Friday, October 2, 2009

A bit of this, a bit of that

Attention is fragmented, lately.

Currently reading:

Stephen Henighan When Words Deny the World - it says everything about CanLit that others are afraid to say. And then says a bit for, for good measure. Internal contradictions: write what you know; write the local; there is no such thing as appropriation of voice. (One of these things is not like the others . . .). Not that I necessarily disagree: authors should not be afraid to explore perspectives outside their own, but there is a particular ethical problem posed by using the voice of an ethnicity or gender other than your own. Here is where research becomes a wonderful tool for overcoming the impulse to write in stereotypes. Here is where the internet, with its multiplicity of voices, becomes an ideal forum for research.

Daphne Marlatt Ana Historic - am enjoying this book. It will probably need at least two full read-throughs in order to do it any kind of justice. Right now, i love the poetic non-linear novel. The careful cultivation of words into sentences, paragraphs, chapters. The prominence of female voices.

(right now blogger has a bright red ERROR bar across the top of my page. it seems to be disagreeing.)

Neil Gaiman The Graveyard Book - am reading online, but have reached the end of the sample. i will admit to having a prejudice against Gaiman because of the Beowulf movie; but when i began exploring his website and twitter accounts, rethought my position. Perhaps it is unfair to judge a writer based on a Hollywood production. Perhaps I was overly influenced by my academic peers/professors ranting about the inaccuracies of the film (and the first-years writing Beowulf essays based on said film rather than reading the text). Might just go to the library to reach the conclusion of The Graveyard Book - it's very endearing.

A pile of books about Creative Writing Pedagogy also are being perused, but i won't get into that.

Still need to read more of the issue of Open Letter that deals with feminism & poetics. This is where I miss my old commute - it was perfect for reading articles. i haven't quite figured out where to fit them into my new schedule, yet.

There's also The Story Of O, written by Pauline Réage (a pen name of Anne Desclos) which i'm thinking of as literary pornography (which is a loaded, but accurate, term). Although a feminist reading of the text is deeply problematic, the story itself is pretty compelling. The text deals with the idea of complete (willing?) sexual submission of a woman, and consent seems to be a ritual more than a necessity. That gives me chills; informed consent is the most important aspect of sexual freedom. So i'm slowly making my way through this book, trying to figure out how much fiction owes to reality; sure O seems content in her role, but if she were a real woman this would be wrong. Not the sex or the mutilation, but the lack of specific permission, and the cursory way in which consent is treated. It raises the question of whether it's okay to enjoy a book, knowing that it is ethically deficient. i also wonder how many people read this book as some kind of bdsm 101, and then go to an event expecting to have an experience like O, or like the men she belongs to. Then i wonder whether i have the same problem with books that are more clearly "fantasy" - if these were vampires and/or were-creatures (à la Laurell K. Hamilton) would i find it so troubling? Probably not. Should i? Maybe. i've read some reviews that call Story of O anti-woman, and O's musings on women are troubling - she sees herself as superior to other women, and men as superior to them all. The dominant women in the text only ever have control over other women. But is that because in the world of the text, the activities are financed by a club of rich men? Or is the text trying to say something about all women? If it is, i strongly disagree with the idea that all women essentially want to be dominated, or want to serve. Anything that essentialist is reducing human complexity to a ridiculous level of simplicity. In any case, i'll finish the book. i'm waiting for a moment that reveals that O was giving informed consent all along. i have a feeling i'll be disappointed.

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