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2006.04.24

[WTC_Bookclub: Go_Ask_Ogre]

My dear compañeros, I can't tell you how excited I am to be talking about Jolene Siana's wonderful book, Go Ask Ogre, here at WTC. I'm so glad so many of you read it, and I can't wait to hear your thoughts on it.

By way of kicking off our discussion, I'd also like to share a letter I got from a reader which I think relates, somewhat obliquely, to the material in Jolene's book, but which I also wanted to respond to on these pages, and give you all a chance to tell me your thoughts about the same subject. I think it's a genuinely good question about the kind of project we have going here at WTC, and also about the kind of impulse that might lead an unhappy teenaged girl to write hundreds of pages of letters to Ogre. The letter is from an anonymous lurker on these pages, and someone who, like some of us here, knows what it is to harbor a more intense affection for some far off other than is generally thought to be acceptable, or deemed to be "well-adjusted."

Here's what she asked me:

...I wonder, reading your endlessly entertaining website, the way you go on about Trent, how you can continue to do such a thing? Don't you ever, become deeply *depressed* by the fact that, to paraphrase 'notre amour' you want something you can never have??? Didn't at the first evidence of his relationship with another human being who wasn't you, your heart die just a little? Or is your online persona, just that, a persona with no real feeling behind it??? Don't become upset with me, that's not at all what I mean by this email, just I'm wondering, how you can continue for all these years, from the little I've gathered on your website anyway, to hold *such* an incredibly strong torch for someone that at the very best, will only know you as that 'crazy' fan, and maybe give you an autograph. Doesn't that *hurt*??

...B/c you know, at the end of the day, we can buy all the cd's we want, go to all the concerts we want, get all the pics we want, maybe even meet the man, but still...still at the end of the day, we won't *be* with this man. We won't be friends or lovers or anything else real or intimate. So why continue? Why go on and on about it? I mean, perhaps in a small way it's cathartic to get it all out, even if it is in the anonymous space of the internet. But in the end, it only goes to one place - and that's nowhere.

What I liked about this letter is that our dear anonymous correspondent allowed, without question,  that what prompts the big, massive love letter that constitutes a hefty portion of WearingTheseChains.com (certainly the part authored by me, Dierdre) is an authentic, deeply felt, genuine emotion. I don't want to get back into semantics about whether or not it's possible to "love" someone you don't "know," because that way lies a quicksand of signifiers and signifieds related to one another in infinite, totally subjective permutations, and well... this site is not about semiotics, it's about Trent Reznor, his beautiful, heartfelt work of art, and OBVIOUSLY, his smokin' hot teeth. At the very least, though, I like that our friend is not dismissive of what goes down on these pages, because the dismissal that so many are eager to deal out on a subject like this, like so many po-faced Judas Iscariots to the beating of their own hearts, is, I think, very knee-jerk, and perhaps motivated primarily by things like denial and shame, and I think that's rather sad, really. Moreover, if they've surfed on over to WTC, and are harping on about it to me ON THIS WEBSITE, then... well... you know.

Whatevs.

Still, her question is a good one, and that's, if I'm reading correctly, is: doesn't it HURT to love someone who will never be yours? The answer, in brief, for me, DIERDRE, is NO, it does not hurt. In fact, it feels nice. I love to love Trent Reznor. It makes me happy, and it's a feeling I cherish. But, why?  How can I continue to carry the torch when I know that no matter how much I want him, that man can never be mine? I think the answer lies in several things. First, I think we can benefit from a good hard look at what it is that we really love about Trent -- or whomever it is -- and think about why we love that thing; and second, I think the assumption in that question is that when we love someone we don't know in a daily sense, we experience an emotion to which there is no response -- in short, that we get nothing back -- and that being unrequited in that sense is ineluctably painful.  Personally, I would challenge that assumption, because I think there is are very real things that we get out of that kind of love, and I'd like us to think about what it is...

Which brings me to Jolene's book.

