the girl who cried Woolf
happy birthday, Virginia
My mind lately has been almost completely blank. This is probably why I have not written here, not here, anywhere, in fact. There have been some good things going on - I was offered a special section of Women and Madness at a local university at the last minute - and it's glorious to be teaching again, driving to Raleigh once a week. For reading: Wide Sargasso Sea, The Yellow Wallpaper, a bit of Nadja, Freud's Dora and Anna O., Cixous and Clement's sparring over the hysterics in Newly Born Woman, Lisa Appignanesi's Mad Bad and Sad (which I don't love, and disagree with often, but is less dated than Elaine Showalter's The Female Malady or Phyllis Chesler, both of which I teach through, as well as obviously Foucault and some Ian Hacking), Gilbert and Gubar, The Bluest Eye, The Bell Jar, Girl Interrupted, Marcia Angell on the medical model in the NYRB, Marsha Linehan, Bhanu's Schizophrene, an ethnography of Malaysian female factory workers and possession, Cixous' Laugh of the Medusa. Basically a lot of it is Heroines, I am lecturing in some way through Heroines. Last night I taught the Jean Rhys - and was reminded again what a perfect text it is. I prefer, personally, the ecstatic nihilism of Good Morning, Midnight, I think, but what Rhys accomplishes, what she performs in the novel is everything to me that literature should be, everything I feel I've failed at as a writer, failed at but am still trying at—what an amazing FEAT of empathy the work is, in so many ways. What a self-immolation. What a glorious song. And yesterday I thought about madness and language, how madness is silence, suppression, and the violence within the text—and also the violence in general of naming, of renaming, how that can surgically alter identity. And then I read this fantastic blog post by Bhanu, Schizophrenia and the Institution, that made me think of these ideas more.
There are a lot of things now that cannot be said, easily, maybe. Not trying to be too cryptic. My health problems have become more chronic, and the migraines that were symptomatic are now becoming absolutely pervasive, daily. Today I sat in the office of Specialist # 3, the ENT miracle man, whose nurses were amazing grandma types who asked me if I needed the lights out and gave me Jolly Ranchers. I sat and waited and reread Eula Biss' The Pain Scale on my iPhone. Tests and more tests. New medicines compounded. Referral for a neurologist, for biofeedback. This morning, earlier, maybe the worst headache of my life. And then now I have been regularly dosing myself to make the headaches go away, which has been obliterating. I think I'm going to write an essay on all of this, about these experiences I have barely spoken about on the blog, which maybe in some ways has made me feel alienated from the blog. As if I am being only selectively selectively authentic culling from my life. I'm sick of being a sick person. I'm sick of being a sick woman. I keep on saying I will write an essay on all this, on illness and creativity, on immune system disorders, on inheritance and mothers and our narratives of our bodies, and I order up Flannery O'Connor's, Carson MccCullers bios from the library, I read a not-very-good bio on Mary Shelley, all these women and their sick private parts, but I cannot read because I am too fatigued lately, too sickly, I cannot summon myself, I cannot be summoned, most of the time. I am depressing myself with this line of thinking. Things are not so bad. Some really wonderful things have been happening. People are reading and talking about Green Girl, which thrills me. I am going to be participating in a symposium on Violence and Community at Naropa, where I will have to give a performance or put up an installation, as well as a talk and being on a panel, and that feels like really exciting scary new territory for me. There is this class. There is the possibility now of other work, maybe even a slight possibility of permanent work, which would be extraordinary. I will be doing a reading in Asheville soon, and two readings in New York, and I will be back in Chicago for AWP.
Also, also, I went back and forth over email with the whipwhipsmart blogger The Rejectionist over literatures of the girl, and Green Girl specifically, and it was wonderful discoursing with such a keen hilarious mind. The interview's over at The Rejectionist.