Thursday, June 27, 2013

It Died a Virgin

Out in the fizz pop crackle world of the internet, where every move, right and wrong, occupies a corner of infinity, can something ever truly die?  Can blogs die?  I hope so, because the death of something is an affirmation of its life.  For something to die means it had to have been living, had a body that breathed, wandered, giggled, fought and loved.  By killing my blog, lipstickeater, here and now, I hope to give it the flesh it always deserved.  And hopefully, a non-Christian, non-mystic, but witchy reality of afterlife.  The text pieces that are amassed here on this blogspot domain ain’t going nowhere, and by the very stillness of their stasis they form the flesh of a body that you and I can now confirm did inhale and exhale.  These words are the long white flowers I am laying at the grave of 
Five years ago, I began writing in/ as lipstickeater to stabilize the vulnerable molecules of my own body.  I was two years into being a gay divorcée, trying to figure out how and if I was going to be able to maintain being a femme without a butch husband: I had to learn to be tautologically feminine.  At the same time, I had recently, impulsively, brought to end a two-year negotiation with a prestigious university press over the publication of a book, a version of my doctoral thesis on black femininity.  I wanted to write a book that changed the direction of not only queer theory but also the discourse of critical theory itself.  I wrote purposefully in a chatty, gossipy voice; my footnotes were minimal because I believed that citations should be functional, referring only to work with which one actually engaged, rather than an bloated but dribbly farce of academic rigor.  (Anyone can do a JSTOR search and plug in citations for a billion footnotes.)  But the reviewers engaged by the press saw my aesthetic and conceptual choices as either laziness or inability (probably both) and in their rejections of the manuscript, condescendingly harped on my need to change my rainbowbabywoman into something other than what it was.  Mainly: books they had written.  Don’t believe their progressive poses: academic theorists, and particularly queer theorists, love to live the Oedipal narrative.  My book was not a traditional academic book; its title is rainbowbabywoman, for fuck’s sake. But the editor agreed with them, and like a girl who had gone on too many dates with a guy who fucked her hard while telling her she’s ugly, I decided to stop revising and submitting to that press.  So there I was, a single femme, an unpublished academic, still furiously feminist, but the body that had to hold those identities, my body, was just a cloud of electrons going quickly to ash. 
I am stretched next to the white flowers over this grave.  I always thought that writing could hold together my too disappearing flesh.  Ever since I was a child, I’ve been writing because I can’t sing, dance, or get pregnant.  I was a frontwoman without a band, a failed ballet dancer, and a transsexual who doesn’t believe transsexual surgery can solve my problems.  When I entered graduate school in 1997, I was determined to write a book that would not only express my particular tangle of racial and gender identities (I’ve always felt myself to be a black girl trapped in an Asian gay male’s body; I’ve been a feminist since I was 12 years old) but turn my own psyche into a live test for the theories of performativity which is my formal training.  rainbowbabywoman was to be a performance of the performativity of race and gender.  I laid out a detailed phenomenology of cross-identification, showing that to embody the race and gender that you are not requires a rigorous ethics of emotional, political and physical positions.  But this wasn’t just an idea; it was me, my body. 
The magic of these white flowers is that roots regenerate from their snipped feet, like lizards.  Eventually I left rainbowbabywoman gasping in its shoebox, and decided to write new theories through a blog.  I did so not because I wanted to give my sentences a consolation prize but because I sensed a certain kind of freedom and opportunity in digitalia as not platform, but medium of writing.  When a painter finishes a painting, it begins to exist.  If she has a gallery behind her and has a show or sells the thing, hooray, but she doesn’t have to have a show or sell in order for the painting to have a bodily integrity.  Whether anyone wants it or not, the finished painting simply is.  In direct contrast, a writer’s work doesn’t exist unless it is desired, not by a person, but people who proxy for conglomerates.  I’ve always found this to be profoundly unfair: my text pieces were always my girls, my daughters, my guardian fairies the moment I tapped the last period into being.  Then suddenly, with the advent of digitalia, it was suddenly possible for my textual pieces to become the little paintings they’ve always wanted to be.  Lipstickeater was born.  Blogspot allowed me to fuse text making to the labor of creating a body for myself.  To evoke my beloved Félix Guattari, it is an assemblage of my feminist femininity.  It taught me so much: to be fearless in vulnerability, to write and think quickly, to produce a rhythmic body of work rather than one ur-text, to believe in the power of the immaterial to accomplish material things. 
I wore white to match the white flowers.  I feel like a widow although it’s only a tail of me that’s died.  If I’ve been slowing down on writing in/ as lipstickeater, it’s because its flesh has been gradually congealing into its own infinite objectness.  I am always going to be all about femininity and feminism, but my daily body craved other forms.  I’m working on a book-length piece about pure feminism.  I want to think big, to write a manifesta, a daintier sequel to The Second Sex.  One might call it The Fourth Sex.  I call it Artificial Menstruation.  I also completed a book of stories and named her Lace Sick Bag. I’ve been supremely lucky to work with my new feminine feminist heroes, Patricia No and Antonia Pinter of Publication Studio Portland, who will bring Lace Sick Bag out in early September.  In terms of taking my digital prosemaking to the next level, I’m most proud of this collaboration because Publication Studio is doing the kind of work that is going to be the future of books.  When they publish a book, it is tripartite: an e-book, a free digital reading copy uploaded to their reading commons that can be annotated by readers, and a hand-made physical book.  They are turning books into electron clouds.  With their reading commons, they are infusing the often cold bodylessness of the internet with the tactile intimacy of touching a book.  And in elegantly converse symmetry, their production of the physical book is informed by the digital model of commerce and object-production.  The beautiful physical books are produced on demand: the book only comes into its paper body after a reader purchases it over the Publication Studio e-shop. The traditional publishing model is clunkily capitalistic: gobs of books are published, and then hawked to a public in whom desire must be whipped up, like pounds of cheap and cheaply-made clothes so desperate at H&M.  The physical books at Publication Studio are never wasted, never have to fear a death in remainder bins or cold dark storage, because they germinate from the reader’s desire. 
The words I’ll be writing from now on will sit at  Lipstickeater is dead, but maybe someday it'll come back to life.  But the good thing about being dead is that you can now become a ghost!  Lipstickeater will keep appearing at its whim on girlscallmurder, in its new ethereal form: hashtag.  I’m laying lipstickeater deep into the grave, but its desire keeps wafting up like a heavy perfume: the desire to hover, be granular, dissipate.  It creates a desire in me, too.  I make myself ready to be haunted, and my digital skin is growing pores like uteri.  I’m holding white flowers in mourning but I’m looking up at you because the earth is not where the body of lipstickeater is; it’s in you, out there, in the fizz crackle pop world of sparks and want. 


Jonathan said...

Lovely post. I will miss new content on Listickeater, but I like the sense that you have that it is now complete and that it is time to move on. Looking forward to your new ventures and adventures.

Louie Rigano said...

Lipstickeater will be missed!! I've loved it all from the beginning <3 <3 Can't wait for Lace Sick Bag!