I'm Stephanie.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

post iv: mad and maddening

So why are we (women) often so insufferable?
There is a portion of David Foster Wallace's Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, in which two youngish male characters are having a weighty conversation about women, and why they are the way that they are. While each of them is aiming to be entirely understanding and absolutely anything but chauvinistic, they both end up doing so and then realizing that they are doing so, find problem with doing so, and then continue to do it again, realizing that there is an unbreakable cycle. That they are a part of it. But that women are too. And that both of them, K, and E, still really just want to get laid.

"K - '...What modern feminists-slash-postfeminists will say they want is mutuality and respect of their individual autonomy. If sex is going to happen, they say, is has to be by mutual consensus and desire between two autonomous equal who are each equally responsible for their own sexuality and its expression'
E - 'That's almost word for word what I've heard them say.'
K - 'And it's total horseshit.'
E - 'They all sure have the empowerment-lingo down pat, that's for sure.'
K - 'You can easily see what horseshit it is as long as you remember to start by recognizing the impossible double bind we already discussed.'"

then later...

"K - '....today's postfeminist era is also today's postmodern era, in which supposedly everybody know knows everything about what's really going on underneath all the semiotic codes and cultural conventions. and everybody supposedly knows what paradigms everybody is operating out of, and so we're all as individuals held to be far more responsible for our sexuality since everything we do now is unprecedentedly conscious and informed...The point being that women today are now expected to be responsible to modernity and to history.'
E - 'Not to mention sheer biology.'
K - 'Biology's already included in the range of what I mean by history.'
E - 'So you're using history in a more Foucaultvian sense.'
K - 'I'm talking about history being a set of conscious intentional human responses to a whole range of forces of which biology and evolution are a part.
E - 'The point is it's an intolerable burden on women.'" (Wallace 228-230)

So what the fuck do any of us do? The only answer I can come up with right at this minute is to act like little boys (minus bugs and boogers) and take Jello shots. Admittedly, this book kind of made me want to shag David Foster Wallace for getting it, but then I was like...oh wait....shit.

Sugar-free Jello, of-fucking-course. Because, despite my own awareness and how liberated I should be, I'm not. I am a specimen of modernity, and if it weren't for academic perspective, this would make me very sad. Instead, I am delighted at examining myself philosophically, and am glad that I have so much tangled material to work with. So, shots. Slurp slurp slurp.

Friday, February 3, 2012

post iii - Pastiche Personne

A lot of the time in my life, I feel like a walking collage. I quote movie lines back and forth between friends (or Brule's Rules lines..."you've already got a penn-iss! Don't chop it off!"), I see things in relation to other things, some days I dress like I'm from the 40s, and then I go out and buy Adidas sneakers that remind me of KeSha. I still sometimes want to be Britney Spears circa 1997, and then other times I want to be like, this feminist who doesn't give a shit, who reads Gertrude Stein and Margaret Atwood, and who can cut off all my hair, not panic if I don't stay teeny tiny, and not wear a bra ever (my mom has definitely taken issue with me when I don't).

While I was raised on Catholicism, I was ironically, also raised on The Simpsons. The Simpsons, as we all know, is entirely dependent on pop culture references for majority of its humor. So little of what happens on the Simpsons is not in reference to something else. The Simpsons serves as this pastiche of Western culture, and our relevant figures of the moment tend to end up amongst its characters, now with eight fingers. Even the Strokes made it to the Simpsons (much to my delight).

It is these factors that I believe, has led me to a kind of obsession with collaging. With creating juxtapositions of images that become something completely different when shaped into the collage. Since I was maybe 14, I've been cutting, pasting, and arranging as many images and strange objects into art as I can, without really knowing where this impulse originates. I think I know now. There is no other way to arrange the fuck-all of thoughts, references, and signifiers in my fucking head.

