Tag: Sylvia Plath

It's Just Like the Hunger Games: An Academic Conference

by 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?

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Oh, Bad Blues: Larkin, Plath, Donne, Bessie Smith, & The Metaphysical Dilemma of Radical Narcissism

by on Oct.02, 2012

The most important times to be awake are dawn and dusk, so that one might see both the open and close of the day; what happens in-between is insignificant, the abstract lyric – one need not be able to touch it to know that it was there. The edges of days create spaces in which form makes its demands upon the human participant: here is a beginning, here is an end; it’s up to you to fill in the rest.

The aubade is formally “loose” in that its parameters tend to be defined by the practitioner’s relationship to the concept of parting. Although traditionally, the purpose of the form is to address the beloved-other, aubades often become meditations on the dilemma of the body/soul divide of the speaker. The lyric takes the place of the physical body which cannot remain forever in bed with the beloved, and probably doesn’t want to. The meditation on time becomes a time-loop itself, serving to prolong the becoming-day not for the sake of more time with the beloved, but such that the speaker might revel in displeasure.

 

angst.

Larkin’s ‘Talking in Bed” is an excellent example, wherein the speaker appears totally uninterested in his bedfellow. Here, the tragedy of parting rests in the terror of sound, the solitude of day; dawn does not cause the break, utterance does. The plaintive gesture of the first line, “Talking in bed ought to be easiest,” denotes the fact that, at this distance from coupled silence, under-painted in the poem as some Whitman-esque ideal of nature, to speak is to break apart one’s humanity.

As far as aubades go, this one feels cold, blanketless – where is the joy in the agony, where is the longing? It creates itself through the speech-act, just as “the wind’s incomplete unrest / builds and disperses clouds in the sky.” Plath’s “April Aubade,” though hung with more troubadour bling – “snowdrop stars,” grass-garlanded lovers – plays a similar trick, draping the skeleton of daybreak’s despair only to arrive at the conclusion “Again we are deluded and infer / that somehow we are younger than we were,” an eerie echo to Larkin’s “Words at once true and kind, / Or not untrue and not unkind.”

Which raises the question – if the act of longing is what creates the despair, if it can be avoided through silence, and refusal, why write the poem? Because being-alive requires that the sun continues to rise. The poem, then, can function only as an inadequate container for the petulance of the troubadour lover upon the realization that they must, at or just after dawn, rise, and sing, that it is impossible for the singer to make any utterance in the presence of the beloved. Or, the wand’ring minstrel cannot wander chained.

Beauty, then, in the aubade, functions like Donne’s “rags of time” in “The Sun Rising,” draped by the dawn upon the constant-moment just before the morning’s first speech – a punctum. Metaphor serves to create systemic traps or arms for keeping the lovers in.

In Donne, Plath, and Larkin, the self is paramount, the lover almost entirely absent. This is intentional; the serenade, the aubade’s opposite, is meant to be sung to or for the beloved, whereas the aubade is meant to be whispered through the crack in the door just at the moment of escape, an indecipherable scrawl upon the beloved’s day. This forced silence, in that the beloved must never hear the aubade for it to take its effect, is an act of violence.

 

trapped.

 

Bessie Smith’s “Empty Bed Blues” shows us the view from the other side, the body of the beloved which has been “taught” to bear the silence of the lover for the sake of continued partings, the agony of which are the soul’s only respite. We arrive at The Blues because the impending day is always-already shrouded in lack. The only certainty is that other burnt-end, twilight, which brings with it the promise of yet another agonizing dawn.

It would seem, after a study of the aubade, that the poet’s destiny is untenable loneliness, to lie with a lover for the sole sake of feeling the sadness of parting; the purpose of feeling the sadness is to sing of it. Love, then, becomes not about the other, but an act of radical narcissism; a means to Art.

