can’t stop the flow

My ideas are rocketing around today, which always happens after I meet a stimulating bunch of people and have good conversations.  I thought of so many things today that I wanted to write down.   I thought about my exhusband and the end our our relationship and the myriad ways it went bad.  I thought about Raquel, who was his girlfriend and mine when I was in college, and how that played out, and his friendship with my ex Dr. Dicke, and with the guy who raped me when I was 17. 

I thought about a very wonderful paper/story/game/fake introduction to a game that Rook showed me for a project by Jonathan Walton and others, a large collaboration on role-playing games, called PUSH.  I’ll say more about this mind-blowingly great essay later. I’ll review it when it comes out and publish the review, and I’ll nominate it for various things. It’s quite amazing!  And best of all it seems playable. <i>What if gaming had developed from other traditions than US wargaming…</i>   A good alternate history opens the mind, shows truths that you feel “were there all along”.

I thought more about The Golden Notebook and Alanya to Alanya.  That stuff might take a while to come to fruition.

I thought a long time about my ex-girlfriend Masha and the deterioration(s) of our complicated intense relationship and how terrible it was at times on both sides.

I thought about how it was today to see Jo folding the laundry for her family, just going onward in all the ways she has to in the middle of sadness and her particular heroism and through that the heroism of many women I’ve known or read about and how they naturally will sit as I did and put in a tiny bit of patient work, just a token, and all the times someone has done that for me in some small way and how those small acts magnify and ripple through my life and continue to influence and sustain me, how I continue to pass them on.

But mostly I thought about intellectual histories. There are particular metaphors for creation and collaboration and the ways ideas spark from person to person; one of them is geneology and I am fond of the queer theory idea that geneologies go sideways through multiple inheritances; that uncles and aunts (like ideas of evolution and altruism) contribute.  I am talking about ideas and generations, not about actual families. But that family-metaphor is just a metaphor. There’s the muse metaphor, one that I find annoying (even when it’s flattering). We have another one; consider the literary salon model where there’s a woman, a sort of muse figure, who collects people like she might collect stamps or antiques or kinds of rosebushes, but her role is to be the society hostess who brings the idea-people together for them to spark off each other and off of her muse-essence. there are many more.

Consider the ways that the people in your life exchange fundamental ideas, ones that change each other’s thinking, life-changing ideas. I’m going to talk about myself because I know my life best, but please extrapolate to whatever you know best if you can, because it’s not about Me.  I was thinking of Masha and myself as a writer. If you look at my writing and consider its changing over time (which no one will at the level I look at it myself ) you can see the spike of Masha’s and my engagement, our deep entanglement. Her intensity about science, sex, gender, gender roles, the process of thinking, what it meant to be engaged with the world and experience, all sparked me off at a very high level and changed everything I wrote and the ways that I wrote. My poetic voice remained consistent, but it was like a pruned branch suddenly growing out into many new directions, many new branches. She basically hit me over the head with a brick and stopped me in my tracks. I could go through nothing without filtering it through the knowledge of her thinking. I’ve never really tried to say this before…   She was like the fairy tale where the princess is fleeing and throws down a mirror and a comb and the mirror becomes a lake and the comb becomes a forest of thornbushes, but she was the thorns and the water and I was the pursuer who could not avoid those things in my path, which I would say ceased to be a path at that point.  So, if I were dead and some literary historian were trying to figure me out (oh colossal arrogance, but just hypothetically, okay? translate it in your head to some actual famous person) surely they would be looking for literary influences on me and what I was reading, or what other writers I knew. Would they credit my girlfriend, basically my spouse, for the growth of my mind and ideas? I would say… probably not.   One of my long-time friends said to me recently that they had no idea that Masha was an important relationship to me as I always appeared to have so many lovers, and I just started laughing, absolutely incredulous… But probably our future literary historian would discount Masha’s influence because she was my romantic partner, and because she was a scientist, not a writer.  What I want to say is that it went both ways.  I wasn’t a scientist, but my fundamental ways of thinking changed her too and changed her work. I know fuck-all about lionfish genetics or whatever, though during her explanations I would learn it and follow closely and be the socratic foil for her as best I could; and she could not write a decent poem to save her fucking life despite her fantastic and influential-to-me readings of everything I wrote. 

I’d just like everyone to think about that basic idea, and to keep it very firmly in mind. So while I do not take credit for the work of people close to me nor they take credit for what I do, I get frustrated at the ways people discount (just for example)  the gamer-girlfriend or the geek-girlfriend or the scientist-wife. 

I love to read the acknowledgements in books… one can sometimes extrapolate those deep relationships… But so often no one bothers and it becomes intertwined with the fabric of sexism and power dynamics so that women lose out somehow in the process of history, of intellectual development…  when they were right smack in the middle of it like lakes and thornbushes all along for anyone who has eyes to see.

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5 Responses to “can’t stop the flow”

  1. Lisa Hirsch

    That is a fantastic posting; thank you for it.

  2. lori

    I read the best acknowledgement page in a book evar last night. It was a cornbread recipe book, and it started out, “First of all, I would like to thank me. Thanks to myself for writing the proposal and developing all the recipes and then testing them incessantly.” He then goes on to describe the cornbread nightmares he suffered as a result.
    Then he thanks the grackles, squirrels, etc. that ate all his leftovers and failed experiments off the backyard compost pile.

  3. Jo

    It’s important to consider your biographers when making any kind of move in life. This is why blogs are so important. I am only partially being facetious.

  4. Emma

    I hear you. In the last year I was called a gamer-girlfriend. And I lost it. But most of the people who called me that just didn’t get it.
    I too am a gamer. I help my Boy with his GM stuff. He bounces ideas off me, I help him out. And whilst I would never take credit for what is his. Ugh, it just got me.
    I am a person too, yo.

  5. serena

    I think about this stuff ALL THE TIME. Recently I was noticing how every one of my exes and current or former close friends has had a profound influence on the way I think, what I notice, how I work, how I filter my emotions and ideas–and the influence was so profound and so long ago that I’ve integrated it into my sense of the core of my being. This goes even and perhaps especially for people with whom I had huge conflicts, people who were abusive in some way, largely peripheral, or manifestly Not In My League.
    I know that’s not particularly articulate, for lack of specific examples. Someday when you visit we’ll sit down in front of some paintings of mine and I’ll show you all the people.

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