Solid Quarter

Visit Trembling Pillow Press for poetry books, broadsides, chapbooks, and Solid Quarter Magazine.

Visit New Orleans Poetry Fest for the annual 4 day poetry festival directed by Bill Lavender and Megan Burns.

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Thursday, November 16, 2017

GHOST: ménage à trois


In the infamous "GHOST" pottery scene, Demi Moore’s character, Molly, and Patrick Swayze’s character, Sam, have a seductive moment while both shaping a phallic mold of clay on the pottery wheel. The “other” in this instance is the phallus on the wheel, which they both grasp. And it is the most seductive source of the scene, not the later images where they fumble through clothes groping each other as The Righteous Brothers croon in the background. It is the initial moment when their hands, wet and covered in clay reach out to grasp and hold the phallus, to stroke and mold around the head of it: That leaves the impression.

The subtext of the cuckolding of Sam is woven throughout the film. Or the reality of the triangulation of desire, that the ultimate state of seduction is not on the body but is on the mind’s knowledge that desire is being witnessed.

In an incredible beyond the dead cuckold scene, the ghost of Sam witnesses his former friend now murderer, try to seduce his fiancé. Carl makes a move spilling coffee on his shirt in order to remove it so that he can display his masculine chest, a nod back to the opening scene in the film where two shirtless men, Carl and Sam, flank a diminutive overall wearing Demi Moore as they sledge hammer a wall down. Three bodies, some partially clothed, covered in sweat and grime wielding heavy tools as they demolish a wall. The question of desire here is whom does Carl actually desire? Does he desire to possess Molly or to possess Sam whose life he will take or both? Is Carl metaphorically the phallic mold on the pottery wheel that if Sam and Molly could have reached out to grasp would have changed the arc of the story? Did Sam and Molly take Carl to bed after this initial renovation scene and we missed it? Is it the missing link as to why Sam’s best friend seemingly went off the rails, murdered Sam for a measly 80K and then preceded to follow it up by attempting to murder two women.  Or is it because they couldn’t take him to bed, they couldn’t enact the unspoken desire created by their triangle because their heteronormative coupling outline did not allow it.  Or are we to believe Carl is just evil and this is just the evil men do?

Sam ends the cuckold scene where he is silent witness to Carl’s seduction of Molly by knocking over a picture, essentially finding his ability to enact his will upon the scene even without his corporeal body to stand in place. This is pivotal because the other underlying desire in GHOST is belief.

Does desire occur in the body or the mind? Does love lie in language, actions or in our will to believe in it?

Parameters of desire: Demi Moore’s body versus Whoopi Goldberg’s body

what is the fluidity involved in the traditional ghost story as transitional from here to there, alive to dead, between worlds… corporeal or spirit.

The most complicated threesome in the movie is enacted on the women's bodies. 

Of course it is.... the most complicated threesomes in every movie are enacted on women's bodies. 

Whoopi Goldberg's character, Oda Mae Brown, agrees to allow Sam to inhabit her body in order to have a physical form to touch Molly.  The complications of a white man inhabiting an African American woman's body in order to enact desire on a white woman's body is such a nesting doll of political and ethical difficulties that I would have to dedicate another blog post just to this one scene. 

The way that this scene is filmed speaks to how difficult the subject matter is: Once Sam inhabits Oda Mae's body, we never see her body touching Molly's. We instead enter a fantasy where we bear witness to Sam, now incorporeal again, having a tender scene with his wife. This heteronormative fantasy is so powerful, we literally suspend the reality of what is happening. 

Think about that for a minute: We forget what is happening when we are presented with a powerful hegemonic fantasy. 

This is how culture works.  Thankfully, Goldberg won an Oscar for this role, because the amount of emotional labor she probably had to do to perform this scene is beyond language. The suppression of self to be more palatable is never not vicious.

“And I won an Oscar because of Patrick Swayze,” Goldberg said. In her 1991 Oscar speech, she thanked Swayze, calling him “a stand-up guy.”

The first time I touched a penis I cried. Surely, this scene holds some meaning.

"Mimetic Desire" as Rene Girard explains it is the desire for objects or people influenced by others. So our desire then is not our own, but influenced by the other's desire. We enact and are subjected to mimetic desire every day endlessly. It is the basis of all advertising and marketing, but how does it then slip into the language of love? 

Online dating is the epitome of mimetic desire in the domain of romantic desire. An endless scrolling of available choices dilutes the possibility of specialized desire to nothing. When confronted with endless possibility, we believe the fantasy. We forget the reality in order to believe the slip of the camera, which shows us we have choices and options; we are indeed in control of our relations with others. The opposite of freedom is actually the possibility of infinite choices that don't feed us, but in fact deplete us. See Capitalism. See Consumerism. See what we have done to the place we call home in the name of being an "urbanized" society. 

How do we confront risk when faced with it all? And/ or if we do dissolve the notion of specialized love are we as a species actually ready for the idea of unconditional love. 

I'm fascinated by the changes in the conversation from when I began dating as a teen in the early 90s to today with options in contrast to monogamy that exist now. But what I find is the conversations and ideas around open/ poly/ ethical nonmonogamy are leading before the practice. And perhaps this is how it must go. Perhaps the idea must be taken into the community, disseminated and then practiced before the actual concept can take root. 

Most people I've met who either successfully or unsuccessfully practice any of the above rules of relationship parameters seem to still operate in the sphere of specialized love and the sphere of specialized love requires hierarchy, and hierarchy then leads to power struggles. 

Srećko Horvat in his book: The Radicality of Love states: 

This is the meaning of "falling in love." We take the risk, whatever the consequences might be. Even if we are aware that this fatal encounter will change the very coordinates of our daily lives, we insist on it precisely because of that. What else is there to be done?

What can be done?
What can be done?

