11 September 2006

psalm

Sometimes I lose heart.

The seemingly endless chase to be the bought and sold novel—that inherited product—the form dictated it seems now exclusively by economy and some weird
literary . . . “show.”

I still believe art may function to challenge the state, and not act in the service of it.

It is a choice.

To liberate art, over and over again.

To speak a body.

Sacred song.

What may be the worth of women writers, were they to choose it.

To speak a body untethered from the so-called aims of narrative and economy.

Narratives authenticated and legitimized by consumerism—its shapes not mine.

It’s plot, trajectories ever thrusting forward, not mine.

Its leaving unsaid unwritten unseen the story of humanity and ordinary corporeal experience in favor of the story of the privileged; its entertainment value. Its wholesale price. Its distribution.

It’s inability to account for space, interval, gesture, touch, sound, retinal flash.

To speak a body.

To speak the true saga of desire—not the action driven capture of an object one—rather, the relentless and perpetual story of all creativity and being. Timeless and dark and spatial and repetitive as waves.

The what if story were repetition.

The what if story were fragments strung together as a life.

With all the chaos housed there.

Resisting narrative cohesion.

With all the disintegrations and dissolutions.

Resisting narrative telos.

Without a hero, but fully bodied, nonetheless.

The silence before.

Corporeal text enunciation.

Open your mouth.

Close your eyes.

Keep your hands loose and open and pointed palm side up.

The what if of a story dipping in and out of myth, epic, identity, spatiality.

Endlessly.

The what if story were a series of gestures, or color, or light.

Why not.

Why let the novel stick in this static and dead-end shiny product.

Consumer culture’s throw-away lover.

Easy, yes.

Thoughtless, yes.

No one needs to fight or resist or do anything but buy and watch and go to sleep well satiated with bon bons.

Why do this to language, to bodies, to stories.

I understand, we get tired. Our lives are fundamentally driven by speed and doing.

If we are writers, we want to be legitimized, even by illegitimate sources.

If we are publishers, we want our “businesses” to “profit” – isn’t that good for writers?

If we are teachers, we want to be either loved or revered.

But could we not forgive ourselves?

Surrender?

Imagine different things to do with our money?

Our desire, our psychic want?

Remember a body and its lifeline to matter?

I put my palm on the bark of a redwood tree outside of my ordinary house and I close my eyes and breath and the amplification of my own heartbeat and my imagination’s half archeological half geological drive down into the ground where earthen rootedness overtakes television buzz and freeway hum remembers me.

It is ludicrously simple, a gesture like this.

Or this: I am in a bath, just a woman taking a bath, and suddenly my cunt is more than the object of a culture’s obsession, my aging is wisdom rather than depreciation, I am not a property losing value, I am no longer a voice moving toward the silence of not being published, I am a delicious gathering of mounds and tits and caves and corporeal reality, gushing and pulsing and without edges. My blood and my piss and my cum and my tears all remembering me. My imagination let loose again, back to her breathable blue past.

Why is that?

Why is it a woman in a bath can shoot herself to her origins, and a woman in the world is a slave? Yes the forms have changed, but still we chase inherited forms: wife, mother, writer.

Why do we take that?

Where’s the story which will liberate us from ourselves?

What moves us makes us.

It bothers me less and less that I cannot achieve legitimacy from illegitimate sources.

I want to read a story which remakes me away from this death of a life.

I want to face-off with a painting—its colors and composition and textures and gestures--more passionately than any lovers I’ve had.

I want my head to lose its thinking—spinning wheel—inside the language of music—its patterns and rhythms and dissonances and improvizations.

I want to be undone by art, remade in its image, for my world and its articulations, beautiful as they have been, have left me as yet unnamed.

I want to turn away from my so-called legitimized meaning-making forms: medicine, law, religion, government, philosophy, economy—and turn toward making itself, which is my own body—a metaphor for all of experience.

Where are the Whitmans? The Steins?

What has happened that we are blind and deaf and dumb, only able to score the fancy jobs or out-publish our sisters or eat dinner out in place of cooking and cleaning or shout at the television or stand in the street with some impotent hand-painted sign, our babies in expensive contraptions securing them to our chests, or in high-powered rugged-wheeled mountain bike strollers the price of a month’s rent?

What is it that drives us to purchase shoes and drink lattes and worry about the years writing their story across the flesh of our bodies, so much so we join health clubs or buy exercise videos and compliment one another when we see the pounds of flesh leaving? Why do we let go of the power of that story—skin story—heartbeat—what we think in deeper spaces—what we feel without telling—how we love in spite of its stolen and rotten definitions?

I know a woman artist in Lithuania who fed her children on dirt and roots and potatoes and weeds and the milk from a cow and rain water for four years.

Still they grew.

There is no story of this woman.

There is no “news.”

History writes itself on the small backs of children.

Women carry.

The woman is a painter. All of her canvasses carry images of children, women, men needing care.

They do not “sell” on the art market, so to speak. But we—those who have chanced to know her—buy them. Tell everyone we know. Visit her. Bring her the domestic things that make a home generative. Write stories which carry her.

They keep her alive.

She keeps me alive.

This is my prayer for women’s writing, that it untethers itself and surrenders to the free-floating possibility of making. Timeless. Repetitive. Corporeal.

