mirroring what it's like to be a woman to begin with, who is watched, who watches herself. Reading all the texts I circle around above I realize after this rewrite is over (December) and this first real thrust of readings is done I will need to shed another skin. Meditate, go inwards. Try to figure out what kind of writing I want to do, now, try to push myself. For my own writing here, there's been an automaticness lately that I think has stood in the way of me really reconsidering or working on my own writing, along with my desire for an instant recognition.Which is why I stopped writing for the weekly.
But what is the writing? What is the work? It's so hard to know. I have had several, several, readers point out to me, or at times lament, that my early blog posts were attempts at criticism, and I suppose they were, essays, attempts in a girl-Montaigne sense, and then when I took on this book project, all the essaying went out the window or onto those pages, and what went up in its place was an experimental diary project, where I wanted to consider my role in the public versus private, and toy with how much I would confess, or admit to, in public, while considering my self as a writer. All of that was fruitful I think. But I think I'm bored with the idea of diarying online, or for me, my own practice and process at it has grown stale. It's too much for me, to live in this other space. I suppose maybe I revealed too much, and then it became difficult, to occupy a public space, with being known but absolutely not known, which I guess is some mirror of how anyone feels anyway. I think the reason I haven't been able to pull away is this desire to be known - especially feeling absolutely isolated - but I think this is a failed project anyway, and interesting project, this attempt, but ultimately impossible. For of course I censor myself here. Of course this is only one self I have presented, and I think as opposed to my reader self, which is where the blog began, it's been my author self, a self I'm not even sure if I like. Or it's been the twining or twinning between the two.
When is a blog done? Can it be a project, with an end, like a book? Is it an endless, dizzying scroll? In my own fiction(al) works I always abided by Kathy Acker's rule - that she knew she was done when she grew bored. Perhaps that's something. I am not bored with the reading, but bored, terribly bored with myself, and I want to recreate a new self, push the limits of what I can write or what should be written, and I don't want to feel limited by this voice, this perspective, this space. I'm feeling limited.
I am sitting outside now because I am expecting trick-or-treaters. But there are no trick-or-treaters. Instead I am cold. The cold mechanical laptop against the backdrop of an organic space. This is the first time ever I have bought Halloween candy - little squares of dark chocolate I will probably eat myself, vegan gummy bunnies from Whole Foods. I am feeling like the strange childless woman in the neighborhood. Isn't that funny? I don't know when I became so aware of that. Very recently. Perhaps it's this neighborhood, which I love, but is family-oriented, albeit progressive-family-oriented. Just before writing this blog post or considering whether or not to do it - every day I think, should I write a blog post, I'm playing chicken with myself - I got an email that the class I was maybe going to be offered to teach that I interviewed for a week ago is no longer available. For a blip I felt paranoid - and worried whether what I wrote or the content of my writings somehow made me absolutely barren here, unhireable. And of course I cried because I cry about everything. Even though I think I have only really cried openly in front of John. Crying is a form of cleansing for me, I feel empty if I don't weep or sob fairly regularly, usually in private. I am really an excessively emotional person, but in public I feel removed, distanced, as blank as my character Ruth in the novel. My sunglasses a shield. I am an actress outside with lace edges. Perhaps everyone feels like this. It is entirely possible.
Now in the spring I am hoping to get a job where I sit at the desk of John's library, for $10 an hour, and remind people not to drink water. I am actually thinking this could be a romantic position. It's only in the afternoons, I will write or try to write in the morning, and then I will sit at a desk and read.
I should have said - I have decided with the blog that in the next couple of months I'm going to archive it. By that I mean it will be password-protected. I will also be eventually getting rid of my Frances Farmer email. You can email me once I set it up, and I will give you the password, if for any reason you wanted access to the archives, for classes or for your own personal whatever or desire. I am doing this because there has been some interest in this. I will not be updating that blog afterwards. By the time I archive FF there will hopefully be one of those author's websites in place, or if not then, soon afterwards. I've decided Frances Farmer was a performance of sorts, at least for myself, and like a performance I want to archive it, at least for my personal use, to think about any sort of evolution or devolution over a year or two. I think if I decided I wanted to essay again, or diary again publicly, blog again, I would probably just start another blog.
Today I am both absolutely melancholy and starved yet bursting with love.
I am now realizing I think trick-or-treating was yesterday.