Tuesday
Jul092013

Introduction

Virginia Konchan


 

What would the Eve/Pygmalion/Daisy Miller creation myth of women (from "dust," or via class ascension) look like told from a women's perspective? How can women, or other minorities, continue to work outside of dominant discourses or aesthetic frames without having to choose between "becoming minor" or the other absolutism—bent on making a minority point of view, through resignification (or, conversely, a refusal to name) universal?

From Modernism's denouement to the verbal pyrotechnics of post-conceptualism, poets and writers struggle over how to historicize our temporal moment, as well as ourselves. The recent outpouring of post-apocalyptic narratives and grief memoirs suggest that the end times aren't on their way—they've already been lived through, marking our aporetic times by the word "post" (post-history, narrative, race, gender, class, feminism, colonial, and human). Our capacity for coalitional politics or collective action, often replaced by elegiac and what Martin Glaz Serop calls "post-production witness literature," follows similar forms of dispersal, and forgetting, yet an opposing generative force can also be traced beyond mimesis, erasure, and fragmentation—the mock- or neo-epic, parlaying, as does Traci Brimhall and Lucy Biederman's "This is my Text for the World that Never Texted Me," Emily Dickinson with Hilary Clinton, say, or rescripting, as Natalie Shapero does in "Helicopter Mom (Or, Something For Everyone To Resent)" the Western, neo-imperialist appropriation of the "transitory property of Asian-ness" in the Vietnam War musical Miss Saigon.

Mythology does not seek out a factual "origin" of events or persons, providing instead a movement toward a more "accurate" representation of experience through multimedia, and crossgenre forms of autobiography, fiction, and poetry (Renata Adler's Speedboat, Elizabeth Hardwick's Sleepless Nights, Lauren Slater's Lying, Gail Scott's My Paris) as well as theatrical and anti-theatrical performance art (Laurie Anderson, Marina Abramović, Cindy Sherman) and other mediums and forms. These and other "narratives," through the work of artistic and self-invention, provide a means for men, and women of all races, ethnicities, and identifications of gender and sexuality to enter a phallocentric symbolic order through self- and other-representation, on their own terms.

As Vanessa Place says: "I'm grateful for any opportunity to be a signifier."

Including literary, visual, and sonic responses by artists, poets, writers, and composers Elena Tomorowitz, Kathleen Rooney, Elisa Gabbert, Brooke Wonders, Bridget Lowe, Traci Brimhall, Lucy Biederman, Virginia Konchan, Kate Durbin, Amaranth Borsuk, Elliot Cole, and Natalie Shapero, these writers engage with myths or fairy tale from Medusa to Madama Butterfly (with composer Elliot Cole's own Kyrgyz-inspired creation myth, or Durbin and Borsuk's Abra), challenging the depersonalized spaces of capitalism's homogenization with the return of the uncanny, the otherworldly, and the incontrovertible "other" among us: whether rising from the depths of literary tradition's epic myths—Greek, Finnish, Tagalog, or modernist, up to today.