Tuesday, August 31, 2010

womb-tomb of decadent closure

I recently discovered (...err, was forced to read) Emily Dickinson, Kate Chopin and Kathy Acker.
I sort of want to carry on this with "DUUUUUUUUUUDE. DUDE. SO. FREAKING. WONDERFUL." but that's not very classy or articulate.

So. Emily Dickinson. Why haven't I read you before? Why did I dismiss you as some sort of American Jane Austen prim princess when you are a masochistic, sadistic, death dancing, church hating, desirous wonder-babe? I have seen the error of my ways, and boy. I love being wrong about words. Dickinson is fantastic - she packs more into a four line poem than Wordsworth ever did. She's so quietly vicious, so uptight. Her poems are like being laced into a corset, they're like shouting in the middle of the night, they are pinpricks of perfection. She is so incredibly stealthy, you don't even notice the bodily language you're using until you read it back.

Of course, none of the boys in my American Literature class are willing to give her any credit. She was "locked away". She had no "life experience". She was "socially inept". Listen, there's a big difference between "locked away" and choosing to reject the world. There's a whole world, a new language in her work that Dickinson created that I (and you, smelly boy) could never have dreamed up. It's bodily metaphysics. And besides, Allen Ginsberg loved her, so you have her to thank for those three famous lines you know. Talk to me when you've read the rest of Howl.

Ahem. Sorry. The dismissive nature of the boys in some of my classes is beginning to get to me.

So. I am in love with Emily Dickinson's words. I have also been heavily influenced by Camille Paglia's work Sexual Persona which recasts Dickinson as a female Marquis de Sade. I cannot get enough of stuff like that.

The next woman that has recently entered my life is Kate Chopin. Another American, but from the South. We read The Awakening for Women's Lit, and the best way to describe it is the first of the unhappy married women who undergoes sexual awakening novels. Except that doesn't do it justice at all. It's a powerful novel, powerful and beautiful and warm, with New Orleans and Grand Isle so vivid you can taste the sun. Edna Pontellier, the anti-heroine, is amazing. Her politics of refusal, the way she says no and refuses to give reason, is breath taking. This book is the first fin-de-seicle/Decadent book I have ever read by a woman, and I want to know more. I want to devour all her beautiful words again and again, all that lace, all that choked breath, that female Oscar Wilde, the knowing outsider. It's naturalism, you can hear her Darwinian thinking, her Greek Decadence. I feel like I always say this, but The Awakening is one of the most perfect books I have ever read by a woman.

Kathy Acker. The third American. The pickpocket. The whore. The woman who took a look at authorship and told it to fuck off. There are no words to describe Kathy Acker and The Adult Life of Toulouse Lautrec by Herni Toulouse Lautrec apart from nightmare thievery. Like Dickinson, she's bodily. Like Chopin she's refusing. Like neither of them she's pushing her way into and through desire, to satisfaction and away from it again. It's a mindfuck, complete with Henry Kissinger. My family would all hate it. Acker cheats you, cheats you the way she was cheated. Makes you push your boundaries, says "if you're some stupid boy going through a James Dean phase, I'm going to take James Dean and make you rethink him completely without changing a fucking thing."

C'est Magnifique, these women. With their desire and their anger. I don't think I knew women wrote like that. They are so refreshing, so terrifying, so beautiful, so dangerous.

Nothing else happens in my life except reading at the moment. Oh, and I saw Inception twice. For the explosions.

Sunday, August 15, 2010


The only reason I picked up the book in the shop was because Joseph Gordon-Levitt was looking devastating on the cover. There, I said it. I didn't expect the book to be amazing. I had no hopes for the film.

Sometimes, I really really love being wrong.

I read Mysterious Skin in one night. I remember staying up and having my throat aching the way it does when I'm tired. It was hot, Sydney being indecisive in summer, as I read about Brian Lackey and Neil McCormick. It was heartbreaking. There's not really anything uplifting about this book, except the occasional beauty in the language. It's about trying to find out who you were, and how you were that person. It's growing up in the most awful awful way. And it was all the anger, all the confusion, all the fucking hormones that I had, tied up and presented messily. It was the most believable story about aliens and being an alien I've ever read.

And then there's the film. I hate film versions of books (especially wretched Merchant Ivory). But Gregg Araki's film was exactly what I wanted. The dreamy music, the hick town, Brady Corbett as darling Brian, trying to remember the summer he was eight years old. Joseph Gordon-Levitt as cutthroatfragile Neil, who can't forget that summer. Even Michelle Tratchenberg was awesome. The whole movie captures that knife edge, when you know you're not quite grown up, but you so desperately want to be (I feel like I've been on that edge since I was about 7), when life feels hyper-real and the towns feel too small. It's confronting and gut wrenching. Mysterious Skin is unforgettable.

Saturday, August 14, 2010


........I'm beginning to feel like maybe I have a real life beyond a computer screen. This is disconcerting, but not unwelcome. It's a like actually experiencing something, as opposed to wanting to. Of course, this does mean that I'm in a quandary over my position as a subject or an object, but I figure as long as I'm craving macaroons and a houseboat, I'm probably a subject.

I'm currently trying to analyse an utterly stupid passage from Richardson's Pamela. It's stupid, stupid and stupid and I feel stupid about it, which is also stupid. I alienated everyone in one of my tuts by accidentally letting slip the fact that sometimes, the way everyone is so obsessed with the sixties irritates me. But I didn't really explain myself. What I meant was, we go on and on about the sixties being free, and how good it was. We don't do anything to try and make our own sixties.

So clearly now, all the boys who think they're Bob Dylan won't talk to me. Which phases me not! For I was always a Mick Jagger girl! Even though these days I find it difficult to look at him!

Besides, who needs Dylan when you have Bre&Eva?? Bre is one of the most amazing people I know, and on Wednesday she and Eva played their first open mic night at a pub in Glebe. It was intimate and wonderful. They did a cover of Aqua's "Dr Jones" which was adorable, and a song in French about Grand Theft Auto. It was so lovely to watch people have fun, and to have fun myself.

I spent today having lots of fun. I was supposed to be at a funeral, but I didn't want to spend the day being sad and angry, so I danced around to KISS and thought of funny things. And refused to be guilty, which is what I feel funerals are. A big guilt party. Well, fuck that.

And on that poignant note, I better go finish this ridiculous English paper.

.............if I ever. EVER. look like I'm going to take three English subjects at once, hit me.