Tuesday, January 13, 2009

New Feminist Imaginaries


IMG_2648.JPG, originally uploaded by Ululate.


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.

2 comments:

Rachel Levitsky said...

Hello Nada
Happy Middle Ground Birthday! May the ground be wide and fertile and filled with surprising pleasures. Thank you for posting on the event and your own movement imaginings. One thing though... we are trying to assert, and we wrote this to our guest curators that we do not conceive, in this case, of the term 'elder' as an age, nor as singular influence but also as inspiration. Here is a quote from out letter (Erica read this brief statement last night): "True to our signature queerness, when using the term 'elder' we do not refer to age, but to she who has had influence, inspiration, support (by means of innovation or activism)..." I agree with you, for me too it'd be impossible to single out one or more writers (nor aunties, though Stein certainly did make good use of hers!) whose work my writing distinctly 'follows', but I can point to many who made writing ways apparent to me, ways which make my very specificity possible. One of those is Renee Gladman, who perhaps according to numerical age belongs to a younger 'generation'--or used to---age shrinks as you collect more of it.

in New Feminist Imaginary Sisterhood,
Rachel (belladonnaseries.org)

Ron said...

You were a youth on the 13th. But now you are an elder.


Happy birthday from those of us who are positively paleontological,

Ron