by Carina on Jan.08, 2014
I generally don’t get on with women. They make me feel competitive and inadequate and too-powerful and too-beautiful and hideously ugly and like I will never be able to fold a piece of paper and tear it perfectly upon the created axis with just my hands. Nevertheless I have found myself constantly in the company of women, having gone to a single-sex college and being a “woman poet” and a member of a former girl band and now working on a pastry team composed of all but one woman. Also perhaps because I bear the physical markers of the female I am labeled a woman-[whatever] and therefore grouped with other humans who are perceived by others or self-identify as women.
Continue reading “ON WOMEN, WELLS OF LONELINESS, FEMALES IN THE WILD, THE DAILY NEWS.” »
by Carina on Aug.09, 2013
August 7, 2013
Last night I spent a long time in a hammock in the foothills of some mountains beneath the Perseid meteor shower. I was thinking about lyric poetry and I was thinking about technology; I had let my phone die and then I did not look for a charger. There was no cell service or internet regardless, and I wanted to have an unimpeded closeness with the natural. Back on the internet, where this text will ultimately reside, there has been a lot of talk about Lyric versus Conceptual Poetry. Because I have no internet I can not directly address any of the specific things that have been said, and I am glad.
For a few months now I’ve been trying to think theoretically about unicorns. I was not at the bar when the friend of a friend said that unicorns must be a little suicidal, but since then I have been thinking about the relationship between suicide and immortality. As an immortal the death drive is a luxury, a tantrum. There is only the slope from the top of the hill; futility.
Perhaps all acts of art-making are gestures in the direction of the death drive. The Lyric is trying to kill something. The assertion of an “I” is a violence. The violence is done to language and the page and the addressee as well as the writing self — no victims are spared, no trauma is unreasonable. The assault is accepted because the stakes are so high: what’s offered as reward is some iteration of the divine. The act of writing lyric poetry, of manipulating the fabric (language) of subjectivity, is an enormous assumption. It requires a rakishness or recklessness, particularly with regard to the emotions of others. Because the deliberate articulation which is characteristic of the lyric is so manipulated, it becomes manipulative. What passes through language is desire; emotion and desire are, at their closest meeting point, the same.
Conceptual Poetry does not set out with this same intention. Rather than straining something through a mesh it creates a faux-solid, a facade. Notions of interiority are irrelevant because apathy is fundamental; there’s nothing inside, there’s not supposed to be anything inside.
Death and apathy are close, barely a border between them. Conceptualism as a movement in art is a response to the deadness of Art. It is urban, it is reactionary. Its relationship to natural form takes a step towards the uncanny. It is the purged and the purgative. Art post-death is an existential edge.
There is pleasure in an empty box in that it can be a vehicle for the creation of furthermore elaborate imaginary boxes, until they become not boxes at all anymore — this is the lyric impulse. The conceptual impulse is to dwell upon the object’s qualities of box-ness and emptiness. This is a purity. But we cannot confuse it with the mantra of “no ideas but in things.” Where Williams sought to abstract from the object, conceptualism strives to prohibit abstraction. There is nothing going on here other than exactly what is going on; not what you see, what is.
The conceptual posits an always-already dead, squaring off against the reluctant vivacity of the lyric. In both instances we see examples of the Unicorn Paradox: the conceptual can’t kill itself because it is already dead, the lyric cannot kill itself because it is immortal.
by Carina on Jun.13, 2013
So I went off the internet for like a day yesterday because I had sad friends scattered throughout the city and I thought I could make better use of my time in cheering them up than in sitting at a desk and staring at a computer screen. I was right. After a day of walks in the park, cigarettes on various fire escapes, and experiments in cooking with balsamic-truffle oil glaze and teeny tiny bowtie pasta, I settled into my room to paint and edit poems for an hour before the very reasonable hour at which I went to bed.
Which is why I woke this morning at 6 AM to read my horoscopes and check my e-mail and saw that I had been tagged or mentioned in a bunch of things across social media outlets regarding this “Poem Assessor” business.
