louise bourgeois on the difficulty of expression

How are you going to turn this around and make the stone say what you want when it is there to say “no” to everything? It forbids you. You want a hole, it refuses to make a hole. You want it smooth, it breaks under the hammer. It is the stone that is aggressive. It is a constant source of refusal. You have to win the shape…

Gaston Bachelard would explain this by saying that the thing that had to be said was so difficult and so painful that you have to hack it out of yourself and so you hack it out of the material, a very, very hard material.

I read Bachelard when I was over seventy-five. If I had read Bachelard before, I would have been a different person, I would not have been divided inside since I would have taken the materials, with their different characters, and I would have been more friendly towards them. In the past, every time somebody asked me about materials, I used to answer, “What interests me is what I want to say and I will battle with any material to express accurately what I want to say.” But the medium is always a matter of makeshift solutions. That is, you try everything, you use every material around, and usually they repulse you. Finally, you get one that will work for you. And it is usually the softer ones–lead, plaster, malleable things. That is to say that you start with the harder thing and life teaches you that you had better buckle down, be contented with softer things, softer ways.
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Excerpted from Louise Bourgeois’ Destruction of the Father / Reconstruction of the Father: Writings and Interviews 1923-1997.

Louise Bourgeois with soft head sculpture, 2009.

Louise Bourgeois with soft head sculpture, 2009.

More about Louise Bourgeois’ soft sculpture faces and the restorative act of joining things together HERE.

kathy acker – from “my mother: demonology” (1994)

But the desire you have for me cuts off my breath – These blind eyes see you, and no one else – My blind eyes see how desire is contorting your mouth – They see your mad eyes-
To see.  I must see your face, which is enough for me, and now I don’t need anything else.
None of this is realizable.
As soon as I knew this, I agreed that we had to meet in person.
But at the moment we met, all was over.  At that moment, I no longer felt anything.  I became calm.  (I who’ve been searching so hard for calmness.)
I can’t be calm, simple, for more than a moment when I’m with you. Because of want. Because your eyes are holes.  In want, everything is always being risked; being is being overturned and ends up on the other side.
It’s me who’s let me play with fire: whatever is ‘I’ are the remnants.  I’ve never considered any results before those results happened.

At this moment if I could only roll myself under your feet, I would, and the whole world would see what I am…,
Etc.
Etc.
Do you see how easy it is for me to ask to be regarded as low and dirty?  To ask to be spat upon?  This isn’t… The sluttishness… But the language of a woman who thinks: it’s a role.  I’ve always thought for myself.  I’m a woman who’s alone, outside the accepted.  Outside the Law, which is language.  This is the only role that allows me to be intelligent as I am and to avoid persecution.

But now I’m not thinking for myself, because my life is disintegrating right under me. My inability to bear that lie is what’s giving me strength.  Even when I believed in meaning, when I felt defined by opposition between desire and the search for self-knowledge and self-reclamation was tearing me apart, even back then I knew that I was only lying, that I was lying superbly, disgustingly, triumphally.

Life doesn’t exist inside language: too bad for me.

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Excerpted from Kathy Acker’s My Mother: Demonology, A Novel (pp 252-3). (1994)

acker - my mother: demonology

Based loosely on the relationship between Colette Peignot and Georges Bataille, My Mother: Demonology is the powerful story of a woman’s struggle with the contradictory impulses for love and solitude. At the dawn of her adult life, Laure becomes involved in a passionate and all-consuming love affair with her companion, B. But this ultimately leaves her dissatisfied, as she acknowledges her need to establish an identity independent of her relationship with him.

Yearning to better understand herself, Laure embarks on a journey of self-discovery, an odyssey that takes her into the territory of her past, into memories and fantasies of childhood, into wildness and witchcraft, into a world where the power of dreams can transcend the legacies of the past and confront the dilemmas of the present.

With a poet’s attention to the power of language and a keen sense of the dislocation that can occur when the narrative encompasses violence and pornography, as well as the traumas of childhood memory, Kathy Acker here takes another major step toward establishing her vision of a new literary aesthetic.

“Memories do not obey the law of linear time,” reads one of the many aphorisms in this novel, and it seems a key point of departure for Acker’s unconventional exploration of memory and its manifestations in dreams. Here, a woman tries to come to terms with her vulnerability and with the excess mental baggage conferred by time. But that simple narrative is just one of the many important levels in the work, which also contains vast psychological wallpaper. Visceral, unflinching, wildly experimental with shifting contexts and settings, this is written in the “punk” style for which Acker (In Memoriam to Identity , LJ 7/90) is well known. Forget categories, though. Her formidably talented hand gives the cacophonous materials compelling poetic rhythm and balance.