This is not a new thing, although it’s a prevalent theme in so much new poetry, which is internet-y as it is “confessional” and has troubadour aspirations. That the fleeting loneliness of any given self should be important is a ruse that contemporary language allows. The flat affect of poets like Andrew Durbin and Steve Roggenbuck ascribe an importance to that which is common. There is not the urgent sense, as in Larkin and Plath, that without the utterance, or form’s container, the I of the lyric will self-destruct; rather, the self is already obliterated, chopped up and sifted through a sieve such that any loneliness, any lyric-I, could be the same.

What makes the metaphysical dilemma special, if not unique, is that it exists in the space just after the effort and before the completion of the tear. The body and soul are not yet rent, but they are somewhere in the midst of that process. What emerges from the ongoing rupture is delicate, baroque vomit, an undeniably human substance, the existence of which is totally outside bodily limits.

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Atrocity Kitsch

by on Aug.18, 2010

ATROCITY KITSCH

An Autobiographical Skit:
My dad was a journalist in Eastern Europe when I was a child. With some frequency he’d be put in jail for interviewing “non-existing” (ghosts?) people or trying to smuggle out documents or people from Eastern Europe. He’d come back after a few months and tell fantastic Peer-Gynt-like tales about escapes and chases (my dad is a great embellisher, mythomaniac). The anti-communist Croatian underground met in the living room in our shitty little rowhouse in suburban Sweden while I played with legos on the floor. When our house was bomb threatened, we were given big walkie-talkies and police guards.
I couldn’t sleep when I was a kid. So I’d stay up and watch the news and documentaries with my dad. I was fascinated by Saddam Hussein and Ayatollah Khomeini. Once when I went to the bathroom the bubble in my urine made Saddam’s face and I hopelessly tried to keep others from ruining it (if I had been born a few years later, I might have called it “Piss Saddam,” the ultimate work of kitsch). My favorite books were two coffee-table picture books: The Third Reich and Stalin’s Gulags.
But my dad wanted me to be a film-director, not a journalist (because this had been his secret ambition all along), so by the time I was just a few years old, I had watched countless movies by Hitchcock and John Ford (my dad did not have a high-falutin taste).
From my mom I got: the songs of Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan.
From the welfare state I got: a panic about the human body, a pornographic imagination, xenophilia (exactly what I was not supposed to get).
Many of my parents’ friends (especially when we were very young) were leftists, folk singers, agit-prop artists. I remember going to parties where singer Mikael Wiehe would sing communist anthems with his acoustic guitar. The grown ups would put on cautionary puppet theaters about the evils of capitalism and/or the atom bomb.
This is just to say: I was always interested in kitsch and war.

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Cue: Ronald Reagan riding into the White House on a White Horse. Cue: The Manson Family staging a tacky mass-murder complete with actresses and a goofy soundtrack (both The White Album and Manson’s own songs naturally), not to mention captions written in blood (ready for documentation Beuys-style). Cue: David Lynch’s restaging of the Manson murders in Blue Velvet (complete with cheesy 50s music), except instead of a murdered would-be mom with her womb torn open, he has a father with his brains torn out. Cue: the Abu Ghraib photographs (preferably on a powerpoint presentation at an academic conference).

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Given this, I can’t understand why I don’t have more sympathy for Carolyn Forché’s anthology Against Forgetting, an anthology of wonderful poems from the 20th century.

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This is the third entry about Martin Scorsese’s Shutter Island. As I’ve noted in my other entries, what interests me most about this film is the “garish” vignettes that the movie tries to, but cannot quite make sense of, using trauma and murdered children.

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Of all the garish vignettes in Scorsese’s movie the most garish of all are no doubt the highly staged flashbacks to the liberation of a concentration camp. Daniels has frequent dreams about the corpses piled up in train cars etc. Of course what sticks out about these dream is how artistic they are; what makes them horrific is that they make art out of corpses.