Go Ask Ogre has been marketed as a book about teenage dysfunction, namely near-suicidal depression, and the sad phenomenon of "cutting" as an expression of depression, and there's no question that the time in Jolene's life that is chronicled in her letters to Ogre is a difficult chapter, full of real, naked sadness and loneliness. Jolene's motivation, in publishing her letters to Ogre, was the hope that her story might help other young people through their own hard times, and she's probably right: hers is a remarkable story of overcoming a very real sickness of the soul to become the active, vital, beautiful woman she is today.

Worthy motivations, to be sure, but what struck me in reading Jolene's story was not so much the dysfunction, but what I felt was the surprising and seemingly paradoxical health there is in her ability to believe, for even one minute, that Ogre might hear her: that implicit belief that her feelings were worthy of expression. I love that her letters to Ogre are all about her -- her life, her feelings, her dreams and loves -- and are very rarely about him. For me, the most compelling thing in Jolene's book is the fact that what saves her, in the end, is her remarkably honest, unexpurgated self-expression, and her also remarkable willingness to believe that her letters and artwork might be of interest to someone like Ogre -- someone far away, someone she doesn't really know, and someone she sees as ideal in some way. I love Jolene's sense of indignation in response to her circumstances, and her belief that she is essentially not wrong about the way things should be, and her assumption that Ogre might understand her, might agree, and certainly wouldn't judge her for being who she is. Personally, I think all that sounds particularly healthy, and that sometimes, what we see as dysfunction is actually a healthy response to something that just isn't right.

Obviously, there are millions of questions we could raise about all that, and I haven't even mentioned the way in which this book shows us how deeply important a relationship with a work of art can be in a person's life (which for me, is the other most compelling thing about Go Ask Ogre), but what I'd like us to think about are these essential questions:

  • What do you think Ogre meant to Jolene? Why do you think she wrote to him like she did?
  • Do Jolene's compulsively written letters to Ogre seem pathetic or crazy to you? Why, or why not? What do you think about Ogre, in Jolene's story?
  • All of us here at WTC, harbor a special love for Trent Reznor. What is it that he means to us? Why do we feel like we need to say something to him?
  • How would you answer our anonymous reader's question?

And, of course, add any other thing you want to the discussion! I think this is an incredibly rich book, and I can't wait to hear what you all thought. What moved you? What did you relate to most strongly? Did you like it?

Do tell!

Finally, I have a bit of bad news. My computer died a tragic death this past weekend, but I am currently thanking Jesus that it's under warranty. Hopefully, it will be fixed, but because I live in a difficult location for the repair of a Mac ibook, and it will probably have to be shipped off for the repairs it needs, I will be computerless for several weeks. I can still post and participate in discussions, but will have to do so from the computer at my job, and during the hours when it is available, so I probably won't be able to actively volley answers back and forth with you guys in US timezones. Also, posting frequency from me may be down. Please know that I love you all, though, and will be back in action ASAP! Keep WTC alive for me while I'm indisposed!

Love,
Dierdre

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Hey, everyone!

First of all, I'm going to fight the good fight while Dierdre is getting her computer repaired and continue to read and post obsessively on here, but I'm kind of still DYING here at work, so all of your continued patience is appreciated!

Fortunately, there's a ton to chew on in this post.

First of all, I have to say that I absolutely loved Go Ask Ogre. It was almost impossible to put down once I got started. Someone else here mentioned that by the time you finish saying to yourself, "Just one more letter," it's very late at night indeed! And I certainly experienced that phenomenon. Jolene was so sensitive and an excellent writer at a young age. Sometimes when you're, like me, pushing 30, it's easy to think, "Oh, I can't relate to the youth anymore," but that's certainly not the case in this book. Jolene's letters not only took me back to my own dark teenage days, but there was a lot about her situation that echoed some recent issues in my life, when I had to reach out to three veritable strangers (whom I LOVE) for my own sanity, and fortunately they wrote back with greater frequency than Ogre. Now everything's better to the point where I can look back at some of that correspondence and think, "Wow, did that really all happen to me?" But the point is, I'm not very good at expressing my feelings here in the real world, and even if those individuals had never responded to me, the very act of sorting all that out in my head and writing about it was probably literally life-saving.

