Before mercury, my blood used to fill thermometers.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Every window in Alcatraz has a view of San Fransisco.

I finished Ann Quinn's Berg last night and between she and Kavan and Carson I feel finally this coruscation of my idealized literature in real extant literature. I felt that way discovering Hole. Hole is my idea of the rock band, the archetypal band, the band that had to exist or I would have never made it to music. I did not like music before I was thirteen (it was no way to live). I liked reading but started to get manic, clinically nuts about it around that time because I had an intellectual growth spurt thereabouts and started to hate the books I'd always read. I exhibited ritualistic, grim trauma-reliving behavior with books, reading them again and again until I memorized long passages. The idea of abandoning a book to take up another was anxiety-inducing. Still now it feels liberating to finish a book and pick up another. And to encounter a contingent of Kurt-was-murdered advocates.

I also inhaled Bossypants this weekend and was pleased to learn Tina Fey and I have enough in common to generate some queasy I've-seen-my-doppelganger moments. As I read it alone at 2 a.m. I kept wanting to text my friends and justify these feelings by have them go "ah! crazy!" but blacked out before I could even think better of it. I'm anticipating another sweet, all engulfing-wave of anticonsciousness (beyond unconsciousness - which I love to see people confuse with the subconscious, as much as I love the classic asocial/antisocial conundrum) virtually any moment now.
The languid rubber-glove snap (you know the one!) of anticipation is the avatar on the Livejournal of my life right now. That was supposed to be a metaphor, but the extent to which it did not read as one bespeaks my desperate state too effectively for me to erase it. I am all wound up but, as you might have noted my use of the word languid, events are not, and I have to respect that. I keep forgetting that my outward appearance as feisty, go-getting, vivacious or vigorous does trick onlookers. If I can sucker myself into thinking I am that dynamic, surely I can see myself safely to reality, where I am cartoon depiction of an escargot (who wishes she were being played by Isabella Rossellini).

In closing: bat bomb.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Where the woodbine twines.

Sometime a very short time from now I'll be running a column on HarrisburgMagazine.com. The column will be about what is happening - psychically, emotionally, irrationally and otherwise - to/in the Harrisburg area. If you are unfamiliar with Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, it isn't Philadelphia or Pittsburgh. It manages to be both the capital of the state and the home of the Farm Show complex: Pennsylvania's self-flagellating idea of what it is to marry business and pleasure. It's also inhabited by the largest independent bookstore on the east coast, extraordinary economic disparity, and enough tenacity and scrappy-upstartdom to occupy innumerable short-run cult TV series.

This marks a pretty positive turn of events. If conditions persist, my bookshelf should clean itself soon. My office is packed to the periphery of my computer with books. To my immediate left is my favorite purchase from my employee discount days: the Paris Review Interviews vols. I-IV. My favorite interview therein is with Ted Hughes. Associations aside, as a writer I like very much that, Cambridge education and all, he was not advantaged: his family worked even though they were of affluent descent, he did not primarily study Literature, he had a rough time getting a job after graduating, and he worked tremendously hard. He and Plath both did. I love to read about how they had to borrow money from her mother and live with friends. It is encouraging and comforting. Carole Maso, also. She spent a decade after deciding she wanted to write writing furiously while working as a model, waitress, fencing instructor, and persevering awesomely. After that she published a lot of books - a ton, to me, having a thing for writers who manage out one or two perfect things before disintegrating. She has nine, with two forthcoming, one of which I just discovered since finding her website.

I am all about silly-job-solidarity, especially given the opportunity to do some work that's genuinely fun. I can't wait to start my column!

Monday, April 18, 2011

You made the cover of the Midnight.

My boyfriends parents took us on a flash-trip to Inner Harbor this morning so he could share with me one of his favorite places, the American Visionary Art Museum. I was familiar with it in name only, having a giant art-crush on Henry Darger.


And anyplace that claims a giant rotating Divine in its permanent collection is the capitol of my heart.

The current exhibition is "What Makes us Smile," which is quite consistent with what makes me smile: looming Abe Lincoln, bedazzled bears, and Elsa Lanchester's naked rear. My absolute favorite artist whose work was featured was Lisa Snellings - all that exquisite wire-work and warm, burnt bronze.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Shelter of the alphabet.

GLORY: I have a piece in SEAM RIPPER: Women on Textual and Sartorial Style, a series curated by Kate Durbin and Becca Klaver at the poetics journal Delirious Hem. Its name is a line of Anne Carson's and the central image is a Twilight Zone reference (and addresses my lust for Rod Serling). It ably surpasses every other accomplishment of mine so far, since I love Delirious Hem, and Kate Durbin is one of my very very favorite contemporary poets. I was totally overwhelmed, getting word of it right as I was headed to bed, and took the time to note the occasion on Facebook before I did because I am still a trite-bit (tritetritetrite) miffed about a note written by a friend about his feelings about writing versus performing, casting it in a weird, blame-shifting way - he would like to be a writer and always liked to read then studied literature and, oh, writing is so dead, it just sits there and it's over, and it's even worse online. It was irritating to read, since his medium is one that needs bolstering-from-within more than it does muckraking, but the acceptance from Seam Ripper overrode all negativity.

I don't write to be paid for it - if I ever want to be paid to write, I need to get much better at it than I am. To do that, I have to practice. As much as I do, I would love to utilize it to connect to others. Publishing does this. It exposes one to new criticism, new writers, relationships with publishers, interesting opportunities. I can empathize with a dislike for reading things on a screen, but writing is never less dead than when it is prone to access by millions. If not for the internet I would not like literature. Besides all the young, active writers I admire who I would have never, ever found my way to were it not for the internet, I would never have had the means to research and discover virtually any author whose work I enjoy because none of it is commercially available where I live.