Perhaps we could remember we were a species who did not always fall for the trap of specialized love, perhaps we can remember as a species that control of people begins in the roots of how we are taught to love and how we receive love. And that no equality or freedom exists when we love one above another. 


The Righteous Brothers’s 1965 cover of “Unchained Melody”
Oh, my love
My darling
I've hungered for your touch
A long, lonely time

And time goes by so slowly
And time can do so much
Are you still mine?

I need your love
I need your love
God speed your love to me

Lonely rivers flow to the sea, to the sea
To the open arms of the sea
Yes, lonely rivers sigh, "Wait for me, wait for me
I'll be coming home, wait for me"

Oh, my love
My darling
I've hungered, hungered for your touch
A long, lonely time

And time goes by so slowly
And time can do so much
Are you still mine?

I need your love
I need your love
God speed your love to me

Wednesday, November 15, 2017



Memory: I was felt up for the first time by a boy in the back of a movie theater while the film “Ghost” played in the background, the song “Unchained Melody” echoing into this space. I read somewhere that not only could Demi Moore, who plays the lead female role of Molly in “Ghost,” not only could she cry on cue but she can choose which eye from which one perfect tear will slide. Her tears fall from the middle of her eyes it seems in one perfect glistening trail down her cheeks and no other part of her seems to be disturbed in this process. When I cry sometimes I can’t stop. I cry a lot in the car while driving and at home in the bathroom, under the shower. I have cried on the floor of my kitchen, and I have cried so hard that my eyes have swollen shut. Sometimes when the tears are sparse and they do slip slowly out as the saltwater fills my eyes, I imagine I am having a Ghost cry. It is the shallow, unconcerned cry of ennui or exhaustion and never the cry that happens if your lover is murdered in front of you. It is never the cry that accompanies deep grief. Deep grief is the wailing moan of your soul breaking, and it shatters your face. It can’t be made beautiful because it is terrible. Terror/able

Sanskrit has 96 words for love. Does the English word for love descend from the Sanskrit word lobha (trans. greed) rooting in us a desire to hoard: A desire to possess, our special beloved who can love no other. 

I've been reading the book DEBT by David Graeme and thinking about how we keep track of what we are owed. We do this in love all the time. We do this, and it is not a thing that can be calculated. What a strange species we are. 

I think a lot about Shame and how the root of "it" lies there. And by it, I mean the thing that has knocked us so far off balance.

How can you possibly know what love is when we are born into cultures/religions/ belief systms driven by shame... shame for the body and shame for the need that you have to be seen and loved. How does that debt ever get paid? Who do you owe from the beginning? 

This strangled female emotion of beautiful tears became the epitome of female fragility in the 90s. The boy haircut, the perfect pair of tears and the somewhat scratchy voice embodied everything that was both tough and yet vulnerable, a nonhysterical theatric of femaleness. Molly’s belief is the epicenter of the tale, her ability to believe in love is what haunts the story. From the encounter before the murder where she asks why don’t you ever say: “I love you” to the final parting scene where she is kissing the air to say good-bye to her lover, the idea of belief in the solidity of love and how it manifests is what wars inside those pretty tears. 

Tradition of the idea of the ghost story where the female character is not in danger from the ghost but is in danger from the real men who surround her, and the ghost offers protection or warning to that reality.

Do people believe in ghosts in a way that they do not other supernatural entities?

Are ghosts monsters?

Selah Saterstrom quotes Christian Hawkey from the book Ventrakl in her text Essays in Divinatory Poetics

"And in taking up multiple procedures of writing and translation- transwriting, transrelating- one aim was to prolong the friendship of our ghosts as long as possible" 

Tori Amos has a lyric that says: "I'm trying not to move/ It's just your ghost passing through" 

 Do we let our ghosts pass through? Do we allow them to speak or do we take up all the room with living? 

How will I know you as I have always known you? How will I manifest the liminal space? 

My friend Michelle Embree says: the words have to do something. 

Yes, the words have to do some thing. Yes, somewhere between memory and imagination and all the sounds and the silences and the trap of language, yes, we are all doing and undoing something. 

Tell me how many times have you said the word love and it did something and how many times did you say it and it did nothing. And what can we say in its place...

Sunday, October 01, 2017

"You are my lucky star" -Ellen Ripley

"An imago is an image of a loved one buried in the unconscious carried with us all of our lives" -Hannibal

"Bad art makes the viewer much more active"  -I Love Dick 

Dear Chris:

I wrote my Dick a letter while watching an episode of "I Love Dick," it was the one where you are writing a letter that says: it's better that you didn't want me. And that's what I wrote too. It's better that you didn't want me. I told him he lit me anyway. Who is writing real letters here, Chris?

Is your letter real or is my letter real or are we the same or are we different.

I didn't mail it for six weeks, but I sealed it and never opened it to read again.

Last night was the closing of Navarati, a nine day festival celebrating the forms of the goddess Durga or the feminine spirit, the Devi Shakti that encompasses all sources of unseen energy manifesting as creation.

Can you imagine America celebrating women for nine days? Celebrating the divine feminine force of creation and destruction or acknowledging that it even exists; we are killing our mother because we refuse to see her. We are afraid of feminine energy, and so we live in a world that shackles, demeans, and strangles it.

We don't spend nine days celebrating women because we are a country knee deep in religions that were created to erase and kill the image of the divine mother, the goddess.  We celebrate murder and killing and control and violence, and we swallow the programming but we have no idea what sacrifice we were required to give to get here.

I watched Alien last night with my 14 year old daughter.  Alien was released on May 25,1979.

I was two years old when this film was released.  A seven person crew on the space ship Nostromo answers a distress call landing on a deserted planet only to find a ship filled with  alien eggs, one of which hatches and attaches itself to a crew member. The alien then is taken back into the ship as they try to save their crew member and then it escapes, quickly killing off the rest of the crew. The subplot is that one of the crew, the Science Officer, who is revealed to be not human, but an AI robot, has orders to retrieve the alien life form at the expense of the crew. For reasons never explained, the ship has an internal command center named "Mother" (presumably short for motherboard) that only communicates to the Captain and the Science Officer.