Simona sent me a post card with this image, and the confusion somehow demonstrated in this work of art screamed to me to examine the ways in which I too collage in trying to make sense of the senseless. By Raoul Hausmann:

In California, the freeways serve as collages. Lap Band, Six Dollar Burger, Rolex, Spearmint Rhino, Disneyland, "Real Fruit" Smoothies at McDonalds. Racing past the signs at 75 miles per hour (at least) while maybe listening to some indie band with poetic lyrics, feeling like you're driving into the smog but then realizing that you've been inside of it the whole time.

The collage I have found to be a release. A channeling. An understanding of the "fuck-all" referenced above, and instead of mourning it, making it into art:

(canvas collages)

(room at my parents' house)

(envelope to Simona)

(my beautiful mom who urges me to not go bra-less)

(picture frames I made for Alica with beads, pins, plastic pigs, etc)

The collage serves as my kind of submission, my yielding, that I can't make true sense of a lot of what I'm fed by this world so at least maybe I can steal elements from it and turn those elements into something pretty. After all, aesthetics are more important than sense in this day and age, right?

So where am I in the collage of my being? How much is me, and how much are bits and pieces that I have pasted onto and into myself? Fuck if I know.

The collage is my control. The collage is my physical channeling, arranging, and controlling the signs and images that can sometimes pummel a thinking, feeling girl straight into the ground. The collage is my scream.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

post ii - Self War

Waging war on myself is something that I am familiar with, having been raised Catholic. At the same time, this has led my thought processes to function formulaically: sacrifice produces result; will creates possibility; following rules ensures safety and love.

I feel somehow that a background in Catholicism combined with postmodern appearance-oriented pressures, as well as a profoundly American confusion about sex, as well as a non-dormant animalistic instinct to cross swords with something have led me to suffer from anorexia nervosa on and off for the good part of six years. (Note, not since 2010).

Friedrich Nietzsche perhaps would have said that I, and scads of other women and girls (and anyone partaking in self-destructive behavior), were waging war on the self because we are a part of a species who until very recently evolutionarily, has been able to fight at will, as animals do. The fighting urge is still very much a part of our ontology, but this urge would get in the way of the mandatory structure of work and rules of society.

Fighting the self then, does not immediately put a block in this system, and it grows to be an acceptable fact that we can and do form varying cavalries aimed at our very own bodies and souls. Anorexia, alcoholism, even depression...this is a war on the self.
We feel an urge so strong to find refuge in the functionality of the system in place, that we'd sooner slit our thighs with razorblades than try to dismantle it.
Am I saying that these things are a choice? NO. I am saying that there is a boiling hot urge still within us that finds exposure, often without our permission, and that it sends its ranks to the front lines of our being.

Now I'm moving into Georges Bataille's territory...

So violence is repressed so that it does not interrupt the functionality of a system, and that repressed violence builds the steam that ultimately blows the lid off of the pot so to speak. This is when war is possible. When the steam is so forcefully building that organized war feels necessary, cathartic, dare I say....sexual?? A release?? See Erotism,

Fighting and sex. Hmm. Well fuck. This correlation is everywhere, but that's a whoooole nother can of gummy worms. Urges. Taboos. I don't think it's entirely an accident in our modern culture that the word "fuck" evokes thoughts of both sex and enmity. Personally, I litter that word into my diction like salt.

I'm going to say one more thing about the anorexia bit.... (don't hate me, I just really have to say it, now that I'm looking at it from an academic perspective). What a fabulous post modern disease! A real kick in the size 0 pants! Worshipping and wholly sacrificing the body, experiencing transcendence through starvation, and your culture doesn't even get mad at you until you're nearing death!.

And yet in the abuse of this particular disease is a worshipping of the body, all the more useful when one has ceased to worship the divine of one's upbringing. A formula, a sacrifice, a will, a promise of safety.

War. Restriction. Sex. Wow, I didn't even really talk about anorexia in relation to sex, nor the manifestation of other common modern disorders in relation to sex. Banging. Coitus. I have a different take on anorexia than just "the media." I think the media is an assistant crone to help in the diseases perpetuation, but at the core, I think it is something much more abysmal.