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Monthly Archives: December 2013

Today I’m thinking about the Self and the Other, or trying to–Lacan is not the easiest person to read. I’ve never taken a class on philosophy, or even studied much theory, but I find it really interesting and generative. I guess this is practice for finding things to read post-school.

I’m having a lot of anxiety right now over the writing in my thesis that I haven’t done, that I need to do to fill in the spaces that keep it from being a whole book, not just a collection of things thinking from the same brain. There are plenty of people who dislike the so-called ‘project’ books coming out of MFA programs, and while I agree that framed/narrative-based poetry books don’t always NEED to be so structured, that’s also my favorite kind of poetry book to read–when it’s written that way because the writing demands it. I tend to be that kind of writer, thinking about the whole of the book, as I tend to read poetry books that way. I read an interview recently with an old professor of mine in which he declared you can always read any book of poetry in any order, and I winced. I mean, of course you can. But at least the first time through, why not spend some time working through the structure that was so carefully put together for the reader’s benefit?

All this to say I’m working on thinking today.

I woke up this morning to little scrambling noises coming from somewhere in the ceiling vicinity, and now our whole apartment smells like skunk. I’ve been carrying a scented candle with me from room to room.

I’ve been reading the various articles and comments on the recent HTMLGiant controversy, despite my vow to never read a comments section ever again. I saw Leigh Stein’s post first, and I didn’t feel a need to go back and read Garett Strickland’s original post. After reading Leigh Stein, I had thoughts like, Sounds familiar and This again. Then someone else linked to Dena Rash Guzman’s post on Luna Luna, a bit longer and angrier, more of a call for change, and I did go back into The Internet and read Strickland’s original post, “The Zambreno Doll.” I even read every single comment. I don’t think it’s necessary for me to keep explaining what was wrong with Strickland’s post, since I agree with both Stein and Guzman, but I do feel like saying something.

In the comment section that Strickland involved himself in, he repeatedly objected to being called a misogynist. He saw nothing wrong with the way that he had rendered Kate Zambreno in a public sphere, because he didn’t hate all women, just one woman. He was not, in that moment, dehumanizing all women, just one woman. I’m reminded of another open letter I read less than two months ago, published in the school newspaper here at UA: “An open letter to the boys of the street,” by Amanda Moore. Every time a woman walks down the street and gets dehumanized by a catcall, the catcaller isn’t targeting every woman, but the impulse and the presumption and the comfort with which the threat is made comes from a culture wherein it’s normal for men to make women feel unsafe in public places. And women, too often, walk on silently, because we’ve been taught to avoid confrontation.

I initially backed away from Stein’s post in a similar way, shrugging the half-smile I gave two days ago to the middle-aged man who pulled up next to my bike and rolled his window down to leer at me and ask about the temperature. Strangers apparently get to call me darling and sweetie. The name sweetie gets pulled out as a term of condescension in arguments, as though to name someone as feminine is to name them as lesser (yeah, I watch the Real Housewives). I can’t even get into the ways in which I’ve been disrespected by male students, but.

Strickland is upset because having to ask to enter a conversation humiliated him, because he feels targeted due to his gender—welcome to the fucking club. I’ve been conditioned to apologize. I know the value in apology. Apologizing often helps continue a conversation, and it helps the apologizer reconsider their past and future actions. Strickland refuses to see what’s wrong with his actions, saying he would only apologize if “it hurt her feelings — in particular if she told me so”—in this I hear the boy on the street making the catcall, not because he actually thinks it will lead to anything, but because he’s looking to observe and take pleasure in some fear and humiliation.

Also LH:

It is a way of saying, I want you, too, to have this experience, so that we are more alike, so that we are closer, bound together, sharing a point of view–so that we are “coming from the same place.” It is possible to be homesick in one’s own neighborhood.

Every family has its own collection of stories, but not every family has someone to tell them.

– Lynn Hejinian

And/or, my thesis. I keep coming across these lines that would be great epigraphs, if only I were more into epigraphs. I’d prefer a cleaner sort of approach for this project–the reader coming to meet the poem on the page as if it were a photograph. No context but the title, and the rest of the book.

B and I are finally back from a Thanksgiving trip to New Jersey, full of pizza and sushi and barely any poetry at all. I’ve always had trouble focusing at home, so it’s good to be back. Also, I get this kind of greeting in Tuscaloosa:

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How is the year going by so fast? I feel like I’ve only just gotten started on my thesis, but it’s almost 2014, the Great Deadline, the Year That Used to Seem So Far Away. I feel like all I do these days is sit around and sigh about the future.