"Mother" is an internal womb center of the ship where the crew receives its orders and where the ship maintains its balance. Only the men have access to Mother until the Captain is killed. And then Ripley is allowed into Mother where she learns the truth.

The crew is made up of seven members: 5 men and 2 women. The two women are white, thin, and attractive but not conventionally beautiful. Sigourney Weaver's role as Ripley in the beginning of the film is that of stirring up trouble by questioning authority, thinking too deeply and inserting herself into positions to know first hand, whether that be in the hull of the ship watching repairs or in the science lab asking questions about the alien. She is bossy, assertive and annoying to the men.

The other woman, Lambert, is not bossy. She follows orders and is always afraid. She also smacks Ripley and there is a brief but banal girl fight in one scene. Lambert is emotional and hysterical.

Of the five men, there are three white men, one AI robot appearing to be a white man and a black man. Within the crew, the captain is a white man who appears to be in control. The science officer, the AI robot, is actually in control.

By the end of the film in a cinematic twist, the only crew members still alive are the two women and the black man. By the end of the film, it is only a woman and her cat.

Yes, Ridley Scott made a film where the hero is a woman and her cat in 1979.

This is the future. 
This is the past. 

Goddess heroes are every day and happening.

I mailed the letter finally. He texted me when he received it and said: Task is not to seek for love. True. 

Then he sent me a picture of a woman with an enormous booty. Because he is a DICK. 


Saturday, September 30, 2017

"I don't want to be the person who always knows anymore..."

Dear Chris:

We can say anything here. Feminism is like poetry. The only people who care about feminism are feminists. (Have you ever noticed when men complain about what "feminism" has done to women, they actually mean "pornography." Why do they always use the wrong word? )

Blood Politics… you rarely see women critiquing each other on how to bleed.

It’s why we have to go back into the menstrual hut… it might be the last place where we can speak.. it may be the last place where we can create a language not in relation to… not in contrast to… not under the gaze of…men don’t care about how a woman bleeds … so women don’t perform it for them. Men care when the blood means, I can't have access to the hole I want, the vagina becomes a site of biology, a reminder of the power to create life and a mess. Sexualizing a mess is only fun when the woman is hetero, quirky, cute...kind of like you, Chris, in the show. How would the narrative of a hysterical woman work if you had been not attractive, Chris? If you had been found wanting in the arena of sexual desire because your body did not meet the standards? and here we are at the critique of it, woman against woman. To enter this, we have to then devolve into a performance of who can ever voice anything safely and it's slippery and it's necessary and it's messy. Like blood, our familiar--

….mostly they want to not know it exists…. mostly when we say equality we mean as in equal to someone who doesn’t bleed once a month…. and so the language itself is born from a place of the originator and so the language itself hijacked … and so the language itself colonizes… and so the language itself is already for “other”

we need to back to the smear

we need to back to the stain

we need to back to written in blood, the screaming of what I unmanifest

in the menstrual hut, we create a poetics that never speaks in relation to any other than one who bleeds regularly… bleeding is the currency, bleeding is the economy, bleeding is the only politic 

"Art, like God or The People, is fine as long as you can believe in it" -"I Love Dick" 

Chris, what I think is that we spend too much time tearing each other down… we fall over and over again for divisiveness which pits women against each other while men step back and say… see, this is just how they are: Catty, emotional, jealous, dramatic. hysterical.  We don’t even see the coding: We just embody it. It is written into songs and stories and poems and films and cartoons and ads and conversations and everywhere you look… you’ve been told how to be a woman. And in none of the models does that exist except as in relation to and less than…

think about that… Power envy.  The little girl looks over and notices that the boy has something she doesn’t have—power.

And all of her life, she spends in relation to her lack…

I've been thinking a lot about specialized love. I finished your Kathy Acker bio and was undone by a sentence near the end of the book where you stated that Acker was alone a lot of the time. And then while she is dying that these words came from her: "I made all the wrong choices, wrong boyfriends, wrong places."

 Isn't that the danger of this idea of romantic love? This fiction as Lacan posits that we fall in love and create this narrative around this specialized fairy tale. We pour so much into it, and it's a lie that traps us. To transcend it though, we'd have to give it all up. Love for your kid, love for your parent, love for your dog.... could you sacrifice that and learn to love everything deeply. Could you break your heart open that much, that it isn't just for the few... it isn't just rare and unique and scarce but it's normal and every day and wide open and vast. To fall in love, an every day experience with everyone you know. 

Where does loneliness exist in a world where everyone loves you? 

I want an answer. I'm not leaving the menstrual hut till we all do better. 

I love you,

Megan Burns

Thursday, August 10, 2017


From Rap Genius: 
"In pop culture, Drew Barrymore has become synonymous with ideas of insecurity and pursuit for identity. In the late 1980s and 1990s she often played angsty teens in movies like Never Been Kissed and Poison Ivy."

Drew Barrymore was 15 when she filmed Poison Ivy.  The male lead in the movie played by Tom Skerritt was 58. Poison Ivy is the story of a bad teen (played by Drew) who befriends an awkward teen (played by Sara Gilbert) with a dying mom. Ivy then later seduces the father and kills the mother. She is then murdered by her friend.

Tom would be our Dick here.

Drew is, of course, a child and like every teen believes she is not a child-- both in real life and in the story. In the story, she is the evil seductress, not the victim of the father of her friend who exploits her need for attention. She is the hysterical Augustine allowed out of the hospital to play, unmitigated lust which destroys the American Family, and she can only be stopped by killing her.

