the rigorous m

bits and bobs, quotes and catching up

Archive for August, 2012

Notes on Becoming-Girl (Maybe), Aggregated

Posted by rigorousm on August 31, 2012

I think about Jean Seberg’s character Patricia Francini in Godard’s Breathless, the girl-reporter who wants to write novels and not be a sidekick in some film noir. I wonder if Godard was conscious when making the film how much he makes Patricia a cipher, and shows this blank character who is searching for an identity, for a self outside of men, but is never really able to escape it. She wants to write novels, someday, like Faulkner, but she needs to sleep with her editor to write articles, and she must be a muse-baby for the famous novelist in order to get his attention. And her self-worth is completely bound up in how others see her, through another’s gaze, and like a Jean Rhys heroine part of her only wants a Dior dress and the man who loves her, but there’s this other part, that’s just forming, that is having a complete identity crisis, that is Simone de Beauvoir’s woman questioning her immanence, questioning her lack of freedom, wanting something more, feeling dreadfully incomplete.– Kate Zambreno, Heroines, reposted on her blog Frances Farmer Is My Sister

And whether you like it or not subjectivity is not enough. It does not constitute an argument. It is part and parcel of a logic that supports maintaining the way things are. It is how we elevate failure in the name of something that is merely special—or at most specious. It has become the dominant mode of interpretation within our small universe. It is how we make a case for stories we like because we like the person or because we believe that belief in such stories is not possible without belief in the personalities who produced them. It is a way to protect our fragile self-interest.

— Janey Smith, “Marie Calloway, My Lover (Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Just Love Tao Lin” on Big Other

Like other forms of pastiche — the mix tape, the playlist, the mash-up — these sites force you to engage and derive meaning or at least significance or at the very least pleasure from a random grouping of pictures.

“Curation” does imply something far more deliberate than these inspiration blogs, whose very point is to put the viewer into an aesthetic reverie unencumbered by thought or analysis. These sites are not meant (as curation is) to make us more conscious, but less so. That might be O.K., but it also means they have a lot more in common with advertising than they do with curation. After all, advertising trains us to keep our desire always at the ready, nurturing that feeling that something is missing, then redirecting it toward a tangible product. In the end, all that pent-up yearning needs a place to go, and now it has that place online. But products are no longer the point. The feeling is the point. And now we can create that feeling for ourselves, then pass it around like a photo album of the life we think we were meant to have but don’t, the people we think we should be but aren’t.

“Pinterest, Tumblr and the Trouble With ‘Curation'” by Carina Chocano

In response to the aforementioned frankly underwhelming NYT article

I’m not sure I understand a model of curation that is separate from desiring-production, and I’m not sure how/if/why this author is talking about “longing machines” without talking about desiring machines. (But I don’t wanna talk about Deleuze because being a Girl On The Internet Who Uses Deleuze To Make Herself Feel Smart is the opposite of what I long to be.)


“…the feminist poetic essay was riddled with collaged texts and vulnerability. It switched person at will, ‘I’ flipping to ‘she,’ inside magically flipping to outside and back again.

… Passion in writing or art- – or in a lover – – can make you overlook a lot of flaws. Passion is underrated. I think we should all produce work with the urgency of outsider artists, panting and jerking off to our kinky private obsessions. Sophistication is conformist, deadening. Let’s get rid of it.”

— Dodie Bellamy, “CCA Barf” in BARF MANIFESTO


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quotes: Kate Zambreno on radical writing

Posted by rigorousm on August 30, 2012

KZ: I really try to unwrap this in the essay collection, my ideas about this anorexic versus bulimic aesthetic, and I know that in a way I’m playing with fire, reclaiming types of feminine self-destruction as radical aesthetic strategies. I don’t think all texts are inherently anorexic or bulimic, but locate both of these as potential radical modes, both potential forms of resistance, while also wondering why in contemporary poetics and the world of small-press experimental literature the most dominant form appears to me to be anorexic. And wondering why bulimic texts by women are rarely published in the margins or in the marketplace, wondering why they are less written, and why, when so many of the so-called “genius” contemporary male writers are given permission to write what could be classified as bulimic. …. I do write about the work in the same online essay however, I think, as I place Chris Kraus’s work in this sort of fictocriticism or New Narrative movement.

New Narrative is decidedly bulimic, which I also classify as having the aesthetic not only of purging but privileging the verbal, and having something in common not only with l’ecriture feminine, this idea of writing the body and voice and taboo, but also the Surrealist mode of automatic writing. Even though Chris’s work does look at anorexia and Simone Weil’s philosophy of decreation as a possibly radical and reactionary act of expression, her writing is so much about writing the abject body and the relentless self, as opposed to writing that enacts the disappearance of the self…. I love your last comment – the female writer’s impulse as being inherently diseased…. I really celebrate and welcome writing that is about externalizing and vomiting out violence as opposed to internalizing it, although am fascinated and compelled by both forms of expression.

— The Millions Interview: Kate Zambreno

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zambreno on female writing

Posted by rigorousm on August 30, 2012

KZ: …when I think of l’écriture feminine as interrogated by the French feminists, I think of a radical mode of writing, that is the writing of voice, of the body, by the outlaw. That to me is also a question of style, closely associated with the Surrealist idea of automatic writing–and maybe some of what Woolf was talking about when she wrote about breaking the sentence in A Room of One’s Own , which to her looked a lot like Dorothy Richardson’s stream-of-consciousness. … But another aspect of this idea of feminine writing is not only the style but also the experience–that of being subaltern, silenced. And I think the explicit, the excessive, the emotional, is a vital way to write against the system, to revolt–and for precursors of this I think of the queer and feminist practitioners of New Narrative, including Dodie, but also Kathy Acker, David Wojnarowicz’s Close to the Knives , Dennis Cooper, Chris Kraus, Eileen Myles, how these writers subverted the novel form and inserted their monstrous and messy selves into the conversation.

Literatures of the Girl: An Interview with Kate Zambreno, The Rejectionist

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proust on hypocrisy and snootery

Posted by rigorousm on August 28, 2012

In every one of us there is a special god in attendance who hides from him or promises him the concealment from other people of his defect, just as he stops the eyes and nostrils of people who do not wash to the streaks of dirt which they carry in their ears and the smell of sweat which emanates from their armpits, and assures them that they can with impunity carry both of these about a world that will notice nothing. And those who wear artificial pearls, or give them as presents, imagine that people will take them to be genuine.

– Proust, Place-Names: The Place p 563

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proust on travel

Posted by rigorousm on August 28, 2012

Sunrise is a necessary concomitant of long railway journeys, just as are hard-boiled eggs, illustrated papers, packs of cards, rivers upon which boats strain but make no progress.

– Proust, Place-Names: The Place, p 497.

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Halberstam on Morrison on Forgetting

Posted by rigorousm on August 28, 2012

Morrison describes the effect of Beloved’s departure on those who remained: “They forgot her like a bad dream. After they made up their tales, shaped and decorated them, those that saw her that day on the porch quickly and deliberately forgot her…. Remembering seemed unwise” (274). Morrison’s embrace of the act of forgetting has a very specific function and is not intended as a wholesale endorsement of forgetting as a strategy for survival. Rather she situates forgetting as contingent, necessary, impermanent, but also as a rupture in the logic of remembering… that shapes memories into acceptable and palatable forms of knowing the past.

— Judith Halberstam, The Queer Art of Failure, p 82.

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