Archive for December, 2009
Both my blogging and my reading/visiting of blogs has slowed down a bit the past few weeks, in part due to travel and holiday plans but also in deference to the season of Winter, which according to the tradition of Five-Element Chinese Medicine(/Acupuncture) is the season of stillness and silence. I have struggled in the past to truly be and stay with this depth, silence, and mystery, and in aiming to do so this year I have felt called to relax the frenetic feeling of needing to relentlessly read and post blogs and feel guilt or anxiety if I do not.Stillness. Silence. And a deep breath. That being said, I am delighted to post this particular entry at the end of this calendar year in order to announce something non-sex related, wish a very special figure in my life a happy birthday, and throw some other odds and ends in between. Here we go. 1) First, for any readers here who at some point feel like reading about something other than sex, or who would like to be reading about sex but whose day job’s technological environment does not allow the perusal of such Internet-related places, I want to let you know about a brand new blog that has both bases covered: PostHumorous. Run by a good friend of mine, it launched earlier this month and is designed to be first of all entertaining, and secondly a place to hang out when one is supposed to be working. (For me this latter description sometimes seems to encompass the entirety of the Internet.) I myself have frequently experienced the proprietor of PostHumorous — found at www.PostHumorous.org — as amusing, entertaining, and politically incorrect (not always necessarily simultaneously — I recommend reading the site’s disclaimer!). Rumor has it he is also open to allowing guest writers, though remember, the subject matter focus there is funny, not sex. (Not to disregard the existence of demonstrated expertise at combining the two! The site owner just wants to keep the site fully safe for work.) On that note, while I am mentioning PostHumorous here, that will not be mutual, as the site is rated PG-13 and is specifically designed to be safe for work, whereas mine is…um, not. :) So you may very well see no connection to me or this blog there whatsoever, and that is as it should be. 2) Next, it’s now a little bit late this year, but I want to mention that I just finished reading Alison Tyler‘s anthology The Merry XXXmas Book of Erotica and highly recommend picking it up for next year. I myself liked some of the stories so much I suspect I may find myself perusing it throughout the year despite my historical lack of enthusiasm for focusing on the Christmas season when it is not said season (and sometimes when it is…). I enthusiastically enjoyed the vast majority of the stories in Merry XXXmas, and about half a dozen of them fell into the category of my very favorites, including Alison’s own closing story, “Christmas Past.” Overall it may be one of my favorite erotica anthologies I’ve read, holiday-themed or not. 3) Speaking of holidays and while I’m recommending things, I’ll also give mention to a lovely story I read a few days ago by P. S. Haven that he generously posted on his blog. It’s titled “If You Love Something, Set It Free” — scroll down on the page to read it. 4) Lastly (but certainly not leastly), I want to take the opportunity to wish one of my inspirations, most-admired erotica writers, true friends, and really favorite people a very, very happy birthday today. I consider the presence of Ms. Donna George Storey in my life a gift itself, and I am delighted to wish her here a happy birthday, which she happens to share with New Year’s Eve. :) I started this blog just a few days into the 2009 calendar year, and I want to thank everyone who has been here, read, commented, lurked, or in any way supported this Internet presence of mine in 2009 (hey, that rhymes). Truly, thank you, so very much.
Happy new year and always to all.Love,
Emerald “Six on the second hand, to New Year’s resolutions…”
-OneRepublic “All This Time”
As I mentioned last year (though on MySpace at the time, as it was before this blog was launched), December 17 is the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers as conceived and named by Annie Sprinkle and SWOP-USA in 2003. The red umbrella is an international symbol (history/origination here) of support for the rights of and protestation of violence and discrimination against sex workers.
An article by Dr. Sprinkle about the origination of the recognition of this day may be found here. It is a read I highly recommend.
SWOP-USA’s December 17 site contains a listing of events around the country and world to recognize the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers. I don’t know of any organized gatherings in the geographical location where I am this year, so my own commemoration will be solo. I have procured a red candle (conveniently easy to do this time of year) that is currently lit and that I plan to have lit throughout the day in silent support for current and former sex workers, our rights as professionals and as individuals, and deep reverence and respect for those who experienced violence in the line of work in the last year and ever.
And reverence and respect for all.
-Our Lady Peace “Innocent”
That seems deeply appropriate to me now, as I feel such gratitude for the book I don’t know how to express it in words. It was my second time reading it, the first being in late 2005 or early 2006. I liked it then, I remember, and vaguely classified it in the category right below the category of my “favorite books.” That category doesn’t really have a name/label, but it just means I much liked the book but not quite enough for it to be one of my favorites.
I’m not sure what I was thinking. It seems difficult to me to describe how differently I experienced the book this time. I know I was in a different place then, and perhaps the circumstances I was experiencing at that time really affected how I perceived what I was reading or even distracted me from it, but I feel and felt astonished by the nuance, insight, and implication that I just did not seem to get the first time reading it. Similarly, of course, the circumstances I experience presently likely affected my reading of it this time as well. Such is art and such is life. I simply was/am taken aback by the degree to which, this time around, I found these previously missed nuances and implications stunning.