Remember like, a year-and-a-half ago when that I Write Like thing was super popular? I just analyzed the above paragraph and it said I write like H.P. Lovecraft. It’s a cute party game for when you’re really, really bored. And the people behind I Write Like were clearly just having fun and trying to bring a little culture to the webgame table. I played it a bunch that one week it was cool, had a few laughs, and promptly forgot about it.
Yesterday I had some poems go up on Similar:Peaks::, which is one of the few things keeping me really engaged in any kind of poetry community outside of my actual close friends. This morning I learned that some of the good folks behind SP were upset because The Poetry Assessor(s) were rating poems from their site and tweeting the scores. So I logged onto twitter and I looked at the conversation and it was annoying. They gave my poem “Red Mess” a 2.5 on their scale, equivalent to that awarded to Plath’s “Crossing the River,” which they use as an example on their website. I put in another poem from the same manuscript and it scored like, a -1.8 (positive scores being “professional,” negative scores being “amateur”), and then put in poems by poets I really like and saw that most of the poems written by people I love in real life scored on the positive end of the spectrum. I was like wow, I have great taste in people if everyone I love is a Professional Poet.
The Poem Assessor uses an algorithm (described in detail here) that defines whether or not a poem is “professional” based on word choice, variety of vocabulary, sound devices, and conveyance of emotion. The study notes that professional poems are more optimistic than amateur poems, which is obviously false because every single poem by a friend I entered that got a positive score was super sad.
What’s bothersome about this is not the existence of The Poem Assessor nor the inadequacy and obvious failings of its systems (the whole point of poetry is that it’s human – now go ahead, someone, tell me about how we should let computers do it because that’s avant-garde) – poetry exists and is necessary because society requires that a measure of its humans put time and effort into exploring the interaction between the internal and external worlds, creating bodies in which a fusion of the two can exist. What irks me is this attempt to define the Professional Poem/Poet.
Here’s a lesson I learned hard and well: Poetry is not a profession. It is not a career and it is not an investment. It’s a vocation, like becoming a priest. You don’t have to give up sex thank god but you have to give up a lot of other stuff, like dignity and a solid sense of self. No one in their right mind would do it unless they had no other option. That’s why there’s a lot of sucky poetry in this realm of the “professional” – you can’t filter out insincerity with a paradigm. You have to have the blood on your hands.
Poets of the world, “Professional” and “Amateur” alike, don’t get upset about what The Assessor says. In a week we’ll all be making those paper cootie-catchers embossed with the names of poets we want to sleep with or something.
by Carina on May.14, 2013
So last night I was sitting in a very date-y bar with two girl poets, which made three of us girl poets in the cozy booth at the date-y bar except I was wearing Converse sneakers and pants and a jacket so maybe I was in that moment the boy or at least the mustach’d girl.
A few nights ago I watched the Le Tigre documentary “Who Took The Bomp? Le Tigre on Tour” with my roommate with whom I have recently formed an electrofolk dancepunk pop rock girl group. Then the next night we watched it again with the third member of our trio.
There are a lot of things to take away from the Le Tigre documentary: the open-space approach to feminism with a rider that includes not being worried about making people (feminists & otherwise) uncomfortable or pissed off, the Supremes-esque choreography, the subtleties of what my roommate called “Bush-era New York music” (because no one’s writing bitch-punk about Obama), and excellent use of neon spandex, among others, but what I would like to focus on is the concept of Mastery.
In the documentary, Kathleen Hanna says that she feels there aren’t more women starting/in bands because there’s this concept that if one is a woman there will be ruthless criticism and therefore it is necessary to become technically masterful with one’s instruments. Not so, says she, for men in bands, particularly punk bands. They can perform on balls, pure nerve. The obvious end to this story is that Le Tigre says screw it and does their thing regardless of whether or not any one of them could shred on Stairway to Heaven.
