Friday, May 02, 2008

Inspired by reading Celeste

My newest book Touch Me, has been a barrage sexuality, anger, lust, reflection, memory, and relationship. For me, getting away with something, has never really been the issue. this is about committing to truths of human emotion and desire. desire being the key factor to initiate lust, to initiate demand, acting upon this desire is feeding appetite, is disregarding denial. we have been taught as a culture to ration, to take only what you need (there are variations obviously), but in writing there is freedom to expose and be exposed. l feel like writing is a process of expression and mine surfaces in sexual violence, and this i make no apologies for. i have been receiving flack recently for the difficulty in accessibility, the circuitry of encoded language. it is considered by some to be a game, and one of alienation of audience. but we need to consider, very much so, our INTENDED, audience. who are you trying to reach? if audience finds discomfort, the only question or conern that should exist in the writer is whether or not they continue, and furthermore, if they do or do not continue reading, who do they tell of this experience and how does that further, communicate, network, market accessibility? there has always been and will always be a market for the grotesque, the sexual, the violating (by a show of hands, how many own porn, or have enjoyed it on some level?) your audience is there, as i wouldn't be writing you if you weren't audience.

But if i had to examine, perhaps, reasoning for success in this genre i would have to say that on some level i rely on form, on constraints, for this allowance. As Dodie Bellamy relies on Horror, Bhanu on identity and relation, i escape insecurity by recognizing body, using the grotesque as writers before me have as well, see Jonathan Swift's "A Modest Proposal", among others who have used exposure of reality and truth of bodily action as methodology. this is contact. this is bodily significance that reaches further than regulation, than the bindings of flesh necessity. we are investigators. we are interrogaters of body. this needs no apology. this needs no forgiveness. i do not apologize for my love of pornography, for my absolute unsatiated desire for erotic body, for the text that is provision.

in truth, it is all about body, recognizing that body is character, body is element, body is exposed to action, and circumstance. as hot as is the stench of your and my ass, we are body. as much as my genitals find satisfaction when aligned with another's we are body. as much as beer is smooth, and glass divides flesh, we are body. we cannot avoid what happens to body in life, body is subject to desire, to injury, to want, to fluctuation in size, to dismembering, to memory. but what i consider equally communicable is the tangential transference of memory. in essence, memory is mine and yours, but neither one is reliable, is consistent. because i have memories that i truly believe are my but are actually hearsay, memory is manipulated, therefore human identity can be manipulated. it is the fear of succumbing to desire that forces purity of memory. religion, corporation, gender role identity, these things REGULATE what is acceptable, what is reliable.

but this is whole other side of erotica and acceptability. a text like dodie bellamy's Cunt-ups, a derivitive of the William Burroughs/Brion Gysin experience expostulated upon in Third Mind, dissolves REGULATION, by hermaphroditic identity. body is omnipresent, and not subjugated to corporation but is therefore pronounced manipulated, and manipulating of human experience and sexuality. while every text cannot be hermaphroditic, because of human obsession with authorship and the demand for recognition, it can stimulate the ambiguity that must exist in text for univeral, experiential transformation. so the question is, how does text exhibit ambiguity whie demonstrating human experience? is collaboration the key to denying authorship (see wickerman, consultations)? are we defined as writers, as thinkers, as bodies, by regulatory knowledge and experience? is memory defended and moreso responsive to ethics? can dissolving memory constraints dilate textual inhibition, to widening audience and accessibility?

What Touch Me affords me, as a writer, is that it is based on the memory game Simon, if you recall. incorporating childhood memories bashed with sexuality and conflict of relationship's present, affords me a certain tenderness in violation. the significance of gaming is that it draws upon deep childhood memories (obviously audience is reduced to those exposed for complete textual satisfaction, but even on the internet you can play Simon). everyone has relationships with gaming. this is notion of connection, of affiliation between writer and reader. drawing upon relation, upon that communication is essential to textual connection. and by tampering with memory, writing is priveleged to the indistinguishable patterns which memory creates. Perversion through memory.

make it universal, make it organic. if it's bodily how can audience refuse it? make it somehow relational, a place for communication. if there can be an interaction, a dialogue between author and text, a textual relationship between them, then refusal of bodily relation is the pain of audience, not the text. while audience is necessary for the respiration of text, there committment to it, raises them from the operating table. they are patient and surgeon alike. ultimately by making the text interactive, providing the privelege and responsibility to partake, see shelley jackson's Patchwork Girl, or in some respect, Jamba Dunn's Fossil 23, the reader will become more immersed in their responsibility and action with said text. by placing commands on the reader, do this, do that, they are forced, or less commandingly so, convinced to obey the requirements of the text.

