Thursday, June 22, 2006

Inspiration mastication...

I'm tired, kids, but I just finished an incredible book, and had to stop by and slosh some love around before I hit the sack. Before I get sloshy with the love, here's a quick, bulleted rundown of my day:

  • Dogs go apeshit at 7am...strangely enough, I'm getting used to it.
  • After the barking-induced tension headache/hysteria began to set in, I got dressed and adjourned to C-vegas to visit with my peeps.
  • Went to lunch with Thesis Advisor to mull over some ideas. Fruitful lunch. I'm very excited about the independent study in Summer II and thesis beginnings in the Fall.
  • Came home, swam. In Andi-speak "swam" means "scooped incessantly as all good pool Nazis do."
  • Took a nap.
  • Discovered that our 'fridge is no longer 'fridgerating.
  • Finished A Plea for Eros, which leads me to the sloshing.

Siri Hustvedt is one of the few authors that makes my breath hitch in my throat and can damn near bring me to tears. She's an amazing brain--got her PhD from Columbia, dissertation on Dickens, novelist, poet, essayist, and just happens to be married to acclaimed author Paul Auster--and reading her work sends my brain into spasms of painful mind-bending contemplation while simultaneously throwing me into fits of manic joy because I begin to think, "YES! That's that thing I've always thought but didn't know how to say or write!!"

Reading A Plea for Eros, her book of personal essays on a number of philosophical issues was nothing short of my previous, gut-wrenching experiences with her fiction. I would try to summarize or praise the delicate nuances and turns of thought in her work, but I'm too tired and I would just not do the pieces justice. I'll just say, she weaves her personal narrative into her philosophical musings in such a way that it all becomes pure magic. Pure, unadulterated, genius. Why she hasn't won boatloads of awards, I'll never understand. She has more talent in her little finger than Updike has in his disposable rocket (ptooey, Updike!).

One of my favorite passages...the closing passage actually....

I am afraid of writing, too, because when I write I am always moving toward the unarticulated, the dangerous, the place where the walls don't hold. I don't know what's there, but I'm pulled toward it. Is the wounded self the writing self? Is the writing self the answer to the wounded self? Perhaps that is more accurate. The wound is static, a given. The writing self is multiple and elastic, and it circles the wound. Over time, I have become more aware of the fact that I must try not to cover that speecheless, hurt core, that I must fight my dread of the mess and violence that are also there. I have to write the fear. The writing self is restless and searching, and it listens for voices. Where do they come from, these chatterers who talk to me before I fall asleep? My characters. I am making them and not making them, like people in my dreams. They discuss, fight, laugh, yell, and weep. I was very young when I first heard the story of the exorcism Jesus performs on a possessed man. When Jesus talks to the demon inside the man and asks for his name, the words he cries out both scared and thrilled me. The demon says, "My name is Legion." That is my name, too.

Listening: "Mandolin Rain"...Bruce Hornsby


  1. Hmmm . . . I missed my weekly attempt of working on the sunburn today. That means I'll have to catch some rays while mowing the lawn or through some other menial chore--not nearly as much fun as watching the scoop Nazi and synchronized swimming.

  2. Lawn mowing is significantly less exciting than my water whip, but I feel sure you'll get lobstery just fine. We'll have to pick back up with the watery fun next week.

  3. I've got one of her books which I haven't read yet. Now I'll do it.

    Bruce Hornsby's fab.

  4. Anyone smart enough to marry smart author Paul Auster is smart enough to make me read her smart book.

    Why oh why would you put the closing passage in there though Andi? Do you know how hard it is for me not to read that, wait a year until I get around to reading the actual book and then holding all that bitterness inside in the meantime?

  5. I'm glad you enjoyed A Plea for Eros. I love that book.

    I actually just reread the last essay "Excerpts from a Wounded Self" just the other day.

  6. Rob, which book if you don't mind my asking? They're all great, but I'd say The Enchantment of Lily Dahl is sub-par compared to her others. And Bruce Hornsby is God-like.

    Dale, take the plunge and read the last passage. Since it's a book of essays it doesn't give anything away, and it'll stir up your appetite.

    Elise, "Extracts from a Wounded Self" was one of my favorite essays. Along with "Eight Days in a Corset," "Yonder," and "A Plea for Eros." Good shit!

  7. Ooohhh that sounds yummy. Will look into it. I've been meaning to try Hustvedt anyway!

    I would love to be able to laze away the day like you. Sigh...I need money though :( Just know how lucky you are!

  8. Heatheroo, start with What I Loved! Amazing novel.

    And while I got to laze yesterday, I'm "tutoring" today. Which is technically still lazy, but I wish I was home in my jammies. As it is I got very little sleep (again, thanks to Handyman).

  9. I still want to see the water whip...

    I'm smacking my lips just thinking about it! ;-)

  10. Andi,

    I need to pay you a compliment. I didn't realize the last part was a passage from the book. My eyes skipped the line where you said that. I didn't know until Dale commented on it being a passage.

    I thought you wrote it.

    I know this is a book of essays but I need to ask if she's post-modern. I struggle too much with postmodern.

  11. Suzz, that is quite the compliment. I only wish I could write like Siri!

    I wouldn't say she's terribly postmodern. When I think of postmodernism I think of disjointed, avant garde, fragmentation. All those really disorienting qualities (which I actually like, but I know it's not everyone's bag). I find Hustvedt thoughtful and beautiful without being terribly experimental in form or content. She tells a lot of personal stories mixed in with somewhat lofty ideas on art and relationships and the like. This passage is pretty representative of the loftier side of the work, with the rest being lots of family stories and personal tales (fascinating...having spent time in Europe, studying at Columbia, etc.).

  12. Wow, okay, so I did read it and now I'm hungry.

  13. I LOVED her first novel, Blindfold, but didn't care for the next one. (Can't remember the title.) I'm going to have to give her another try.

  14. Dale...mmmmk.

    Purl, no one likes The Enchantment of Lily Dahl. Forget you read it and go on to What I Loved. A-mazing.

  15. Oy! Too much noise in the morning. That would make me VERY cranky...that passage is awesome!

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