Saturday, February 9, 2008
la rebelde tagged all her readers with the following meme. since i've been itching to be tagged by someone, i took it personally.
here it is:
Pick up the closest book of 123 pages or more (no cheating!)
Find page 123
Find the first five sentences
Post the next three sentences
these are my three sentences:
"I wake at first light, even if I have blacked out every window in the room, no matter how late I got to bed the night before. It is as if I had slept myself out, used up that talent in that long terrible dragged-out yhear, and now I'm doomed to come awake early every morning, suddenly, completely, my heart pounding in my ears as if someone were screaming in the next room. [para break] 'It's your circadian rhythm,'Anna told me."
the passage is from dorothy allison's trash. i've been reading this book a helluva lot slower than i want to. mostly because the time before sleep is a bit more, uh, unpredictable than usual as of late. every time i open the book, i jump in and want to be drenched, but usually i have to emerge sooner than i would like. my reading has taken a toll in the last couple weeks or so. whereas i used to devour, i now mostly nibble. but there is something about this particular book that is so immediate and gripping for me. i think it's because it is allison before she became established, before the benchmark bastard or the breathtaking cavedweller. the writing is raw, unslick, and not nearly as virtuosic. and that is what is so compelling for me.
there's been a lot going around in the blogs i read about "failure." profacero and prof black woman among others. it's funny because i had only realized recently--while i was writing the MAP grant--that ideas of "failure" have been a part of my creative aesthetic for a very long time. of course, the other thing about these posts on failure is (at least with the academics) they will often reference judith halberstam's scholarship on queerness and failure. this is where i'm very happy i am not longer in academia because i don't feel obliged to analyze or block quote halberstam. (besides, prof bw does a good job of that anyway.)
and, i do take issue with some of halberstam's argument. something i discussed with her at length about two years ago when i met her. but in this creative moment, it does give me pause. i always thought i was steeped in failure (or imperfections) because i wasn't rigorous enough, or i was lazy. but i have come to realize that some of my most rigorous work is predicated on inevitable failure (my female body enacting icons of masculinity, obsession with "almost" unison notes, etc.). perfection in flaw. success in failure.
if halberstam's argument about queerness and failure is really true, does it mean that my aesthetic is that deeply rooted in my queerness? am i "hardwired" for failure? would my parallel universe straight kt twin be slick as slick can be? this reminds me of another theory i discussed at length in college that said that queerness is performance, and all performance is inherently queer. part of me shakes my head, and then part of me nods emphatically.
reading allison has brought me back to this. she is such a stunning writer. she creates intricate and nuanced sentences with deceptively simple words and prose. clear yet precise. and just beautiful. yet, especially in trash, there are moments of rupture. little specks of ugly mixed into the beauty. and i love those moments, even though i can actually feel allison trying to will those moments out of her writing. she eventually succeeds; it shows later on in cavedweller, where the language is so smooth and polished, it's butter.
anyway, thanks for the tag, la rebelde. i'm tagging everyone who wants to do this meme. it's fun, ya know?