I was 15 when Poison Ivy was released. I wanted to be Ivy. Ivy was beautiful and cool and collected and wild and alive, and she got everyone around her to do what she wanted. And she used her body to get it. And she said things like: I'd rather live one day with the top down than a lifetime in a box.

I wrote that in my journal. I wanted to live a life with the top down. It didn't matter that she used everyone she met. It didn't matter that real love and respect were unattainable to her. It didn't matter that she was poison and that she died at the end. All that mattered is that everyone wanted her, even the dog wanted her.

These are how narratives of girlhood are absorbed, not by logic and reason but by images-- by slick cells of seduction and beauty and desire.  Whose fault is it that everyone who meets Ivy sexualizes her? Where is her family? Where are her caretakers?  Are we to fault her for wanting to survive in the only way that she knows how to survive?

It's easy to forget that she is a child in the sex scenes. But she is a child. 

SZA on her album Ctrl has a song titled "Drew Barrymore" presumably a nod to the woman who gave us these characters that we devoured in the 90s from the misunderstood Ivy to the perky, loveable blond of later love comedies.

[Verse 1]
Why is it so hard to accept the party is over?
You came with your new friends
And her mom jeans and her new Vans
And she's perfect and I hate it, oh so glad you made it
I'm so glad you could come by
Somebody get the tacos, somebody spark the blunt
Let's start the Narcos off at episode one
Bring the gin, got the juice
Bring the sin, got that too
Won't you just shut up, know you're my favorite
Am I...

But SZA turns the narrative-- the beauty of SZA's lyrics is that she can lay out a whole scene in a few lines. Here we are at the party, the scene is set and the subtext of the scene lies in the back and forth play that occurs in our speaker's mind. She is at once at the party, and the party is over. She is aware of the new woman but can't speak her emotions. She has to accept her role; she plays the role of the girl who is cool. Too cool to make a scene, cool enough to accept the way things are.. and still in her head, we hear her ask: "Am I...." Am I your favorite? What's the conversation beneath the conversation, what is happening between the lines....Is it all in her head? What kind of fantasy are we in?

Warm enough for ya outside baby, yeah
(Tell me that it's warm enough here for ya)
Is it warm enough for ya inside me, me, me, me
Warm enough for ya outside baby, yeah
(Tell me that it's warm enough here for ya)
Warm enough outside, inside me, me, me, me

The chorus seems to confirm that the sexual relationship between her and the man was the focus of their relationship. He either replaced her with a new woman or she is the side piece, but in any case the question of is it warm enough remains the tie. How can you be warm inside my body and then so cold to me as a person is the subtext.  How can a woman's body be a site of comfort and relief for a man and then once it is used, no longer needed. The story of Poison Ivy rests upon this; the father is watching his wife die, so of course he is weak and needs the comfort and attention of the young Ivy. But it's not her as a self. It's not a 15 year old that he needs to talk to or to share some experience with; it' s just her body. Her body becomes the dumping ground for a middle aged man's life expectations that haven't been met. Her body becomes the source of his rage, his desire to be rid of the dying wife, his desire to be rid of his troublesome teen, his desire to feel powerful again. The entire story isn't about Ivy at all; but about a man's desire to colonize a young teen body to enact his needs. And at the end, he wins. He surfaces as the victim, not the perpetrator in a confusing sleight of hand that solely lays the gatekeeper of sexuality on the woman, or in this case the girl's body. Her autonomy is both taken from her when she is sexually abused by this adult,  and then thrust back on her when it is time to lay blame.

What does SZA do to turn the narrative?

[Verse 2]
I get so lonely, I forget what I'm worth
We get so lonely, we pretend that this works
I'm so ashamed of myself think I need therapy-y-y-y
I'm sorry I'm not more attractive
I'm sorry I'm not more ladylike
I'm sorry I don't shave my legs at night
I'm sorry I'm not your baby mama
I'm sorry you got karma comin' to you
Collect your soul, get it right

There's a vulnerability and a strength to these lines that have a Drew Barrymore aspect to them. Drew was the child star of ET who we all watched descend into drug addiction only to emerge emancipated by 15 and in control of her own career and life, where she continued to thrive.

So, was she a child still at 15? At what age does a girl become a woman and under what duress. One of my favorite lines is: I get so lonely, I forget what I'm worth

And this is where the Dicks come in. All the Dicks.

That a woman forgets her worth in loneliness and tries to fill it. That is a type of hysteria. We are trained to follow its path.

SZA turns the tables from the simple narrative of girl loves boy, boy uses girl, girl gets hurt and writes sad love song. She sees right into it. She sees the nature of why we do self destructive things in love and lust. She not only sees it in the speaker, but she says "We get so lonely, we pretend that this works."  And once she sees it, she can't unsee it. She jokes (or not jokes) I think I need therapy followed by a string of reasons that are apologies (sorry, not sorry) as to why she isn't the perfect girl.

Each line of apology topples the narrative of what she should be to attract the man: attractive, ladylike, shaven, the mother of his children... she isn't these things. And then she steps even further back and places accountability squarely on him: I'm sorry you got Karma comin' to you/ Collect your soul, get it right.

Collect your soul, get it right.

This is a love song. This is the epitome of a love song where the speaker can see into herself, can see into the actions on the surface and beneath the surface, where she can take accountability of her actions and where she cuts her losses. She asks her lover to pull his energy back, not for her sake, but for his.  She moves from asking "Am I...." to taking back her power and telling him: "Collect your soul, get it right."   This is beyond the mere infatuation but dwelling now in the realm of how we mix energy with other people and how those choices infect every part of our being. In this case, SZA writes a spell in verse II. It's a love potion in reverse. It demands that "he" release her and take back what is his.

Words are magic. Images are magic. We are seduced/ we are amused/ we are bewitched.

Sing the last verse of Drew Barrymore in a warm bath of epsom salts surrounded by candles and hold the lover who has not held you right in your mind, and I assure you, those bonds will loosen.

