Notes on Tender Girl, an experimental novel I am slowly writing
I read these notes aloud at HOME & AWAY 2010 in Sydney as commentary on the Tender Girl segment hosted on the digital bridge.
I want to do representation that illuminates some of the ways that felt life is different from accepted descriptions of surroundings, interactions with others, and feelings catalogued accorded to ‘love’, ‘grief’, ‘satisfaction’, and ‘yearning’ attached to objects of experience such as, respectively, romance, death, a full belly, and erotic desire.
Instead, I want to erupt ranges of affect and embrained transitivity. I hope that Tender Girl does this in several ways:
by assembling and presenting an actant that is not exactly human but that partakes of the human;
by gesturing to the presence of others, obfuscating their precision (though giving some of them names), to explore the solitude that the experiencing individual migrates from in contacting others;
by moving dialog largely into a realm of utterances, soundy and declarative while also interrogative – something like what Mark Amsler and I have just begun calling Otherances, an articulation that is importantly spoken aloud (and yes, we did discuss Derrida’s ‘différance’);
by being crucially dynamic – for example, I imagine the Otherances as in the process of being delivered rather than scoring them as though they have already been delivered, as though in a past writing. This ongoingness means to imbue the words with an energy of change that is life, that ongoingness, and to resist as far as possible a sense of done-ness, a completeness that suggests that the writing is finished.
Of course a work that is a book gets conventionally situated as ‘done’, with a beginning and end point and bibliographic heft. This is so despite our theoretical, post-structural, clarity that any given piece of art or life is simply conventionally bounded, that it is one version of many other manifestations of itself that it could also body forth. I do think, however and by the way, that what I like to call the digitas, and digitas response culture, puts normative codex events into a different position. It is as though the digitas is actualized post-structuralism, and it makes readers who can perceive and touch the dynamism of textual objects in something similar to the way they have learned to interact with the dynamism of online media events.
It is also the case that, as William Morris put it in the 19th century, ‘You can’t have art without resistance in the material’, and as Bourdieu and Wittgenstein have helped me to articulate: a linguistic thought event – call it poetry, here – can be vertically experienced – plumbed – when it has a distinctness; it needs a boundary so it can be an experience. So that we have A conversation on a subject, or A book, or A poetry symposium event such as HOME & AWAY.
For Tender Girl that distinctness comes in several forms:
a represented passage of time – one year;
a journey, a passage from coming up out of one ocean, crossing a land mass, and returning to an ocean on the other side;
a primary actant, Girl;
and a form, modular poetic prose with subheadings for each module.