reading recs & quotations
Here’s what I have for you today:
What I’m reading
I’m moving in a week, so if you’ve been wanting to purchase a zine (or two, or three…) from me, now’s the time to do so. After that, I’m not going to have access to my inventory for a while.
There are a lot of contests and open reading periods happening right now. I listed a few of them here.
What I read last week:
Four in Hand, Alicia Mountain
What I’m reading now:
No Archive Will Restore You, Julietta Singh
I’m obsessed with this lil Karl Lagerfeld daily diary. It’s so funny.
The first thing I do when I get up, I have breakfast. I have two protein shakes made for me by my doctor—they have a chocolate taste and no sugar, of course—and steamed apples. That's all. I don't like anything else in the morning. I never drink anything hot; I don't like hot drinks, very strange. I drink Diet Coke from the minute I get up to the minute I go to bed. I can even drink it in the middle of the night, and I can sleep. I don't drink coffee, I don't drink tea, I drink nothing else.
I don't go out that much because I'm always late, and I'm so busy and so pleased with what I'm doing that I'm not really ready for a social evening. That's over—the people I was going out with are dead or don't exist anymore.
You know I’m not the best exegete of my films because … I like them, but I just never see them. So they're like a part of my personal diary in my life. As filmmakers, we don't count our life regarding the holidays or the people we've been dating or children we had; it's just about films. They’re like milestones in my life, and it's difficult for me to disconnect the moment I did them from what they mean, you know, in the path of my filmography.
I felt entitled to open up another layer of emotion. A simpler one, a more … connected to the body one. Not only with the thematics of the film, which asks what happens when you touch the end of your fertility. But also the fact that in the organic way I wrote it it was absolutely not plot-oriented. It was not about the twist of the plot, not the antagonism of the characters, none of those old recipes that we've been taught are necessary to a script, but I feel they're absolutely not, and even that it’s our responsibility to debunk them. Probably I went from a very brainy place, somewhere inside the head, to a place of the body, you see what I mean? I had a journey from the brain to the body. I think that cinema that is connected to the body, even when it's very analytic, full of cohesion and very scripted and very written, it's not about the info or the plot or any of that stuff. It's connected to another level of emotions and empathy. I feel that as a filmmaker, as a cinephile, it's a goal that I'm trying to achieve, to move toward.
With this film, I wanted to impose a different breed of emotions, not the fake, hysterical cinematic moments of yelling at each other, being bitter and struggling with each other. Emotions you don’t often see on screen, the in-between and indeterminate feelings. So in the writing, I would say the fact that I took a secondary character and made her a protagonist is probably the most resounding aspect of the film. In the filming, I used long lenses; typically, I would need to have the background blurred in order to focus on a character that is far away, but here I don’t. That choice creates a kind of intimate skin, a bodily perception of the character and their relationship with the rest of humanity. I know why we don’t see these emotions on screen more often. It’s difficult to portray them without being cheesy, trivial, or banal.
We go to the movies because we are orphans, because we are unhappy, because we are feeling lonely. But also because we want to be surrounded by other lonely people and feel that we’re not lonely anymore.
We cannot just have the romance.
Does it ever occur to you that you’re five centimeters out from the center of your life? Or even further? It’s strange, right? We are the protagonists of our own experiences, of course, but sometimes we see the scripts being written for our own lives. And you can be like, I don’t agree with this, but I’m still living it.
You can be deeply loved by someone, but you cannot force them to make you the most important person in their life. That experience is rarely depicted on screen because it’s supposedly less interesting, less violent, less burning. But I think it’s so fucking interesting. These relationships teach us how to be good people and how to look at the world. We look at the world differently when we’re not the main character.
Why don’t we get up and leave in these circumstances? Women, I mean. What evolutionary reaction do women possess, do I possess, such that when a man starts crossing social boundaries, we are more likely to freeze than do almost anything else? What did we gain by learning this behavior over the years, the centuries, the millennia? What did we avoid? Who am I kidding, I already know what we avoided. To anger the male of the species so often feels like the most dangerous choice to make.
I suspect that this is why you can have a Grindr and not a Grinda; that is, a lesbian sex app that is explicitly about fucking, rather than about dating, relationships, networking, and, implicitly, monogamy in which any capital exchange happens behind the plausible deniability of a marriage contract. It’s one thing to pony up the overhead for such an apparatus. It’s another to execute the kind of backend enforcement required to manage any risk of solicitation to an extent that satisfies stockholders, VC funds, credit card companies, and the feds that it could be a safe bet.
Leather is sexy, yes, but it is also tender and it is nothing without community.
Mainstreaming kink can’t be done recklessly with bad examples of poor and dangerous consent practices, lack of communication, and reinforcing archaic stereotypes.
It’s not hard to tell by observation of language who is speaking from experience, and who is just speaking.