There a million ways to be a girl and most of them


Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Tell Me I'm A Bad Girl, Dick

Dear Chris:

Let's talk about voyeurism and how it relates to art and how it relates to sex and how it relates to being alive.

The astounding thing about pornography is the amount of repetition and how little variation is needed to stimulate response.

In Episode 2 of I Love Dick, there's a great sex scene right at the beginning that works on several levels to capture a "female" gaze from both within the scene and external to the scene. It's interesting that the word "scene" is often used in S&M play to delineate the borders around fantasy and reality. A scene has parameters, and it has a clear beginning and an ending with characters "acting" out their roles. This fact is crucial. Within the anatomy of the S&M scene, there is at once the person and the role played by the person, a duality from which pleasure is derived on a single body.

Take note: This is art. This is the body. This is the body. This is art.

We as viewers of the scene in I Love Dick interrupt. We have not been made privy to the rules of the scene. We know the players, but we don't know the guidelines. Film creates a heightened sense of the role of the voyeur more so than almost any other medium. Here we are in the bedroom while Chris and Sylvere fuck and while a fantasy Dick watches, and we watch. The artist aware always that the art we make is subject to an audience we will never meet. And so we watch the watcher watching and even here now, as you read this, find yourself the watcher watching me watching Dick watching Chris.... it's an endless gaze.

Not a male gaze.... an endless gaze. For what is sweeter than the thing itself is sometimes knowing the witness is there to absorb your pleasure, to record and take note of your experience. It's why children look to the gaze of the parent. I both experience the world and I experience the world through that which adores me... my experience witnessed. It's the appeal of social media, the root of all religion. The gaze. We are never alone. We are so precious as to elicit the desire of a constant gaze.

There is no couple that does not triangulate. Here the scene is literally made flesh through Chris' desire. It's the woman's fantasy, and yet it still pivots on the standard roles. Dick is bad daddy. Chris is the bad girl. Why does this get repeated so often? Role Play like pornography seems to be suspended in its own repetition, an ouroboros of caught langauge, a script from which we enact and reenact the Freudian theater of childhood abandonment and desire for total union. Dick, with Chris' letter in his hands is actually taking cues from Chris. She is calling the scene and it is as if Sylvere is not there at all.

Classic Cuckold S&M game: 

In 1966, Lenore Kandel wrote a small pamphlet of poems called "The Love Poems." It was seized as pornography and the book declared obscene.

from God/ Love Poem

I love you  / your cock in my hand
         stirs like a bird
in my fingers
as you swell and grow hard in my hand
forcing my fingers open

What is it about a woman's desire that is most monstrous? Most ob/scene?

Etymology of "obscene":

1590s, "offensive to the senses, or to taste and refinement," from Middle French obscène (16c.), from Latin obscenus "offensive," especially to modesty, originally "boding ill, inauspicious," of unknown origin; perhaps from ob "in front of" (see ob-) + caenum "filth." Meaning "offensive to modesty or decency" is attested from 1590s. Legally, in U.S., it hinged on "whether to the average person, applying contemporary community standards, the dominant theme of the material taken as a whole appeals to a prurient interest." [Justice William Brennan, "Roth v. United States," June 24, 1957]; refined in 1973 by "Miller v. California":
The basic guidelines for the trier of fact must be: (a) whether 'the average person, applying contemporary community standards' would find that the work, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest, (b) whether the work depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by the applicable state law; and (c) whether the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.

Who is the average person? Who decides if a work lacks literary or artistic value? Can we even allow for the average person to have any parameters for what constitutes artistic value?

Dick tells us when to CUM. His hairy chin is the average chin of an average man demanding a woman's pleasure be performed for him, and we are watching to see if language has that power. What can a word make you do? 

 From To Fuck with Love Phase 1

positions and pleasures of need my body
transforms into one enormous mouth
       between my legs
suckfucking oh that lovely cock

 When does pleasure turn to pain? When does desire make us suffer, and why can our bodies sometimes not distinguish the difference?

 From To Fuck with Love  Phase II

my cunt is honeycomb we are covered with come and honey

The best moment in this scene is when Chris throws Sylvere off of her to make herself cum. She takes over the whole scene. She is the sub and the dom/domme, she is the writer and the actor, the bad girl and the daddy, she is the alpha and the omega. That is the core of this scene.

From To Fuck With Love  Phase III

I kiss your shoulder and it reeks of lust
the lust of erotic angels fucking the stars.

There are just four poems in Kandel's obscene pamphlet The Love Book. While I think censorship is horrifying; I must admit to a kind of romantic notion that is fascinated that four poems about a woman extolling fucking and the pleasure it gives her as being seen as a threat to society. What did the average person find offensive then and what does the average person find offensive now? Are we post-obscene? Is violence the only obscenity left to us that we hunger to consume?

"There are no barriers to poetry and prophecy; by their nature they are barrier-breakers, bursts of perception, lines into infinity." L. Kandel, 1967

" eroticize what you''re not, secretly hoping that the other person knows what you're performing and that they're performing too." -C. Kraus, I Love Dick 

Does the artists know the space between making art and living? What is that space called? When does one begin and one end? What is the scene and what are the roles assigned?

I have nothing but questions tonight, Chris. 


Collected Poems of Lenore Kandel by Lenore Kandel, (North Atlantic Books, 2012)
I Love Dick by Chris Kraus, (Semiotext(e), 1998)

Sidenote: I could write a whole other blog post just on the spelling and usage of "cum" vs "come." I prefer cum when talking about sex, so that is what I always use.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

when the form is in place, everything with it can be pure feeling – C Kraus

"Because in the end you are really alone, whatever you do..." M. Abramović 

"When we die it ends. Until then we are all tied up." -L Montano

"I'll never understand why I write what I do as I do"  -K. Acker

did i poet every day/ every waking hour/ i wanted to make something that mattered -M.B. 

