It's 11am, and I should be jumping in the shower to make a lunch date at noon, but instead I am sitting down to write a freeform blog entry. This suggests something like a problem. I have just returned from taking Genet for a morning walk, I actually fell back asleep after his punctual 6:45am canine alarm clock, and so I'm covered in sweat, my hair got soaked underneath the weird girl-in-The-Lover Bermuda hat I wear for dog walks, and Genet is passed out in the corner. I have not showered for several days.
I am also bleeding, and being rather cavalier about it lately, only wearing pads, so I'm wearing a diaper menstrual pad, short shorts that are filmy-dirty that might or might not have a blood stain on them (they're black), and an old tank top from Jcrew that is probably burnt siena. Just setting the scene. I have decided, rather eagerly, that I will wear the anomaly, the recent pink dress purchase from my recent identity crisis in New York, to this lunch date, since it's at a hotel, we will have salads in an air-conditioned fancy hotel and maybe I will order a lemonade, and we will perform: ladies who lunch. It's amazing to me how much I have to imagine costumerie in order to involve myself socially. The past two weeks I have been so alone - save my neurosis, the Internet, and my psychotic darling puppy - that earlier in the week I texted the only two sort-of friends I have here - both very cool women writers who are wives of John's colleagues - and begged them to hang out with me. I was getting to the point that I forgot the sound of my own voice. That feeling. So it's 11:03AM, I should be showering, instead I'm drinking green juice I made yesterday - celery, kale, spinach, lemons, apple, ginger, cayenne - and contemplating boredom.
(Yesterday I also made beet juice: beets, green apples, carrots, ginger, orange, as I didn't feel like going out, and all I had in the fridge was stuff for juice. Yesterday for Fourth of July I ate: green juice, beet juice, a whole container of chocolate coconut-milk ice cream, and a large bowl of popcorn. And my morning bagel. Oh and a rather lazy Tempeh-Lettuce-Tomato sandwich. But anyway, I like to drink beet juice when I'm bleeding. There's the iron, but also I like to imagine I'm drinking blood, like Tru Blood, to replenish me. Also after making beet juice, I have red that I can't get out under my fingernails for days, it stains everything, which this morning I looked at underneath the harsh bathroom lighting, and couldn't tell if it was dried blood or beet juice, and this perversely pleased me. I like the idea of a preppy pink dress, and then blood underneath my fingernails).
Anyway. I wish I had a Tumblr. I realize not having a Tumblr makes it impossible for me to interact with conversations on Tumblr. Bookbat - a brilliant blog I too am a little obsessed with - asked re: a post I made about wanting intensity from reading
I want to know more about the uses of intense boredom.
So I thought - okay! I want to respond to this, and think more about this subject, because it too has been on my mind. Then I looked and saw that Bookbat had posted more about this idea of "feminist boredom", a hashtag among a lot of the Tumblr feminists I've been recently following, which I've also been intrigued by. And some of what she says I think I was thinking about when I was talking about boredom.
The idea of "boredom as resistance." I like the idea of being a reactive, resistant reader, especially with the phallic system novels we are supposed to like, the massive books that can double as murder weapons. So I like the idea of being a *bad* reader, a selective reader, and choosing to flip or to discard as opposed to read. There is something wonderful about saying: No, I have not read this. I have no desire to ever read this (some major work of Western philosophy, the important novels I am supposed to read). Towards that end, I like the idea of choosing not to be a good reader, maybe reclaiming the idea of Bovarizing, but also what some professor called the Marilyn Monroe Reading Method, named because she flipped through Ulysses.
Towards that end, there are some works that are such virtuosic feats, but I feel part of their aim is discomfort, and maybe part of this discomfort is the fear of eternalness, of tedium, whether unrelenting fucking or unrelenting rain of words. I remember talking with Vanessa Place, asking her for advice when I was wondering whether my work-in-progress Under the Shadow of My Roof should be a temporal triptych (like O Fallen Angel was), rotating the characters/chapters, or somehow a spatial triptych, where different voices somehow appeared on the page (ultimately, I decided not to make it a triptych, but anyway). I remember Vanessa saying a spatial might be most interesting: she said the reader then has to decide "whose throat to slit." So when I think of Vanessa Place's La Medusa or Dies: A Sentence, or Pierre Guyotat, or Kathy Acker's schizoid splitting of the idea of the character, I think of non-narrative writers who also want to distill a discomfort, a disorientation with the reader, kind of the literary equivalent of Artaud's Theater of Cruelty. Before I was interested really in literature, I glommed onto performance theory and avant-garde performance, and I think of the idea of "selective inattention"that Richard Schechner talks about in terms of some duration-based performance, where you're not supposed to be present the entire time, and maybe part of the goal of that performance is eliciting that bodily alienation on the part of the audience. I'm drawn to works that do that. The literary onslaught.
I think in a way Sade does that - oh my god Sade is SO BORING - it's like, here's a highly choreographed sex scene that is so choreographed and pyramided as to sound tremendously unfun, and then the characters just go into eternal monologues about morality and society. I think in some way Sade might have been fucking with his readers at the time - and so perhaps the boredom is political.
Also: porn is very boring.
I think also of Kate Durbin's recent more conceptual pieces dealing with reality television - reading her scene by scene write-up of a confrontation on The Hills, one feels kind of in a trance state - it is a pleasurable experience, but also highlights the slowed-down tedium of the silent cinema of reality television, how inarticulate these girls often are, how slow it is. I felt this too reading a work that I reviewed - Western by Christine Montalbetti, another cinematic deconstruction, an exhaustingness which mirrored and mimicked the slowness of the genre. Also - I think some of the Nouveau Roman is like this - Last Year in Marienbad, the film, also, is very boring, but riveting. Chantal Ackerman's Jeanne Dielman is so eternal, is about that tedium.
Regardless, I flip, I am flipper, regardless of whether this is an important book. I can love a book I've flipped through. I have rarely read all of Kathy Acker. I loved Jean Genet's Our Lady of the Flowers recently and I think I only read 40 pages.