Boots of Tisa Bryant and Chris Kraus
Just back from the Belladonna “Elders” series, this one featuring Tisa Bryant and Chris Kraus, whose “I Love Dick” I reread recently and mentioned on this blog. In this series, a younger writer chooses an older writer with whom she feels a sense of connection and lineage, and they introduce each other, read, and then talk afterwards.
Some have expressed discomfort with the use of the term “elders”; others, like Kathleen Fraser, approve of its use and how it evokes “elders of the tribe.” Barrett Watten apparently wrote to the curators to ask why they were structuring the readings by influence and not by movement.
I don’t know how I feel about it, particularly as I am in that weird space where I am neither an elder nor a youth. I do think that if I were asked to be in a series of this type as a “younger” writer, I have no idea who I would choose, especially among women writers. Though there have obviously been many who have influenced me, I don’t think I could single out any one as a kind of matriarch or aunty to me, and I feel like positing such a relationship would be oddly oppressive. Carla and Bernadette are the only two who come to mind that I would even consider, but I’ve turned out to be quite clearly distinct from them both. Really, if anyone fostered me, it was a number of collectives or movements: generations of Jews, the Romantics, the Dadaists, the NY School and the Language Posse, not to mention my own dear flarfkindred, where the influence is multidirectional and nonhegemonic. Beyond that, I guess most of my influences are nonliterary, and anyway irreducible to individuals, no matter how many individuals I ape or admire.
I wasn’t uncomfortable with the relationship on view between Tisa and Chris. I thought it was beautiful, actually, and the threads of connection were clear and interesting. They both write a complex opaquely subjective intellectual kind of fiction/essay/prose, they are both profoundly engaged with the visual, they both proudly occupy the margins, make the margins their centers. They are engaged, energetic readers.
I loved what Chris wrote about Tisa in her introduction: “We are constantly curating not just our lives but the texture of our consciousness.”
There was a funny moment in the Q and A afterwards when, after Erica Hunt had asked the readers to distinguish between canon/ lineage or influence/ movement when Eileen Myles dubbed Tisa and Chris as “New Feminist Imaginaries” because they create new spaces to inhabit via their writing, and Tisa said, smartly, “You heard it here first: New Feminist Imaginaries!”
OK, I have to go to bed so I can wake up early to attend my birthday tomorrow.