Posts Tagged ‘Omnia Vanitas Review’

I should’ve posted this soooner…

Tuesday is Omnia Vanitas Review‘s “deadline” for our second issue: Operatic Veils.

And as we know the chicanery surrounding the Ides of March, we understand if some people are too superstitious to submit on such an ominous date. Therefore, let it be known that our supposed deadline is merely a suggestive approximation. We will consider any and all late submissions as long as they are not grossly late, but in that case, there’s always next issue! We’ll post on the website when we’re officially closed for Operatic Veils submissions.

So, without further ado:

Omnia Vanitas Review is now accepting submissions for their upcoming second issue: “Operatic Veils.”

This can be interpreted in an infinite number of ways, however, only the ways that suit us best will be considered for publication. We are interested in defining, defiling, and defending barriers. We are interested in operas, mechanical operations, and operational machinations. We like layers upon layers of everything and words richer than cream. An…d we love literature that skirts the edges of what language can do.

Please take a look at our past journal, “The Invisible Corset,” to get an idea of what we’re looking for.


We will be considering poetry, fiction, creative-nonfiction, essays, as well as both visual and video art, though some of the latter pieces may only be featured on the website (for obvious reasons).

Please send all submissions to Omnia.Vanitas.Review@gmail.com

Please include the word “submission” in the subject line.

Multiple submissions are okay, but send each submission as an individual Microsoft Word document (.docx okay) or PDF email attachment.

“Deadline” to be included in our “Operatic Veils” Issue: The Ides of March, 2011.

As we are an aspiring literary journal, we regretfully are unable to pay our authors, but what we lack in cash we make up for in love.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Catherine Borders, Oleander Underhill, and Lily Robert-Foley

Any other questions any of you may have please refer to our website: http://omniavanitasreview.com/

And, of course, if you wish to “like” us or “friend” us on Facebook we would love to have you!

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In 2004 Shelley Jackson launched her project SKIN, a story published in tattoos on 2095 volunteers. One of those volunteers is one of Omnia Vanitas Review‘s very own lovely editors, Ms. Lily Robert-Foley.

This is part of that story as told through those voices and read on their marked bodies with their own stories.

What’s so fascinating is how each word, already inscribed on a text, moves through texts, bonding to and inserting itself within other texts, exists outside of both their own text and Jackson’s texts, creating a third text of immeasurable size and weight, leaving the reader of the word, the wearer of the word, aware of the inevitability of natural erosion. Rebutting the claim that “writing is words that stay,” this story moves, it breathes, it hurts, it loves, and, eventually, it dies.

From this time on, participants will be known as “words”. They are not understood as carriers or agents of the texts they bear, but as its embodiments. As a result, injuries to the printed texts, such as dermabrasion, laser surgery, tattoo cover work or the loss of body parts, will not be considered to alter the work. Only the death of words effaces them from the text. As words die the story will change; when the last word dies the story will also have died. The author will make every effort to attend the funerals of her words.

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In The Laugh of the Medusa, Hélène Cixous speaks of female oppression from the phallogocentric structures inherent in language, in all cultural discourse, all signs, in all texts. Women are silenced, backed into a corner, told their nature, their sex is an abyss, a mysterious dark room, an unexplored, yet claimed country.

First, Derrida says that Western Philosophy is concerned with the elusive and irresistible search for Truth, or Logos. This is logocentricism, and its structures are organized through a series of binary oppositions: Man/Woman; Light/Dark; Dry/Wet. (More simply: A/-A.) The first term is desirable, the other shunned.

The shunned figures, the marginalized figures, the veils of philosophical discourse, the shadows, the enigmas, and figurative language itself, are, one can say, a resistance to Logos, the One, the Light, Truth, or whatever name it goes under these days.

Derrida also argues that speech itself can never manifest Truth directly. That speech, like writing, is structured through difference between the signifier and the sign.

“No actual language could achieve the simultaneity of signifier and signified, an idealization that is a consequence of the way in which Platonism and Christianity characterized the divine.” (Thank you Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism, a different kind of bible, if you will.)

Structuralism analyzes the importance of binary oppositions, and now, through Derrida, Cixous, and other post-structuralists, the obscured ideas, the veils, the dark, infinite spaces, are also being analyzed, and then transformed.

Cixous talks of Écriture Féminine, writing through the body, writing in white ink, in Mother’s milk. She says that Écriture Féminine is characterized by the repressed mouths, both of them, woman’s sects. Écriture Féminine is about multiplicity, and forsaking once and for all the idea that woman is simply Not Man, or rather, a castrated man.

It’s A/B.

Not A/-A.

Cixous urges women to steal their voices back from men, to ignite their mouths, impregnate their words, and soar through themselves, soar above, on their own, without the phallogo-structures of men.

To do this, women must shirk the masculine tongue, the father tongue.