Let’s backtrack: I recently stopped caring about poetry. I mean this thing that had totally consumed my life for literal years slowly started to atrophy and die, the way the love for an awful ex does. I have spoken often and in many venues of my idyllic and classical upbringing as a poet, how I was reared on the model of Apprentice/Journeyman/Master. It’s a comfort; there’s a road, you walk down it. It doesn’t have to be the one you were walked down when you finally walk by yourself, but it’s nice to know someone’s walked a road before – they’ve shown you some tools and how to use them, told stories about getting mauled by bear cubs or otherworldly encounters with albino deer.
In this situation the Master isn’t trying to dominate the Apprentice or Journeyman, they’re just trying to shepherd them in some productive direction. That is when it’s good, when it’s PURE. Purity is an exceptionally problematic term and it’s one I use a lot because I believe in Purity as I believe in Truth and Sincerity. They’re zero-sum phenomena, relevant only in relation to themselves. Where the self is a concept the substance becomes at once hollow and over-filled, gives in to a weirdly inert sense of transience.
Merely agreeing to set foot on the road, to look at someone who’s done something about which you are curious, implicitly buying into the contract makes you an Apprentice and gives you power. How does a Journeyman become a Master? By passing the knowledge along. You have to be hollowed out at least a little. You have to become totally self-referential in order to best illustrate to your Apprentice how a sort of life might be lived. The Master stands to lose very much; the Apprentice could gain everything.
So last night at the date-y bar we were talking about dominance and Mastery, the sex-/class-/colonial-ist implications of saying “I know how to do this so let me show you.” The other girls thought Mastery was definitively bad, implied a power imbalance impossible to right except maybe in the case of the dominant sexual submissive, and that situation is obviously fraught. The problem, we discussed, might be the terminology. We could say “I am a fount!” or “I am a tissue box!” and mean that we have a sense of proficiency with a given set of tools, but if we say “I am a master of poetry!” or “I am a master of tissues!” skill is no longer the issue – it’s just power.
The Agony of Power.
I read this book all winter. I did and do not think Mastery is bad. I do think there is something agonizing about extreme technical proficiency and what it requires of a person to wield. This is the beauty of something like the kind of art that Le Tigre was making a decade ago – the weight was lifted by the concept of “fuck it.” Not that they were not megastars in the biggest sense that feminist separatists can be megastars, which is to say, howevermuch they want, because everyone is a little afraid of feminist separatists and lesbians with mustaches (See: everything ever written by Kristeva, the general reaction to Gertrude Stein). The combination of apathy and passion makes the hollow/Pure. The apathetic is thusly made Master over care.
by Carina on Apr.04, 2013
I’m writing this from my desk in an office where I have spent the morning watching Al Jazeera videos and reading the New York Times and this is not entirely antithetical to what I’m supposed to be doing at my desk.
A few weeks ago I was getting ready to go to New Jersey for a visit home, which I’ve done more in the past six months than I ever have. There has been literal disaster after disaster. Anyway I was getting ready to go home. My uncle was posting North Korean propaganda videos on his Facebook page and I was watching them the way I read a really good poem – over and over again, trying to assess its balance of irony and sincerity.
The video is dubbed in English in a way that makes it feel like farce, except it’s not. The script in English feels like it must have been written by a contemporary experimental poet with a solid sense of fun, like maybe Amy Lawless wrote it in a fit of black humor. I was just getting into My Dead when I watched the video for the first time and I was thinking about mourning and rituals and pre-emptive strikes, how one must convince oneself both of the seriousness of tragedy and its ephemeral nature in order to engage in the act of grief.
A few weeks later I was having brunch with my best friend and I think we were talking about Amy’s book and I was reminded of a novel I’d read in college called Ways of Dying by Zakes Mda. The main character in the novel, which is set in South Africa, is a man named Toloki who is a Professional Mourner. The day I was having brunch was Easter Sunday and the day before we had gone to see a lecture and reading at the New Museum where Ariana Reines dressed up as Margery Kempe and talked about public grief.
The night before that I was trying to find a bar that didn’t ID so I could take my little sister there and we ended up at a comedy show that was so abject it was a kind of public self-grieving and my friend and I talked about how the responsibilities of Poets, Comedians, and Lawyers are essentially the same – to be observant and self-aware and make public texts of our knowledge. The next morning we added Professional Mourners to that list.
