I've been in bed all day. I tell myself I am still recovering from the flight and travels, which is true, I'm sure. It's also, I think, the sense of having a completely shapeless day, to have nothing to structure it, save my early AM walk with Genet and his feedings. I began to take notes about a series of blog posts I will be doing around the topic of what I see as narratives emerging both out of this Youtube/Livejournal/Internet culture as well as out of reality television, and a sort of tension between the two. When I make notes it's like a collage - I just move around lines or ideas until it makes sense, until a pattern starts to emerge. I once read Joan Didion saying in an interview that her writing was now sculptural, because of the computer, and I've always liked that.
One of the concepts I've been thinking about is the idea of the unedited, or at least more of an aesthetic of uneditedness, which I've tried to articulate before, in a discussion here a couple of years ago about the bulimic vesus a sort of aesthetic of the anorexic, which I thought of the time as a sort of bonsai-aesthetic, the lyric, perhaps too what Masha Tupitsyn calls the laconic, how both can be radical, minor, and perhaps feminine modes, as well as forms that are quite reflective of the Internet. This afternoon, because I'm getting ready to begin having to really think about Heroines in the present tense, I reread the text, and I was struck by how lyric it is, which in some ways moved me, but in other ways dissatisfied me, because I'm really interested in an essay that's anti-lyric, that's a purge, and that approaches more of what we are all doing on our blogs. Can an essay borrow from the flow and immediacy of the Internet? Or does the process of formalizing somehow make this impossible?
I remember a negative review of Maggie Nelson's book on cruelty saying that it read like a Tumblr. And I remember thinking - oh man, that would be awesome. It'd be amazing if our essays were like Tumblrs - and took from that project of authenticity, immediacy, rhythmic juxtapositions, voice, aphorisms, fragments. Walter Benjamin's Arcades Project, Fernando Pessoa's Book of Disquiet, Camus' Notebooks - basically Tumblrs.
The blog, the Tumblr, takes on the aesthetic of the notebook. Sontag writing in her recent published diaries that before literature was epistolary - writing to others - in her recorded time it was now the notebook - writing to oneself. When in fact, now, in essays born out of and on the Internet, it's both - it's writing our notebooks to each other.
What I remembered, what I had forgotten, was how much Part One of Heroines is Scenes from a Marriage, and tries to borrow from in some ways the fragmentation of "The Waste Land" and the crisis of "A Game of Chess" section as well as the sort of gothic notebook in "The Yellow Wallpaper." Part One is The Wife and Part Two is The Girl. This was all very planned, this framing, of reality, but any writing, even memoir writing, is heavily framed and shaped, and this makes me wonder whether in a way I can think of the memoir as fictionalized. For it is fictionalized isn't it? In some ways then a memoir approaches more of the framework of reality television. One chooses (edits by omission) what scenes to tell, scenes that are perhaps cathartic or catalytic. The juicy moments.
I forgot how many marital fights are in Part One. I deliberately chose to include these fights, which were chosen from first my diaries and then later my manuscript of the fictional notebook Mad Wife, because I wanted to say something about the rhetoric of violence, about excess, about marriage, and more than anything a haunting of the modern into the contemporary, with relationships as well as literature. When I first recorded fights John and I would have, it was within my diaries, over several years, with the ostensible project of recording EVERYTHING, and sometimes this would ravel into absurdity, where I was recording everything in lieu of living, everything I ate, etc., which I think is the subject of a Harry Mathews novel. But really I wanted to record what I otherwise would have omitted, the unrepressed, specifically when things were not pleasant, when I was depressed, when my relationship felt in ruins, when my days felt like blanks. I guess in some ways I was inspired by the notebooks of Virginia Woolf as well as Anais Nin. What is scratched off. To tell some sort of truth, what is hidden or erased or demonized. In not censoring the excess, what has traditionally been excised in literature.
But I'm curious about my relationship to authenticity. In both reality TV and the Internet, the project is ostensibly "reality" but really this is impossible. Everything is framed.
The unedited text.
The transcripts of Scott and Zelda as they are feuding.
Elaine May keeping the cameras on for hours filming Mikey and Nicky.
In the Internet, who edits? What is edited?
There is the sense that there the Internet is the house of TOO MUCH, of the excess, of the unedited. I think mostly because what is revealed is often the banal, domestic, quotidian. Or streams-of-consciousness.
Is the Internet an unending scroll?
The LiveJournal aesthetic, the diary, has the aesthetic of the uneditedness, of the raw, the real.
This was a big complaint of Marie Calloway's two stories published on the Internet, that they were unedited.
The Internet generation doesn't edit? Is interested in the unedited?
In reality television someone else edits the footage.
Different from the notion of the girl-auteur.
In Sheila Heti's How Should a Person Be? there is the sense of unedited footage, of including transcripts of conversations, of showing a fight over a dress, etc. But of course this is framed, like reality television, Heti has acknowledged being inspired by the format and themes of The Hills. Although there is more of a sense of authenticity in Heti's text, of real reality.
The transcripts, the faxes in I Love Dick.
I am just getting started, sorry. Am wading through the muck.
To essay is to be an amateur. To essay, that act, is to unedit. To essay is to attempt.
Do I even need to acknowledge that this blog post is unedited?
But it also is edited. So you see.