Chris Kraus’s Torpor, originally published in 2006, was recently republished by semiotext(e). In Null and Void, Becca Rothfeld insists that Torpor “is not the festival of negativity we deserved but the festival of negativity we needed in those—and these—artificially untroubled times.” Though she deems the novel “depressing to a fault,” she argues for the importance of negativity and negative emotion in a culture that frequently requires a false outward display of positivity. In Slate.
Also, be sure to check out Negative Emotions, by Lydia Davis (author of Can’t and Won’t, The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis, Break it Down, and many more.) It’s referenced in Null and Void and follows a similar trajectory of arguing for negative emotional spaces and reactions, though Davis does a good job of making that sentiment quite funny. From Tweed’s.
Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the process of healing. About the differences and similarities between emotional and physical health and how we heal differently and similarly from emotional and physical trauma. For this reason, I was pleased to find Between the Sick and the Well, by Larissa Pham, on Midnight Breakfast. She eloquently describes her personal physical injuries-the process of healing and the scars left behind-and draws comparisons to the wounds and scars of emotional trauma. The lack of an appropriate language to articulate emotional pain with the same legitimacy as physical pain frequently leads to misunderstanding and further stigmatization of mental health issues. This essay is good.
Lately I’ve been reading a lot of poetry.
Have you read Citizen: An American Lyric, by Claudia Rankine, yet? It’s a collection of poetry and lyric essays that deals with mounting racial tensions (physical violence, verbal violence, systemic discrimination, well-meaning comments that clearly indicate inherent racist socialization, everything) in “post-racial” America. Here’s You are in the dark, in the car…” from Poetry Foundation.
From The Kenyon Review, The Naming, by Karenne Wood, is an exploration of language, names, storytelling, nature, and loss. Here are the opening lines: “Some nights we feel the furred darkness/ of an ancient one’s breath and are trapped/ in awakening, dismembered/ by events we no longer recall.”
Andromeda, by Gretchen Marquette, is about womanhood, wanting, and rejection. “…So when your ribs prove/ too small a cage for such feeling, bones bowing outward,/and higher up, you’re almost blind, you can stand still,/ you can be a conductor. You can think of a cluster/ of stars, you can think of one of your atoms/ as a galaxy with its own type of horse,/ and music, maybe something akin/ to the viola. There are mothers/ there, certainly, and something/ like the vulture.” From Tinhouse.
So, because things this week have been a bit depressing and focused on feelings, here’s Bridge Troll Associate Apprenticeship Opportunity, by Sarah Sloat, from McSweeney’s Internet Tendency. Because we all have to use our college degrees somewhere.