I found this book to be funny in spots (I forgot my copy at home, so I can't quote at the moment), especially the letter in which she dwells on all the increasingly unlikely terrible things that can happen to her. (And I find it kind of funny because I do the exact same thing...I really don't want to die in a plane crash! Or be stabbed...or be eaten alive by an animal...). But it is also heartbreaking in many places, especially when you get a sense of how much flack she got for writing these letters from everyone she knew, who kept asking her, "Why do you do this? He doesn't care!" And although Ogre couldn't be her end-all/be-all (and it's probably a good thing that he didn't try to be), it is obvious that he *did* care, through his interactions with her and through his preservation of all of her writing. Clearly, he saw her writing more as art and catharsis than loony ramblings, and I'm so glad that he was so perceptive and had so much faith in her. It seems as though he never condescended to her, and he always believed that she would make it through.

At any rate, I agree with you, Dierdre, that there is nothing pathetic or crazy about the way in which Jolene reached out to Ogre. Creating those lovely envelopes and filling up those books to him gave her something to focus on outside of her own problems, but the act of self-expression, especially for someone who is prone to self-injury, is such a life-saver. It's not that she imagined some elaborate relationship with someone she didn't know, it's that she needed to make contact with another person and talk about all the heavy shit going on in her life.

Hopefully it's not too triggering for anyone who may be reading this, but if I could address the following point: Self-injury, for all its stigma, is, in my unprofessional opinion, just a bad coping device. Some people eat too much or drink too much or take all kinds of controlled substances in unhealthy ways as a band-aid for their pain. Other people go the way of self-injury, which frightens and confuses other people. I'm not a cutter myself, although I am intimately familiar with those sorts of impulses, so it is just heartbreaking to see Jolene decorating these letters with her own blood. But writing to Ogre was another, better kind of coping device. And just being able to say to another person, "This is what I do when I'm feeling bad," is HUGE because of all the secrecy and shame that goes with cutting. So I don't see how anyone could say that finding an alternative outlet of expression could be "crazy" or "pathetic." It is, as Dierdre pointed out, a very healthy act, and it was a fundamental aspect of her healing.

I found it interesting in the author's note afterwards that Jolene had almost forgotten how much pain she had been in. That's what's so interesting about journals and correspondence, they can really take you back to moments of joy and terror and desperation. Memories tend to fade a bit, or we tend to remember things the way we want to, but if you can really chronicle something important in your life, it captures moments and emotions so much more accurately and urgently.

Anyway, I'm totally rambling, and I totally have to get started with work now, but to end this ginormous post with my thoughts about Trent. It's interesting...I always admired and loved his music, but I wasn't so much obsessed with him as a person until With Teeth came out. And if he hadn't decided to reveal so much of his personal life this time around, I might have just thought of it as "a really good album" and not, say, become a moderator-type for the Best Website Ever Made. But he really triggered my maternal instincts (such as they are), and I wanted to know more and more about him, which led me here. I think in a way he's been kind of demystified for me after all the relentless focus and satire here. But I think of him with real affection, as though he were a distant older brother, the one who can always tell you, "Hey, I've been there." And that's why it doesn't hurt me to adore him. I won't say that I don't have a total crush on him, but I also know that crushes and other kind of loves have their own distinct and proper place in my heart. Besides, in all seriousness, I've got the husband, and one man is more than enough.

All right...I really have to apply the nose to the proverbial grindstone, but I'll check in again soon when I get bored to death, which really won't be that long from now...

Posted by: maise | Apr 24, 2006 7:40:20 AM

I loved this book, too. I'm a huge Skinny Puppy fan, and I could totally relate to Jolene's fascination with Ogre, and I love that he was so kind to her; it's surprising and pleasing to read that. I also agree that for Jolene to reach out to Ogre as a girl whose circumstances seemed so dire, was really an act of faith in herself, and in her own value, and also an act of hope and faith in him. I would really love to know what Jolene heard in Ogre's music, or saw in him, that made her think he was the person who might understand how she felt. Whatever it was, it looks like she was right about him, and I love that.