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It is interesting to me to look at these garish vignettes next to a much more celebrated case of corpses-as-art: Spielberg’s Shindler’s List. Both Scorsese and Spielberg make use of similarly ultra-staged imagery of concentration camps: holocaust installation art. But while Scorsese’s film has been viewed as garish, Spielberg was not only given a pass for his highly asetheticized holocaust imagery, he was turned into a figure of great moral importance. This guy who made Jaws and ET in much the same spirit he made his holocaust movie gained this moral weight because he constantly insisted (in the movie but also outside of the movie) that he was using atrocity art for a moral purpose – to memorialize the historical trauma of the holocaust. In other words, the Holocaust served the same purpose the personal trauma serves in Shutter Island: it explain the art, it gives it a greater function.

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Or to invoke Joyelle’s earlier post: Spielberg establishes his film as a genre – What Carolyn Forche might call “poetry of witness”, “against forgetting.” His film was not garish, not waste, it was not kitsch.

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Forché’s anthology Against Forgetting is a collection of great poems and a work of utter atrocity kitsch. It includes garish (and often great) poems made useful by a framework of “witness” that itself – unbeknownst to Forche it seems – is one of the most garish critical frameworks I’ve ever come across: poems that come out of atrocities.

The anthology is divided into an Epcot Center of European genocides: one section for the Armenian genocide, one for the Holocaust etc. Forche’s criteria for inclusion: “…significant poets who endured conditions of historical and social extremity during the twentieth century – through exile, state censorship, political persecution, house arrest, torture, imprisonment, military occupation, warfare and assassination.” And: “The criteria for inclusion were these: poets must have personally endured such conditions; they must be considered important to their national literatures; and their work, if not in English, must be available in quality translation.” (30)

It is both the fetishization of horrors and an attempt to contain that garish fetish. To turn her perverse fascination into a textbook. But of course perverse fascinations are more powerful than textbooks; if you try to turn perversion into a textbook, you’re likely to end up with a perverse textbook. And that’s what Against Forgetting is. A perverse textbook about atrocity kitsch.

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Forche’s book begins with a corpse: the corpse of Hungarian poet Radnoti, which is flung into a mass grave toward the end of World War II. When his widow exhumes the body, she finds his book of poems in his pocket “soaked in the fluids of the body and blackened by wet earth.”

What we have here is of course a garish corpse vignette that would fit right into Shutter Island. But it’s more important than that to Forché. It provides her with a model of authorship: the corpse as author. It seems the easiest political stance we can imagine is the body of the victim. In order to think of the politics of surrealism (which is of course very radical), Forche has to turn it into the politics of the victim body (as opposed to the French Surrealists, for example, who imagined the artist as someone shooting into a crowd).

Throughout her introduction to an anthology of incredibly garish, wild, often surrealist poems about atrocities, Forché emphasizes that the reason for these fanciful poems is the atrocities, that the atrocities in all their horror wrote the poems more or less. The poets were just writing down their “witness, “ not engaging in fanciful and decadent and garish artistry.

Or as she notes, “extremity produces a new kind of postcard.” Ie, the atrocities makes the postcard (kitsch!), not the author.

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Here’s the piece by Radnoti that this refers to:

Blood saliva hangs on the mouths of the oxen.
Blood shows in every man’s urine.
The company stands in wild knots, stinking.
Death blows overhead, revolting.

[It seems implied that American poetry is not like this because we don’t have traumas to produce this kind of atrocious postcard. Which of course is false. Pace the actual postcards sent from lynchings in the first half of America’s own wonderful 20th century. Forché does include US poetry but only from the Civil Rights movement and the Korean and Vietnam Wars, as if there was not extremity or violence outside of these very visible instances of violence, as if capitalism isn’t built on systemic violence.]

Forche comes off as someone fascinated by the wild and powerful imagery of poetry written in World War II and under suppression in Eastern Europe, in particular Surrealist poetry, but she doesn’t feel quite comfortable just liking it. She has to find a genre for it, a purpose for it, a trauma to make sense of the garish imagery.

But also: She is fascinated by corpses and she has to find a use for it.

