- Dead Doll Humility
IN ANY SOCIETY BASED ON CLASS, HUMILIATION IS A POLITICAL REALITY. HUMILIATION IS ONE METHOD BY WHICH POLITICAL POWER IS TRANSFORMED INTO SOCIAL OR PERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS. THE PERSONAL INTERIORIZATION OF THE PRACTICE OF HUMILIATION IS CALLED HUMILITY.
CAPITOL IS AN ARTIST WHO MAKES DOLLS. MAKES, DAMAGES, TRANSFORMS, SMASHES. ONE OF HER DOLLS IS A WRITER DOLL. THE WRITER DOLL ISN’T VERY LARGE AND IS ALL HAIR, HORSE MANE HAIR, RAT FUR, DIRTY HUMAN HAIR, PUSSY.
ONE NIGHT CAPITOL GAVE THE FOLLOWING SCENARIO TO HER WRITER DOLL:
As a child in sixth grade in a North American school, won first prize in a poetry contest.
In late teens and early twenties, entered New York City poetry world. Prominent Black Mountain poets, mainly male, taught or attempted to teach her that a writer becomes a writer when and only when he finds his own voice.
CAPITOL DIDN’T MAKE ANY AVANT-GARDE POET DOLLS.
Since wanted to be a writer, tried hard to find her own voice. Couldn’t. But still loved to write. Loved to play with language. Language was material like clay or paint. Loved to play with verbal material, build up slums and mansions, demolish banks and half-rotten buildings, even buildings which she herself had constructed, into never-before-seen, even unseeable jewels.
To her, every word wasn’t only material in itself, but also sent out like beacons, other words. Blue sent out heaven and The Virgin. Material is rich. I didn’t create language, writer thought. Later she would think about ownership and copyright. I’m constantly being given language. Since this language- world is rich and always changing, flowing, when I write, I enter a world which has complex relations and is, perhaps, illimitable. This world both represents and is human history, public memories and private memories turned public, the records and actualizations of human intentions. This world is more than life and death, for here life and death conjoin. I can’t make language, but in this world, I can play and be played.
So where is ‘my voice’?
Wanted to be a writer.
Since couldn’t find ‘her voice’, decided she’d first have to learn what a Black Mountain poet meant by ‘his voice’. What did he do when he wrote?
A writer who had found his own voice presented a viewpoint. Created meaning. The writer took a certain amount of language, verbal material, forced that language to stop radiating in multiple, even unnumerable directions, to radiate in only one direction so there could be his meaning.
The writer’s voice wasn’t exactly this meaning. The writer’s voice was a process, how he had forced the language to obey him, his will. The writer’s voice is the voice of the writer-as-God.
Writer thought, Don’t want to be God; have never wanted to be God. All these male poets want to be the top poet, as if, since they can’t be a dictator in the political realm, can be dictator of this world.
Want to play. Be left alone to play. Want to be a sailor who journeys at every edge and even into the unknown. See strange sights, see. If I can’t keep on seeing wonders, I’m in prison. Claustrophobia’s sister to my worst nightmare: lobotomy, the total loss of perceptual power, of seeing new. If had to force language to be uni-directional, I’d be helping my own prison to be constructed.
There are enough prisons outside, outside language.
Decided, no. Decided that to find her own voice would be negotiating against her joy. That’s what the culture seemed to be trying to tell her to do.
Wanted only to write. Was writing. Would keep on writing without finding ‘her own voice’. To hell with the Black Mountain poets even though they had taught her a lot.
Decided that since what she wanted to do was just to write, not to find her own voice, could and would write by using anyone’s voice, anyone’s text, whatever materials she wanted to use.
Had a dream while waking that was running with animals...