home page intimacies

textual intimacy, Take 2
january 1, 2012 / may 29, 2012


January, 2012: Many months ago, I wrote “to” the description of Jennifer’s Exotic Spaces (as I mentioned a couple of days ago, but didn’t detail), which included a fascination evoked by her of a difference between what’s expressed in a narrative and what’s reflected: “Is the exotic ‘not’ expressed by the work of art, but only reflected in reading by familiarizing eyes?” I was poorly expressing that what’s considered “exotic” is a very relative thing (which I also expressed a couple of days ago). A reader may want to find what’s familiar, thus be re-affirmed, as well as want some transgression or mysteriousness (different from actual mystery, which requires work to resolve) that enriches enough, but not too much—

May, 2012: —not too much to learn at once in a school zone, in a zone of love, or in coping with zones of daily life, and not too much darkness in seductive woods (or keep it in a book that can be shut away—which, by the way, might express a depth of feeling so endearing to me that I can’t bear to remember my stupidity toward you later).

January: A writer plays with boundaries (or, at the extreme, doesn’t try to maintain any), according to her/his anticipated audience (or, ditto).

Whose reading [I wrote, April, 2010]—including authorial self reading witnessed?—expressed itself and is/was reflected in the writing as well as in the reading? An eros of writing in reading, reading in writing, can be any literary text's potential (as well as frightening plight). Is the expressed-read haunted by its implicit denial of the reflected (“merely” exotic) as The Other? Is the reader possessed by his/her own denials in implicitly reading her/himself as the other?—like the background face of the unwitting client in the psychotherapeutic session “speaking” to “the” analyst through the channel of the therapeutic alliance? (expressing Itself over the head of the possessed client)—like the idealized other in love that nobody overtly presumes in exotic longing.

Damn, you wrote that?”

“No, I saw it get taped onto a BART train door as she was leaving, and I didn’t know until after I read it—and the train was far away—that all I’d want forever now was to find her.”

“Bummer, dude.”

January: My point is I’m free to have all the fun I can imagine....

May: ...to undermine my own credibility

January: —and I’d do it, too. (May: referring to a train or floor scene I’ve now deleted.)

January: But this frivolous point (and that piece of dialogue) returned to mind (and occurred) only after quoting from my unsent letter (April, 2010), feeling amazed that I’d written that, then playing to the feeling freely, ...

May: ...which invalidated me. I was a mess. Your depth of feeling was so beyond my intellectualism that I would destroy everything with snide comments about you seeking therapy when, first, I wanted to confess (that December walk, when I mentioned the matter) my unhappiness with Janna, then later blamed you silently for not being the deep friend I could run to when she killed herself, as if you were emotionally disabled. I was trying to face too many years of—I don’t know. (Well, I do, probably, but who has time for long stories—someday.)

January: My earlier intent here had been to pass immediately into thinking about degrees of textual intimacy some more. To where is it fair to ask you to go with me?

May: But that was April, 2010, in awful self-effacements of rhetoric, then that was January, when I could be so rhetorically strident against a grest loss.

January: Any answer to myself entails a work of mapping, which more and more should presume I’m going up alone toward some future finding of the trace (the resulting text of the trek) I’ll never know you found.

May: I’m not going to pretend I can undo black points that are apparently unforgiveable amid lots of fun—and so much Meaning! I have to live with my Aprils.

January, 2012 [sans interruptus]

There’s no pretentiousness in that. I’ll probably die before you’re my age. What can I make of that? It’s like writing to an unborn daughter, but literally about a pretended survival of a text for future audience.

But I haven’t done the worthwhile text yet.

“Give me to spring, 2015. Then, I’ll give you all the child care you want, and I’ll care for you as best I can for the rest of my life.”

It was one half of a phone conversation I was overhearing around the corner at a BART station. I pulled out my phone (I have one now) and recorded him.

Projecting the other side of phone conversations is fun. But whoever gets a transcript of one to play with?

The guy was intense.

“No, it happened nonconsciously over time from all the things you wrote about yourself. It’s not my fault.”

Sounds like a writer.

I’ve long wondered about the pretentiousness of biographers who infer so much from collections of letters. The scholar draws them all together relative to a selection of other facts and distills a story about who the other is. “Jack Kerouac [was up to such-and-such], because that’s who he was, according to his letters.” You mean: the ones that didn’t get burned.

