divorced but not devout

June 25, 2011 § Leave a comment

LA Review of Books Editor's Note

Well, this is perhaps not the best way to jump back into posting – by linking to a long editor’s note that is a review of a review of reviews. But it’s an interesting nesting doll, so I wanted to bring attention to it. I LOVED the idea of limiting the scope of reviewing to those books that you would bother trying to describe to someone you want to sleep with. Impractical? Sure. And yet as a litmus test of what is interesting and worth the time and energy involved in book reviews, it’s provocative and not so inaccurate, and gets to the heart of what interests people – so much better than bland coverage of the latest releases.

I also liked* (asterisk here because it’s a flawed argument, but if I were on facebook or something I would “like” it) Gumport’s gall in suggesting that we should write for our friends, our imagined lovers, our intimate circle. Again, impractical, but we all have imagined readers for our work, and those imagined readers aren’t strangers. They’re our friends, or people we wish were our friends, or some version of ourselves, or some version of an authority figure. And when we write for those readers there is something at stake, we write in a more personal voice* (again, asterisk because so much can be said here about voice and whether that voice is truly ever ours and when is it most ours and does that depend on what we’re writing and who we’re writing for and blah blah), we write with a light and a heat that isn’t there when we write for strangers. And, folks, that kind of lit-up writing is what I like to write and what I like to read. It’s the kind of writing that feeds my soul and teaches me and irritates me and bruises me. It engages and enlivens, and so much of literary criticism and literary everything nowadays is missing the spark. Maybe tightening our circles and focusing on the orgy is the way to bring it back.

Or, hey, just watch this Tonight Show clip. Good song about sexual frustration. Great album.
M

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June 3, 2011 § 1 Comment

Really? Like, really really?

Things Jonathan Franzen Likely Finds Cowardly

Here’s a confession – I would be a mess if I held the tiniest smidgen of fame. I get emotional and lose perspective occasionally often all the fucking time. Can you imagine what would become of me, or of you, if our every move and mood were followed by quote-hungry journalists and bloggers, our every stray written word published and criticized at length?

J-Franz is an artist. Dude can write, and he does it well. That doesn’t make him some kind of paragon of emotional maturity. Would we ever have held Hemingway or Mailer to that standard? Those guys were assholes, to women, to their friends and enemies, probably to kittens and small children too. As a voyeuristic and prurient culture we now take our heroes, literary or otherwise, and delve into their personhood and require them to strut and prance like show ponies or exotic dancers, and then at the first sign of imperfection (uneven forelock, cellulite, whatever) we rip them to shreds.

How ’bout everyone knock it off and read and engage and create a meaningful discussion? Can we do that, or is the future really going to be one of bitch and snark and tiny soundbites of vitriol?

M

PS – I think Pert Plus is cowardly, too. Buy two fucking bottles, okay? Shampoo and conditioner. Your hair will thank you.

I do not want people to be very agreeable…

June 1, 2011 § 1 Comment

Just for the record, I’m not going to stop being creeped out by this foursquare thingamabob. Someone I know likes to call it “Hey everyone, I’m not home so feel free to come rob me!” But if you’re female and have any experience in the actual world, it’s also called “Hey, creepy dude who won’t take no for an answer, here’s a list of my favoritest places and a constant update about when and where I am!”

Ugh. But anyway. HTMLGiant posted a response to Franzen’s essay/commencement speech. Much more interesting, though, are the responses to the response (and the responses to the responses to the response? Those are so gravy they’re practically meta…) I always hate it when someone decides to shoot down an entire line of thought because s/he can find a single exception or an instance where the argument is worded too strongly. We’re human! We’re made to discuss and refine our thoughts in conversation, in connection with others, and so I value all criticism and responses in the world – but a great and artistic mind is one that can be blustery and overblown sometimes, using a slightly too-large brushstroke or a more garish color than necessary, in the process of exposing a larger truth (David Foster Wallace, anyone? He’d be as great with half the footnotes and we all know it, but we indulge and even revel in his excess because of the huge-ass beauty and truth he gets at). Point out the brushstroke and the color, sure, but don’t throw out the painting. Franzen might be a dick and he might be crazy overexposed, but he’s not wrong.