Professional Grief is an epic responsibility requiring a great deal of strength and physical endurance – the endurance literally to cry for many hours or to stand in front of people and say something – in addition to a measured amount of weakness, pliability. There has to be something in the instrument that moves.
My whole entire life I have been aware of my place as an American Girl in relation to War. Continue reading “On Terror” »
by Carina on Mar.04, 2013
So a few nights ago I went to this bar in Bed Stuy where every time I go I have only the most ridiculous experience, even the time I went there for literally 15 minutes a few days before Halloween and ended up waking up the next morning having sent out a series of very well-composed 4 AM Facebook messages to my friends signed “Best, Carina Finn.”
Anyway I went the other night to hear Amy Lawless read at shitluck, which is the best and most fashionable reading series possibly in America right now, because I had never heard her read before but I have been drunk with her a few times. Her dress was really good and the skirt had this very in sort of flouncey thing happening. The poems she read were largely not from her forthcoming book, MY DEAD (which will be available for purchase from Octopus Books at AWP), and I liked that.
In the middle of her reading some guy was making a lot of noise taking money out of the ATM, which was right by the stage, and she called to him “How much are you taking out? $40 or $60?” to which the guy replied “$20” and the entire audience proceeded to sort of heckle the guy. Later, Amy justified the heckling by saying that someone who only takes $20 out of the ATM at such a bar is only looking out for themselves, and that’s messed up. I vowed that from that moment on I would read every book that Amy Lawless ever writes.
You should read this really good conversation between Amy and James Gen, in which there are a lot of really great sentiments like “Poetry is a way to live, a way to talk about the world, a way for shit to matter” and “Formal restraints are super fun.” Then you should go to the Octopus Books table at AWP and buy MY DEAD.
Oh, and should you be at a bar where La Lawless also is, buy her a drink with your ATM $$$.
by Carina on Feb.22, 2013
Last night I went to see my friend Jordan give a poetry reading at Lolita bar on the Lower East Side. I really didn’t feel like going to a poetry thing since I’d been to a lot in the past few weeks and the synchronicity of my iPhone and Facebook calendars meant that I’d be staring at rows of black dots corresponding to events for days to come.
Anyway I went because I like Jordan’s poems a lot and he isn’t one of those New York poets who gives a reading every five and a half seconds, perhaps fearing that if they are not constantly engaging in the pukey schmoozefest of “the scene” they might fall clear off the actual planet. I was accidentally already drunk when I got there because I’d gone to a happy hour at the punk bar around the corner from my apartment where I’d last drank in the summer with an ex-lover. The bathroom of the bar had some really great poems in it, like “The less I think of you, the more you think of me; please let me think less of you.” Jordan read a poem that he’d written the other day while gchatting with me while we were both at work, a poem composed mostly of extravagant insults to an ex-lover, like “burger king breakfast of affection.”
When I got back to my apartment it was still a pretty respectable hour and my roommates were smoking at the kitchen table, a large envelope covered in Hello Kitty stickers between them.
“Omigod I think you got more fan mail please open it so we can see, plus the new Vogue and Beyonce is on the cover,” one of them said. I opened the envelope, dutifully sipping a teacup of water, and pulled out a lipstick-kissed copy of Kate Durbin’s new book, Kept Women. Underneath that envelope was another envelope containing another copy of Kate’s book, this time from the editor of Insert Blank.
Continue reading “Kept Women & Other Concepts” »
by Carina on Feb.06, 2013
Some rogue academics are planning an academic conference surrounding The Hunger Games trilogy. Here is the program:
The Hunger Games as a Micro/Macro-Cosm of the Hungarian Doctor in Celine’s Oeuvre as Interpreted by Kristeva; or, Stephanie Drops Her Port
Poetness is to Humanness as Katniss is to Huntress: The Melting Pot of the Artist-Subject Identity through the Lens of 21st Century Hyper-Sci-Fi Psychoanalytic Theory-Objects(–?)