Dear Chris: 

We get lost. A year ago. 

July 26, 2016 (at my father's house): "silence holds us like a bridge/ i can 't cross/ so i gather my words where they stay/ unspoken/ think i came to writing/ to survive/ from disappearing

July 29, 2016 (breakfast w/ Dick) "what lies between us/ the space we keep safe/ i tell you everything. anything./ what does it matter if you care not/ who i see or what i do" 

August 5, 2016:  "dear love, this was the day you left me/ we went to the beach/ you flew back to Arizona/ we didn't cry or say good bye/ the world turns on/ insignificant gestures/ what makes a thing desirous/ you hid from me all of our time together/ but we mirror/ i hid too" 

I wrote my lover two letters when he went to rehab: 

in one letter i spoke of rain & our love/ a lifetime/ in the next i was saying good bye b/c i wanted to be the one to say good bye first/ seeing how you were the one leaving

It's true: strangers walk into our lives and they rearrange us. They pull us apart and put us together.

I started Basic Programming thinking I would talk about infatuation and desire and obsession. And by the end of the summer, I started Volume II. And I spent my time in deep meditations. I went to Kali and gave her my name. I burned fires and threw everything in. I counted 108 steps down in the underworld where Inanna showed me how to hang my skin on a hook. I laid in meditative sleep healing each part of my body. I chanted and moved energy and learned the names of each aspect of the subtle body. I wrote spells. I dream walked. I stayed in the space between here and there and I waited for each veil to lift. I went to the bottom of grief. I gave up knowing. I stopped taking the medication. I met the Empress who laughed and in a cottage, a trio of women who knew the way to the crystal city. I spoke with the dead. I watched my mind unfold. I became unplugged and panicked. I asked for help to be pulled back to shore. I went too quickly and then I learned the way to go slowly. I read the cards. I watched as it all fell further and further away. My brother reached out and touched me and when he did the entire universe was there, like lifting up the edge of a rug. I went looking and saw beautiful things. That is how I finished the book. I learned to read my programming.

I guess if you go far enough out-- you realize in the coding, it's all ones and zeros. There is no Dick. But there's also no us.

I forgot for awhile that making art was supposed to be fun. I am trying to find my way back, Chris. 

I have been gone a long time looking for something I hid away to protect in this life. I found her. I like how in interview magazine, you said: "I'm really committed to telling the truth in writing. ... I think that's what writing does. It tells the truth about something." 

Art changes us sometimes more than other people. Other people can be the door though, can't they? We walk through and nothing is ever again as we knew it.

And here we are now. in the menstrual hut. a trio of women, with the keys to the crystal city.






Monday, July 24, 2017

"....orbiting around the Big Dicks..."

Dear Chris:

You said: as if sex can provide the missing clues….
I’ve been meditating for a long time now and the more stable I become I wonder if it is ruining my art. I mean, how does hysteria help us.. get there… how to embody that Kali energy… is there another side to come out on.

I stopped having sex a few months ago because I got tired of fucking strangers… and by tired, I don’t mean really tired, because I loved it. I never got bored fucking strangers, but it’s like eating chocolate cake with every meal. You don’t start hating chocolate-- it’s just you reach a point where you want something else for dessert.  And what’s the alternative to meaningless sex. Is it love?

Is it nothing. I thought maybe I’ll save all of that energy for my art. But my horoscope last week read that this was a bad idea. It literally said not having sex is bad for me … I’m an Aquarius with a rising Sagittarius and the tarot card reading I did last week-- to see if I would ever reunite with my ex-love-- came up 3 of swords, popping out of the deck before I even did the spread. How can you argue with that? So I stopped talking to him at all.

I don’t think you should ignore signs. It’s all signs isn’t it Chris? Like now it’s just you and me here.

Two girls. Two Women. Two Bodies with Holes. Two Body Suits talking about art.

I’m gonna try to not think about fucking you just yet. Because I want to take it slow.
I think about fucking almost everyone I meet. Is that normal? Is it because sex provides a clue (..... LOL to the fucking bank, Barthes...) ...we need to know how the other sees us? Do I even exist if no one wants to fuck me?

Let’s talk about hysteria and its aesthetic. Is it even necessary to say female here?

I saw a review online that described I Love Dick as vomiting on the page.
Proust isn’t vomiting on the page. DH Lawrence isn’t vomiting on the page. Fucking Milton is not a vomitorium of morality. Faulkner is certainly not vomiting and jerking off at the same time. Hemingway is never diarrhea. They are all the opposite of expulsion from the body. They are the insertion into the body. Only hysterics vomit it out, take it out of the body and put it on view.

The monster under the bed is only scary because we know
a) that the monster exists
b) we know the monster is in the room with us
c) currently we cannot see the monster, but at any moment it may come into view

Free from the Salpêtrière: where are the hysterics contained?

I read another review of I Love Dick where the reviewer seemed offended that at some point the author was performing “art” and not life. That at some point, Chris, you became self aware of your hysterics and decided to make it art. Decided to create something bigger than your self. Decided…. to shed the helplessness of female passivity and step into your person suit of autonomy shoving aside your role to be an emotional caretaker to those men whose lives you circled… you… you….. monster….You made something with your name on it. You are practically a real girl now.

“…anything that is repeated so emphatically must always be suspected of being a kind of denial or refusal of awareness…” – Luce Irigaray

When I wrote Basic Programming  I spent a year fucking strangers to learn about how attachment works inside me so I could write poetry. I used these men’s bodies to write poems because I’m a genius.

I used these men’s bodies to write poems because I am Genius. Just like you, Chris. Just like Augustine writhing under the gaze of a man thinking he was going to tell us what it means to be hysterical. Going to measure it out. Going to take a picture of it in practice. Going to note the symptoms and the treatments. Going to be left holding my limp "dick" in my hands when that bird called Augustine flies away… monster us all. Wait long enough, and I’ll write you an ending that really matters. Write enough letters to free us all.

