Sunday, October 28, 2012

spiritual crisis

We were up a lot of the night, with severe allergic reactions, especially J, something in all of these harsh weird winds dragging pollen through the air. J hasn't slept at all. I have some. We took a walk w/ Genet to the coop this AM and drank large cups of hot coffee in paper containers and talked about our lives and any potential for radicalizing. J. Wang chatted me at 6am, she was at a Denny's in NM with L. Hoang, both working on writing projects. She told me that Semiotext(e) is publishing an extension of her excellent essay she wrote for the Lies/Materialist Feminist journal, which I hadn't read, but I went back and read this AM, an essay on innocence and media and the prison system. I mean, Jackie is beyond brilliant. I mention her a bit at the end of Heroines, well, the only section that deals with contemporary writing. The first time I ever met Chris Kraus, in her sunny house in Los Angeles,  that come to jesus meeting where she told me I would have to rewrite my entire manuscript because most of it was too self-indulgent, we talked about Jackie, who we had both come into contact with, and whose intellect and nerve I was totally awed by, as I'm sure Chris was too. I mean, it's obvious that she is writing at the intersection of important social thought +urgent ideas +writing in such an impassioned intense way.

I was reading Heroines all day yesterday to try to figure out readings - it is a solid text - sometimes quite urgent, othertimes lyrical— I feel very proud to say I wrote it. It is a specific text, one that deals with my obsessions with the wives & mistresses of the great modernist writers, my theories around their silencing and suppression (the book is called Heroines, but these women are not necessarily my heroines, or are my ambivalent heroines, more like how Freud's hysterics were to, say Catherine Clement as opposed to Cixous. The book is about what it means to be a heroine in a work of literature).

However, Roxane Gay wrote an essay recently on The Rumpus where among a consideration of mostly white essentialist feminism she critiqued/called on me to write of gender in the context of race/sexuality/transgendered/class. I mean, I think this is a really important critique and it's sent me into a bit of a crisis. (I tweeted some thoughts behind it - then J was like - you can't respond to ever review you know, although I didn't think of me as rebutting, but more reflecting, I mean, I was in agreement with Roxane). I mean, this is a very specific time - I am teaching on Tuesday Audre Lordes' "The Master Tools" essay & Adrienne Rich's "Notes on a Politics of Location," both dealing with acknowledging the limits of "women," of being wary of "we," of addressing how middle-class and white feminism can be, which is always how I teach women's and gender studies, the context/urgency of the intersectional. In some ways, I feel I write Heroines from a very subjective place - my politics of location , and am very wary of writing "we." And hopefully I feel my ultimate thesis - about silencing & oppression - is a political one. But I am getting wary/weary of writing from only a first-person position. I would like to radicalize. I would like to extend my reach beyond the self. I feel I'm at that point - that I need to look outside. While also somehow still meditating to and responding to my own quotidian, my own experiences. Maybe I need to change the nature of my experiences.

I have been working on an essay on Barbara Loden for now about 5 months - I leave for tour in a few days so I'm worried it wont' be done, I'll have to take it with me. The essay deals at first with the effects of isolation. I think it ends up, maybe, being about awakening and activism. I dont' know. It keeps on changing as I do. I do know - I can't always write about depression and isolation - depression/breakdown for me was a way of radicalizing, but if I continue from that myopic position I will never be able to really look at systems of oppression and violence and silencing. I want to read radical theory. I want to volunteer, participate, be involved in activism that I believe in. I want to volunteer at the local anarchist bookshop. I want to work in women's prisons. I feel, perhaps, I need to change. This blog started with that image of Frances Farmer agitating against her representation, against the oppression of her family, against the way she was being defined in the judicial system - sometimes I worry I have grown increasingly apolitical. Is writing that comes only from the self essentially apolitical? Or is it simply a different sort of politics?

I feel I need to reinvent myself. Look outside. I feel my identity - for so long - has been bound up in being depressed - sometimes I worry I don't know how to really live.

In order words, recommend me radical things to read. Radical feminist/social theory. I want to audit courses at Duke in the spring if they let me. Fred Moten is teaching a course combining Octavia Butler and Judith Butler. Elizabeth Grosz is letting me sit in on her seminar on Irigaray. There's a seminar on Gramsci, and I need to read his prison notebooks, which are sitting on my bookshelves. Of course, I do not go to Duke, nor anywhere, so I don't know if they'll let me audit. Otherwise I am considering taking undergraduate folklore/anthropology classes at UNC. I want to read books on outsider art and magic. I want figure out how to grow sprouts. I would like to read more disability studies, and history of medicine. Performance studies. Anarchism. Ecofeminism. Animal rights. Witches. Etc.