Dispatching Letters Via Corporeal Hand: Aggressive Articulation in Major Modern Metropolises and the Arena
Mountain Lion Bull-Dyke Dogs: Certain Confluences between Lesbians and Mac Hardware (Also, Is Apple in the Hunger Games? And, if so, are Apple products heroes or maidens in Walt Disney/Pixar’s Wall-E? — Does Judith Butler have an apple in her mouth?)
St. Rue: Certain Meeting Points between Ethnic Death, Racial Polarity, and Songs–The Subjective Spiderweb of Homi Baba and Jean Genet
Brattiness, Braids, and Barthes: The Fashion System as a Hegemonic Suppressor (Liberator?) in the Arena and In the Districts (1-12)
Who’s Afraid to Apply the Death Drive to the Hunger Games?: George, Martha, Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Lindsey Lohan, Kate Durbin, and Tracey Letts
Berries, Snow, Roses, and Flowers in General as Symbols of Women and Older Men: Abject Masculinity as it Corresponds to the Correlation between Multiple Suicides in Pairs of Genius Husbands
External Symptoms of Male Feminism in Peeta and Gale: the Disavowal of Women’s Liberation in Paradigmatic Economic Matrices/Theses/Suppositions as Embodied by Katniss Everdeen and Sylvia Plath’s “The Colossus”– Daddy Issues; Patriarchal Projections Emitting from Robert Lowell and Ted Hughes
Soullessness: The Absence of Classical Greek Thought in Jennifer Lawrence’s Rendition of Heteronormative Heroines in Archetypal Contemporary Post-Experimental Apocalyptic Fiction Brushing Up Against the Avant-Garde
Katniss in Heat: Hysterical Pregnancies and Judeo-Christian Moral Illuminations as they Relate to Biological Phenomenology; also, the Urgency of Jimmy Fallon
The Possibilities/Limitations of Art-Medium Mutations: Can A Film Shape-Shift into the Page Space of Keatsian Enjambment?; Or, Ode on a Grecian Urn
The Espousal or Theoretical Elimination of Resortwear as a Practical Application of Lacan’s Concept of the Lamella as the Tributes Pass Through the Mirror Phase: What Would Lee Edelman Say?
by Carina on Jan.18, 2013
This past Monday, I painted my nails with four different kinds of sheer pink glitter. On Saturday, I had been called baroque. Recently I have been going out more and more often in my petticoats, some of which are borrowed.
I am twenty-four years old. I have degrees and a job and an apartment. I have never learned to grocery shop. Almost two years ago I stood in my kitchen covered in facepaint and wearing my Swarovski-encrusted riding helmet from my teenage years, at a loss; a camera was on. I didn’t know how to look at it. My roommate’s parents kept us well-stocked in arbitrary necessities. In the cabinets, we had many canisters of sugar.
In living, one seeks the “sweet spot” – the punctum. At this moment the body becomes a gel in which the “I” is suspended, separate. The self perceives itself as parts of a sum of parts; a granular agent of decay.
This is not what one remembers. When I say “remember” I mean the body re-feels a traumatic moment. Every remembered moment is a trauma because the act requires a severing.
So Barthes’ camera is surgical. Photographic saturation of the eye triggers a phenomenological flattening of the substance which acts. Continue reading “PREAMBLE TO A CONSTITUTION OF BAROQUE MALAISE TRAIPSING THROUGH A FIELD OF DEAD WHITE FLOWERS.” »
A Very Brief Manifesto of the Babyvamp (in response to recent inquiries into the subject of the Heroine, the Young Girl, the Ingénue, and the Cad).
by Carina on Jan.03, 2013
In which the common demon is charm. A fascinating bird suspended by the recitation of verse inside of a material whatever. It’s a costume! It’s a dumb parade. It’s women’s magazines on top of whipped Alps launched across the Mediterranean.