Nabokov was obsessed with an archetype of the older man and young woman, which inhabited Ada, after Lolita. He had a large set of note cards for a novel to this effect, during the last years of his life. Just before he knew he was about to die, he instructed his wife, Vera, to burn all the cards. He died, but she did not burn the cards. Rather, decades later, their son photographed all the handwritten cards, printed them as they were (as images) for a book of them, one card per page (including an image of the back of each card as the other side of the book page—many cards were blank on the other side), and a typefonted version of the card’s handwriting was printed under each card’s image. It was published November 17, 2009, The Original Laura. The Amazon.com listing allows you to see some of the card/pages. (Coincidently, Nov. 17 was the day Janna killed herself.

That reminds me: Surely, she intended to discard all her client records, but forgot the archival disk files she copied to my iDisk [a Web service that Apple is discontinuing, but I retrieved all my files, thus hers because hers were part of what was there]. Or maybe she presumed I’d discard them, because I never violated her privacy, let alone her clients’. I was trustworthy! I am. Anyway, she couldn’t have gotten me to delete those (my account) without letting me know why, and I wouldn’t let her die—unless she was facing interminable physical pain. Maybe that’s what she was facing, but kept it from her sisters, me, everyone....I guess she hoped I’d discard the files—or she really forgot.])

Nabokov’s cards were more butterflies. A flock of words find direction together, as if inhabited by a telic order. A cohering narrator emerges from an assemblage of texts, like tracking a long phone conversation and inferring who’s on the other end. Or like taking a bunch of transcripts/recordings and weaving a coherence of the days (or sessions).

A story emerges because we need coherence (even when the coherence is valid; we need that validity in the coherence, otherwise we need to believe that validity is there).

We’ll reduce the reality of the other to whatever allows us coherence when that’s needed.

But the coherence is yours, the reader’s here, an intimacy with the writer about what is, each reading (as the writer largely faces herself/himself in the reading, as if, now, some other) emergent through the text—and me altogether?, any writer in his/her landscape altogether, is our reading of me (her, him) across so many improvisations, maybe never intended to become a gestalt—the authorship— out of a large pointillism of occasions, letters, times we made (or from so much blogging, if we’ve never met)—maybe partly your misreading of me, if we know each other (surely misreading myself, partially), so words from the heart (as they say) stay uncomfortable. Talking is the road to truth? That’s why psychoanalysis was originally called “the talking cure” (which is also the title of a great history of psychoanalysis—which I’ve not read, but own). No talking? Then, writing. (No immortality? Then, more writing.)

You’d give more credence to improvisations apart from our time together? Or is there, prevailing over being daemonic (falsely made demonic), a coalescence of what we lived? What story was that in direct light of our time together: all I said with you, holding you?

OK, I’m writing to my First Love (high school, college, marriage, divorce—I mentioned earlier, “Greenwich Village”).

No, I’m writing Rebecca, 1980, who decided to devote her life to painting like Lucian Freud rather than try to understand a conceptualist.

Wait, I’m writing the dead.

It’s a joke. It was all a very long joke: pushing the envelop on my capability for extended stances, improvisational theater made into a way of life, trOping possibility and hope.

Back to the guy on the phone. Am I evil for lifting others’ conversations for my own use? Hey, no creative lamentations for me.

“What you chose to draw into what continues to alienate you may be what you need to live through at last, which distancing never heals, but speaks you again when you see me. It’s your selection of memory coalescing what it excommunicates, a kind of homicide.”

Hmm, pretty good improv. I wonder if Janna ever said something like that to a client.

“But I am not facing you with that at all, just having made little stories, spread over time. Then, you later selected the few that warranted excommunication, your set of trees prevailing in a forest you didn’t want to draw together.”

So it goes. He must not like his Other’s preferences. I guess she’s not what he wrote.

“No, I’m exactly the person who was with you all those days, and you know the difference. What we really said—What We Said—in light of that is the story that deserves to prevail (and, to my mind does prevail)—the span of time, the precedents that should render proper perspective on ephemera.“

Verbose. So, he improvised narratives to suit moods he found creative, which she did not so find?

“But listen. I turned into you as you turned into me. All I praised that you dismissed, you loved. All you admired that I later seemed to betray was not betrayed! Praise to praise, we easily took to heart what each of us, in our own way, had not found before.”


“It’s really you I truly saw, see, and write now.”

I guess he wants to do some memoir of romance.

Why can’t writers just let things go? I ask that of myself, obviously. But hearing it from someone else makes the point painful. There are people who just have to paint or dance or do hieroglyphic math. It’s fascinating how high desire—Desire!—goes.

Ha, I so played on the lovely ambiguity of having written you as you wanted to be written, but you know it was you I found—”

He got cut off. People look at their phones like they’ve been betrayed. Then they sit/stand waiting for the signal to return. She was in a tunnel? She hung up on him because she couldn’t take it anymore?