Maise, I like what you said about cutting being a coping device, like writing these letters. I think the best thing about this book is that it defamiliarizes phenomena like writing obsessive letters to rock stars and self-injury, so that the reader is forced to look at them with cleaner eyes -- eyes less clouded with knee-jerk, prejudicial responses -- and that once we see them in the light of JOLENE, we have to actually THINK about them, rather than just REACTING. It's a destigmatizing effect, that demands real thoughtfulness about real humans rather than lemming like dismissal, or fear-motivated castigation.

Great book!

Posted by: Jane | Apr 24, 2006 10:11:47 AM

The mother of excess is not joy, but joylessness.

~ Friedrich Nietzsche

Posted by: Dom | Apr 24, 2006 10:38:59 AM

well its weird because in soooo many ways i really don't know what to say about the book. It brought me back to some very scarey times of my own which i may or may not be totally out of. I don't think that i can honestly say that i totally enjoyed it because it was like waaaaaay too close to the bone. Especially at the beginning of the book i felt that it could have been me writing that stuff and it was painful but it got better. I am also really intolerant of depressed people for some reason. I have no idea why seeing as i know tat i am just as bad but i think that it might come from being english and all that stiff upper lip crap. That's why i could never be a psychiatrist! I really don't have that much to say about cutting except that if anyone is thinking of doing it then don't if only for vanity's sake. People talk about all sorts of aspects of cutting, coping mechanisms etc but what people don't realise is that the scars can be bloody embarrassing and that people can usually tell that they were self made. Now i can't wear shorts:-( lol.
What i did think was really sweet about the book though was ogre. I think he cared, he really cared in his own way. He was sooooo good to her. Ok he didn't write back but he saved her letters and generally gave her the time of day when she was around. Generally i think that he took the place of a good therapist. Therapists aren't meant to but in and talk about themselves, they're meant to let you talk about you and let you get all that stuff off your chest. Ok that wasn't deliberate on his part i know but i just got the over whelming feeling that he is such a sweet man, especially when i actually expect rock stars to be self obsessed arseholes.
With regards to the reader's letter i have to say that my total lust for trent is making up for something that i haven't got at the moment (ie a bf/gf) and that when i finally get someone then i will totally (oh, ok not totally) forget about him. It doersn't hurt me to know that i will nver meet him or anything because i want him to be perfect and i know he won't be like that. If i ever met him then i know i wouldn't fancy him and worse i might not even like the guy. I know he has some big downsides such as the fact that he is self obsessed and the reality of that is a total turn off. I bet he also snores, leaves the toilet seat up and if he eats noisily then that's totally unforgiveable. I also don't like hairy backs much either. Basically i like my fantasy trent and i'm pretty sure that if i got the chance to meet him i would be really disappointed. But looking at his gorgeous muscles totally makes my day any day!
Bummer about the comp, Deirdre. I totally hate it when that happens.
Btw sorry if this post doesn't really make sense but i'm hungry!

Posted by: Mel | Apr 24, 2006 10:47:26 AM

Oh, and I don't mean to imply that cutting or other forms of self-injury are the right ways to deal with pain, frustration, anger, and other negative emotions. Like I said, they are BAD coping devices. Just like when someone feels bad and therefore drinks him/herself blotto every night. Or the person who goes on some gallon of ice cream binge after a bad day. I think it would be helpful to *destigmatize* the cutting because, generally, if you use food or alcohol or drugs or whatever as your bad coping device, people don't treat you like you're CRAZY. And it's the feeling of "OMG, I'm secretly CRAZY" that really perpetuates the problem and drives the issue underground when really, a person just needs to learn better ways of dealing with problems than taking it out on him/herself. Learning new ways to deal generally involves either a *lot* of self-reflection or therapy, depending on what your particular issues might be.

One way that I learned to subvert certain self-destructive impulses was learning to swim. It seems like a simple thing, but I totally conquered a phobia *and* have a new form of exercise that totally wears me out. Plus, every now and then I think, "I'm totally cheating death right now," which is a bit of thrill. It's been excellent for my stress levels, which are just going through the roof at this particular point in time.

The book was difficult to read at times, but it does get better and easier, mainly because Jolene does eventually get better.

I too was curious as to what made Jolene pick Ogre in particular to become her confidante. I think it's so wonderful that he really rose to the occasion in his own way.