It’s annoying when a subculture is misrepresented in mainstream media, commodified kink is never going to be good. It sucks that leather people aren’t included in discussions about their lifestyle. It’s unfair that a group of famous writers could so easily publish a mediocre book “about kink” that isn’t really kinky while my less famous writer friends who are into Leather could not get the same opportunity to do it right, joining the ranks of Leatherfolk and Coming to Power. And lastly, it really sucks that the way this book has been hyped up for weeks led me to believe it was going to be something else entirely.
There are so many ways we dumb down our own experiences so that others will understand.
I don’t need to list the embarrassing ways that the mainstream queer community creates narratives that make us more palatable to the heterosexual overlords they so deeply want approval from. The ideas that support “we’re just like you” are harmful to everyone on the margins who can never be just like them, or who simply refuse.
Who you want to fuck and how you want to be perceived are two different things, but we can’t pretend as queer people that the two aren’t in constant conversation with one another. For those of us who prioritize sex and the erotic, these are almost impossible to compartmentalize.
She describes giving herself over to her lovers to do as they wish, locating her own pleasure in how deeply her partner desires her, like an ouroboros of hunger. I want you to want me, I need you to need me.
Living a butch-femme life was not an intellectual exercise; it was not a set of theories. Deep in my gut I know what being a femme has meant to me, but it is very hard to articulate this identity in a way that does justice to its fullest nature and yet answers the questions of a curious reader. In the most basic terms, butch-femme means a way of looking, loving, and living that can be expressed by individuals, couples, or a community. In the past, the butch has been labeled too simplistically the masculine partner and the femme her feminine counterpart. This labeling forgets two women who have developed their styles for specific erotic, emotional, and social reasons. Butch-femme relationships, as I experienced them were complex erotic and social statements, not phony heterosexual replicas. They were filled with a deeply lesbian language of stance, dress, gesture, love, courage, and autonomy.
We are all hungry for the power of desire and we are all terribly afraid.
Being a leatherdyke, or a dyke in general, is sometimes hard for me to describe even though I feel it deeply in my body. It’s like lesbian, but not. It’s like queer, but also not. It has a bite to it. Last Fall at a Dyke TV screening here in Brooklyn, Ann Northrop said that being a dyke is about lust. Me and my friends cheered, I may have cried a little, and I have definitely been thinking about it ever since.
What question can I ask of the thing I am?
This train town has a howling
in the night. It is a beehive alive with
honeysuckle whispers, sweet stinging.
When we were in love, men would ask
if we were sisters—their wicked way of
denying what was already buried and plain.
Thunder sounds spanking the hills, / all year was a racket.
I have held the bright storm of you
hot in my hands. I would do it again,
however quick, however long it lasts.
Inside me there is a swarm.
How long have I been / keeping quiet when I want to howl?
I have broken many things / in my thirst.
This book is a monument to touch, / however quick, however long it lasts.
I apologize for my body, for its / puny hovering fear.
I am falling. I am fallen. I am far from getting clean.
While jealousy is an absolute horror to behold, doesn’t it just have so much wisdom if you’re honest about what it’s telling you you need?
What’s transness if not a long lesson in choosing which beautiful things are meant for you?
This blank canvas should be freeing. I get to be part of defining a platform! I’m being asked, I guess, to be myself—but if my long history of parceling and shifting my identity across platforms hasn’t made it clear, I don’t really know who “myself” is. And this gets to the root of why these conversations about the future of social media platforms should consider the emotional implications alongside the financial and societal. Public perception feels like a requirement of modern society, but the work of it is largely unacknowledged. As these digital spaces where we store and explore our identities and cultures morph and die and get born anew, we’re forced to confront ourselves over and over again.
Fame is literally the state of being known and talked about. So while the clarion calls to “leave celebrities alone” make an obvious moral sense, they present a paradox: A celebrity left alone is no longer a celebrity.
The modern celebrity exists not in spite of our gossiping, but because of it. Some people may believe they exist because they’re exceptional, but I don’t think that argument stands up to basically any scrutiny. This doesn’t mean celebrities are never exceptional; it only means their exceptionality wouldn’t be recognized if they weren’t also active traders in the currency of public interest. In other words, if they didn’t supply at least a little fodder for gossip, they’d cease to be famous (or in the case of the genuinely exceptional, be relegated to the civilized world of institutional renown).
However much public figures bemoan their lack of privacy, I think we’re naive to assume they aren’t also personally invested in it. No one wants to be stalked or harassed of course, but speculation is not abuse, and even if celebrities begrudge their inability to perfectly control it, they know their status—their purpose, their relevance—crumbles in its absence.
Have the humility to know that your work is always flexible, that it can always be bettered.
I am someone who writes to understand what I think; I write what I do not yet know how to place into language and thought.
I am a disquieted archive that fumbles in words. A thing made up of infinite, intractable traces.
Why this desire for a body archive, for an assembly of history’s traces deposited in me?
Bodies and minds: I confess, I have already lost the difference between them.
Have a great week!
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Excellent, thoughtful, thorough review (& more) of the infamous anthology that came out in 2021. I didn’t end up reading it after my friend C warned me about the contents, and this articulates the flaws of the collection really, really well.