A few days ago, when I knew I wanted to write this post but felt poignantly ill-equipped to do it justice (as I still do), I mentioned on Neve Black‘s blog my interpretation that The Age of Innocence may be one of the most beautiful products of human creation to which I feel I have been exposed thus far in this lifetime. I miss it. I have been missing it since I finished it, and even as I was reading it I felt a poignant yearning that at some point I would likely finish it, and its immediacy and involvement would be gone from my experience.
One of the things I remember not feeling resonant with when I was pursuing an MFA was what seemed to be the movement away, in the academic setting, from the subjectivity of creativity. It has occurred to me before — I seem to recall it occurred to me even then — that since I have historically experienced a tendency to not recognize and be with feelings, when I encountered something that did allow or even force me to do that, on some level I appreciated it deeply. Art or perhaps the response in me to it has been one of those things for as long as I can remember. So the feeling of that being lessened or even taken away felt particularly daunting/dissonant to me. (Incidentally, that is one of the reasons it makes so much sense to me that others may not find this aspect of artistic academic programs disagreeable or even necessarily experience it that way. They may not have experienced this particular relationship of art/creativity and affect/emotion the way I have. Whereas for me, it felt paramount.)
The way I felt as I read (since I did vaguely remember how it ended, having read it before) and when I finished The Age of Innocence epitomized the overwhelming affect-via-art experience for me. It felt like it broke me open — and in the understanding that I am really one with the Universe, being broken open can be a way of further experiencing and realizing that.
“The more a manifest form expresses and embodies true nature with its timeless features, the more the eyes of the soul behold it as beautiful. Beauty is a reflection of truth, and truth is ultimately true nature.”
So seems to be the beauty that has struck me in The Age of Innocence, and I simply bask now in silence and utter reverence in the afterglow of this experience I don’t know how to describe. It is a book that feels like it has done something unique to me, something no other thing could ever quite have done.
In the beginning of the edition I have, there is an introduction by a noted critic and scholar of Wharton. I did not read it before I started, frequently preferring to read such things after I have finished the work so as not to be affected beforehand by another’s perception of it. Last night I turned to the introduction and considered reading it, and I noticed I still felt hesitation after skimming the first paragraph. At this time I have deemed that I just don’t have an interest in reading it yet.
I was considering why I felt this distinct yet inarticulate feeling. I recalled hearing Wayne Dyer, in an audio version of one of his books years ago, talk about analysis being “intellectually violent.” He said to analyze was the opposite of sythesize — the tearing apart of something rather than the merging of parts into a whole. I remember finding that description so gorgeous it took my breath away.
Historically there has seemed a tendency in me to analyze, which could quite be related to that one resisting emotion and affect. Analysis could serve as a distraction — breaking things down and/or tearing them apart in order to feel more in control or to not let the “whole” really affect me like it does/will on some level anyway. Analysis may just water it down and allow the historical personality structure in me to seem not so affected by dealing with something one piece at a time.
Art, sometimes, has blown right through that no matter what the historical tendencies in me may want to do. And I love it for that.
So it occurs to me that the introduction might analyze the work in a way I feel like I don’t want to be exposed to — as if it will interrupt some fragility, some beauty that is perfect in the form it currently is.
Interestingly, as I was pondering this again today, I went to the Erotica Readers and Writers Association website after reading the newsletter today and read brilliant Ashley Lister‘s piece titled “Broken Rainbows.” I was struck that the topic of his piece is almost this exact subject from a writing rather than a reading/experiencing point of view.
Perhaps the most striking similarity is that Ashley says this:
“There are laws of communication that have to be obeyed to transform an idea into an experience worthy of being called literature. And, just like science [and its explanation of a rainbow], the efforts of examination and inspection offer the dullest explanations and invariably threaten to break the rainbow”
— when it had crossed my consciousness last night that to me reading the introduction right now felt like smashing a prism, taking each color and examining it as a separate flat strip, the glittering whole no longer in the form of its original dimension.
Ashley also says,
“Regardless of the mechanics that create a piece of fiction, whether it comes from a writer steeped in knowledge about the tradition of the novel, or a newcomer with a burning desire to tell a story, the results can be (and often are) a beautiful experience.”
That experience is in what I still feel deeply immersed, so deeply I don’t even know how to articulate it. I feel too close to the work still to feel at all interested in its deconstruction; it seems interruptive of the experience I feel such indescribable gratitude to have been offered.
In short, I am not ready to cut apart The Age of Innocence yet. Its sum is too beautiful to me.
“In a flash it takes hold of my heart; what a feeling…I can have it all…pictures come alive, now I’m dancing through my life…”
-Irene Cara “Flashdance – What a Feeling”