Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Useful Tangents

Here are some things that are true.

1. I've been reading Kathy Acker over the past week. I was strongly encouraged to try her about three years ago, but when I read about her work, I was put off a little and worried it wouldn't be for me. I've chosen to read My Mother: Demonology, a novel from 1993, and although I'm not really sure whether I like it or not, it has given me two big gifts.

I wrote the secret project (aka the Ceremonials project) largely inspired by Florence Welch and my own ideas, but in the back of my mind was this movie I saw some years ago about two French girls at a boarding school who had a sexual affair. The movie was made from a book that had, I remember reading on the internet, some of the most purple prose ever written or taken seriously as literature. That was absolutely all I remembered about the movie/book, so as much as I wanted to look it up and compare it to what I'd written in the secret project, I didn't know where to start. Well, Acker's book mentions the Radley Metzger film Thérèse and Isabelle and then uses it to go on useful tangents of her own, and I went THAT'S IT. That was the movie/book that I had slightly in my mind as I was writing the secret project.

As I look at YouTube videos of the film, I'm a little embarrassed that I took so much, mood-wise and setting-wise, from this film without actually remembering it by name. I was thinking of the school in the film when I created the Cartwright School, and I was thinking of the seriousness with which the affair between Thérèse and Isabelle is portrayed when I assembled Amelia's relationship with Corisande. I did a bunch of stuff that the movie doesn't do - supernatural stuff, obsession stuff, mythology stuff, closure stuff - but I'm still kind of pulling at my collar about the similarities. Perhaps, in acknowledging them, I can get off the hook a little.

Here's a link to the last twelve minutes of the film. There's nudity in it, and it's fairly ponderous, but if you've read the secret project, it might look slightly familiar. (I couldn't find a trailer of decent quality.)

The other gift is a series of photographic images that have been surfacing in my mind as I read, none of which have anything direct to do with the book, but which continued to appear as I continued reading. I am going to do everything in my power to make this a real, in-the-world photography sequence with myself as subject.

Lately (past six months or so) I've been feeling this odd instinct that I need to involve my body in my creative life. I didn't know what to do with that until Acker's book started giving me these pictures. I don't know when or in what final form the images will exist, but I don't want to forget their urgency. I took notes. I approached a collaborator. I'm hoping for the best.

2. I've 90% decided to teach a writing workshop in July. If you're local to Los Angeles and you want to come, please email me, kcoldiron at gmail, so I can gauge the interest of people I don't actually know. Just a li'l email, maybe that only says "me", after which you can continue to lurk and be shy.

3. I had a strange dream over the weekend that I think, ultimately, was about privacy. I wrote down a bunch of notes on it. I woke up with the sensation that, as a writing idea/project, it could be something big, but I realized in reading my notes that I Love Dick impacted me more than I thought and I don't want to just copy others' ideas. (See above.) I'm feeling the need for a big writing project, after setting down a plethora of little ones over the past year or so, but my waking thoughts about it might have been wrong. It would be absurd and philosophical and have to do with family and home as well as art and the body and privacy. I have a main character, which is the most important thing.

There's a small idea I want to work out on the page first. It has to do with a dog and a bicycle, movement in space and time, and - this only crashed into what I had put together over the past week - The Sound of Music. I wrote some pages on it over the weekend, but I don't know if they're any good and I'm worried that I don't have enough for a story-length story rather than a flash.

And I'm waiting for something to come to me so that I can write about male regret. That might happen in ten years, though, so I'm not waiting very avidly.

4. In fact, I counted: in the past year, I've written three short stories, three personal essays, and three weirdnesses that blur the lines between essay, fiction, memoir, and criticism. (More threes.) That doesn't sound like a lot, but it's enough wordage for a collection, and the ideas that came out in there were pretty intense.

5. I have no pictures to go with this post, so here's a photograph by Garry Winogrand that I like a lot. Click to embiggen. Catch you on the flip side.

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