I am here, at Naropa, in this ludic, safe space. Where we are doing performances and installations and ritual cleansings. Where we are reading and speaking of violence, of the violence of a text and erasure. The way a violent text can erase you, how you can attempt to erase this violence through the process of inscription, through the process of speaking.
Catharsis. I read Anne Carson's essay "Gender of Sound" on the plane - she spoke of a ritual that women of ancient Greece were allowed to undergo. A holiday where they were allowed to speak abuse, to make dirty jokes, to vomit at each other. One corraled-off space. Only one corraled-off day. Otherwise they were disciplined, asked to be quiet, policed for their behavior, for their wild open mouths, for their rawness, their emotion.
This ritual was called aischrologia, translated as "saying ugly things."
On the plane ride here three lad-bastards on the row next to us. They spoke to be heard. They spoke to harass. They were mouth rapists. Loud. Lewd. They thought they were terribly clever. One of them said: If I ever got a girlfriend I would trap her and murder her, like Silence of the Lambs. I looked at them, I didn't want to look at them, and I felt they were performing for me. I felt their open mouths was causing my mouth to stay closed. Because of the symposium I was going to speak at and participate at, I thought about the effects of such violence. The effects of such silencing.
Aischrologia. Women allowed only this ritual once a year, in a corralled space. It appears men and those who exercise masculine logic can occupy this space year-round. It is called the Internet.
Simone de B writes, "In masculine hands logic is a kind of violence, a sly kind of tyranny." This is the sly kind of tyranny. It is one that pretends that women are not controlled, that they should be controlled. It is the one who pathologizes. It is Jimmy Chen who has the audacity, the privilege, to diagnose a young smart sensitive writer with borderline personality disorder. This is the monologue of reason that Foucault speaks about. It is a way to police. To corral off. To discipline. By naming. Rochester to Antoientte Cosway in Wide Sargasso Sea. To say: YOU ARE OCCUPYING TOO MUCH SPACE. For this was apparently Marie Calloway's crime. She published in venues less-interesting writers (yes, I said that, yes, I mean that) would like to publish in. She occupied too much space. She was too public.
From fragment 36 of the talk I'm giving in two hours tonight: "In Heroines I attempt to theorize the girl interrupted from writing. I write: 'The charges of borderline personality disorder are the same charges against girls writing literature, I realize—too emotional, too impulsive, no boundaries.'"
The reason I keep on quoting from Heroines is because it was a time when I feel my powers were most potent, and aware, to theorize, all the ways women are silenced, have been silenced, continue to be silenced. Otherwise I am silenced.
Also: not only Marie Calloway, but all these recent posts that have called out the women who dare have written in support of MC, who dared have attempted to theorize, who dared have attempted, too, like Marie, to wedge their bodies into the cultural conversation. All these posts that have appeared on HTML Giant, have been (apparently) written by men, or at least with masculine rhetoric and privilege, and have taken aim at women who dared too to be critics, dared to have something to say, something to contribute. For don't you see. THEY ARE THE ONLY ONES WHO CAN SAY, they can speak speak speak, even if they don't say anything novel or new or interesting. None of these recent posts on Marie on HTML Giant have been very reflective or smart or aware or interesting, but they have permission, they have absolute and authority and permission, to occupy public space, to take up space, to be immense mouths, even if they say nothing novel or new.
Anne Carson speaks of Echo: "The girl with no door for her mouth."
How we punish her.
This is I'm interested in the phenomenon of this: What is the transgression? Fitzgerald's rage at Zelda writing. There is rage here. There is real rage. There is the real sense that someone is occupying public space that should not. And with all of this rhetoric, violence, which is silencing.
I admire so much several writers who write for that website I don't want to speak of, that I feel I cannot speak of anymore (those who elevate in general the discourse over there and the discourse of contemporary literature, like Chris Higgs, Adam Jameson, Roxane, other recent writers). But I cannot go there anymore. It is ugly. It is a toxic space. It is not a safe space.
There is SUCH a violence to pathologizing.
Cannot we find an alternative space? Is this like right-wing talk radio? Why can we not form an alternative space?