This year there will be thoughts swirling around me as well.
Thoughts, memories, sensations...
A rich, compelling voice.
A body crushing mine.
A stabbing pain in my nipples.
An astonishingly perfect, gentle, violent kiss.
An intimacy unlike I have ever known.
A growing acceptance of my own beauty and talent.
An afghan of peace that increasingly surrounds me.
And a man with red hair whom I will never see again.
You'd think by now I could think of the philosopher without my eyes growing moist and my gorge choking with tears. But two years ago he was here, he was with me at the New Year's party. And we threw a party together, here, at my own house, cooking together, creating together, entertaining as a couple.
There are many kinds of dangerous fantasies.
Which brings me to the central point of this post.
I do not claim to be an educator. I am a writer. The name of my blog is submission & metaphor. The subtitle is Life and Love as Performance Art. Think about those phrases. Take them to mean what you will. A poet is not required to provide textual analysis. That is for the readers and scholars. I find it fascinating to hear what someone thinks I am doing, saying, aiming for. Me, I tend to let myself float in what I read, feeling the words caress me and sometimes push me under.
And if I don't like what I am reading, or don't enjoy the challenge of reading something I may not necessarily like, then I don't read it any more. It's that simple. There are a lot of other things out there to read.
A writer, a poet, a composer, a painter, has no "responsibility" to please all of the public or to deliver a message that will be found morally acceptable. And even things that society may deem ugly, frightening, or reprehensible can have what might be judged socially redeeming value because of how they stimulate thought and discussion and re-evaluation.
In a recent post, Orlando, in his usual brilliantly creative and adorable analytic manner, speaks of how every community, no matter how ostracized by "polite" society as unacceptable, always has those within the group that are too disgusting even for them:
[...] I came away with certain conclusions about what kinky fantasies were normal. (Isn't this funny? No matter how deviant or marginal the space, there is the same concern around norms. In the mental asylum for criminally insane Danish stamp collectors, in the special wing for the violent offenders, on the top floor, there's a three-person space cult. And two of those three people are whispering to each other about the third, because dude, he's a freak.)Add to this that a writer who is not a hack rolling out easily-digestible pablum for the masses will evolve in her writing. Grow, change, explore. And her audience may or may not like the direction she is taking.
In which case her audience can decide to stay and learn or go elsewhere. But the writer has no responsibility to confine her writing to what will maintain her audience. It's not like you've paid a subscription to read me and expect to keep getting what you paid for. And even if you did, you can always cancel.
Yes, I lost some readers over the recent flap, and one removed me from her list of blogs she reads. I'm more saddened by the rejection, especially coming from someone who had admired me and whom I liked, than by the loss of referred readers. I also found that I have gained new readers, and new people have been speaking up. Readers come and go all the time, just as blogs come and go.
I will stay. For now. But I will write what I need to say, and I will say it the way I need to say it. If you don't like my paintings, move on to the next room, to the next gallery, to the next museum.
I do not have a responsibility to write what you will find safe. I do not have to decorate my work with footnotes pointing out and explaining my metaphors, or telling you what percentage of what I said should be taken at face value. I am not trying to teach you about BDSM. All I am doing is giving you the chance to see the world through my eyes.
Back in high school, in a highly competitive summer theatre program, an acting teacher explained that this is what an artist does. A fairly ordinary concept, it was brand new to me at the time. An artist sees the world differently, and through her art, whatever the medium, allows other to get a glimpse of her vision.
Obviously, I see the world differently from most people. And in fact, I really do. Something is wrong with one of my eyes and I don't have stereoscopic vision. Recently, I was thinking about the way modern animation presents the world, presents people, and this amazing, two-dimensional light bulb went on over my head. Everything I see is two-dimensional. But I suddenly realized that the world in fact looks rather like those new animated figures that always look a little weird to me. They show me - or at least suggest - that third dimension I cannot see.
That is what an artist does. He shows you that other dimension or two or ten that you cannot see. Is that reality? Who knows? Does it matter? It is the artist's reality. What is important to the reader, the listener, the viewer is if it then makes you look at the world a little differently. Even if only for a moment. That shift in perspective may make you dizzy, may even make you nauseous. And if it's too disturbing you may not come back. But never imply that I have no right to write as I do. And never jump on the stage in the middle of the show and try to stop me.
In the last year, my Master has taught me a lot about writing. About my writing. He likes to say that as a writer I am courageous. He values that. And he expects that.
I will not stop being courageous.
I will not censor what I wrote.
If you don't like it, then go away.
I assure you, others will take your place.
And even if they don't, it doesn't matter.
This is my space.
My little writer's notebook with its faux leather cover.
You are, in fact, eavesdropping.
You sneak into my house in the middle of the night.
You take my diary from my bedside table.
You read my most private thoughts and fantasies.
And then, very quietly, you sneak back out.
Well yes, I know the metaphor isn't quite apt, as here you are invited to leave little Post-it notes with your comments. But, considering you are in fact trespassing, you are not allowed to imply what I may or may not write.
So that's my Manifesto. I hope to take risks in my writing, whether or not I take risks in my life. You can't rely on me. You can never be sure what you will find here. But if you are very quiet when you sneak into my bedroom, and then free your mind from its chains, you may be able to see inside my own mind and get caught in the dreams and fantasies and sometimes even nightmares that inhabit my sleeping and waking hours.
And if you are really, really good, you'll be allowed to stay.
Best wishes to you all for a happy and healthy and peaceful year ahead. May it be a time of growing and learning and loving for us all. (And to John, if you do happen to still be reading here, this is especially and most personally for you. Always. I miss you.)