masochism and misery

Ring of Keys

Annie Wilkes, fashion icon. In the novel of Misery she sports pieces like: “old brown cowboy boots, blue-jeans with a keyring dangling from one of her belt loops,” and “a man’s tee-shirt now spotted with blood.” Later Stephen King notes that while she sometimes wears frumpy dresses to town, on the days she dons jeans, she leaves her purse behind and sticks her wallet in the jean pocket, “like a man.”

King, who famously writes in an intuitive manner, seems to have slipped at some point in the composition of this manuscript from thinking of Annie Wilkes as a kittens-and-doilies Christian nursy to a big dyke with a Jeep Cherokee. It’s not that granny dress Wilkes and overalls Wilkes couldn’t naturally co-exist in a real woman. I myself have been partial to both at different times; granny dresses, in fact, though I’m sure King didn’t know this, have a certain lesbian cachet of their own. But as far as I can tell Wilkes’s overt mannishness is only introduced later in the text, as if, by natural law, a woman with so much physical power must soon begin wearing a carabiner.

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thoughts on frágil 2022

Pedro Henrique’s debut feature centers on a barely-legal burnout named Miguel. He tumbles through a sequence of nights and days that are loosened from linear time by his habit of partying past sunrise. For company he has a constantly shifting array of friends and friends-of-friends and people-who-hooked-up-with-friends-last-night. (Early on they’re taking poppers at 9am.) He lives with his mom, who we only see conked out on the sofa, perhaps drunk. He has a restaurant job but keeps forgetting about shifts and turning up late to beg his co-chef for coke.

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semirational defenses of lesbian movies with sub-7 imdb ratings, a diptych

The movies are Mona Fastvold’s The World to Come and Alice Wu’s The Half of It. I watched each of them in a very particular state and derived from each a sublime near-religious experience, even though I can’t necessarily defend my experience to anybody on the level of craft. I will now try to describe my reasons.

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where did you go?

I don’t like to read Mulholland Drive as a movie about a woman having a dream or something, although I have come to accept that this reading is available. In general, interpretations of anything along these lines don’t interest me — “it’s all a dream” or “it’s all a hallucination” or “it all occurs in the moment before she dies”. These readings pretend to break out of the delusion at the heart of film but actually re-entrench it. That delusion, I mean, being that anything exists in a film.

The dream-or-something twist pretends it’s so clever, and it thinks you’re so stupid. It provokes a flinch of repulsion and offense. The same as when you ask a man at a party about what he’s been watching lately and he says, “Have you ever heard of a little director named David Lynch?”

I don’t like being condescended to about ideas my interlocutor would assume I’d had if he gave me the benefit of thinking I was reasonably clever. This is how it feels to hear, “has it ever occurred to you that part of a movie could be not real?” None of it is real. No movies are real. Movies are a more or less ordered collage of simulated images. Mulholland Drive wants to make us aware of this.

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a story about the post label on a copy of a community newsletter from 1997

In 2017, I was finishing my undergraduate degree with a project for an XML course where we were directed to digitize a piece of analog media. I discovered that my university had an archive of documents from the women’s movement. Among those documents were several years’ issues of a local lesbian newsletter. I descended to the archive to scan the yellowing documents and stitched together a PDF so that I could transcribe the content. For this task, I used my notebook laptop the size of a day planner, which was cracked from a fall off the hood of my family’s moving car. I sat in the cinema-coffeeshop on campus, or in a bar downtown where a presumed tattoo artist with stretched lobes and a lichenous beard doodled on a napkin beside me.

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music about movies

Mitski’s new single, “Working for the Knife”, uses the psychic relationship with film to talk about the psychic relationship with art under capitalism. While Mitski is sometimes laundered down to a confessional writer, she often states in interviews that she writes more usually about the process of making music, the process of making art–about which she sings with desperation in Geyser that despite her desires and her best efforts, “it’s not real\ it’s not real\ it’s not real enough.”

In the music video, she acts out a variety of filmic archetypes, from the sinister competence of the chain-smoking cowboy with her invisible cigarette to the manic ecstasy or fear of the tortured female horror movie protagonist, who stomps and flails with her hair flying around her face to expiate whatever enormous terrible emotion it is that lives inside her. (This figure is the “unhinged woman” in the Internet parlance of the moment. Overuse of a word causes what linguists call semantic bleaching, the invisibilization of the embedded metaphor. What comes through the door that sits off its hinges?) What’s terrible about capitalism, she might want to say, is that it commodifies not only the actual product of your creative spirit, but even the very reason you want to create, if you are an artist working in a certain stream. Capitalism causes you to buy and sell your only tool to make life mean anything, to force yourself to manufacture such meaning-making or to fake manufacturing it.

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midsummer story

I’ve now officially moved out of a city I lived in for my whole adult life, where I did a great deal of personal and creative work and learned different kinds of connection and tenderness. Last year I wrote this story in that city and although I only sent it around once or twice, it felt right to give it a public funeral by posting it here. I wrote several other pieces about or featuring Victoria, including Strange Places in the City and a couple still in the grinder, but I like the circannual quality of this one. Things are different for me now than they were the last time I touched this very slightly disguised piece of fey memoir. My last two weeks in Victoria were full of love, touch, care and community. I said thank you and goodbye to the house with the apricot tree that is described in this story, and somewhere in the dusk a band was playing, but I couldn’t find where.

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