Meanwhile, I also think it's wonderful that Dom is cryptically throwing around Nietzsche quotes.

Posted by: maise | Apr 24, 2006 11:15:37 AM

I've got to give credit where credit is due: Meathead has finally created something I wish I had done:

EDIETS Video

Props, Meat. You definitely made the best video from "With Teeth".

Posted by: Gabriel | Apr 24, 2006 11:22:22 AM

Seriously, if you people decide to discuss Meathead's video rather than Jolene's book in this thread, then I will DELETE THIS ENTIRE WEBSITE FROM THE INTERBOT.

Just to be clear, GABRIEL.

Posted by: Dierdre | Apr 24, 2006 11:27:05 AM

Yeah, Maise, I didn't meant to imply that cutting is a good coping device, or that destigmatizing it is a good idea, because people should be alright with it. I meant just what you say above: that there are lots of bad coping devices, but many of them don't get buried so deeply in shame, or responded to with as much fear as cutting does. I think it's good to help people see what's truly behind the impulse, and to help people realize that it isn't INSANITY, it's un-expressed emotion that may be perfectly legitimate.

Posted by: Jane | Apr 24, 2006 11:31:46 AM

Well, I certainly don't want to see the whole website deleted, so I guess in response to Gabriel, I'll just say, I'm looking forward to watching it at home and perhaps we can discuss it elsewhere.

Meanwhile, back on topic, I guess I'm also curious as to when Jolene was able to say to herself, "Okay, I don't really need to write these letters anymore," and if something in particular ended it or if she just no longer felt the need as she worked through her problems or if it was just a particular phase in her life that ended naturally...

Posted by: maise | Apr 24, 2006 11:56:14 AM

Also, if anyone is interested, Jolene has a blog here.

Posted by: maise | Apr 24, 2006 12:00:16 PM

I hopefully have lots to add to this discussion but work has me tied up at the moment so I haven't been able to get it all down...I can only tune in briefly to see what's come up so far. Damn the man!

Posted by: Iris | Apr 24, 2006 12:20:36 PM

Oh, and a silly question based on the book: how much would you throw down to bail Trent out of jail? ;)

I would be happy to bail Trent out of jail if he ever needed it. I'm not sure exactly what the numerical limit would be, but he would totally have to pay me back, and it couldn't be some crazy amount that would get my husband all worked up.

Posted by: maise | Apr 24, 2006 1:27:15 PM

This book is really intriguing. Some of her early letters remind me so much of myself when i was that age. I would love to know Ogre's thoughts about that whole time, his reactions opening what had to be daily letters to him. I wonder what Jolene would have done if Ogre had not encouraged her to send him more letters. Would she have eventually given up and picked another person and written to them? I wonder if anything similar has happened to TR? He probably chucks all his mail right into the garbage bin :) And I would pay a thousand dollars to get Trent out of jail. I would expect sincere gratitude, repayment, and also a hug would not be out of line. We could trade workout tips while waiting for his turn in court :)

Posted by: Muskles | Apr 24, 2006 7:55:38 PM

Oh, I just found one of my favorite passages on page 67 of my edition, wherein she talks about death. I so identify with this because I am *forever* worrying about the most outlandish hypothetical scenarios:

"I don't want anyone to cut off my fingers and make me eat them. I don't want anyone to rip out my eyes with a fishhook...I don't want anyone to eat my nose...I don't want anyone to hang me by my feet. I don't want to be nailed to a cross..."

Actually, this is a remarkably accurate simulation of my daily thought processes.

Posted by: maise | Apr 24, 2006 8:18:42 PM

I'm also curious as to whether Jolene and Ogre occasionally exchange the odd email now...I agree with Muskles that his take on the whole story would be very interesting.

Posted by: maise | Apr 24, 2006 8:20:56 PM

Hmmm...imagine that. Maise quoting Monty Python. Hehehe =)

Posted by: Iris | Apr 24, 2006 8:41:34 PM

No, seriously, though. My husband and I always have a good laugh at that song because I so could have written it...down to the "I'm so worried about my hair falling out."