Artists can be unbearable. Scientists, too. And salesmen. (Saleswomen aren’t. Now, why’s that?) All writers are salespersons. All artists. All people.

See, his problem (I’m guessing here—he’s still cut off) is that he was too interested in making her into a monumental character. It’s the artist’s version of putting someone on a pedestal, thinking they’re doing her (or him) some kind of honor. But it gets embarrassing. It’s like very pretty women who can’t have a simple conversation with a guy, because the guy is always stroking himself with compliments toward her. It’s enough to make a girl humorless.

So, he jumped away from the relationship to write against what she made of him, as if he were merely the needy fetishist that she made him feel she was making him become. So, he became obsessed to scandalize “courtesy.”

They’re back...

Yes, dear friend, a Conversation was called for, laying eyes to eyes way into the night.”

He knew he really loved her.

“So, I’ll show you what a mind can weave in your name, in light of your enduring inspiration I choose to keep alive. My fidelity is permanent. You will not change that.

Some guy! But can he deliver?

“I have survived attempted murder, abandonment by First Love overtaken by mental illness, deaths by natural causes, death by cancer, death by suicide.”

Hey, life’s rough.

I never wrote you, heart to heart, simulacrally. How could you mistake improvisations for you (that were not addressed to you) as confessions?”

Now I’m confused. But that’s what voyeurs deserve, I guess.

“OK, I pushed the envelop of freedom you would entertain. I found out indeed. But I left it all at the drop of a word, without the vanity of calling your attention to that, so probably you never knew.”

Hey, we both push the envelop. But would never say “drop of a word.” There are all kinds of miscarriages in confession, as in writing. I guess he means he cleaned up his act and hoped she’d notice, because announcing it would be contrary to genuinely waking up (which wouldn’t try to trade on the redemption). She’s supposed to See.

“I so love you. But I cherish my freedom to write—and to be engaged in why it’s not so wrong, done without demeaning presumption—or at least—no, listen, at least to get chances to understand what you found so wrong. But you wouldn’t talk. What did I do to deserve that?”

I guess he left her, and now she’s confronting him about being blamed for it?

That must be about a self-therapeutic motif in his sense of redemptability. That reminds me of an interesting theme in literary theory: the self-begetting writer. I wasn’t quite clear about that in “textual intimacy,” but I see now that I was implicitly wanting to dwell with such a theme. My good luck, he comes along and makes it easier to play out, with, whatever.

Maybe I could make a lot of money writing a potboiler (but with lots of explicit, detailed sexual scenes that would be carefully constructed to leave the reader addicted to my text, thus increasing sales by word of mouth.)

“He ravished her as some magical fiction of being the only one who could see her—thus blinded, then healing through the distancing of that appealing ‘free indirect style’ cherished by Literature, no gaining of intimacy through the resonance; rather, a rhetoric of displacement.”

I guess I’d better give up the literary theoretical slant before I do the sex.

“...as if the author had never been so affected as the distanced and distancing narrator manages to confess—how much less that informal style is than to hold you now, recalling all those times—then you’re suddenly gone, as if to prove your theory of meaninglessness and essential unhappiness.”

Apparently, she wasn’t really interested in being the lover of a postmodernist who thought she was a nihilist. Maybe, she was toying with his pretense and just wanted a “zipless fuck” (Erica Jong). Too bad for him.

“A lovely ladybug scurries across a fresh leaf poof: flies into no reason—then returns with the grace of a praying mantid—mantis, whatever.”

I said that, taking ephemera to heights, as if little storylines are numinous with complex potential and archetype.

Actually, you know, I said it all, then deleted him from the first part of “Textual Intimacy,” only to find him again in frametime, making outtakes into the essence of The Story, as if
the margins, the shadows around the clearing must insist on their primacy.

“...their intimacy is just what I give to everything never lived so well as a mind can yield.”

I am good, if too fucking pretentious.

“The theorist captures how the author writes them and how the author writes the narrator entertaining them. I, he, you, s/he are all given to the stream of well-read letters possibly having you at last in a narrator’s voice made to be entertaining someone else.

“I so love longing for boundless synergy, selves merged in very highly shared beholding here, betrothed to belonging in the same rare unfolding of time, perfectly entwined.”

That may seem precious, but look: What did you want when you fell in love forever?

“At least, that’s a theory of what can happen, of what’s to avoid? (besides escaping me)—or, long after anyone but you would forget this: what may be, in part, fleshed out fruitfully, then as characters very distanced from a decisive threshold we really shared within very different lives.”

Next: section 6 of “intimacies.”


  Be fair. © 2017, gary e. davis