That’s why I’m writing to you, Chris. There’s not enough written to counter the tide yet.

“… the less we see and recognize… the more powerful and insidious is the fiction at work…” –Luce Irigaray

So let’s see each other. Let’s see how we are hysteria and not how it is told to us. Can a woman create without a man? Can a woman create art without a man? Come into the menstrual hut with me. Our womb, our hystere…in the menstrual hut: we examine the “logos” outside the spectacle, we erase through repetition, the way a poem sings into existence a type of life forgotten. A poem rivets on the image, images seep into the gateways of our sensory perception and tell us how to structure the world. Hysteria is the counterpoint of control defined by the hegemony: image of what you are allowed to be and how you want to be perceived.

 We have been asleep.

But it’s all in there. It’s all inside there, under the “bed.” It’s 2017 and we are still waiting on a discourse on female anal eroticism… [how can it be, Eve?]

Where is our tree? My spirit animal is a snake. A fucking snake.... I wanted a wolf or a crow, but there we are, sexed in the clues all the way fucking down a rabbit hole of metaphors. I imagine you are soft. I imagine we lay together on the bed and look at plastic stars affixed to the roof of the hut, and the animals come in and we each take turns naming them. 

There's no getting away from the body. There's no getting away from the sex of the body. There's just far enough we can reach with our fingers. There's just far enough we can get inside. The contraction of the uterus when it bleeds, the contraction of the vagina as it cums, the beat of the heart and the poem:  a space waiting to be filled universes inside us... count me in words not yet delineated to square off the medium of what now communicates between... count off till I'm allowed to let go. 

Sex isn't at all like making art, is it? 


Sunday, July 23, 2017

Do we all get a Dick?

Dear Chris:

I have a Dick too. His name is even four letters long and starts with a D.

I met him on Fetlife and we slept together a few time, went on a few dates and then he decided we should just be friends. I was infatuated already though, thought I was in love with him. I started writing this book about infatuation. I left poems on his porch. We stayed friends. It turns out he hates women. We have these long tedious debates about feminism. He often says… “all women…” and when I point out that I don’t do that and I am a woman, he’ll say, “you’re an exception.” So maybe, I am not a woman because I don’t perform all of the acts that women perform that allow him to both hate them but also sexualize them in a way that he can’t with me because I act like what, … a man?

Of course, I would fall in love with a man who hates women. I’ve been programmed my whole life to save that broken bird.

I kept writing my book and thinking about attachments and obsession and strangers. I met my Dick by trying to be less attached to the man I was having an affair with, and I fell in love with my Dick while the man I was living with moved out and left me. And I thought now I just have to write this book and understand the way I attach to people and by people, I mean men. So, I started fucking a lot of strangers and watching how, in some cases, I felt no attachment after the fact and in some, I felt an enormous misplaced attachment. I realized my Dick was the perfect muse. I was writing this book to him, to seduce him, which is to say, to seduce myself; art being first and foremost a facet of narcissism: To solidify what I feel in language as poetry has done for centuries/repetition a  masturbatory act, love only really occurring in the confines of the idea. Lacan is right (write?)  when he says sex is always narcissistic.  It’s a thin line between the desire to please for your own pleasure and that moment when it is crossed, and you believe someone is taking advantage of you for their own pleasure; it means they are receiving more pleasure than you and that’s not what you signed up for, doesn’t it? The narcissism of using an "other" body in which to enact our desires, our pleasures up to the point where we perceive the reciprocity is off, then the balance of two narcissistic acts becomes unstable. I’m not talking about abuse, but the more subtle moment. You know, the moment when you keep blowing a guy because it takes him forever to get there, and sometimes you love that and sometimes you just want to throat punch him. Or the moment you know that it’s taking you a long time but you just don’t care because patriarchy….  or insert whatever gender roles you want in the examples and as many bodies as you want, because the metaphor remains consistent. Even exclusive of orgasmic conclusion, any physical or even media based sexual act is the desire to be seen and to be wanted by the other -outside of a sexual economy-   the desire to fulfill our desires enacted on a body not our own, conceptualized in a body not our own, various in a body not as familiar as our own. 

It’s selfish, even when we sugar coat it with the Disney premise of romantic love, even when we believe all we want is to please our partners, deep down we know the line is there, we know the minute it’s been crossed and because the line exists, ultimately, we have created a boundary around what sex is for, what is our end goal.

Sex in all of its permutations remains of the body and of pleasure when not abusive—which is not sex, but violence manifesting against our bodies in a sexualized way—and therefore subject to the illusion of our senses, the distortion by which we can write many kinds of fictions all over it. And we grow tired of all our desires… which is why we created romantic love as Lacan also points out. Desire only takes us so far…. but it’s everything in the writing. It’s a fire, isn’t it… unrequited desire. What I wouldn’t say to make you want me?

I am the I of the body and the I of the mind and the I of the Story; the story of I.

Chris, I have this fantasy. I have this fantasy on one end where the muse is replaced by the Dick. That we all get our Dicks and write like our minds are on fire. We put Dick in the role of the muse: passive, ethereal, angelic phallus in the house. And the other end that I tread even closer towards is the menstrual hut. I want to get back into the bleeding of it. I want to know a world written only from the vacuum of what occurs in the menstrual hut. I want discourse only of what is in the menstrual hut. I want art only made in the menstrual hut. I want language only created in the menstrual hut. I want to know what that world looks like… I want to have never known that there was a Dick we were measuring up against. Can we imagine that kind of universe… my book became about programming. How we are all programmed in our responses, in our attachments, in every thing we know about love. And if that is true, then we can break our coding/ we can hack into our own known variables and we can code anew… I think we can get back into the menstrual hut. I think we can learn to create out of the menstrual hut effectively erasing the fictions of history that program how we use our senses to make art.
I think our lives depend on it. I think it's something we remember, can remember, it's located in our DNA. This world inside our consciousness that erases any DICK that comes before the womb. It's our hysterical future.