I think about Forché’s context: the highly anti-kitsch, highly regulated (“you must earn the image”) Quietist Workshops. Workshops that produced very tasteful, regular, uninteresting, apolitical poetry in droves. She finds this wild surrealist poetry that doesn’t at all abide by the rules of the Quietist Workshop (Can you imagine someone turning in Celan’s “Death Fugue” to a traditional workshop – “this poem is garish” or “it goes too far” or “you haven’t earned these images” would not doubt be the response, more about this poem in the next post). The way she deals with it is to say that this wild poetry is wild because it is written under extreme duress; the atrocities are “imprinted” in the poetry. As if the poetry wasn’t written at all! As if it were in fact quietist poetry, but the difference is that we live in nice, wholesome America and these European poets lived in horror.

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In order to allow herself to be more striking/surrealistic/wild, she invents the project of The Angel of History: to re-inhabit the suffering of World War II. Thus she makes her poetry much wilder, imagistically striking etc.

But she’s not entirely recreating surrealist poetry. There are images (a wedding dress in a shed etc) that are garishly striking. But there’s a huge difference between the european poets and Forche’s own poetry: Her poetry is very much framed by the typical poetic subjectivity, which paradoxically provides a distance from the images. The images are always framed by her subjectivity. We know we are good and that others are bad. We are always safe in this poem.

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Note to self: I must stop using the word “garish” soon. I just love it too much.

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One interesting intertext is Sylvia Plath with her montage Hiroshima fevers and Nazi-Daddies and skin made of Jew linen. Plath was influenced by the Surrealists and some of the same poets that are in Forché’s anthology. But in difference to Forché, Plath is not interested in making these poets and their poetics useful, tasteful; she’s interested in the garishness of their imagery and in making them even more garish, even less tasteful. She is interested in the trauma, but she does not want to historicize the trauma, contain it; in her poetry trauma saturates the text.

One can also bring in Andre Breton and his use of shellshock and hysteria in the creation of Surrealism (the key movement for this anthology): The shellshock was the reason soldiers started to ramble from the unconscious, but it is not an end point, it’s an opening. It holds a similar role in the originary myth of Surrealism as Breton’s movie-hopping experiences, which left him “charged-up” for days.

To Be Continued….

(Next Episode: Ken Chen’s the Sublime and Atrocity, Total Art, Aase Berg’s Dark Matter etc)

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Shutter Island Part 2: Sara Stridsberg and the Cinematic Body

by on Aug.10, 2010

In my last post I wrote about Martin Scorsese’s Shutter Island, and how many critics perceived the hallucinatory visions/dreams in that film as “garish” interferences with the plot, and how the movie itself seems to display anxiety about “garishness” by making them all a symptom of an original trauma, which explains them. The critics’ feelings of imbalance is proof that these hallucinations are so much more visually fascinating than this explanation; and so is the fact that the number of original traumas seems to grow, as if to make up for this deficiency.

I’m interested in works of art that purse intensive states of consciousness without pathologizing them as trauma, curbing their power with sentimental notions of interiority. I’m interested in more interesting, dynamic relationships between language and image than of the plot as an attempt to restrain the image (caption it, make it meaningful).

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Although you can find these garish visions far more often in literature than film (think of all of Rimbaud for example), there is a close connection between the anxiety about these and cinema.

I’m reminded of Susan McCabe’s book Cinematic Modernism, where she shows modern poetry in conversation with the emergent art form of film, arguing that the fragmentation of the body experienced in film “ruptured fantasies of physical self-presence or wholeness.” She also shows how film created a hysteric body on the screen, as well as had “the capacity to induce in the spectator the hysteric’s physical symptoms of dislocation, amnesia, suggestibility and even anesthesia. Most importantly, “modernist hysteria brought into the open the blurred ground between corporeality and consciousness, undermining the absolutist categories of sexual difference.”