command vs. request is really the two forms poetically we're experiencing here. demanding a reader to partake, to experience, forces them, verbs the shit out of them, imposing interaction. more commonly is the voyeur text, the inclusin based luring, on teasing a reader inside a text. even the most widely accepted writers, such as Billy Collins, or Charles Bukowski, commit to luring. Collins does so in form, in the hynotics of language, the charisma of the line, forming a sense of perfection and neatness, which promotes populous, promotes readership, a sense of reliability and committment. this is luring, this is the basic form of seduction. Bukowski, on ther other hand, while committing to the "art of seduction" entices readership through setting, and the unfamiliar. he still fails to promote command, in the sense that we're speaking, but lures a reader through a series of interactions: whores, race tracks, alcohol, isolation, etc. ultimately this a language of committment and communication in its most simplistic form. without communication, language is essentially useless, therefore audience is a required condition. but again, there are various methods of infecting audience with these notions of request vs. command.

in my text, Autobiography of a Stutterer, i have placed readers in an uncomfortable situation. they are forced into impediment. when i was younger, i watched the terror and discomfort in people's faces as they watched me struggle for voice. some so uncomfortable with the action taking place they offered to call an ambulance. so i am very much associated to discomfort, but essentially you must not consider offense as hindrance. offense is for those who choose discomfort and are blinded by such, unwilling to explore the various avenues of discovery capable in human dissection, both literally and figuratively. the impediment forces discomfort; if read aloud the audience/reader is forced into authorship via experiencial dissertation. they are speaking pain; they are speaking violation; they are essentialling committing themselves to the act of impediment, the action of violating language...which brings me to a whole new point that this is ultimately, first and foremost, a violation of and through language. we are not pornographers; we are not visual artists in the most mechanical, fundamental regards of that expressionism. we are literary, we are read. writing up to the twentieth century required a violation of language because the option of media was unavailable. now in this mediatized culture we are subjected to simplification through language, furthermore the reduction in comprehension and willingness to postulate, learn, discover, and then erradicate their willingness to be exposed and therefore are discomforted by this "new" exposure through language, when in actuality we, as a mediatized culture, are violated quite heavily and regularly by media.

what shakespeare would have done in words, what jonathan swift would have done in words, etc, would have been accepted for the sake of visual representation, for the sake of communication and the discovery of signficance, human elements, entertainment, and truths. now what dodie bellamy does, what daphne gottlieb, etc., is considered, if not underground, avant garde, an experimental text that is certainly not considered by wider audience. but really how often to the arts, those that abscond from formula, monetary advantage, find exposure and wider audience. not often. so basically, through a mediatized culture, one that is exposed visually to horror, violation, murde, be it news updates, or simpy visual arts, movies, television shows, we as a culture should be accumtomed to it, but somehow reading the words aloud is more violation than a simple viewing. while it is no longer necessary to write horror in the truest sense of writer/reader relationship it has been discomforted and banished to "underground" audiences. but this mentality, this erotica, this impediment, this violation, this sexual violence, this experience has never been detached completely, simply traveled the various back roads of artistic community.

jared and i have done extensive work in collaboration based on violating the grotesque body, see with this work we have pushed audience to a level of actually standing over the operating table, violating text through thievery, violating body through murder, dissection, disembowelment, and various other methods of cutting.


timarmentrout said...