More soon,


Saturday, July 22, 2017

Who Doesn't Love Dick

Dear Chris:
 what happens when we begin to think about consciousness…
 the way art is made. what is desire. the name for our product. our vehicle. the design for our liking.
 I’ve been reading women artists for decades… what does that make me. I’ve sat under the influence of women writers for decades….
 what kind of monster box are we in.  (there's nothing to see here)
 still in the boomerang of deflection, even as we speak to each other, we are still speaking against others… but now, let’s chat. Just you and me, Chris, about what it means to use words. and images. to say anything.

Season 1 Episode 1:


Nine percent of films directed by women means 91 percent directed by men.

This is my office

in the beginning, there was the womb.

the closet off of the bedroom, the womb space… it’s tight, cramped, cramping

we see it.

the phallus in the guise of a peeled banana in the reflection while the two women talk in the doorway of Chris’ office… the phallus ever present...  we, always trapped in its reflection.

Hidden Mickeys in a Disney Film.

Enter Hysteria:

At 3 minutes and 52 seconds in,  we get the first hysterical episode. The monster is so loud she alerts the neighbors, she evades reason, she throws her body about, arms flailing, she messes up her hair. The scene cut into stills to capture the female body in its messiness, its natural habitat.

-as horrified you see yourself invented-

Look at her. She de-monstrates.

Introducing Toby: beautiful ingénue

(with underarm hair)  Toby exposes her underarm hair while undercutting Sylvere’s technique of impressing women with his travels. She tops him. He can’t help but wince when he sees a soft tuft of reddish hair beneath her arm, a hairy pussy laughing at him… too much beauty provokes anxiety, or the bewildering moment when Freud states: a surprise to learn from analysis that girls hold their mother responsible for their lack of a penis….

We sweat out all the wilderness left in us 

Toby is everything Chris is not. We are asked to compare. We are asked to contrast. We are always asked to hold one woman against another, aren’t we?

What spectacle licks our faces in theater dark?

Penis-Envy as Aesthetic

"The pleasure gained from touching, caressing, parting the lips and vulva simply does not exist for Freud." 

In this scene, Dick will play the role of Dr. Charcot and Chris will play the role of Augustine in the great hospital of mad women: Salpêtrière.

Dr Charcot: Augustine, you don’t want to be well. If you wanted to be well, you would be. It’s just a question of desire. A question of want and you don’t have it.

Augustine: (redacted)

“The gaze has always been involved.

Now the little girl, the woman, supposedly has nothing you can see. She exposes, exhibits the possibility of a nothing to see. Or at any rate she shows nothing that is penis-shaped or could substitute for a penis.” 

Dr. Charcot leans over to Freud (here played by Sylvere) Is she any good?

Sally Potter, Jane Campion, Chantal Akerman

Is she any good? Is she any good? Is she any good?

Woman on film bends over, the lead positions himself behind her. This is how it works, he tells her. I want you and so I know you want me, even if you do not know it.

Sally Potter on why she doesn’t call Orlando a feminist film: "I have come to the conclusion that I can't use that term in my work. Not because of a disavowal of the underlying principles that gave birth to that word – the commitment to liberation, dignity, equality. But it has become a trigger word that stops people's thinking. You literally see people's eyes glaze over with exhaustion when the word flashes into the conversation." Frilot, Shari (Summer 1993). "Sally Potter". BOMB (44): 30–35.

I made a movie about my life. The opening shot a polluted river, the closing shot my daughter’s eye

“Campion was a month away from having won the Palme d'Or. She was two weeks away from giving birth to her first child, a son whose presence was already inescapable in the Sydney apartment she shares with her husband, Colin Englert, a television producer and director. The baby's crib was set up in Englert's small office, and Campion lifted her billowy white shirt once to stare at her swollen belly. "Is he kicking?" her visitor asked. "Mmmmm," she answered, lost for a moment in that curious bubble that encloses the pregnant.” Mary Cantwell (Sept. 1993)
 “Jane Campion’s Lunatic Women” New York Times

Jasper, Jane’s son, lived 10 days with medical support, and then she brought him home to die.

That the quiet in a house swims as film in its emulsion, image rising

“I won’t say  I’m a feminist film-maker…I’m not making women’s films. I’m making Chantal Akerman’s films” (London, 1979) –C. Akerman

Within the doctrine of unclean hands, her shame is made clear as a metallic ringing in the ear.

“Here again the little girl will have to act like the little boy, feel the same urge to see, look in the same way, and her resentment at not having a penis must follow and corroborate the horrified astonishment the little boy feels when faced with the strangeness of the nonidentical, the nonidentifiable.”

  Dick swallowed by womb

"in other words, is it possible that the phobia aroused in man, and notably in Freud, by the uncanny strangeness of the "nothing to be seen" cannot tolerate her not having this 'envy'?" 

There's nothing to see here.

…and what else is a line of verse but a casting and recasting of the inside of the body?


Let us not neglect the fact that the historical analysis of women's sexuality hinges on the gaze of the man and the hysteric's desire to please the man at any cost, to be seen; for why come to analysis at all if one cannot the seduce the viewer into seeing what they most desire to see. 

SUBJECT TO DESIRE : "A problem to be solved by putting the Phallus at the beginning, and at the end."


dear: Chris Kraus, author of I Love Dick
images: I Love Dick (Jill Soloway and Sarah Gubbins) Amazon Video
italics: Rag by Julie Carr (Omnidawn, 2014)
highlighted text: "The Blind Spot of an Old Dream of Symmetry" Speculum of the Other Woman by Luce Irigaray (trans. by Gillian Gill) Cornell Univ, 1985 (orig pub 1974)