What’s terrifying about sentient weapons. They have joints for arranging structure; they are fitted to move upon one another. Or, time is making a mess of itself out of spite. The Young Girl is a prince destined to murder Time. Murderous Time is set right, there is a frame, an object swells pearlescent out of the air, thinned by a mug of warm twilight.
VAMP (OED) – That part of hose or stockings which covers the foot and ankle; also, a short stocking, a sock. From Old French, avanpié (12th cent.; later French avantpied).
Colloquially, a vampire; another term for a femme fatale.
by Carina on Dec.19, 2012
Four days ago I was standing in a kitchen drinking coffee out of an actual coffee mug and watching the news on a wall-mounted TV. The president was crying onscreen. I was applying peppermint chapstick to my chapped lips and making final edits to a speech which I was reading out loud and would not be the one to give. Two nights ago I was lying in a bed watching the news again on television and I could not sleep afterwards, only woke hourly in the middle of a dream in which the president instituted The Hunger Games as a reaction to the Newtown shooting and I was to pay tribute and I did not want to die. Since last Friday, I have been watching too much news, and thinking a lot about what signifies. What is the different between ten bullets and a conversation about ten bullets? What is the ratio of theory to an actual body?
Below are some notes from A Theory of The Ingenue. Think of them while you watch the news in your kitchen, in your bathrobe, drinking coffee, considering children.
THE PASSION OF THE SIGNIFIER.
When the signifier is not itself it is a body gesturing to its own exteriority. It wants to be a thing it is the thing and the thing it wants to be is an absence. This is a gap which must be filled by a spectacle.
The spectacle is a text because it is a body. So travels the corridor of meaning and inhabits simultaneously every strata of signification.
A cadaverous disposition empiricized still a conversion. There is a high correlation between the manual and the tendency, which is to say, it creates a typeface. A typeface is a kind of freakout. A freakout is a kind of difference. A commercial.
Feminine beauty in the commercial is a double itself, a font. A font is a double of nothing, you can wear it. It is a doublet it is french it is fashionable & weight-bearing. Also: to cast; to melt; to be found.
THE PASSION OF THE SIGNIFIER
So the state sponsors an institution call it a Language or call it a Theatre.
Inside of the theatre there is a small door. The door is analogous to itself, as such. Inside of the door is a receptacle which is the world. The spectator may not choose to enter it, it is. The spectator may not choose to be an organism it is. An organism is necessarily inside of a receptacle which is the world. So a body is a world inside of a theatre which is a world through which one might enter the receptacle through a door.
The Dramaturg and The Reviewer Emerge from the Crisis of Publicity
Then the founders authorized on-site availability it was an appearance.
Appearances became important. It was befriending by a critic. A critic called a reviewer
attempts to make an order & is one.
The appearance is that of a performance, which is to say, it desires only a mask. The purpose of the mask is to mark the absence of the embodied face, which signifies nothing, because it is all.
THE FATHER IS ALWAYS A FATHER HE IS A GENRE
Inside of this genre there is a language it is an image. The image is of a disconnected limb. This is the absence for which the double has long longed. The double is a double of itself disconnected.
THE MOTHER IS ALWAYS A FATHER IT IS A GENRE
Then the spectre goes social and the passion speaks through it. The passion becomes the material of itself. Then there is a kind of lashing / it is a dreamscene of the unconscious. In this scene, the passion interviews its substitute. They play a game involving potentially infinite combinations. As such, the passion recognizes its paranoia. The paranoia is a result of the substitute’s mask. Throughout the scene, the substitute wears a mask. Initially, it is interesting.
THE HUMAN CHILD EMERGES IN AN ESSENTIAL MOMENT OF CONSTRAINT
His prop is an eye it is a lens setting fire to the signified. As an apparatus, its primary function is to normalize. Having a primary function as such it is deemed inorganic. At birth, premature, through the mother regressed phobia to perversion. This masquerade binds the metaphysical to the object. It is thus recognizable as a human child to all save the mother, for whom it is an established reflection.
by Carina on Nov.08, 2012
I have this problem with empathy. Yesterday I watched The Hunger Games movie for the first time and when they inserted the trackers into the forearms of the tributes I literally almost vomited all over the couch. And when we watched The Patriot in my 10th grade AP History Class I had to sit in the library all that week because I fainted on the first day. I have a low tolerance for physical depictions of violence because when I see it, I feel it, like in my stomach; it’s actual.