Posted by: maise | Apr 24, 2006 8:51:23 PM

This is a two parter so to somewhat answer the reader’s question…
With_Teeth is what drove me to lust for Trent Reznor. That and he looks great with some age on him (in his face). I think he smolders now more than he used to. It’s in the eyes for me. If I have fallen in love with Trent Reznor it’s because of Dierdre. I like her version of him. I like the way she interprets him. Trent Reznor, the man, could be immensely interesting but I’m not really into all the deciphering what it is to be him; what it is to understand a man like that. I’ve got my own stuff to ponder. So it doesn’t hurt to harbor this…not really love, but whatever this feeling is that gets expressed here at WTC, because for me it’s not based on an entirely real person, just pieces that he gives us to paint a general illustration. Who knows if what he writes is really close to the surface or severely magnified beyond what would register in his daily life? I need something more concrete to place my heart on for it to be real love and to therefore worry about being hurt. I am flat out crazy for the music he creates and I marvel at how he could know *that* sound would make *this* song. And the occasional temper tantrum is entertaining. I guess I’m just not so much lyrically moved by him even though I still love to listen to almost all his stuff. I’ve never had that “wow, he’s really describing how I feel” experience. However, to almost completely contradict myself, one of the songs that does create a deep emotion is “A Warm Place” but it’s because it has no lyrics at all. The feelings that song brings to mind are a bit too personal to be airing here but I can say that they’re intense. I almost think my saving grace was that I didn’t find some of Mr. Reznor’s work until I was older. I don’t think that it would have been the proper coping tool that it has been for other people. I’ve made it though my own personal hell with my mother as a role model and laughter being the best medicine. I really feel for Jolene that she didn’t appear to have a solid figure in her everyday life like that. But Ogre, the real or projected, did fill some sort of void for her.

Posted by: Iris | Apr 24, 2006 10:05:44 PM

Hooray, I finished my major work assignment for the day. It's only, oh, 12:18.

Anyhoo...

If I have fallen in love with Trent Reznor it’s because of Dierdre. I like her version of him.

You know, I totally feel you on this, Iris. I had harbored a pretty intense celebrity crush before I found this site, but Dierdre's vision of Trent is quite compelling and satisfying in so many feminine levels that typically make the average straight guy go "huh?" Sigh...

What's also fascinating about Jolene and her relationship with Ogre is that she actually did have some personal interaction with him. Probably not long enough and not frequent enough to keep her from continuing to project upon him to a certain extent, but enough interaction so that she had to recognize aspects of his real personality. He couldn't just be her imaginary friend. It sounds as though he was always kind to her, and she always seemed charmed and grateful for his attention, but I wonder if there were times when she felt a little disappointed...or maybe "disappointed" isn't quite the right word...if there were times when she had to readjust her expectations about him, maybe something he said that rubbed her the wrong way or something she was really hoping he would say. So much of the correspondence wasn't really predicated on his response, though, so maybe it didn't matter.

I'm one of those people who always tends to feel a little bittersweet at highly anticipated moments because my imagination is always so much more exciting and impressive than reality. And I'm sure that's true of everyone, but sometimes I just have a hard time accepting that.

Posted by: maise | Apr 24, 2006 10:31:09 PM

Part two, reflecting more on the book…
I think that Jolene would have made it through this whole ordeal even without Ogre. Maybe not so intact as she is now…but she would have gotten through it. She was not only strong enough to put it all out there on paper but she also had the courage to put it in the mailbox day after day. She may have chosen Ogre over other bands because of that small acknowledgement that he initially gave back that others didn’t. Had he never replied, this writing letters to him may have fizzled out. But with the vulnerability she put in those letters, let’s just thank Ogre that she didn’t receive a generic “thanks for your interest in the band” letter back. Who knows where that would have pushed her to? I wish there were a way to know how often he wrote back to her. It would seem that however many times it was that it was the right balance to the equation.

