“By the time I finished 10:04, I felt I knew some: not being ashamed of the desire to make a living doing what we love, while also daring to imagine “art before or after capital”; paying as intense attention to our collectivity as to our individuality; demanding a politics based on more than reproductive futurism, without belittling the daily miracle of conception, nor the labor and mysterious promise of child bearing and rearing; attempting to listen seriously to others, especially those who differ profoundly from ourselves, no matter how pre-contaminated the attempts; spending time reading and writing poetry; and more. Far from despair, I felt flooded with the sense that everything mattered, from meticulous descriptions of individual works of art to kissing the forehead of a passed-out intern to analyzing our political language to documenting the sensual details of our daily lives to bagging dried mangoes to the creation of the book I was holding in my hand to my deciding to spend some time writing a review of it. “The earth is beautiful beyond all change,” Lerner repeats in 10:04, quoting the poet William Bronk. The inspired and inspiring accomplishment of his novel makes me want to say that, sometimes, art is too. And maybe — if incredibly — so might we be, ourselves.”
"Failure of connection among like-minded people is a preoccupation of mine. The people I know are all talkers: people for whom conversation is vital, the kind of people who if they’re not talking don’t know they’re alive. Yet, many is the evening I have sat in my chair after a gathering of some sort staring into the emptiness of the past few hours, thinking about the words spoken among "people like ourselves"; words that should have opened us to ourselves but had in fact shut us down, left us feeling abstract and demoralized."
"I might have an issue with the idea of an individual vision, because, for me, being a person is so shot through with everything else that I’m not really sure we’re in control of what constitutes our individual vision, certainly not entirely. The question that you’re asking, though, is something we all wrestle with. How do I know what I think? How do I figure out what it is that I’m thinking about? I know that thinking about thinking is what an essay helps me to do. I recently learned that Einstein would go into a room and would sit for something like three days—I mean, I guess he would eat something every once in a while—but he would just sit and think, and that’s what his activity was. The activity of thinking, without necessarily doing, or without committing it to something, is an ideal that we could be doing more. We might think more, take time, rather than need everything to be instantaneous.
But in our own lives, how do we get ourselves to think about how we think and why we think it? And then, of course, that’s the place essays come from. And where all writing comes from.”
"I think what I love most about diaries is the presentation of a sensibility. Sensibilities actually shift in different times, and with a diary you can discern the sensibility of an individual who is an individual but also a product of his or her time and society. A diary represents that. It’s a recording in the moment. Diaries are about private thoughts, secret feelings. It seems people don’t believe in having secrets anymore. And that’s a whole other idea then, and what does that mean? I think we’re just beginning to deal with what that means."
“I love reading diaries in the morning. Sarah just gave me Virgina Woolf’s, and I’ve read Catherine Deneuve’s, and Anaïs Nin’s, and Sontag’s, of course. I love syncing time too. I will read the entries for the day we’re on right now; I love knowing what a person was thinking on the same day exactly a hundred years ago. In the morning I can’t do fiction or essays, but the way diaries are framed, I can access at them at any moment, and they still resonate or seem profound and are always relevant to what I am working on. It sounds hokey, but I do believe, especially for creative people, the words you read are so crucial to the rest of your feelings. Reading a diary in the morning will give me momentum for the rest of my day.”
“Today, the day of the date, I cry for six or seven hours. We are to meet at Spain, then go to the Jane; I can’t. Still, just fifty-some minutes after the promised time, I turn the corner from Sixth onto West 13th in: my number one comfort item, a light grey sweater that’s stitched like a sweatshirt and made by a label named Cardigan; the shortest skirt I can find, which is my roommate’s and even shorter on me; a pair of $30 sunglasses from Prince Street; the badass sandals. To further hide the crying I’ve circled my eyes with smudgy, ink-blue eyeliner, like the total on a diner receipt.”
"One has to create a world in which one can live."
"We also write to heighten our own awareness of life. We write to lure and enchant and console others. We write to serenade our loves. We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospection. We write, like Proust, to render all of it eternal, and to persuade ourselves that it is eternal. We write to be able to transcend our life, to reach beyond it. We write to teach ourselves to speak with others, to record the journey into the labyrinth. We write to expand our world when we feel strangled, or constricted, or lonely… When I don’t write, I feel my world shrinking…It should be a necessity, as the sea needs to heave, and I call it breathing."