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I also really love Steven Shaviro’s book, The Cinematic Body, where he argues against a lot of pervading ideas about film (and art in general) – for example the idea that there is something immoral about the affect of cinema. He argues for “visual fascination”:

“Visual fascination is a passive, irresistible compulsion, and not an assertion of the active mastery of the gaze. And it is linked with the delegitimation of violence, its dissociation either from the demands of social order or from the assertion of virile (stereotypically male) power and control, for Eugene “catches” violence as one catches an infection, more than he inflicts it as a willful expression of a warped self. His Phallic, aggressive fantasies are decentered and unhinged in the very movement by which they are intensified. He is less an independent character than a hysterical figuration of the destabilizing excessiveness of Turner’s own desire. And Blue Steel as a whole celebrates this excess… Blue Steel exposes visual fascination as a restless, shattering mobility – rather than as the stabilizing fixation assumed by so much film theory,” (9)

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What might Shutter Island look like if Scorsese did not turn the fascinating visuals into symptoms of trauma, did not make it about character, did not attempt (and apparently fail) to balance his film, instead letting it be about destabilizing excessiveness of desire?

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One way it might have looked (I will post others in the near future), is Swedish novelist Sara Stridsberg’s brilliant 2006 novel Drömfakulteten: Tillägg till Sexualteorin (The Dream Department: Appendix to the Sexual Theory), which was recently picked as the top novel of the 00s in Sweden (which would be unimaginable in the US, where it would dwell in obscurity on some small indie press at best).

The novel is really a series of vignettes, a series of dreamlike scenes involving Valerie Solanas, author of the infamous SCUM manifesto and the would-be assassin of Andy Warhol, as she lies dying. Sometimes she talks to The Narrator, a well-meaning but square woman doing research on the history of women’s lib, her mother Dorothy or a woman named Cosmo.

The mis-en-scenes changes, starting out in a down-and-out flophouse called Bristol Hotel in San Francisco (where Valerie is dying) but going into the deserts where the atom bombs are tested and a mental hospital in New York etc. Something that really fascinates me is this dream-like space the novel opens up, a space Stridsberg calls Bambiland (an kitschy Americana that shares aspects of the space Alice Notley generates in Alma, and the America Swedish author (and member of the academy Lotta Lotass creates in her book about American serial killers, My Voice Will Now Come From Another Place in the Room).

And also, the garish vignettes in Shutter Island.

There is plenty of trauma in the book (she’s raped by stepdad for example), but the trauma doesn’t explain the hallucinatory vignettes, doesn’t turn them into symptoms of the trauma. The trauma saturates the vignettes. Solanas comes off as a courageous person, and the vignettes are beautiful and traumatic. These two (trauma, beauty) are of course not as separate as they are often imagined. It becomes an absolutely absorbing book about feminism, hysteria, violence; a kind of hagiography of sorts, in which Marilyn Monroe, Sylvia Plath, Ulrike Meinhof and Valerie Solanas are all connected as violent women martyred by the patriarchy.

Here’s an excerpt that I really like (my very rough translation, apologies to everyone, I’m doing it quickly). As you can tell from this frist excerpt, the novel consists largely in what appears to be scripts for a movie.

