idol worship
August 23, 2014

Another month, another reading list. The summer is coming to a close, so I’ve been rushing to get through the last of my leisure reading before classes start next week. As much as I love the challenge of reading philosophy, I will certainly miss being able to dedicate a large portion of my waking hours to immersing myself in fiction and poetry. This month, I’ve been obsessed with a few writers in particular. 

Anne Carson:

Men in the Off Hours

Haruki Murakami:

A Wild Sheep Chase
Norwegian Wood

Jeanette Winterson:

The Passion
Written on the Body

Weight
Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit
The PowerBook

I will continue to read these three authors religiously, Winterson for the intensity of emotion that comes through in her writing and for her wonderfully queer characters, Murakami for his strangeness and disregard for the boundary between fantasy and reality, and Carson for her ability to mix academic scholarship with poetry in genre-defying ways. I know that I will have Carson to turn to when I am challenged to do work in philosophy while continuing to be a poet, and I am glad to have her words as a guide in my future writing endeavors.

If it’s pure, raw feeling you want, though, look no further than Winterson’s writing:

“This is where the story starts. Here, in these long lines of laptop DNA. Here we take your chromosomes, twenty-three pairs, and alter your height, eyes, teeth, sex. This is an invented world. You can be free just for one night.

Undress.
Take off you clothes. Take off your body. Hang them up behind the door. Tonight we can go deeper than disguise.

It’s only a story, you say. So it is, and the rest of life with it – creation story, love story, horror, crime, the strange story of you and I.

The alphabet of my DNA shapes certain words, but the story is not told. I have to tell it myself.

What is it that I have to tell myself again and again?

That there is always a new beginning, a different end.

I can change the story. I am the story.”

(from The PowerBook)

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summer canon
July 15, 2014

When it reaches 100ºF in the afternoon and the only activity that is both free and not sweat-inducing is taking the bus to the public library, it makes sense that one would spend most of the summer reading in the safety of air conditioned rooms. This is exactly what I have been doing. Despite my lack of recent posts, I have been writing, too, though I am hoarding away my new poems until I have made it past the usual all-my-writing-is-terrible phase of the revision process. In lieu, then, of posting anything original, I am very lazily offering up a list of the things I have read this summer so far. I would highly recommend all of them. 

by Anne Carson:  

Glass, Irony and God 
If Not, Winter: Fragments of Sappho
Antigonick
Autobiography of Red 

by Jeanette Winterson:

Art Objects
Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? 

by Virginia Woolf:

A Room of One’s Own
Mrs. Dalloway

On my desk is also Judith Butler’s Excitable Speech: A Politics of the Performative, which I have been reading only a few pages at a time when I’m in the mood for theory, and I also have a daunting stack of Derrida that I checked out last week in a moment of extreme readerly optimism. I will in all likelihood read 20-30 pages of a random chapter of Writing and Difference before losing my scholarly resolve and switching back to fiction. Woolf’s Orlando and To The Lighthouse are piled underneath Derrida’s essay collections, and they look inviting. In the course of writing this post, I have also put two of Winterson’s novels, The Passion and Written on the Body, on hold through the magic that is online cataloging. Give a bibliophile a library card…  

from Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?:  

“I picked up my pile of books for shelving. The library was quiet. It was busy but it was quiet and I thought it must be like this in a monastery where you had company and sympathy but your thoughts were your own. I looked up at the enormous stained-glass window and the beautiful oak staircase. I loved that building.

The librarian was explaining the benefits of the Dewey decimal system to her junior – benefits that extended to every area of life. It was orderly, like the universe. It had logic. It was dependable. Using it allowed a kind of moral uplift, as one’s own chaos was also brought under control.

‘Whenever I am troubled,’ said the librarian, ‘I think about the Dewey decimal system.’

‘Then what happens?’ asked the junior, rather overawed.

‘Then I understand that trouble is just something that has been filed in the wrong place.’”