Wednesday, November 17, 2004

I love this quote that appeared at the bottom of A Word A Day a couple of days ago:

My aim is to agitate and disturb people. I'm not selling bread, I'm selling
yeast. -Miguel de Unamuno, writer and philosopher (1864-1936)

I also love this quote from an interview with Sarah Shun-Lien Bynum (author of Madeleine is Sleeping) over at the Galley Cat blog. It feeds my obsession with the connection between writing and the body:

SSB: For me, at least, [my tendency towards the "the grotesque"] sprang out of a fascination with the body. I think the body, when one dwells upon it long enough, leaves you sort of inevitably down that path. And, I guess, in some way I thought the corporeal and the bodily were necessary to temper attempts at lyricism. It wasn't calculated, but I wanted to play with language, and whatever subjects allowed me to -- Well, also, I'm the daughter of a gastroenterologist. Joseph Pujol [a historical character appearing in Madeleine, known for having turned his body into a "wind instrument"] was somebody I discovered through him ... So I guess that's another reason why bodily functions entered the work.

GC: There's been a good deal of scholarly work, too, on how the grotesque has been used to discuss, and interrogate, the idea of gender, especially female gender. Deformity can allow female bodies to transcend convention, or the grotesque can relay convention as a kind of violence to the body.

SSB: Just by intuition, I'd agree that it's a way to talk about gender. I took a great class with Nancy Armstrong at Brown on "the Gothic" and we talked about Carrie, discussing the idea of the body saying what's unspekable. What's been repressed always ends up being expressed, somehow, through the body. We looked at the scene in Carrie when she starts bleeding -- and there's that impulse in all the girls to say [laughing], "Plug it up, plug it up!" So, the idea of the unruly, speaking body always made a lot of sense to me. Also, using that allows you to say things about gender that, put more directly, might come across as didactic or simplified. ... And [the grotesque] allows you to use more luxerient language without it immediately becoming purple prose.

I have to read this book.

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