Sex City, CIUT FM. An hour is a long time to talk on the radio when you've had no media training. I felt somewhat inadequate, but not nearly inadequate as a Skype job interview where half the committee members come in late and are milling about in the background while you're trying to answer how diversity impacts your teaching philosophy. But I was touched by how thoroughly and thoughtfully Louise had read my book.
Then I stumbled upon two amazing posts about the book from February on the Emily Books tumbler. The first was Rachel Monroe's "Our tribe," (February 23rd), in which she talks about reading the buddhist while staying in a hostel surrounded by Alabama surfers and irritating Russians. Discussing the in situ reading experience is a perfect tribute to the book and to my aesthetics in general, that our perception of any cultural phenomenon is contingent upon the position of the viewer. I'm reminded of when I taught comp at the SF Art Institute, and I took them to a Kara Walker exhibit at SFMOMA, and their assignment was to write about the exhibit, forefronting their experience of viewing it in the gallery on that specific day. A favorite line from Rachel's post: "But there’s a danger to the kind of brief, one-sided intimacy you can get from good art."
The second Emily tumbler post was Sady Doyle's "Because it's broken," (February 27th), in which she she does a thorough read of Dodie as narrator's clinging and not letting go. It was both embarrassing and affirming to take in Sady's eagle-eyed read of me, or more precisely, me as character in this book. Throughout, I felt this woman has got my number. Take this line: "At its core, the buddhist is a protracted fight between two people for the right to know what happened. " Exactly, exactly.
Recently when I complained to giovanni singleton (whose first collection of poems, Ascension, is a finalist for the 2011 California Book Award!) about how marginal I was, giovanni said—but you have this intense underground following. With responses like those mentioned above, it doesn't sound so bad to be underground. Perhaps I need to commit to that underground—to be writing more and teaching less. Working withing these institutions is a constant assault on my ego—and my aesthetic integrity. When we were reading David Wojnarowicz's "In the Shadow of the American Dream" in class today, about this quest for radical freedom, at one point it came up, half overtly, half covertly, what the fuck are we doing in this institution with all its expectations and rules. It was a student who brought it up, but I was thinking it myself.