Before mercury, my blood used to fill thermometers.

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).

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