Saturday, January 26, 2008

Three Excruciatingly Personal Blog Entries, No.1

The new academic year is about to descend upon us, and all kinds of cycles are drawing to a close. I'm now into my second year of breast cancer treatment, and settled into a routine of monthly injections and daily tablets. The blog has also seen me through an entire cycle of applying for a research grant (this was one of its initial aims), through first-time rejection to second-time success. I've finally made the breakthrough of making the Garter book my highest priority, the first thing I do on a good day, while I'm also just about managing to juggle the several other projects I have in hand, as well as fulfilling my teaching and administrative obligations.

It seems to me that the Humanities Researcher blog may also be winding up this phase in its life. Before I make any big decisions, though, I have in mind to write three long posts. Each will be full of embarrassing personal revelations, and each will test to the limit the territory I think of this blog as inhabiting, as space in which I attempt to reason my way through some of the personal and emotional vicissitudes of intellectual work in academic and familial communities. This first entry takes its spark from a recent event, and will become a second-order meditation on privacy and the personal in the poetic text: the relationship between poetry and life, if you will. The second will be the long-promised Menopause Post. Third will be the most embarrassing of all, when we move from emotions and the body to the world of spirit.


[Update: the remainder of this entry has been deleted by the blogger. See the discussion in the next entry]

8 comments:

ThirdCat said...

I can't tell you how fast you have just made my heart beat. For one zillion reasons.

Which is another way of saying, what a brilliant post. Which is, in turn, another way of saying, I'll be sad if this blog is winding up.

Pavlov's Cat said...

Not in the mirror -- it mixes up lefts and rights.

What a brave woman you are.

I once recognised an old lover in another woman's passionate story about him (ie "about" "him"), which included comparable physical details only a lover would both know and remember (and the degree of deranged rage this invoked would surprise even you, who know my capacity for deranged rage better than most). So this kind of sexual and textual exchange can make the man's body an object, too.

David Thornby said...

I'm not convinced that I can make a reply to this that does your post justice; however, some things sprang to mind. First, how courageous! Second, it would be a damned shame to see Humanities Researcher (the blog) fold, or wind up, or wind down. Though if you really meant to indicate that it's merely winding sort of sideways, well that's alright!

Third, I've never been interested in a woman who could meaningfully be exchanged between men. I suppose I've met one or two. I think the rituals of exchange are too obviously ritual nowadays to have much persuasive power over today's hip young woman.

Fourth, speaking as a poet of extraordinarily little consequence, using a mole to represent something complex and charged in a transparently, deliberately neat and transparently, deliberately not-exact package would be too attractive to give up, should the occasion arise. Clearly it wouldn't make sense to dispute the idea that kissing a mole is a representation of a (thwarted? unrealised?) desire to possess. But it wouldn't make much sense to read the whole image without acknowledging that it's so transparent a packaging that the poet can only be doing it with a nod to the transparency of it. I am not making sense; I am out of practice by 15 years!

Finally, re: blogs and misrepresentation: I'm no expert in the blogosphere, but I usually think of blogs as confessional, at least where there is personal content. And when confessing, what sense would it make to confess someone else's 'sins'? I think you're right when you say that blogs are more personal than poetry -- in poetry, misdirection can be art; in blogs, it's just misdirection.

(It's hard to imagine where the boundaries are; nevertheless, I hope I have not transgressed them.)

Jeffrey J Cohen said...

A really interesting meditation on the transformations and co-optations that art undertakes, the personal/private, poetry and blogs.

Anyone writing in either of the latter two forms has to think about such boundaries (though especially the latter). It's a jarring thing, though, isn't it, to find oneself a character or visitor in someone else's work?

I hope HR isn't coming to a close!

Meredith said...

I loved this post Stephanie, although it made me cringe a little, remembering times I've felt that my experience or something I've said has been hijacked by some artist or another. I understand if you feel that HR might have to end - but if it does fold, I hope you start something else: it would be sad to lose you from the blogosphere.

Stephanie Trigg said...

Thanks, all, for comments. I must admit, I read P's C's and David's comments about bravery and courage, and didn't sleep all that well last night, toying with coming downstairs and deleting the post. Still, I haven't, yet...

Weirdly, though, in the middle of the night, I remembered such an odd thing, at a conference, in summer, years ago, standing in a group, and next to a woman I knew by name only, and haven't seen since. But at one point she put her head up (she was shorter than I) and kissed — I was wearing some sleeveless dress or other - my bare shoulder, really a propos of nothing at all. Honestly, the things you think happen only in fiction and poetry; and there they are in real life...

Pavlov's Cat said...

Hm. What did I mean by brave?

It wasn't so much about putting up the piece. I think it was about writing the piece -- ordering and verbalising that complex chain of experience to see where it would take you. And also partly about the prospect of writing the two to come. Maybe 'fearless' would be a better word. 'Brave' has stronger implications that there is in fact something to be scared of, and that wasn't really what I meant.

David Thornby said...

Let me apologise for whatever part I played in your sleepless nights. I think that, by removing the part of your post that had you worried, you're not cheating the blog genre, just engaging in it. You asked: who gets to post? Anyone who wants to, for as long as your blog is unrestricted. Who gets to delete? You do. (And probably the company providing the blog space.) That you are in charge of the decision-making is just part of the rules, nicely black and white (and arbitrary) in a headspace that is far from simple (and very subjective).

I was projecting, I suppose, when I called your post courageous (which is not to say that I back away from my assessment, but nevertheless:). I'm terrified of embarrassment and that bleeds over into a fear of revelation and the expression of the personal. For some (many?) people, what you wrote about wouldn't cause a moment's insecurity and wouldn't be hard to post at all. I tend to forget that sometimes.

I wouldn't call the entry in question a strike, just an exploration. I think you're taking ownership (both by posting and by removing the post) of part of an event that had you thinking about the issue of ownership of the personal in public art. Everyone's response to seeing themselves represented in art has to remain their own.