Wednesday, May 23, 2012

detritus, hand-sewn, interference, & the lyric

celebrating for a brief moment a brief accomplishment

today i completed the final draft of my exam lists.  see that smile above?  yeah.  that's how happy i am about it.

tomorrow, as i begin to read bataille, re-read foucault for the hundreth time, i may be weeping* .  but for today, a hurdle was crossed.  

i have a few months to go before i start serious study, but couldn't help but read one text today i was really curious about, from dickinson's misery by virgina jackson:

Suppose you are sorting through the effects of a woman who has just died and you find in her bedroom a locked wooden box. You open the box and discover hundreds of folded sheets of stationery stitched together with string. Other papers in the bureau drawer are loose, or torn into small pieces, occasionally pinned together; there is writing on a guarantee issued by the German Student Lamp Co., on memo paper advertising THE HOME INSURANCE CO. NEW YORK (“Cash Assets, over SIX MILLION DOLLARS”), on many split-open envelopes, on a single strip three-quarters of an inch wide by twenty-one inches long, on thin bits of butcher paper, on a page inscribed “Specimen of Penmanship” (which is then crossed out) (fig. 1). There is writing clustered around a three-cent postage stamp of a steam engine turned on its side, which secures two magazine clippings bearing the names “GEORGE SAND” and “Mauprat.” Suppose that you recognize the twined pages as sets of poems; you decide that the other pages may contain poems as well. Now you wish you had kept the bundles of letters you burned upon the poet’s (for it was a poet’s) death. What remains, you decide, must be published.

Let this exercise in supposing stand as some indication of what now, more than a century after the scene in which you have just been asked to place yourself, can and cannot be imagined about reading Emily Dickinson. What we cannot do is to return to a moment before Dickinson’s work became literature, to discover within the everyday remnants of a literate life the destiny of print. Yet we are still faced with discerning, within the mass of print that has issued from that moment, what it was that Dickinson wrote.

i love the idea of dickinson being, not a writer of books, but a creator of zines, or of the art of the trunk, collecting images and words and detritus and saving it in something bigger than a book, because a book is too tame, too trim, too regular, too hermetic,  to contain her.  so what was it she was writing, and how did the world, that never wrote back to her, come to constrain her corpus of words into the thing we call literature?

this trunk of hers,  flotsam & jetsam, scraps and threads and dried petals, begins to touch the reason i'm obsessed with dickinson ( i and a bunch of other nerdy fuddy-duddies.)

legwear:  black lace leggings

inspiration:  a trunk full of hand-sewn, hand-written chapbooks

looking forward:  seeing a lot of water next week in seattle

*here's what natanya ann pulley, one of our fabulous guest bloggers, wrote on facebook today about studying for her exams:

My method is to just try everything. It's chaotic (I want to say disaster but will try not to judge). I have notes in six different programs. My books go from extreme post-it noting to color coded tabs to highlighted and underlined sections.... I read in the morning, afternoon, evening, night, really really late night. I've scheduled by theme, by taste, by chronology, by whim, by goal. It's messy. I suppose that is my way, but it's going on for over a year now. Usually I try different methods, but the deadline on a project is sooner and so I don't see so much switching, swapping and lolly-gagging. You know, my therapist told me that part of the process is the emotional process. Like it's built in the marathon of it all. And to appreciate that side of it. I told her no. (I'm a fabulous patient). I said I wanted it task-oriented and rather robotic. Bah ha ha. Anyway, she's right. It's about pacing emotionally as well as mentally and physically (at least for me). And spiritually (I would argue). But anyway. Right now, it's like book/note-taking/study session bombs have dropped in every room in our house (well, our bedroom, my den, the kitchen table and the front reading room and throughout my brain). Four months to go ...


  1. Can you kindly choose to read my messy house as text, as art, as trunk full of signifiers?

  2. Replies
    1. your house is the very nexus of art to me.