kicking softly against the door
My words haven’t been flowing like I’d like them to. Deadlines will do that. When you’re writing to a brief, to a deadline, you can run the risk of completely bypassing the creative which is so paramount to the process, but it’s usurped by this…urgency.
It’s been so long since I’ve written just for myself.
The new journey is full of contradictions. Every day I feel like I know the lay of the land, and then something comes along which changes the shape of it.
This + this = this. But also, this.
I haven’t documented this lockdown. It’s missing from my journals, my photographs. In some small way, I’ve been in denial. I work through it. I send drafts to my supervisor. They are primordial and unsophisticated. I promise that I will find the right words. I make playlists. I try to make art in the downtime. I pretend the outside world is within reach and that I just choose not to exist in it.
I’ve begun a thesis playlist. It’s a work in progress. Some of it inspires the work, some of it informs it.
I’m coming to realise how much depression has shaped me. You don’t appreciate how much time you spend on that spectrum until it’s taken away from you. We all agreed that tamping my lows was the right move. Regulate its winter cycle.
But now I am kicking softly against the door in a quiet panic. I can’t even conjure a deep sadness. The best I can achieve is a kind of hollow melancholy. I keep testing it with hairline triggers. They smart and then fizzle out.
I am neck-deep in French psychoanalytic theory. Some of it is breathtaking and poignant. Some of it remains unevolved. The more I learn, the more I realise I don’t know. Today I am thinking about what has stopped me from posting this blog even though I started writing it two weeks ago. I am thinking about what silences women. I am thinking about how we are still held to account – even by each other. I am thinking about perfection and cancel culture and courage. I am thinking about the women who have come before me, the women who have been forbidden from writing, the women who have been institutionalised for wanting to, the trauma-memoirists who endured the backlash when they dared to challenge the canonised autobiographical form.
And I am thinking of how I have recoded my own writing. Of the overwhelm – the anxiety, the mediocrity, the who-the-fuck-am-I ness. I don’t know. Maybe I’m no-one. Maybe I’m one of the thousands of female post-grad students whose thesis will disappear into the void, whose work will not stay relevant. Maybe my work is not relevant. Maybe the days of glorifying the holy trinity – Cixous, Irigaray, Kristeva – are over. Maybe I’m ten years too late.
But then I think about how we still glorify the men that came before them – the hallowed fathers of literature, the very hallmarks of greatness and genius that continue to permeate foundational lit. classes, conditioning them to serve the Symbolic Order.
“I write because I have nothing else to do in the world: I was left over and there is no place for me in the world of men. I write because I’m desperate and I’m tired, I can no longer bear the routine of being me and if not for the always novelty that is writing, I would die symbolically every day. But I am prepared to slip out discreetly through the back exit. I’ve experienced almost everything, including passion and its despair. And now I’d only like to have what I would have been and never was.”Clarice Lispector The Hour of the Star
And then I think, fuck that shit.