Monday, September 10, 2018

Michelle Tea's 'Against Memoir: Complaints, Confessions & Criticisms' (2018)

Michelle Tea, Against Memoir: Complaints, Confessions & Criticisms. New York: Feminist Press at the City University of New York, 2018. 

An eclectic collection of essays and memoir, or anti-memoir. The CONTENTS may give some idea of its scope.

On Valerie Solanas; Andy Warhol's Self-Portrait; Times Square; On Erin Markey; On Chelsea Girls; Gene Loves Jezebel; Purple Rain; Minor Threat; Sonic Youth's Magic.

Transmissions from Camp Trans [and the Michigan Womyn's Music Fest]; How Not to Be a Queer Douchebag; Polishness; Hard Times; HAGS in Your Face; How to Refer to My Husband-Wife.

The City to a Young Girl; Pigeon Manifesto; Summer of Lost Jobs; Telling Your Friends You're Sober; Sister Spit Feminism; I Had a Miscarriage; Baba; Dire Straits; Against Memoir."

In the first section, Tea, though she's younger than I am, covers music, movies and books with which I'm mostly familiar. At some point in my early twenties I even picked up a copy of the soundtrack to Times Square, from a cutout bin for maybe a dollar or two, though to this day I haven't seen the movie yet. 

From "Times Square:" "We queers, artists, activists, intellectuals, misfits, know with the instinct of any migrating animal that we must go to the city to find ourselves, our lives, and our people. Times Square shows beautifully what is lost to us when we lose our cities, our scruffy, scuzzy, cheap, and accessible cities; our inspiring, cultured, miraculous, dangerous, spontaneous, surprising cities."  (pages 37-38).

In the second section, I found two pieces particularly interesting, "Transmissions" and "HAGS in Your Face." 

From "HAGS in Your Face:" "'We always wanted to be next to each other.'" (page 180). A nice turn of phrase.

In the final section, all are absorbing to varying degrees. "Pigeon Manifesto" is just plain sweet. 

From "The City to a Young Girl:" "I'm feeling it, the purpose and point of our political writings, our personal struggles. It's not to change the world that can't or won't be changed. It's to leave traces of ourselves for others to hold on to, a lifeline of solidarity that spans time, that passes on strength like a baton from person to person, generation to generation." (page 234). Amen to that. 

From "Sister Spit Feminism:" "The thing about being a poet, a writer, an artist, is, you can't be good. You shouldn't have to be good. You should, for the sake of your art, your soul, and your life, go through significant periods of time where you are defying many notions of goodness. As female artists, we required the same opportunities to fuck up and get fucked up as dudes have always had and been forgiven for; we needed access to the same hard road of trial and error our male peers and literary inspirations stumbled down . . ." (page 268). 

Can you dig? 

Today's Rune: Partnership. 

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