Here’s the thing: Franzen vs. Internet vs. Love vs. Iskandrian

M

self-invention like Rube Goldberg

May 25, 2011 § Leave a comment

http://www.themillions.com/2011/05/the-importance-of-unwritten-postcards.html

I’m kind of with this guy and kind of not. On the one hand, I am intimately familiar with the isolation he describes and how it allows you to create and destroy and re-create yourself in the absence of people who, well-meaning though they may be, remind you of who you were (or worse, who they thought you were) and end up weighing you down into that identity. I knew from an early age that I’d have to run away if I was going to end up anything like I wanted to be – and shit, guys, did I run. From Florida, from family, from Boston and boys, back to Boston and boys, from academia, from marriage. In most cases I was running not from anyone/anything else but myself and a potential future that I couldn’t stand living. Mental and physical isolation was necessary, and I wouldn’t undo any of it. Not enough people give themselves the space and aloneness and time to try on a new self or even assess the current one.

And yet. Does it have to be done that way? There is an incredible sense of comfort and safety in being connected to people, having a language and common knowledge of each other’s histories and embarrassing moments. There are things going on in my life that are painful, and I could keep those inside and turn them endlessly like stones in a tumbler – but if I share them with a few amazing friends while dancing to ’90s jams, I feel understood and the wounds don’t sting quite so much. And that constant sharing doesn’t tie me down because my friends don’t want me to STAY me, they want me to BECOME me. How cool is that?

M

games you can’t win because you’ll play against you

May 19, 2011 § 3 Comments

Two steps forward, one step back. This is just what it is, sometimes. I re-read Nietzsche’s “On the Genealogy of Morals” (yes, that’s right, re-read, as in to do it again. I can be that motherfucking smart. Really), and then I zone out for days on “My So-Called Life”. I go for a run, my first voluntary running experience EVER, and I am actually decent at it, and then I fail at jumping rope. I have a kickass mom-kid talk about friendship and how to communicate with people, and then I get my feelings hurt by a friend and promptly do all the things that even an 8-year old knows are unproductive and self-indulgent. I tell a couchful of almost-strangers my entire life story, traumatic shit and bad behavior and everything, in an effort to be honest and be held accountable for myself, and then…well, that was just tonight so the step back is still a day or two away. But I know it’s coming.

So on the brink of my 34th birthday, I look at the steps taken, forward and back and often diagonally, and I wonder where the hell I’m going. Is there a path? If there is, can I be trusted to follow it? Logically I know I can’t be the only one so mired in a perpetual post-adolescent confusion, but everyone else my age seems to have it so much more together. They have jewelry, like real jewelry. And hairstyles. They don’t share clothes with their daughters. They’re not mistaken for babysitters or college students. They do yoga and drink coffee beverages and push expensive strollers that don’t fit through doorways. And while I don’t want to be one of them, not ever ever in a million years, not even if it means being able to recline on a rug softer than Usher’s baby-soft skin, even still…I don’t want to be lost forever. When I blow out the candles on my invisible cake, this smeary plea will be my wish.

mother medusa

May 1, 2011 § Leave a comment

Here. Consider it a gift, this song – from me to you. Happy and sad and hopeful and hopeless. I’m liking today, and I’m loving this weekend and all the time I got to spend with a couple of amazing people. And now I’m “Flowers for Algernon”-ing, because I know me and I know hormones and I know I can’t hold onto this feeling. But I can feel it now and play the shit out of a good song.

M

smiles form the channel of a future tear

April 30, 2011 § 1 Comment

Pensive morning, this. Too much stuff going on and too many people trying to tell me what to do about said stuff, and me with not enough trust to go round and too much of said trust invested unwisely.

This song reminds me of being 18 and wondering what my life would be, what I would make it. At the time I found its downtrodden sadsack narrative so romantic. Doomed relationships, fucked up lives, now THAT’S what my future will be like!

Here I am, and it is actually like that, and it’s way less romantic. But for any of you whose impression of me is one of opportunity wasted, think again – I was aiming pretty low to begin with.

M