After work yesterday, I went to my local watering hole and ordered a beer. It took a while for my partner to arrive, saying as he sat down, “Sorry. Have you been waiting long?”
“That’s okay,” I replied. “You gave me time to finish my book.” And it was that deployment of the possessive “my” I want to talk about briefly. It is a common enough phrase and yet peculiar. I had not finished writing a book, which could unequivocally be called “mine.” I did not even own the book in question, having checked it out from the library. And yet during the hours I spent with it in my hands, through to the moment I scraped up its final crumbs and closed the covers, the book did feel like “mine.”
I believe that all art is co-created, a dance (to paraphrase Toni Morrison) between creator and reader/listener/looker/toucher. In some sense an art object does not exist until someone else engages with it. More vitally, each reader/listener/looker/toucher brings their experience, history, mood, and knowledge to understanding the piece. This explains the power of re-reading/re-listening/re-looking/re-touching. Every time we engage with a piece of art we create it anew. So in that sense, I can claim the book as “mine” while I am reading it. Together, my mind and the author’s mind create the text. She gets most of the credit but the book still requires me, requires you, to exist as a creative work.
The book in question was The Witches are Coming by Lindy West. West’s virtuosic combination of wit and rage makes for dizzying reading and often made me laugh out loud. That said, while I agree with most of West’s political points, the book’s tone and style don’t match my own tendencies. Which does NOT mean West should moderate, calm down, be more measured, or be less “shrill.” It simply indicates my own personality and temperament. Moreover, perhaps during a different couple of weeks I may have had a different reaction, but right now I generally found myself contented to sit back, relax, and let the warm bath of righteous rage surround me.
Here are some interesting things to pour into your brain-cave:
- Apparently Roxane Gay, one of America’s reigning public intellectuals, writes celebrity profiles now. If they continue to be as amazing as this one of Janelle Monáe, I am here for it. (Thanks to Larissa for the recommend!)
- This lovely essay from Francesca Wade via The Paris Review … wait, I don’t even want to tell you what it “does.” Suffice it to say, it includes Virginia Woolf, feminist histories, and medieval nunneries. Just read it.
- The Oscars are tomorrow and despite all their failings and weird combination of pomposity and pander, I still love them. So I’m bummed I have no way to watch them. (Seriously, Academy/ABC, it’s 2020!!! Get with the millennium and frickin’ stream things!!!) However, last weekend I saw Parasite again and it remains so, so good. The Academy did an #epicfail not recognizing any of the actors. I do hope it surprises us all and takes Best Picture down to the basement. I’ll cackle in full-on glee should it also run off with Best Director for Bong Joon Ho.
- I have both feta and butternut squash kicking around my kitchen looking for a home so all I can say about this recipe for Seeded Pumpkin and Feta muffins is…
3 thoughts on “Possessions, Witches, Parasites.”
I love this idea of co-creating art by experiencing it. Every book becomes the reader’s because each reader brings something different to it. Yes.
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