Mittwoch, 9. Oktober 2013

Live Through This

"We're all damaged. Every one of us. Everything can be traced back to that moment where we realized, as small children, that things were absolutely not okay. My moment was realizing - at about age three - that the grown-ups around me didn't believe me. I've had lifelong issues with not being believed. And within my own reality, looking back. I wasn't. I was always scolded for pretending to be in pain. If I fell and hurt myself. I was told time and time again that I should stop trying so hard to get attention."
This happens to be the first paragraph from the foreword by Amanda Palmer ... and I've felt immediately hooked. And even more so when I read her last paragraph:
Take pen to paper, take sharpie to body, take fingers to ukulele, take phone-camera to bathroom to mirror to naked body. Just make something, anything. And make something not to become known to the world - but to become known to yourself.
The only way is fucking through.
Believe me."

"Live Through This", writes Sabrina Chap in her preface, "is a collection of visual and written essays by women artists who have dealt with self-destruction, and lived to tell the story." While each woman has her own answer, this book is not meant as an answer but an offer for discourse, "as a way to help women begin to understand the potential in the power of their self-destructive acts." After briefly wondering whether males like me are allowed to read this work, I started with the first story - and was disappointed. The first sex the protagonist had wasn't terribly great (whose was?), she played with the idea of killing herself (although that seemed completely unrelated to losing her virginity) and later on became a sexologist. It is of course possible (and probable) that this lady experienced quite some suffering in her life but she definitely lacks the talent to convey it.

The first text that gripped me ("It had been 72 hours since my lover left me alone with my brain, and slowly I tried to be me again.") was "Fighting Fire with Acid Rain", an illustrated story on coming down by Cristy C. Road who "will possibly venture into the world of art galleries, but would much rather not think too much about the future."

And then there is "Total Disaster: Sketching Sanity" by Fly who states that "drawing and writing have always helped me to focus, relax and situate myself within constantly shifting, sometimes scary but always captivating environments." From her I learned (not for the first time but it is good to be reminded) that people's "individual imbalances are so varied that it's really important not to just apply one formula to everybody."

From the "Slash an' Burn"-piece by Inga M. Muscio: "Joe B., Liz and I had ongoing and historically entrenched vendettas, not unlike Bosnia, Serbia and Croatia. Nick was our Switzerland. He was the only person in the family who offered peace and laughter on a guaranteed basis. I adored him." I've never come across a more peculiar, and funny, idea of Switzerland.

"My family wrote stories, painted pictures. Art was a simple act of survival and survival was an art form for us" I read in Silas Howard's "Friends as Heroes" and of course she then had all my attention, and it was well-deserved.

And. then there was the captivating text by an anonymous Brooklyn-based dancer, choreographer, and dance educator. And, "Creating Your Own World" by Swoon who felt cursed because a lot of people around her were spiraling out of control. "Writing and drawing helped me access my core and deal with a lot of emotions as a teenager." And, Nan Goldin's "Self-Portraits." And ...

At the end of the book there are some very direct questions that get very varied answers, some of them truly original. For instance, to "What do you do when you're feeling self-destructive?", Nicole Blackman says: "Take a nap." That is really good advice, see also this link here, although, given that this is supposed to be a book "on creativity and self-destruction", I wonder whether it would qualify as creative ...

Live Through This
On Creativity and Self-Destruction
Edited by Sabrina Chap
Seven Stories Press, New York 2012

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