Performance, meanwhile - and this is as subjective as it gets - puts me off. That is not to say I am opposed to performance of any kind but live performance, especially as crowd-intimacy increases and there is more potential for interaction, repels me. I have to have more aesthetic distance than most people to become fully involved with something. I ravenously lovelovelove reading and watching movies but I cannot sit and watch a play, especially a musical. I can't watch musicals at all. On film they mostly annoy me, but I can't sit and see them live at all because there is so little aesthetic distance. If I'm being confronted with the psychology of another, if my reaction is exposed and becomes part of the transaction, I can't appreciate what the artist is trying to do. I need the work to inhabit me - not another person. That's another variety of intimacy for me. It's so vividly that, too, that I wonder what it would be like to be someone who enjoys spectatorship of live performance - it seems so so lurid to me.

There are plenty of reasons I am glad not to be a performer, but I don't disparage the discipline at all. I get huffy when I encounter criticism of writing - of learning to write, of being a beginner, of trying - because I see so much of it come from writers who are starting out, out of school, or facing rejection from a program. It feels like I'm watching someone go over a precipice - losing a peer. I am exhilarated when I meet people with whom I think I'm on the same page - loving to write, working hard, connecting, persisting, engaged in the process - and then they're not.

Silly billies (having seen now the entirety of "Venture Bros." I find that phrase so sinister - also there is a local independent ice cream vendor named Silly Billy who drives a rape van and blasts the nursery-chime music - "silly billy" is totally the province of the child murderer).

Monday, April 11, 2011

Arch of Hysteria.

If one pedals on down to the center of the page one can now have the pleasure of meeting my short story "Wingbeat" in the new edition of the Bicycle Review. It's about a girl in a private hospital who was sequestered in the basement of a maniac. It is from the point of view of her psychologist, who has escapist tendencies when confronted with such an atrocity and will beat around sympathizing to editorialize on the goings-on of the hospital staff as a means to avoid confrontation with the girl, of whom she is ultimately very scared.

Earlier this year my story "Bone Flute" got cozy at Sein und Werden. It is the manic recollections of a badass whose husband has committed suicide an indeterminate amount of time ago as she is slowly snake-charming herself out of paralysis. She has a small daughter. Patti Smith's "Ghost Dance" figures significantly into the ambiance.

Otherwise, since I cannot leave it out, there is my first contribution to literary-anything: my poem "My Aura" in Gloom Cupboard, which is not very long and worth the consideration.

The occasion for this self-congratulatory aggregation: I think there is one. I have to see it form in order to properly assess it. Meanwhile I'm going to wile away my excitement into a cool haze by reading Steven Pinker in the bathtub.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Trilling.

My office is messier than I even like it to be. It is continuously fulfilling on so many planes: aesthetically, looking at All My Books, feeling the infinite-pleasure, the pleasure of the infinite that Umberto Eco studied at the Louvre and wrote about in the Infinity of Lists which I always misremember as an Infinity of Lists, as if infinity were a form. I am fetishistic about lists. In order to admire, I aggregate. I used to take rigorous inventory of my media when I was little and it all fit in one shelving unit anyway. My office is the first real clean visual listmaking endeavor I've gotten to undertake since my room is the size of a fist. But since I have space now I fill it, and there are too many books in here. The Joel-Peter Witkin monograph Disciple and Master and the Persistence of Vision Kenneth Anger volume Moonchild which I remembered was the real name of the Childlike Empress from the Neverending Story, the first work in translation I ever read, which hatched my concept of translation. My boyfriend was talking about it. I have been in many a situation where I gleefully watched a roomful of friends try and fail to remember the name of the dragon but my boyfriend is incredible (limitlessly) enough that I offered over, very easily, Falcor.

Those books I am reading for research on my current long work. Art, magic, illusion, film, escapism, the Freudian psychosexual fairytale, the economy, the home. I am pretty scattered about the work but the work is knitting itself up nice and well. I have also the columns of, like, King Kong Theory by Virginie Despentes and Female Chauvinist Pigs and things that conflagrated my senior-thesis which I was encouraged by my advisor to revise and publish. It was really a jumbled mess of thesis statements, each their own, and a long interlude about Last Year at Marienbad. The Marienbad interlude was the best part, even though much of my insight is my arriving independently and inarticulately at very established forms of all kinds of criticism. I am very great - great! - about never shelving anything indefinitely. I take old plots and characters and obsessions out and walk them with some regularity. I can trace the ancestry of current projects back as far as the beginning of my thing for writing. So I am not as neurotic as I should be about setting that aside. I only graduated a year ago.

Two typewriters reside with me here, very stately and well-preserved - they make me think of someone freaking out over Nietzsche's aphorisms, the spawn of his move from longhand to typewritten composition - his ideas became more concisely delivered and that was viewed as a negative. I have in my room in my other bookshelf my one completed long work that is currently looking for a home at a press printed out and staring at me. I love to hold it and flip through it. I only printed one copy on flimsy bleached printer paper to edit it once, and this is my only other copy, on resume paper, thick and glorious and so innately rewarding. If I could operate one of my typewriters and face draft after draft and feel the thickening as it occurred - I am lucky to be doing what I do now. Or I would be doing that all day.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The snows of the Tyrol the clear beer of Vienna.

The girl who sits beside me at work dropped out of high school. Anticipating an utterance, she'll stare at me for several minutes before asking me a question. One day it was about the book I was reading, Ice by Anna Kavan. I told her Anna Kavan usually writes about girls going insane, even though that isn't what Ice is about. Today she asked me about my shirt, and I told her, it's a first-print cover of the Bell Jar, which she had never heard of. She asked me what it was about, and I told her it's about a girl going insane. So far this is almost all I've said aloud at my job.