Iceland, Bluets, and the Queer Academy

this weekend, in addition to presenting at the Queer Studies Conference, i went to a book release party for Eileen Myles’ The Importance of Being Iceland, and Maggie Nelson’s Bluets.  They gave a short reading, which was really a thrill; everyone packed into this concrete and plaster gallery listening to the new work, swigging their beers between heartfelt “mmm”‘s and delighted laughter.

Though I haven’t read these books in their entirety (i keep my fingers crossed that the time when i am able to afford to buy books is fast approaching), I feel close to them; Bluets because Maggie was my mentor at Calarts, and Iceland because I worked on sections of the text with Semiotext(e) Press.

the conference was also a treat!  i got to see some old friends, attend a few engaging presentations, and give my own paper.

i have struggled with balancing my scholarly practice with my creative practice.  it seems that whenever i prepare and give a conference talk, this struggle is brought to the fore.  since focusing on primarily creative work for the last two years at Calarts, i have found it difficult to go back to my reading and writing practice as an academic.  when i was working on my MA, however, i always believed critical and creative writing/thinking were not all that different.

but i think i was wrong.

in creative work, i am guided more by metaphorical connections and linguistic turns to shape my writing.  i ask myself, “what does this PIECE want?” whereas when i work on a critical piece i ask, “what do I want to say?” if my creative work makes an argument, it is a consequence, not a purpose.  if my critical work tells a story, it is because i forced it into the argument, not because it is inherent to the thesis.

practice, practice, practice.  that’s what i’m told it will take to write hybrid work.  i want to hover between all these different discourses, swing back and forth, visit one for a while and then slither back to my other home base.

i hope that the presentation i gave at the conference works with and between my various literary allegiances.  see forthcoming post for the paper.

furthermore, i have a firm aversion to overly jargon-y academicized language.  while i can appreciate the desire and need for inventing new words  to accommodate new meaning and ideas, and while i know the importance of using precise and specific language, it seems to me that the use of highly condensed language to communicate large ideas in this context is rather counter-productive because rather than ideas being communicated in an exact and precise manner, meaning is obscured and sometimes lost.  Especially in an aural presentation, i don’t care how fluent one is in the language of critical discourse, how can one possibly follow a theoretical line of inquiry/argument without the luxury of being able to re-read the same sentence five times in a row?


About thedoubleequal

TheDoubleEqual is interested in Anais Nin, Smut and subtext, Queer literature, Intersections of oppression, Jewish communities, Memoir, Poetry, All art, Subways, and Violent spiritual awakenings. View all posts by thedoubleequal

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