Saw Karen Finley speak last night at Barnes and Noble to celebrate the release of her new book The Reality Shows which is available from the Feminist Press. I haven’t read it yet, but she said it compiles performance texts, writing and art work which she made in the last ten years. She talked about losing her historic lawsuit about the NEA and the ensuing fallout and culture wars around her and her work. She said that there was this big issue of the ‘persona’ of Karen Finley, which got in the way of her doing her actual work. People had these huge reactions to what they perceived to be her “voice”, and she said she felt like it was a caricature or cartoon version of her. And that it stopped her from being able to produce work. So she went on what I think I remember her calling a spiritual quest to rediscover the joy in making the work. And she emerged with a new way of approaching the work and the personas involved. I’m really paraphrasing a lot here, but it spoke to me. I would also like to rediscover the joy in using my own voice. I also feel like people’s reactions to some cartoon version of something get in the way of communication. I feel also like I am the butt of a joke. (I know I talk about this a lot). Not to trivialize or compare my own intellectual/emotional ‘problems’ to the massive international mindfuck that swirled around the inimitable Ms. Finely. But it was really inspiring. Should I be doing pop-culture drag? Would that even work?
Before Karen spoke, there was a brief introduction from Kathleen Hanna, who wrote the forward to the book. Obviously I think she’s fantastic and her work is also very important to me. She spoke a bit about the influence Karen Finley’s work had on her life, and when Karen took the stage after her she thanked Kathleen for being part of a chain of people who encourage one another. I thought that was really gracious. I want to be part of a chain, too! I want to exist in a culture where we acknowledge when each other’s work is important to us. Beyond just the good-feelings of good-vibes. I think it’s Important to make a conscious effort to affirm, find joy, etc. Karen signed my copy of her book “With Joy”. Which I think is really nice. I can’t wait to read it.
Got a kind of snarky one-line review about a story I wrote, “fIRECRACKER”. It said the story “dithers into its own loose imagery”. And it really bummed me out for a number of reasons. First, the reviewer seems not to have really gotten the point of the story. It’s called “fIRECRACKER”, it’s about anticipation. I feel like I shouldn’t have to defend of explain anything, but the reviewer didn’t give me any credit for doing what I did ON PURPOSE. Like, maybe if there are unresolved images, maybe if the pacing slows down at the end, these might have been conscious choices I made.
I dunno. It’s also not like I ever asked to be reviewed. By this guy or anyone else, basically ever. I’m just saying. I never send anything I do out to be reviewed. I never give away tickets in exchange for press or reviews. If you like something and want to tell your friends about it: great. If you think something sucks: great. If you feel like it is necessary for you to insert yourself into a conversation by telling the world how much something I do sucks, that is on you. It just bums me out. Why spend the energy? I see a lot of shitty artwork, I meet a lot of shitty people, but it seems like a waste of everybody’s time.
Yeah, I am being sensitive. But to be fair: I never said I was a good writer. I am thinking a lot about the Kathy Acker quote which is on the back of Hannibal Lecter, My Father. It has a really cute picture of Kathy looking menacing next to the words: “This writing is all fake (copied from other writing) so you should go away and not read any of it.” If we wanna talk about what we’re thinking about, fine. But if we wanna call each other names, I’m out.
Finally, this Saturday night is not only a Full Moon, but it’s also going to be one of the rare times in which the Moon is also marginally closer to the Earth than normal. This phenomena happens once ever twenty years or so and is called a SUPERMOON. Cool, huh? My good buddy Cole mentioned this, and reminded me of the performance I did last year about how the Moon is moving further away from the Earth, and how that scientific fact relates to Gay Pride, the show was called MOON + ENCOURAGEMENT. I am really proud of that performance even though probably 15 people saw it, most likely none of whom will ever see this blog. But I was really proud of it, and I felt really good making it. And as I remember it, it makes me hopeful that I’ll make other things which will also be fun. I dunno. Sort of also interesting that it’s happening this weekend and my mom is coming. So is my dad. I’m excited to hang out with them. Just so much going on right now, but it feels really far away for some reason. Maybe by this Saturday things will seem more possible for a little while.
PS: TRIO A by Yvonne Rainer
A perennial source of everyday inspiration.
PLD sent me this video isn't it great?