1. A Green Place



    Yesterday Elaine sent me this image of Derek Jarman’s text on paradise. On green. Her shadow on the page, as she leaned over to take this photograph for me at a museum library in Cambridge, England, where she lives.





    In October, a Tarot card reader told me this (read it like a page from a book, which also has shadows cast over it, darkened by something that started off as the most unexpected light. Light no one was ready for, it turns out. Light we couldn’t make light yet, or at all) about my question about him. Giving a voice to our story. Giving us voices to talk to each other with.

    “We met. We were in the garden of love dreams. Could we have a happily ever after? We could. But then something happened that we couldn’t. There’s a sense of betrayal, the swords were stolen, something happened…between…in our logistics. And now we’re in that space of silence.”

    Do I need to say that Elaine is also a green place, a garden? My deepest root blooming flowers when so much has died or not grown? Got started but never came through. I know this all sounds corny, and I’ve been criticized (if that’s even the right word) for that recently. But I’d be knocked for doing something else too. For doing something different. Because it’s different.

    One big-boy critic on a big-boy website, HTML Giant (part of their series of posts on “The New Sincerity,”), accuses me of being too sincere because, as a critic, I still make distinctions between truth and falsehood when it comes to representation and subjecthood. Another bad-boy writer and former fan (maybe he still is, who knows. But doubtful, since he doesn’t have any real feelings to appreciate anything) tells a writer friend that I am writing kitsch now. But is there anything more kitsch than male misogyny? Than acting like a (white) male genius? For aren’t white men the only ones who even really get to think of themselves as geniuses, as artists, as cultural taste-makers, and therefore have other people think of them this way? Aren’t they the only ones who have access and rights to such terms? So even when a (white) woman claims to be a genius, she can only get away with it, or even be thought of as one, if she acts like a male genius. Does genius the way a male genius would do genius. And by being a white female-male genius, she gets to do to other women what a male genius gets to do to women: exclude them, alienate them, decide who is and who is not a genius like them, therefore allying herself with other white male geniuses.

    When I was all covered up, in vines, in thorns, in ice; with the fire and green underneath (not on the surface in plain view) for only the right heart to thaw or weed (rip off with love, if necessary), I was called other names. My work has been called other names. So I can’t win, and I don’t want to. What’s winning and who wants to win all these dead, cold hearts who don’t even mean what they say or think? Who will think and mean something different tomorrow anyway. And who never asked, who make a point of not asking so they never have to be responsible for anything or anyone; to anyone, to be believed in.

    Besides, I couldn’t win. Not in this world. Not given what winning entails. Not as a woman, not as feminist, not as a critic, not as someone who mourns things, not as a true lover. And no one like this can, really. Not anyone green or trying to stay awake (“During the night I count the hours”).

    With Elaine, the swords were not stolen. They were placed in our hands. The huge weight a gift and honor.

    Louise Bourgeois: “When you love, you don’t take care of something because you are supposed to. You take care of it because you want to, right?”

    Paradise haunts gardens. Gardens haunt paradise.