Gabriel Gudding wrote in a comment box recently:
i know the flar-fist blogs are v masculinist.
To which I responded
Um is my blog masculinist?
Gabe’s reply follows in blockquotes with my responses interleaved:
i don’t read many blogs, nada.
OK, and clearly you don’t read mine with anything like attentiveness, or you would not say something so absurd about it.
but i mean, aside from the fact that entire notion and action of ritualized transgression, esp as it manifests in art, has lots of homologies with masculinized behavior (self-aggrandizement, anger as means of appropriating needs, fetishizing of technique),
Well, if I own up to the first two, but feministically, as a way to aggrandize what has been belittled & oppressed and as righteous anger to, yes, appropriate needs, can I say what I have said a billion times in this space here before, if you had thought to pay attention to it, that I do not fetishize technique. I do not think really that what the flarf collective does can be reduced to “technique.”
if the motto of your blog is any indicator, then yeah yr blog is totally masculinist:
Really, Gabe, how glib can you get? Totally masculinist? I really do not think so. The fact that you would attempt to summarize everything I have written on the seven years I have kept this blog as masculinist because of your willful, twisty misreading of its epigraph (no, not its “motto.”) is in itself a kind of warlike, aggressive, unmindful gesture!
tristan tzara: “”Beauty and Truth in art don’t exist; what interests me is the intensity of a personality, transposed directly and clearly into its work, man [sic] and his [sic] vitality, the angle under which he [sic] looks at the elements and the way he [sic] is able to pick these ornamental words, feelings and emotions, out of the basket of death.” (Tristan Tzara, from “lecture on dada” p. 107)”
the focus on intensity, directness, clarity, man, vitality, looking-at, manipulator-of words/feelings/emotions, and the whole heroic stealer-from / fighter-with “death” — is totally very all about eurocentric conceptions of manly manliness.
I like the quotation because it stresses the ornamental, a key concept I have been meditating on here in writing since the beginning of this blog, and also because it imparts a Spinozan sense of the infinite horizon against which we seize the day, intensely, to make our works. I don’t read it as you do, at all, and in any case, I correct the pronoun throughout, in case you didn’t note that.
then there’s the whole 20thC-europe refusal of beauty thing — edmund burke was right to suggest an ideational substrate in european culture that yokes beauty with smallness, femininity, pleasure, roundness, light and the sublime with hugeness, masculinity, terror, dark.
I don’t refuse beauty; rather, I insist on it (perhaps because I am so small, feminine, pleasure-focused, round, and radiant myself, prrroww, oh and sublime, too, did I mention that?) – but I insist on a hugely expanded definition of it. What I refuse is “beauty,” and I think that’s what Tzara was getting at, too; that is, the notion of beauty as confined to accepted limits of what beauty might be, beauty in constraints, beauty that is only symmetrical or harmonic or non-grotesque. To me, that isn’t beauty, and I don’t think it was to Tzara, either. Have you looked into Tzara recently? Because to me his best writings sound a lot like koans, not like Eurotrash.
plus there’s the whole performative defiance, verbal club/gang thing. a show of one’s supposed autonomy in an energetic fantasy of defiance against other poetry. i mean there’s a reason why a-g movements are almost completely guy-based, more even than mainstream circles.
I do enjoy performative defiance (don’t you? isn’t your own “outside” posturing a kind of performative defiance, too?), it’s true, in part because there’s energy to be found there (as you point out), and that does help to fuel production. A narrative with no conflict is not really interesting, is it? The thing is, what we do in the flarf collective is simply not guy-based. It’s just not. The women involved are strong and hilarious and brilliant, and power is diffused throughout. A little fact-checking might have served you here.
so yeah i guess kinda.
No, Gabe, not even kinda. And now that you mention it, I can’t think of any flarf blogs that are “masculinist,” not in the way Dale’s aggressive thrown gauntlets are, in any case. Look at Stan’s recent post on “boundary issues,” and the ensuing comments. Gary’s blog is a mass of gushing, almost girlish,enthusiasms about the world and its cultures. Drew’s is about attentive listenings. Kasey’s is rhetorically masterful, it’s true, but not in a “masculinist” way; he’s just good at what he does, and thoughtful, and smart. So is Anne, and a lot of her posts are about what it’s like to be a mother. Is that “masculinist?” Sharon doesn’t post frequently, but if you look at her blog right now you will see a long post about her reminiscences of her early time in NYC, all described in heartfelt, luscious, emotional detail. What is masculinist about that?
Gabe, what are you talking about? Like so much of what gets leveled at my cohorts, this is really inaccurate and honestly kind of dehumanizing. I really do expect better thinking from you, and from everyone else, too.