February 2nd, 2007


Misplaced pedantry No. 27

I am currently reading, for review, a big academic collection on Goths and Gothness, containing some very tiresome theory bunny pieces and some very sensible and intelligent first person accounts of Goth life and culture. (Among the things which irritate me about the former - a tendency to dis trans people on the basis of an essentialist model of binary identity that is still around in academe years after it died in street feminism; reading texts as if they were single eternal things rather than part of an evolving body of work on the part of artists and philosophers - specifically, treating both Poppy Z.Brite and Gayle Rubin as if they were eternally bound to what they said and thought at particular points in the 80s or 90s.)

More relevantly to my headline, though, I came across a reference to a club called Kinky Kalinky and instantly thought, no, it was called Kinky Gerlinky and was named after an incredibly beautiful Swedish woman called Gerlinde whom I used to know slightly many years ago. I don't think of myself as having been particularly a nightclub person, but before I was a writer, I was an activist, and before I was an activist, I went out dancing two or three nights a week, mostly to dyke and SM clubs, but also earlier on to a variety of clubs like Club for Heroes and Blitz and the one run by a woman called Scarlett in the side room at Heaven that my dressmaker took over for a bit and above all Billy's. I was never a Goth, and was never a Punk, but I was around various New Romantic places in the late 70s and early 80s - and one of the reasons I forget this is that I lost a lot of memory to the 25 general anaesthetics I had in 83 and 84.

And then I read a misspelling of a club I went to, and I remember the woman it was named after, and I can see her complicated brown and purple eyeshadow and long lashes and the way her hair drifted across her forehead and smell her cigarettes as they mingled with the taste of the coffee in my mouth. And it was all so long ago, and now bloody academics are writing about it, and theorizing about it, and GETTING IMPORTANT THINGS WRONG.

I read debg and I think that kind of switchback switchblade memory beartrap is not out there waiting for me, and then, every so often, I recall all the things that I have lost and all the bits of life I set aside and tremble at the possibility that they will come flooding back with all the broken promises and all the failed avenues of exploration and all the people I could have been a better friend or lover to and all the money I spent that I should not have spent and all the food and booze I would have been better off without.

Sense memory is terrifying, far more than the factual one; they say you never remember pain and I really really hope that is true, because I have months of agony in my past, both physical and emotional, that I never want to go through again. I was stronger then, and they did not break me, but I am not that strong any more.

So I guess the Goth book may not get an entirely favourable review, because if life's a bitch, one can always pass it on.

(no subject)

Copied from surliminal

My fantasy dinner party of twelve people with the genders more or less matched. Setting aside the temptation to only include people I actually know, and the greater temptation to include a lot of my own personal dead, I think mine goes something like:

Kate Bornstein, because she is funny smart and mad
Neil Gaiman, because he is some of the best company I know
A very young Samuel Johnson before he became the Doctor and still had radical anger in him
Mozart because you just can't have one person from the eighteenth century, it'd be rude and besides he might play the piano
Pauline Kael, because I would like to talk to her about movies and if I know anything about them I learned it from her
Angela Carter, because she is the writer I most admire and we were not on especially good terms in the years before she died and I'd like to patch that up
Lotte Lenya, because she sang like a glorious crow and her letters are charming and smart
S J Perelman, because he was one of the funniest men who ever lived
Elizabeth the First, because she was someone who would adapt to circumstances better than most people plucked out of time and was smart and witty
Disraeli so I could ask him about my theories and listen to him talk
Nicole Kidman because there needs to be someone beautiful and she is apparently quite bright.
Oh and me...