I want everyone to know Jackie Wang. She’s one of my favorite living writers and possibly the great love of my life. This is not the first time I’ve blogged about her.
“On the edge of death: the return of love lost. The scene places you in the forest, surrounded by the vibrations of the one who died.
It’s no secret. When you are about to die you meet the ones who are already dead. They facilitate the passage. One touch and you turn to silver, which is cinema’s way of saying: corpse.
A week ago D called me in the morning, 8am his time. What could it be? He had just woken up from a dream in which he was visited by a dead friend, and something about the visitation made death seem softer, more peaceful. “If anything happens to me, Gui Gui, you know…”
Did I say, I don’t think you will die. It is me who was always supposed to die first. Remember what you said? He laughed. I saw him shake his head. I know I know.
I want to say that every dream is a little death…a visit to the liminal space, where it is always raining silver in the forest.” – Written as amplifier/echo for Sergei Parajanov’s Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors
Wang curates a genius Tumblr that has taught me so much about writing as a process/political act, dreams, the prison industrial complex, theory, race, art, film, sexuality: http://loneberry.tumblr.com/
A few recent notes that have proved influential:
The Detail makes the Tragedy. No atrocious Tale possible without the frail crack in the wall that surrounds the unspeakable. Othello is contained in a handkerchief. This Handkerchief turns anyone who touches it into a monster. The Detail is this seepage and this handkerchief, which hides-shows, gives on the scene impossible to behold. The Detail is the representative and representation of the act of mutation that turns people like you and me into the monsters of Tales. The Detail is a visual shibboleth, dreadful to behold. Whoever sets eyes on it will never again be the same. Generally, when you enter the Tale for the first time, you pass over the Detail without noticing it. It gets lost among the host of signs. It was only many years later I noticed the Detail that gives us access to ‘‘The Metamorphosis’’ (‘‘Die Verwandlung’’) though it is perfectly obvious in the entryway where it vegetates and stinks, the eternal cadaver posted as a warning to the reader. But as it doesn’t call out or moan or squeak the avid visitor sweeps indifferently past the prophetic vignette and throws himself into the front room from which he doesn’t emerge alive. If only you’d read the warning Nothing wouldn’t have happened. But by definition the Detail hides what it shows. You canalways look at the engraving Gregor Samsa cut out and deliberately framed in gilt on page one of the Tale, but it just so happens you still don’t see it you never will. The law of Details, how to think of its tricks? It hits you in the eye.
That engraving is a picture of the future.
Why do we always take the roads to madness? But for my mother who goes straight I have always gone zigzag.
[From Manhattan: Letters from Prehistory]
As girls and women we are produced within the shadow of expectation, hoping and waiting to be realised in our role as lover and beloved. Borrowing from a seething de Beauvoir we could say ‘Her youth is consumed in waiting, more or less disguised. She is awaiting Man.’ This is exactly the kind of crap that I hate from my sheared head down to my Foucauldian toes. Its capacity to restrict and limit the possibilities of life is so miserable. I don’t want to practice a form-of-life that can only imitate the faded familiar image of lack and insipid desire. This kind of love entails a deadened process of self-valorization and replication, ‘loving’ only through a dreary loop of repetition and consumption.
But here I am, and in classifying myself as ‘in love’ I contribute to the reification of the gender binaries that I consciously aim to disrupt. And yet, what else can I say? I have no other language with which to speak the feeling that consumes me, but at the same time I am painfully aware of the narrative into which I write myself, simply by speaking of myself as an object to be consumed. In speaking from the subject-organism position of ‘girl’ am I doomed to love on the condition that I remain within the terms sanctioned by GRAZIA? Concerned only with my value as love/sex object and therefore with who wants to consume me.
— “On Being a Girl in Love with a Boy,” Romy Opperman
What is prison? It is immobility. ‘Free man, you will always cherish the sea!’ (Baudelaire). It is becoming more and more obvious that mobility is one of the signs of our times. To restrict a man for eleven years to surveying the same four or five square meters—which in the end become several thousand meters within the same four walls opened up by the imagination—would justify a young man if he wanted to go … where, for example? To China perhaps, and perhaps on foot. [George] Jackson was this man and this imagination, and the space he traversed was quite real, a space from which he brought back observations and conclusions that strike a death blow to white America (by “America” I mean Europe too, and the world that strips all the rest, reduces it to the status of a disrespected labor force—yesterday’s colonies, today’s neocolonies). Jackson said this. He said it several thousand times and throughout the entire world. It still remained for him to say truths unbearable for our consciences. The better to silence him, the California police …. But what am I saying? Jackson’s book goes far beyond the reach of this police since it is read, praised, commented, and continued by nine-year-old blacks.
— Jean Genet, “After the Assassination”