A Parallel Manifesto

by Eurydice
  1. I will never imitate nature and beauty, because I'd never rob me of my own awe--what else do I live for? Leave the monkeying tricks to the money-raking itinerant crowd pleasers; true magic has nothing to do with mimesis. I want to do the opposite of what nature can do. (I don't interfere with nature, and I hope nature doesn't with my text.)

  2. I mostly interfere with culture, the old logos-animus, the more masculine and less sublime axis. My aim is to help pass the culture through the sieve, collect the actual glossolalic seeds and reshape them not into the soft Galatea I'd like (I'm forever fighting my Pygmalion complex) but Medusa, whose splendid head it pleases me to be turning out to confront the world as its mirror-du-jour. I believe seeing is the opposite of believing.

  3. I like to see language as a healing tool and metaphor as cathartic as any violence. The achievement of the ancient tragedies was to purge by causing pity-and-fear (i.e., culture-inspired awe); even though a thousand years of soap operas have fatally mutated the genre, it is that brutal power of the word I aspire to. If I didn't abhor new ageisms, I'd say for me writing is shamanistic--meant to exorcise demons and overpower common sense. As it is, Ill just say that literature keeps me from feeling unceasingly ridiculous.

  4. I have no interest in realism, because I'm so interested in reality. Reality is unspeakable, I think, which is why I write, to stretch the language to express the fringes of what's real (its the last three clauses of the Unnamable syndrome). Reality is the echo of a time bound smell that can't be deciphered. Reality is an ancient mammoth Klein bottle filled to the brim with sound and fury from which there is only cerebral escape. I don't really know memory. I'd like to know the one word that rips apart the world.

  5. Writing helps me face my mortality which I live to overcome. Writing saves me from my female onus and absolves me from my body's limitations. Finally, fiction is my way of usurping the making of history from the bullies-that-be.

  6. All my writing is an act of rebellion. I couldn't stay sane and articulate, or intelligibly clad and mannered, if I didn't release words. In another era I might have been a woman possessed by satans, sooner or later burned on some sort of stake. (But I'm alive, now, at the ball, waiting for Godot, in a society still itching to cover up my shame.)

  7. Because language in the mouth of a woman can be deadly, preliterate, alchemical (woman is literacy's untouchable, an ineffable catalyst in reaction to which language was created and which continues to prove its inadequacy), it can both undermine the stability of any sacred cow and turn into a potentially natural language that bridges any distance.

  8. I can only live as a foreigner. It is an honest modus that highlights my difference, freeing for I am never expected to know and follow the mores of the locals. It allows for a relative degree of ignorance and naiveté that punctures life's hot air balloon. I obsess and write about America as I see it from an inside-the-seams outsider's point of view, because its ideology has the ominous power to permeate and homogenize the rest of the world. I'd like my writing to span the lonely treacherous soul of America. English is not my first language; this allows me to hear it objectively, free sign from referent, use and abuse the vernacular without the learned or sentimental hesitations and respect for vast traditions that restricted me in my own tongue; I purposefully write in American because it is the Latin of the postmodern world. Every writer is an outsider; and all human activity is a striving after the wind, so those less weighty catch up the best. I write best as an exile.

    PS: There is no greater art than the art of daily life. The talent for living well is the most substantial; so I try to fashion my life as I would create a text, driven by sheer desire and imagination, with no regard to rules, limits or fears, feasting on this bottomless world.

(Meanwhile, let us not forget the lofty cosmos hovering upstairs)

  1. Realism--our gigantic linguistic compromise--made our madness comprehensible (and comprehensive) and propagated an illusion of order by defining its codes and norms, until Modernism eloquently mourned our loss of romance and conquest, and the abrupt end of accurate perception, and soon after, Postmodernism celebrated our chaos, rejoicing in its newly begotten perverted cynicism (John Barth, for instance, has made a career of reveling in the death of every literary genre); the text was written in order not to mean but to be. Most postmodernists fetishized the structure and epistemology, instead of the epiphany. No longer. Today we're primarily interested in the irreducible clean nonverbal revelation, the intuition, not the analysis. We now perceive the classical and the innovative as synonyms. We've played connect the dots so often since Rimbaud, that we're impatient; especially as our continuous present is taking us straight into the cascading millennium (maybe an unimaginable renaissance). Sartre was happy to spend life looking out the back window of a moving car, seeing everything present as having happened already. We'd rather act up our writing; so we hide less, want more, face proudly the failing world of which we're symptoms, walk our talk and talk as prophets. The new writer is an apocalypsist.