I have this obsession with fashion magazines. Not with the texts, necessarily (although I do love it when someone like Jeffrey Steingarten deliquesces on butter for Vogue), but with the advertisements. As with TV, I want it to sell to me; I’m primarily interested in consumable industry. I like to read a fashion magazine three times: first to judge the outfits, next to analyse the advertisements, and, finally, to assess the layouts and writing.
The girls in fashion ads are basically dead. They are able to sell clothes because they are nonentities; their bodies must be blank, hanger-esque, so that any given consumer might imagine the garments upon themselves.
Recently I have been carrying around the newly-translated and adorably pink Semiotext(e) Theory of the Young Girl. I started reading the illegal PDF that was circulating the internet when I stumbled across it a few years ago. For a long time, I have been thinking about the agency of Girls, what we’re allowed and what is expected, the limits of The Girl. When, for example, does the Valley Girl lose her modifier and become, merely (?) an uncanny valley of defective communication? Perhaps the bodily boundary isn’t a boundary at all but a membrane, a punctum-in-waiting.
I was baking brownies with my cousin when Joyelle told me about Regina Walters. Continue reading “DEATH BECOMES US: FASHIONABLE BODIES IN DRESSES 2DIE4.” »
Preliminary Notes From The Conference on The Unstable and [de] Mutable Boundaries Between Meteorological Atrocities and Human Political Economies with Bodies-as-Subjects Coming Into Being As They Are
by Carina on Oct.29, 2012
In New York City everything is quiet and we are locked in our downtown apartments with candles and books and nothing to do but wait for something to happen, and hope it doesn’t. Like countless barricaded thinkers before us, yesterday evening, as we prepared for the storm, Seth Oelbaum, Stephanie Berger, and I held a relentless and exhausting conference on The Unstable and [de] Mutable Boundaries Between Meteorological Atrocities and Human Political Economies with Bodies-as-Subjects Coming Into Being As They Are.
Following Seth’s opening address and a reading from D&G’s Rhizome, I presented my position on Logs: The Diminished but not Diluted Potentatalities of Rhizomatic Laws and Other Deleuizan “Things,” a talk inspired by the large tree directly in the path of several windows in the apartment where we stayed last night (we’ve since moved slightly more inland). The crux of the argument centered around concepts of romanticism and body-performativity versus the actual fallibility of human bodies as, at a crisis-point, non-performative entities. Guest panelist Joyelle McSweeney commented, “Oh think of me as that branch,” which was posited as having the potential to come through the living room window.
The whole point of the rhizome is a sort of megaconsciousness of natural form; this is how weather comes to acquire subjectivity. What’s particularly frightening about the weather as having subjectivity is that it has consciousness without emotion; a storm is a sociopath, totally unconcerned with the consciousnesses of the subjects it attacks. As was mentioned in the panel on Weathery Cinematic Structures of Where The Heart Is, or, Ashley Judd, Natalie Portman, Country Music, survival in the face of a disaster seems mediated primarily by the those same catchwords of the contemporary literary conversation: melodrama, and sincerity.
Because we happen to be, as we are, two girls and a boy holed up in wait for a disaster, because Stephanie is shopping online for dresses and Seth is writing and I am checking the weather obsessively, as though knowledge of a flood might stop it (it won’t), we can’t help making the Melancholia metaphor on an almost hourly basis, wherein I am, bizarrely and unexpectedly, Charlotte Gainsbourg rather than Kirsten Dunst. A lot has been said about the film, its relevance, and its overdetermination of events. But the crisis, distant and baroque as it might seem, is a real crisis; a crisis of bodies. Actual bodies which speak and are subject to the whims of a thing as heartless as weather, at the moment between when everything is fine and everything is not, reach a point at which they can no longer perform.