Cixous speaks positively and optimistically about women’s ability to reclaim their right to speak and write in a feminine style. She explains that to be effective, this style must take on an unconventional form, “sweeping away syntax, breaking from the famous thread which acts for men as a surrogate umbilical cord.” By abandoning the linear and orderly characteristics associated with traditional masculine style, Cixous uses the phallocentric language to her advantage. She acknowledges phallocentrism and then, through contradictions, she uncovers the inherent shortcomings. This inadequacy is based upon the realization that Cixous is not able to say exactly what she would like using a masculine discourse. Because Cixous does not have the option of speaking though a feminine discourse, she is forced to use alternative techniques in order to relay a direct and accurate meaning with a masculine language.

Cixous speaks about women’s writing: about what it will do.

For this, she uses Medusa, one of the three Gorgon sisters, the one with the hundreds of hissing snakes for hair, the unlucky girl cursed by Athena to be so ugly, so horrible, that her very gaze will turn men to stone. In a battle with Perseus, Zeus’ clever child uses his own shield to decapitate and defeat the hideous lovely Gorgon.

Freud once wrote a short essay on Medusa. He associates Medusa with castration and decapitation, whose image is both terrifying and ambiguous. The snakes on her head are a denial of the castration, are the act itself with the hissing penises and the what-not; and being turned to stone is also castrating (powerlessness, to make passive, to make a woman), as well as exciting, a form of arousal. His gaze, the gaze upon Medusa, woman, is so powerful, that the viewer is transformed, suffers a mini-death, an orgasm. Is rendered motionless by her figure, her form, her beauty.

But this is all to assume that woman is a castrated man, that she suffers penis envy, and requires either a deep dicking or a child to feel full, complete.

Cixous says men say that there are two unrepresentable things: death and vaginas. This is because vaginas need to be associated with death. Men need to fear women, they need to fear vaginas.

[Kenophobia. Apeirophobia. Thalassophobia. Menophobia. Kolpophobia. Gynophobia.]

Medusa is simply a manifestation of men’s fear of large empty spaces, infinity, the sea, menstruation, vaginas, women. And of course, castration.

This is why Cixous transforms Medusa. She must revise the notion of femininity itself.

Wouldn’t the worst be, isn’t the worst, in truth, that women aren’t castrated, that they have only to stop listening to the Sirens (for the Sirens were men) for history to change its meaning? You only have to look at the Medusa straight on to see her. And she’s not deadly. She’s beautiful and she’s laughing.

Write, Cixous suggests, demands. Write, write, write.

It is by writing, from and toward women, and by taking up the challenge of speech which has been governed by the phallus, that women will confirm that is, in a place other than that which is reserved in and by the symbolic*, that is, in a place other than silence.

* A reference to Lacan’s theory of the psyche. “The Symbolic” is the dimension of language, law, and the father; in contrast “The Imaginary” is modeled on the mother-child dyad or on the relation between an infant and its mirror image.

1st image: Laurent-Honoré Marqueste. Perseus and the Gorgon

2nd image: Nancy Farmer. Medusa in Modesty

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First, let me apologize for an embarrassingly long sabbatical from my blog, and then, let me explain, justify, rationalize my absence.

There are two distinct reasons I haven’t been writing.

1. I moved. Across the country. Into a geodesic dome. Where it has already snowed. It’s as if I’m living in a reversed snow globe.

2. My literary magazine, Omnia Vanitas Review, was finally launched.

Both of these things are chain-linked in my mind, as if they were organically related, but, as I was moving away from New York, and my partner wasn’t, we needed to wrap everything up before I left. This all culminated in a grand reading, a party, celebrating a different kind of writing. I used to say the underside of writing, the belly of writing, but this isn’t about depth, it’s about perception. It’s more about the expression without writing transcribed into pure writing. Language, that word, its flowery permutations, its acrobatic semiotics, changes from person to person. Wittgenstein talks about the impossibility of emptying the contents of your mind into someone else’s, the inability to create an exact duplicate of the analogons, the pictures inside your brain, for someone else to see, devour. Language, the relation of signifiers to signified, cannot be an exact science.

Signifier: The word, the sign, the representation, that describes the thing.

Signified: The thing itself.

Charles Sanders Peirce (the father of pragmatism):

A sign is something which stands to somebody for something in some respect or capacity. It addresses somebody, that is, creates in the mind of that person an equivalent sign, or perhaps a more developed sign. The sign which it creates I call the interpretant of the first sign. The sign stands for something, its object.

So, an apple would be the thing, but the word “apple” would be the signifier. This issue is famously discussed in Magritte’s painting.


I could go on and on about the pipe-ness of a pipe, and how when someone says the word “pipe” what appears in everyone’s head is specific and generic and different, but, roughly, we all come up with something that kind of looks like that, unless, of course, you’re talking about a different pipe.


Remind me to someday print this out and do something with it. It’s one of the only images I have found that combines my love for semiotics with my brother’s love of video games, a rare and precious intersection.

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