  2. But can we listen? Less and less, as the info-assaults escalate and what used to be communication is war. Myth means to us untrue. The only lies we can still stomach are our own. (Only what we can consume can we trust; the edible is the new Muse.)

  3. Dante distinguished all words between pexa et hirsuta, the hairy and the combed (the punks and the preppies). Breton, simplifying matters, said that a real writer is one who takes a gun, goes down in the street and randomly fires at the crowd until the gun is empty.

  4. If you juxtapose W. C. Williams' dictum No ideas but in things to Rene Girardís assertion Language stops where reality starts, and Henry James' The only thing we can demand of a novelist per se is that he should be interesting to Gertrude Stein's You can write masterpieces only when you are not you as your little dog knows you, you get Baudelaire's A writer must be both a somnambulist and a hypnotist; a simple equation.

  5. Joyce and Proust show us that all trivial men are transcendental and thus eternal (i.e., instantaneous), so regardless of our ever achieving freedom from identity and unleashing the forbidden text beneath the surface, our battlefield must always remain the world's great banal surface. A surface is like Conrad's rotting river: we penetrate it to find it is impene-trable. Something is always fleeting: that is the essence of all writing. (To implicate Hegel, a. Thesis: all is in order, and b. Antithesis: nothing is in order, leads to: c. Synthesis: there is order which lacks a center, and that missing link--the little wailing gorilla--drives our need to tell every story. That is, to pose the question: Why am I not a chimpanzee?)

  6. For as Nietzsche and Derrida make clear, we have to posit a center to say anything; so as the surrounding structure develops we find there is no center, yet keep chasing it (good old rainbow); for God is a game player forever dividing the universe, and once we catch on, realize that the division is false and start uniting the parts as God separates them, we transcend; for the self is a stray animal being chased (caught between loss and recovery, hunger and disgust). All in all, I think literature not only is not conveniently representative of any society or even of a rebellion against that society, but that if in its unpredictability it is representative of anything, it is representative of the non-representative; it is resistance.

  7. Or, as Colette said of love, a primordial battle. All love is quotation; on the other hand, love teaches us more about creating fiction than anything else in life, because it can always be urgent, new & arousing. That's why love-lust is the lens I use to understand the world.

  8. Which leads me to womanhood: In this late-twentieth, the use of love as a means of socially normalizing women has declined, and women are producing their own virtuoso seduction texts that are direct coital acts. Phallic penetration of the woman's vaginal ear is no longer the sweeping function of language. Unfortunately, no disenfranchised voice can avoid being appropriated by the status quo once it is defined as art. As soon as it acquires any prestige and power, it loses all potency (look at Duchamp or Basquiat). To be potent, art must be able to decay before it can be consumed and canonized; it must be apocryphal. The author must denounce it as failure as soon as it is made public. Once you enter the fancy gates, you're the sultan's eunuch before-you-know-it. The sultan doesn't make love, or money, or jihad; he collects taxes and spends them to make puppets of himself; only those who stay out of the cozy palace can see the strings holding everyone up and recognize his intimate chuckle: this short cautionary metaphor was my earliest childhood fiction, a product of both phobia and imagination, with the former using the latter to justify itself. PS Every notion of progress is refuted by the Iliad, a text that was a perfect act of provocation and defiance toward the waves of lesser articulation in the centuries to come. We're still trying to match its sharp and lucid radiance that has been shaping our world.

(Nor the barbarous yawn gaping beyond)

It strikes me that I'm Avant-Pop simply because my writing is the equivalent of:
  1. staying pregnant forever, ever since I unexpectedly found myself,
  2. running from the earth-churning tanks deafeningly firing at everyone around me in the familiar crowded streets before the sealed-off University and slipping on spilled blood,
  3. and later that night pulling up my nightgown under the heavy sweaty covers as a twelve year old and whispering to the cavernous dark, Fuck me! Fuck me! Please... frantically,
  4. then taking to the air lifted by my billowing hunger high over the old city battlements,
  5. fleeing the immense windblown waiting room of the dead, escaping from the circle of my existence as if from a crime, and, burden-free, sinking my claws back into the earth,
  6. feeling for the first time a mans eyelashes batting against my labia, as if I were flayed,
  7. and afterwards lying smeared silver with sperm inside a foreign boy's daydream,
  8. while tracking the awesome white speck of an insect making its way busily over a beauty mark and through the fine hairs on my left arm tickling me lightly as I was scribing this. PS: Even a dunce leaps out of bed, inspired. Sherwood Anderson

(to be continued)

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