I want to analyze, unpack, read between the spaces of my writing. I want to explain the way I write.
Kathy Acker says, “Within the realm of realism lies the assumption that language mirrors all that isn’t language, right? A table. That’s what a narrative is about: telling what is or should be. A narrative mirrors reality… Why bother with the lie of realism? Why bother being so miserable, so reductive, when one could play?”
Why bother mirroring reality? When art can soar away from reality. Create another reality. Its own reality. Why must a narrative merely be a story? Why can’t it move beyond simple plot and exposition. Why must every word be tethered to a sentence and unable to fly outside of the text it happens to reside in?
Take these two lines from a text:
The Venus Effect.
(The plot, after which, is a scorned woman who cuts her hair off.)
Mea Culpa. Latin for “I’m guilty.”
The Venus Effect is a reference to Velázquez’s Rokeby Venus, who lies with her back faced to the viewer and looks at herself through a mirror Cupid is holding, but, and what’s important, is that her face, her gaze, her blurred image focuses directly on the viewer. Both vanity and sex are evoked. Maybe even Velázquez himself.
But, the Venus Effect plus Mea Culpa, the greater comparison would be from Paganism to Judeo-Christianity. Much like Las Dos Fridas, I envision one line as traditional and in pain, while the other is stronger, evasive, and beautiful. Both lines function as the introduction to a teenage girl, who, like the Rokeby Venus, introduces herself to the reader by looking in a mirror.
There is a preference of Venus over Mary in this teenage girl’s mind, and there’s shame for feeling that way. This guilt causes a bipolar response. She swings back and forth from appreciating her body to hating her body. Though not in a biblical way – she doesn’t think she’s dirty or impure, inferior to man – but in a perfectionist’s way. While she may be as good as a man she’s afraid of her body not being good enough for him.
She’s afraid of being ugly, unfuckable, but feels guilty for being bodaciously fuckable.
They are both sides of the same coin.
The mirror, of course, reminiscent of Alice Through the Looking Glass, namely the looking glass itself, which reflects, holds both the thing and its counterpart. In Alice, a logical one and an illogical. As if everything reflected in the mirror had another side. That together, both the thing and its image, represent the whole. What Acker is saying is that there is a difference between the signifier (word) and the signified (what the word represents).
There are some things that language cannot describe. There are emotions, feelings, and thoughts that get lost in the translation from inside one’s head to their tools of communication. I could not possibly attempt to describe what love is. Who can? That’s why there’s vague proverbs and analogies. Love is a battlefield. Love is…
A realistic depiction would call for long pauses explaining everything. It would be like Tristam Shandy.
And sometimes some narratives don’t want to explain everything. They want to make allusions to something and move on. Allusions are fun. They’re playful. A literary game for the reader.