Still in the punning mood. Not sure what this one is about. This is the long haul at the moment, seeing if I can get a lot of posts in while it's still June. I'm doomed to fail, but I've got nothing better to do. My writing style at the moment is a lot of fun to work with. It's been a productive month: moving the fiction back to the end was quite helpful, because it allowed me to do a lot of writing in the length that I want (~1000 words) and then adapt that to fiction. Plus it was fan fiction so it was all kinda new. But I'm wasting time here. This is the introductory bit saying au revoir.
For the uninformed idealist inside me who thinks at times that a world where advertising took over for currency and created a system where the corporations formed the basis of what we owned—non-human entities working for humans, rather than the more traditional vice versa that we have today—the amount of misogyny in your typical commercial is heartbreaking. The way I see it, sure no publicity may be bad publicity, but allowing your company to put out an advert that actually turns me off to what you’re selling? I just think that’s a bad idea. Take most beer commercials, for example. Is beer something that only men can enjoy? Because apparently, according to their most recent campaign, only manly men choose Miller Lite. Not even getting into issues of sexual orientation, an advertisement that criticizes all men who carry murses? That’s absurd. Briefcases are obviously a bitch to deal with. Unless you are expecting these guys to be wearing book-bags, as if they were no older than say…23?...and on a college campus.
But I guess that’s neither here nor there. It’s an introduction of sorts to the topic at hand and I need not get bogged down in it. If it has not already become apparent through your consistent reading of this blog (I kid, I kid), right now I am in a learning phase poetically. Although I read a lot on my own accord, I feel that prose-wise I can basically hold my own, at least to the standards I have set for myself. Not that I consider myself a great writer, but that I feel like I’m more in the stage of learning by writing, rather than reading. It’s a sixty-forty situation at best, but those twenty percent can swing themselves very quickly it seems.
For poetry, however, we’re looking at the opposite approach: I’m learning leaps and bounds more from reading than writing (maybe again as much as 60-40…if I increase that number I may be stretching the truth to make a point). So broadening my horizons is a main goal. That’s why I’m reading the blatantly titled Poetry magazine and even more importantly, this is why I’ve been writing about it, because in some ways writing is a form of thinking and that’s what I need in this particular…medium?...genre?...what I need in verse these days.
So, the quandary begins, due to my horribly one-sided book collection already displayed in a photo I took with the webcam on my last laptop several months ago entitled “Misogyny.” You don’t want to start a new library out on the wrong foot, but it’s difficult to get a good blend of writers’ genders, races, orientations and other identifying features going. The oddity with randomly picking up a book called No One Belongs Here More Than You by Miranda July is how it affects the situation: this book sitting in a drawer with twenty or so others—all written by men—causes a bit of disappointment with the self. At least I know that I’m not the only one with the problem: I recall reading an article about (I think) last year’s top ten books from (maybe) the New York Times, where they were taking flak for having a completely masculine list. And there’s reason to take issue with that.
It’s surprising, the impact that Miranda July’s short story collection on my position today. I first heard about Tao Lin by way of reading about July—Amazon shoves them both at you, which is a good thing (like Thom Yorke talking about the importance of music sites giving you recommendations in an interview with David Byrne of the Talking Heads: it’s something so commonplace now that it’s horribly underrated)—and I inevitably titled my book after Tao’s, nearly stealing his first physical book of poetry’s title verbatim. Plus Lin was one of the reasons to turn towards poetry in a more academic sense: I had decided to get his previously-referred-to book, you are a little bit happier than i am, along with a Bukowski set of verse, and another collection from Li-Young Lee (from whom I’d already read his debut, Rose).
The lack of female writers in my personal canon, made up from all of the books I’ve read, then, does not then reflect directly on a lack of female influence. But an important question to ask myself about this passing thought that I’m following to its end, before I put this out live on the internet, an important topic to get back to is this: What is the point of this post? I’ve read two books by great writers that sort of blur this line: both The Secret History and In the Woods happen to be by female writers who used male narrators.
This speaks more to what I’ve been trying to get at then anything else I’ve been able to capture so far. It’s what the guys on June’s Poetry podcast were talking about in reference to Allen Edwin Butt’s poem, “If Briefly,” where he is able to create a female voice that rivals what is basically his own, both speakers being present in the work. A comment from a professor who is obviously much smarter than I am made during last semester’s classes, that certain people believe that where there is a dichotomy there will always be a hierarchy. And little ole me, currently the blog-writer, the kid who once wrote a poem that ended on the not-so-good line of “someone standing, facing the way things are, and screaming ‘fuck hierarchies.’” I mean to say that this guy’s obviously made up his mind in this debate.
Here’s where it gets really easy to hate Plato, who thought that the way to solve the issues of gender was to effectively eliminate women, by way of turning them socially into men. Clearly something that could only have been written by a person who identified his or herself as masculine. The situation beckons for self-assessment. That’s what I’m reaching for; that’s the thread of an idea that was scratching at a part of my mind when I put this on the schedule for a blog post, a schedule I was fairly sure I would not follow well.
This equates, in a way, to my own plans. My first novel and third book, a project I’d love to be able to wrap up sometime in early 2012, will begin with a female narrator. Writing, it’s a habit that praises being outside of yourself more so than being outside of the box. And I think that’s a good thing. Because when you only stay inside you begin to burrow in, leaving behind you a dark and scary hole that not many would wish to follow you through.