I do not mean to sound “womanly.” Or feminist. Lately these categories have been co-opted, quite slyly and sadly. I mean only to insist on the body as a metaphor for experience, generative of new forms, for everyone, but perhaps most urgently accessed by women writers, were they to choose it.

Generative of a new economy—one in the service of living and loving and making.

Intellectually stunning.

Without apology.

11 comments:

Lee said...

Thanks for this. Do you know how sick to death I am of the buy me buy me buy me author blogs?

Hine Te-Po said...

Perhaps we need to redefine the scope of women as writers. Women have always written - perhaps not as Janet Frame, Patricia Grace, or Margaret Mahy - but as Pete's mum, caregiver, or next of kin. We write about home and family - the scrapbook thing for many. We write letters to schools, doctors, and other professional bodies in pursuit of the welfare of homelife in general. Most of this work is unpaid, repetitive and corporeal - lived experiences on a daily basis.

Kass Fleisher said...

intellectually stunning.

-kass

Marc Lowe said...

The what if story were repetition.

The what if story were fragments strung together as a life.


This "what if" story you so passionately and poetically suggest -- is this not all that our lives, all of us, male and/or female, consist of? vis-à-vis said repetitions/fragments strung together, simultaneously incohesive/cohesive, a soupy succession of "memories, dreams, reflections" reflected/repeated endlessly in distinct, yet uncannily related/redundant, sequences?

Where’s the story which will liberate us from ourselves?

It is likely the story of ourselves, if only we could understand "it" well enough (and I don't mean intellectually) to allow it to liberate...But where does it reside?!? [...]

Without apology.

Without apology.

Best,
~m

blonde said...

thank you lee, me too.

hin te po: yep.

kass: merci and blush and we need to have a drink.

marc: utter agreement--also not exlusive of anyone. just particularly sitting there wide open for women's writing to amplify and explore. where does it reside? most likely in both corporeal existence and maybe inside what writers like natalie saurraute called "tropisms..." heh. let's find it.

love to all,
lid

Anonymous said...

Hine Te-Po:
"Women have always written - perhaps not as Janet Frame, Patricia Grace, or Margaret Mahy - but as Pete's mum, caregiver, or next of kin. We write about home and family - the scrapbook thing for many. We write letters to schools, doctors, and other professional bodies in pursuit of the welfare of homelife in general. Most of this work is unpaid, repetitive and corporeal - lived experiences on a daily basis."

Oh please - give me a break. Do you realise how silly you sound? Imagine the word 'women' in the above being replaced by the word 'men'. It's easy to imagine because it's just as true. Men also write, in exactly the way you describe.

Really, I thought all this kind of witless, touchy-feely, gender divisive, New Age crap was something that had long been left behind. You should get out more.

blonde said...

ha well kudos for the feistiness there, anonymous person.

however: if you are referring at all to my post too, then you are misreading it--since it is radically NOT about witless, touchy-feely, gender divisive, new age crap.

quite the opposite.

i'd call it a literary insurgence via the body.

i just think women ought to wake the fuck up and ride that horse, since it's sitting in front of them.

oh and by the way, the realm of the domestic aint any of the things you rail against either. it's actually an intensively intellectual and corporeal place.

if you want to duel, use your name and bring it on. i'm your man. heh.

love lidia

Carol Novack said...

To "Blonde" -- Yes yes, though I don't relate to your "body" talk. There are women and men writers seeking understanding of themselves and them selves in their world, in the worlds, in all of our worlds, as we see them, in our minds and hearts (mind/heart is the same character in Chinese), sometimes even writing a bit Steinish.

To me, the lyrical, the rhythm flow of our selves (beyond & no thing but body/heart/mind) is the song of the unconscious, the song of dreams, manifestation of exploration, expression of wisdom we don't know we have if we're writing AS LIBERATED.

I don't write as woman. I used to rave against men, but my anger departed with my youth. I don't write as mother, as I'm not a mother. I rarely write about MY family by blood, as I have little. I write in metaphor. The State is metaphor and I loathe it, and everything I write is an expression of my cry against State, against the World of the Homo Sapiens, but mostly FOR the THE (a la Wallace Stevens), the THE that's inside me, inside you, inside . . . a something which is not a thing, a not body, not spirit, just an is.

Lance Olsen said...

Well, the greatest poets of the twentieth century, The Kinks, probably said it best:

Girls will be boys and boys will be girls.

Beyond that, it's all theory, and theory doesn't stop things from happening.

So for me Ms. Mister Blonde is describing luminously a moment of opportunity that all serious innovative writers can and should and do enter and inhabit and explore.

Call it liquid architecture.

Your goybirl,
L

blonde said...

hey carol:

that first paragraph is PRECISELY part of my point, i merely highlighted my speaker position because i'm tired of masking it. i don't need other people to write as mothers and womanly bodied. i just want new forms to emerge. so do you, twinkle.

and lance: the term goybirl and the phrase liquid architecture about made me pee my pants.

LOVE THEM.

merci.

lid

Carol Novack said...

Heya lovely Lid -- I want new beings to emerge. New forms follow. Or -- ok, for you, Lance & Deb -- it's a matter of housing reform. :-)