Sunday, October 12, 2014

(facetious) email to a (male) mentor, 30/10/2013

I've been trying to come to terms with 'lineage'. I suppose what arose from our discussion occurred to me later that afternoon when I realised that you have a tendency to pick out for me some (rad) '60s femme/inist performance art, which I bear no real connection to except upon (obvious) resemblence. It made me aware of what is perhaps a drastic hole in my work, that which goes unsaid. I know that there was some moment in time, just over a year ago maybe, when it was obvious, at least to interested curators, that I see myself as an artist first and before being a female artist. I suppose what I assumed obvious was not, while I went on carefully constructing this identity along some Byronic 'mythological gyre' (as one sparring partner once memorably, if derisively, put it). All the trappings of femininity are drag for me, gender can fall away, I won't miss it, I doubt if it would be missed at all. I stretch language enough for it to work inside the contours of my body as well as without, and that's called feminist, but is no more than necessary. '60s styling is visual merchandising in the extreme, role playing the irony of sexual revolution, a rejection of the hypocrisy of feminist cant. But I suppose more essentially than these projections, is the identity that I can't seem to construct out of the ruins of the 20th century that seem so prevalent as to be unavoidable. Try as I might, gestation metaphors just don't cut it against the logic of penetration and redundancy, and I don't see myself in that light. If I am to see myself at all it is not as a woman. I used to think that this gender dysphoria was indicative of my own underlying misogyny, or that of society. I believed that I sought power by identifying with men rather than by seeking their approval sexually, equally if not more misogynistic than the regular intervals of sexual competition I have found myself at the receiving end of; but my attempts to rationalise all of it are confounded by this cloying reality, that I don't think like a woman. This is the hardest thing I have ever attempted to write. I have laughed over countless scotches with Talitha about our masculine drinking habits and our masculine thinking habits. She grew up with four sisters and I have always supposed that there needed to be someone to embody masculine traits in the balance of family life. I would wonder if I was not the more serious in the depths of how this affects me, in how I feel about myself and how I relate to others sexually. I would be loathe to try and describe this inward nagging physically as if in support of the rather arbitrary sexualisations of male and female in clothing and expected behaviour. Certainly a great rack should be no deterrent for a male sexual partner and I am not unhappy in my own skin, even insofar as I operate with all the physical reactions to the crazy cocktail of hormones that is supposed to hamper my capacity of being rational enough to be something like a world leader. My own role model for masculinity is my father, who is dry witted, incapable of fixing anything ("why bark when you've got a dog?"), obsessed with fashion, and apt to shed pitiless tears as he goes on in destruction and relative acts of creation with something like the same motivation as a plague and associated deities. But the obvious similarities are still not why I identify as male, that's something I am not prepared to understand. So lineage: I am a poet, about the same time as (rad) femme/inist performance art, the logic of poets since Byron or before, notably addressed by the Beat generation, was subsumed by this notion of 'performance' which meant advertising through life, there are no poetic epics without legends, as there are no rhapsodists employed in their undertaking. Art is just advertising for me, a way to cheat a few bucks for this long project of life. Current revisions: contemporaneous: Karl Larsson (via Brian Fuata), '70s: Ian Milliss (via Eleanor Weber), Ulises Carrion (via Mitchel Cumming), historical: Byron & Beau Brummel (the rock star mythologem and the birth of the dandy- the importance of fashion).