This sets my head on fire. Thank you so much for posting this. There are several things that I want to respond to, so I hope that I am able to do that here without losing my train of thought. First, I suppose is a bravo for making no apologies. I will never forget in 04 when I worked with Bob Holman on performance how he would burst into this enormous voice "stop apologizing for yourself" everytime one of us would start to read and do something like, "so, I haven't read this before and I'm sorry if it/" "STOP APOLOGIZING FOR YOURSELF!!!" It was shocking at first, but it became so natural that, at least for me, I stopped feeling awkward when I read or wrote something that pushed boundary. As a teacher now, it has become a classroom mantra. One student in my English class, who happens to be a very talented young writer, always hesitates to workshop her pieces. She pulls the whole, "do I have to? It sucks" routine and so I have the whole class chant in unison to either stop self-depricating or stop apologizing. It is working, albeit slowly.
Second, who the hell is giving you flack!? Casual readers? Editors? I'm just curious as it seems that, despite our collective experience in the avant garde that it is still widely disapproved. What is poetry if not an encrypted language? A text taht makes us alienated, makes us acknowledge the fact that we live primarily alientated lives. This reminds me of Anne's constant reminder to us that "we can be efficacious now." She pulls us out of that alienation back into a reality where we can participate and recognize those tools and mechanism which seek to alienate and disempower us, that which keeps us complacent and stupid. That which keeps us in line. Thus, what pulls that line, what breaks that barrier is a threat to the function of society, or at least the percieved image of how certain institutions would like society to operate so that they can remain in control. Does that sound too conspiritorial? It feels like it momentarily, but then back to the point, who the fuck would criticize your work as being too encoded? That unsettles me. And then now to "Touch Me," those same institutions are being challenged, by which I mean the institutions that would have us beleive the body is not to be felt too explicitly. That sex is still taboo. But you are right, there will always be a market of the grotesque and violating. (My hand is certainly raised). And I would further add a brief note on the genre of horror, whether writing or film. I suppose it is film that has best captured my attention ,and I don't want to dwell too long on this as it will cause me to lose my train of thought, but it has been well documented that sex and death are finely mixed in horror...consider the sound of orgasm and the sound of murder victims, particularly women. In film these are almost identical. And in pornography, the reverse is true...the pleasure almost seems almost painful. The look on the faces of participants is forced, confused at times...angry, "harder."
Anyway, I'm losing my train of thought. FOr some reason too, before it slips my mind, I wanted to mention Rob Zombie's remake of the original Halloween. This is a fucking brutal film, and Zombie has taken the genre beyond where anyone who grew up watching horror flicks of the 80's thought it would go, but we always wanted it to. He pushes the edge so far into realism that it makes one want to run back to the other side, but it is too late. In his retelling of the Micheal Myers character, we see Myers as a child on the precipice of becoming a sociopath. We see what drives him over the edge. In one of the first murder scenes, the young boy's shrieks and grunts as he bludgeons a bully to death with a tree limb are completely alientating. It feels as real as it could. I don't know, perhaps I am digressing too far, but if you see it I think you may get what I am attempting to get at here.
Back to the point though, or several swirling points as it seems to be forming into, you wrote "i escape insecurity by recognizing body" and I think that this is an incredible way of viewing the deeply pyschoanalytical angle of your writing. one of the things that astounds me the most about "autobiography" is how deep you are able to go into yourself, your own body/mind. and i'm not sure now if it is something i remember from "autobiography" or from the selections of "memory/incision" but the line about the fear of bowel noises in the classroom fuckin rocked me. it made me remember so much about being in school, how i refused to shit in a public bathroom until i went to college and had no choice. and so i agree completely, that it is all about body. and the body of memory is shapeshifting. my memory of the time i mooned my neighbor's bitchy mother as a child is undoubtedly different than her memory. the way my friends remember that moment is coupled with other memories of my rebellion, our collective refusal to tolerate those institutions which i mentioned earlier, which are indeed in place to suppress desire, to regulate. but because i/ we maintain that memory we are able to share a sense of identity. the denial of regulation, i think, is my answer to your question of how memory and ethics respond. identity is shaped by a series of denials...the weening of the child, the ability to articulate "no," the chouice to say "yes." ethics is a conditional field at best. what is right here is not exactly right there. so in a sense the only real ethics is the ethics adopt for ourselves. while that may be too simple of a statement to apply everywhere, what i mean is that my ethics is what matters. what is considered ethical within the constructs of the culture in which i reside are not guaranteed to align with my own personal beliefs, and more often than not, are thigns i tend to believe are totally, there is a world food crisis, yet large farms withinnthe united states PAY farmers not to grow, or BURN crops which the systems of regulation deem "excess" and therefore a threat to the market. and i'm supopsed to think that is ethical becasue there is some nationallistically self-selrving financial explanation for it? fuck that.
i suppose what i am getting at is that you strike several particular conversational points of interest, namely that our ability as writers to violate the norms and codes of regulation is exactly what makes humanity able to see itself for what it trully is, to see experience purely. and it is alienating. it is dowright fucking scary. so most commonly, we run from it. we make excuses for why it shouldn't be...too encoded, too offensive, too exposed. and in all this lust and sex and body, there is somewhere, death. the end of, or transmogrification the body. to your mention of collins and bukowski, i would also add allen, specifically his last collection "death and fame" which illustrates several of the points you bring up. the majority of the book deals with his recognition of illness, the failing of his body, slowly, his ass and problems shitting, his memory of sex and desire, and the recognitioin of what he will not be able to finish. it is at once sad, "inappropriate," and gorgeous. the writing is childlike, almost crossing into nursery rhyme...memory...and fades eventually out into the realms that we cannot name. only dream. re-member?

jcooper said...

tim, you're a fucking animal and i love ya for it. i'm so glad there seems to be an ever-flowing synchronicity between us, and others distanced by geography. even amidst our geographic separation our memory, as it were, is still intact, or at least some mention of stimulus. i want so much to repond to this in its entirety, but you seem to have caught me momentarily forget that, film, technique, poets, a celebration of interruption and the dissection of rhythm is certaintly part of this game, this notion of media as belly, as digesting creature...and vaginal, but who is the mother? some kind of televised titanic horror, some semen drenched lethargic nightmare...not sure, but our memories are simply stolen measures of time, therefore thievery, therefore disintegration of ownership, the deliberation of inconsistent truths that are bifurcated and deceiving. ahhh deception such a kindly venom...but you never quite know until cunt gets her teeth in real fine real inside....