VICE's fashion spread on female writers' suicides moved me to consider what catharsis has meant to me in the past year. The absence of their work from the captions — not to qualify what's worst about the series, but that's what upset me viscerally. That was the first thing, followed by the fact that the omission was not the first thing anybody was likely to notice since that is how so many people know these authors, or it is the sole capacity in which they know them. Ugh (VICE rescinded the spread online).
Harriet quoted Ariana Reines in the LA Review of Books and I want to echo it:
...[S]he is a problem because she is a suicide, and suicides are seductive because we all want to die sometimes, and dead young women artists and dead women artists of any age are a problem because it has always been easier for this culture to love their artworks when they, the women, are not alive to interfere with our relations with them, and her precocity was and remains a problem because of its completeness and because precocity is also always resented and dismissed, and she is a problem because it has historically been too easy to praise what is dead and too difficult to nurture what lives, and she is a problem because she is a martyr and ours is a culture addicted to martyrs and martyrology and powered by competition and self-loathing, which leads to the wrong kind of death...What I derive from the work: not only that it can be extraordinary but that it can be crushingly hard. This is personal. Knowing work like Plath's is possible, to use the big example, has been as vital to my development as the validation of the difficulty, which, I shouldn't have to say how better it would be if that had never been proven or wasn't true at all. And it is shining and enlivening to see Words Right Now spring up and this, even though it's slim and is missing one of my favorite shots:
My ultimate feelings are wrapped up in what I have experienced as the premiere positive force in my post-undergraduate life, about how many impossibly skilled, serious writers are working now and doing things better and beautifully and how much I want to see them and want others to see them. I just devoured Carina Finn's Lemonworld. Her work is the most infuriatingly exciting. I am loving and luxuriating in Beyond This Point are Monsters, Roxanne Carter's second book, and it is magnificent to inhabit. Claire Donato's Burial is so necessary now:
Drying hair, damp from a shower, think, 'The morgue is a comfortable place.'But the mind, the lab is not comfortable. In the work there is no denial of life.