Wise words from my interview with Melissa Auf der Maur:
Have you noticed in your life, both artistic and personal, that that kind of kismet happens often? That you can almost count on it at this point?
It’s all I’ve ever known. I’m the product of a one night stand, so that’s a pretty timing-related thing too so maybe I just came into the world like that. [Laughs] It’s definitely been a huge, huge part of every major step in my life, yes.
As a result, are more stressful times alleviated simply from having the lived experience of recurring kismet.
Absolutely. Put it this way, even in my most burnt-out times of exhaustion and doubtful moments, I’m blessed with not getting depressed. I get tired, sure. I get stressed, but there is not one day when I don’t wake up and know why I’m here. In my years of mingling with all walks of life and having at one point in the ’90s when heroin was very very popular — which I hear it is again, which is fucking terrible — but there was this very wise heroin addict who once told me that the difference between me and him is that I wake up in the morning and I’m connected to the universe and I believe it, and I believe in my role in it, and he wakes up and he doesn’t have that connection and works to make that connection whether it’s through drugs or through a drug rehabilitation program. Because I believe in a world that’s much bigger than the tiny little human life that we have, I think that’s what gets the stars aligned.
For young women who are creating art, be it in film, or as writers, or musicians, what would you say is important to keep in mind when struggling to keep the momentum going beyond those initial moments of inspiration?
What’s kept me going is that I’ve really felt no other choice but to do it. In my case, there’s a profound, burning furnace inside me; I guess it’s called my heart. That’s why I always say, “Follow your fucking heart.” Primarily I always say to trust one’s instincts and one’s relationships. I really go the personal, intuitive, and spiritual route of things. Meanwhile you need to be a really hard worker. No offense to men but I do know this: women tend to work a little harder. In fact, even in Hudson right now, some of the most incredible talents I see are women.
Can you elaborate on the relationship aspect of creating work?
Building relationships is so key. For example, all my girlfriends who I came up with in my 20s, we’re all young mothers now and it’s really hard to see each other but, did we ever invest some major time in our friendships when we were in our 20s. And now those friendships, even if I only see them once or twice a year, they saw me coming of age and they knew my down moments and my up moments. Women friendships in their 20s is really, really important. Finding your community of women is key.
"The first thing I do in the morning is check my phone; because my phone is my alarm, it’s in my hand when I wake up, and I look at it right away. So sometimes the first thing I focus in is, like, a sale at West Elm, and sometimes it’s a stressful situation at work. But really, what emergency would be happening over email. So many fake emergencies! All it takes is one real emergency to remind you how many fake emergencies you have."
"Reading Sontag’s essays, all these decades later, the content is often interesting, but equally notable is the supreme self-assurance on display, the calm explication of the way things are. She was more self-conscious in the privacy of her personal journals, but in public her confidence was remarkable. Much later in life, she noted of her 1960s essays that “they were very insolent, like a young person’s work.” Confidence is a privilege of the young—I don’t know about you, but I was never more confident in my understanding of the way the world worked than when I was seventeen or eighteen years old—but she wrote those essays in her thirties, which is young but not that young.”
“You asked me about presence, about emotional consciousness … . This is what I’m looking for all the time. The theoretical distance you mention can fuck off. It is in direct opposition to the desire to create. All of us who’ve become artists, musicians, poets, dancers, film directors—God knows what—we were all once children who loved to delve into our other ego, where anarchy and limitlessness reigns. There we felt alive and creative. We long to find this aspect again in our adult lives—the place where we forget everything around us and just exist.”
“Such eruptions of feeling are never treated as soluble “problems” in Acker’s work. Coexisting with pastiches of classical literature, political rants, and burlesques about the nuclear family, feeling is transported out of the realm of the female-abject, becoming part of a new universal that is, to borrow a line from Acker’s contemporary Ted Berrigan, “feminine marvelous and tough.””
“Great fashion writing doesn’t reduce everything to what is for sale, what’s hot and not. Great fashion writing looks at clothing and the uses of clothing with the same amount of cultural reverence we give a Lars von Trier movie or the U.S. Open, as something that exists, and it asks why it exists, and how it fits into its larger culture.”—Haley Mlotek, On Lena, On Rihanna, On Kimye: The Very Necessary Death Of “Vogue” (March 24th, 2014)