Briston Hotel, April 12, 1988

The Narrator: I can help you sort your papers, I can exchange the light bulbs so that you won’t have to lie in darkness, I can help you get up for a while.
Valerie: Thanks, I’m fine the way I am. And I prefer to lie here alone. But go ahead. Keep at it. I’ll sleep for a while.
The Narrator: We have to talk more about prostitution. We have to talk more about the American feminist movement. You have to tell me more about your relationship to the liberation project.
Valerie: I don’t have to do anything. I have to lie here and wait and see if I decide life or death. My heart still beats. I am still full of hate. I can still see you. And all of your papers. That means I’m not dead yet.
The Narrator: To get close to the authentic material…
Valerie: Am I the material?
The Narrator: Maybe not material… You are the subject matter of the novel. I admire your work. I admire your courage. I am interested in the context of the manifesto. Your life. The American women’s movement. The sixties.
Valerie: There is nothing called context. Everything should be pulled out of its context. Contexts explain away the most apparent connections. Buyers, dealers, dildoes, fake cunts. It’s a question of detachable phenomena.
The Narrator: I’m interested in your world.
Valerie: I’m not interested in living in this world. Marilyn Monroe. Sylvia Plath. Cinderella. To lie murdered and raped on the beach. I ran with dying animals in my arms through the desert back home to Dorothy. I waited for the animal to decide life or death. Sometimes they decided to die, sometimes to live. Sometimes it was a giant dragonfly that would die before nightfall anyway. It’s always been that way for me, I’ve had a hard time making decisions. It has been neither life nor death. But now it looks like it’s going to be death for the foreseeable future. Yes, that’s a decision one can stick to. It has an enduring character.
The Narrator: Talk more about the manifesto, talk more about SCUM.
Valerie: A worldwide, anti-violence organization. A utopia, a mass movement, a laughing blob that slowly spread across the world. A state of mind, an attitude, a way of moving through the city. Always shitty thoughts, shitty dress, shitty long intentions.
The Narrator: Number of members?
Valerie: Unknown.
The Narrator: Who were the members?
Valerie: Arrogant and selfish women all over the world who could not longer wiat and hop for the deprogramming of millions of assholes. Universe-rulers in all nations… All the women of the world or just Valerie…
The Narrator: And you?
Valerie: The loneliness of the desert.
The Narrator: Can I hold your hand?
Valerie: No.
The Narrator: Can I sit with you when you sleep?
Valerie: Remember that I’m sick and that I’m waiting to die. Remember that I am the only woman not crazy around here.
The Narrator: I love you.
Valerie: Fuck you.

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[Here’s another little bit about SCUM Manifesto that I love for the way it seems to revise, or rather pre-vise (it comes earlier in the book) Valerie’s answer above:]

If you fall asleep and dream about Maryland and wake up again and it’s dark and death is there, a vertiginous aching chasm of black trees and black snow that is falling. There is no organization called SCUM, it has never existed. The only thing that remains is Society for Cutting Up Myself, a worldwide organization with countless members. An organization that will never cease and disappear.

In addition to these scripts/potential movies, the books contains many intensive passages that, as i the McCabe quote above, not only creates a fragmented, hysterical body in Solanas, but also generates that effect in the reader:

You cough and get blood in your hand and beneath your silver robe there is a screaming under-water animal that wants out, a bird-like horror without feathers and skin that bites and chews around. The belly aches and cries and the silver robe is wet and cold of urine, but you love it and if you are anyway going to die now, you want to die in silver and with silver buttons. If you are anyway going to die, you want to die with Cosmo in your hand. The last thing she said was don’t leave me here and the sky was heavy and pressing and your leopard fur was wet from fear when you took the train back to Maryland the last time.

In this particular piece, I love the way materials seem infused with the trauma, and how the interior is conceived of as not just a montage but an impossible montage (the underwater animal that both is an is not a bird, that has no skin).

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OK, that should give you an idea. It’s a harrowing, beautiful book. One of the best novels I’ve read in a long time.

I feel there is a connection between Valerie’s detachable body and the cinematic body, the hysterical body, the violence. What I’ve elsewhere called a “Spasmadic Aesthetic.”

The book does decidedly not take the route of Scorsese in Shutter Island. The hallucinations are not explained away as symptoms of inner trauma and the trauma is not originary, cannot be fully explained. The trauma saturates the text. Valerie even rejects “context.”

I haven’t done a great job explaining myself, but hopefully it will come together more in my next post. Next up: Atrocity Kitsh, Ken Chen’s Sublime, Aase Berg’s trauma-rama body infested by media, Abu Ghraib aesthetics, Carolyn Forche’s kitschy dead dissident bodies.

PS
The vignettes in Stridsberg’s novel are cinematic the way August Strindberg’s (no relation!) Dream Play was much more film than any possible theater back in the early 20th century. Funny that it should be a book about Valerie Solanas, the one feminist who might actually have believed what Strindberg thought all women believed (ie want to kill men).

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