It’s also mentioned in a few places that he wasn’t the only one she was writing to. She talks of other pen pals and even writing to Peter Gabriel. I would love to know or see if some of the letters to Peter were similar in their context. If she had written to an Ogre by any other name, would it have been as honest? She starts out about how she kind of digs Skinny Puppy’s music but then she kind of puts it in the back seat. Ogre isn’t ever really the main focus behind what she writes. He was a sensible enough man to encourage her personally to roll with those feelings she had, to keep it coming, to get it out. Almost like he knew it would help her to just be a sounding board. Not to knock Trent or anything but I don’t think for a moment that I would trust him to hold my sanity together. Yeah he sings “I won’t let you fall apart” but somehow I think I would be overlooked because the man’s got other shit to deal with. Especially now with bitchy ex-drummers and evil infiltrators to his music video realm.

Favorite parts of the book and the ones that made me most want to cry were the glitter in the envelope that created such a mess at Nettwerk (pg94) and when she said “think of me when you tie your shoes” (pg60). That sentence shocked me more that the cutting and suicidal thoughts. It showed that if she went she wanted to be thought of in an intimate way. Little things like that are what we truly remember about someone who passed that was dearly loved. She wanted someone to think of her in that intimate setting. I was very young when my great grandpa passed, but I still remember that we both had Velcro shoes.

Posted by: Iris | Apr 24, 2006 10:54:48 PM

Not to knock Trent or anything but I don’t think for a moment that I would trust him to hold my sanity together. Yeah he sings “I won’t let you fall apart” but somehow I think I would be overlooked because the man’s got other shit to deal with. Especially now with bitchy ex-drummers and evil infiltrators to his music video realm.

OMG, Iris, this cracked me up! It's so true! Like I said, Trent makes me feel all maternal. I think that a lot of his allure to the girls is the notion that he very obviously needs someone to look after him. Even Tori Amos got sucked into that one, apparently.

It will be no surprise to anyone here that the Pythons were (and are) my personal Ogre. I remember once when Pythonline was this fabulous message board that Eric Idle, Terry J. and Terry G. would occasionally frequent, I once posted an uncharacteristically personal question to Eric Idle. Not like personally intrusive to him...more about me...I just had a really weird bee in my bonnet that night, and he did respond thoughtfully to it, which I appreciated at the time. Probably not the strangest or most inappropriate or dorkiest interaction I've ever had with a celebrity, but it was different, and I'm glad it turned out well.

Oh, and another of my very favorite lines from the book...I just loved this:

She's talking about a fight she had with her friend about writing to Ogre: "and she said, 'You don't have to get so defensive. You don't even know him,' and I said, 'I know him better than you know Morrissey,' because she's writing to him."

Posted by: maise | Apr 24, 2006 11:11:36 PM

Oh, and one more thing for tonight (I'm so excited to not have to actually work right now):

Just for Baal...this whole discussion reminds me of that part in the "Trekkies" documentary when Scotty had that suicidal fan, and he kept encouraging her to go to all of those conventions, and she kept showing up and eventually became an engineer. Okay, that part totally made me misty. The rest of the doc is hilarious, though. Especially that kid with his habit of mispronouncing $5 words. (Of course, now he's fabulously successful in the sci-fi biz.)

Posted by: maise | Apr 24, 2006 11:15:17 PM

Iris, I love what you are writing here, and not only because you've given me the sweetest compliment ever in saying that you love Trent because of how I see him (which, seriously, brought a fucking tear to my eye), but even more because I think everything you're saying here cuts straight to the heart of the matter -- that Ogre, "real or projected" filled some kind of void for Jolene. What do you think that void was?

I also agree that Jolene would have made it through without Ogre -- that he didn't matter to her actual survival. I think, though I'm not sure, that Ogre only really wrote back to her very few times, and that her correspondence with him was very one-sided. What mattered to her survival was self-expression. What Ogre did, probably without much conscious intent, is really the most remarkably kind act of love, really -- not some kind of skeezy sexual love, but something much, much better -- he gave her a mirror, and showed her to herself. In encouraging her, he told her that she was interesting, and that he liked to read her letters, and in saving her letters and giving them back to her, he gave her the ability to look back on who she was, and understand better who she has come to be. On top of all that, he showed her that her intuition about him -- her sense of him as a man and as an artist, as someone who would understand her, and who wouldn't judge her for what she did -- he showed her that she was RIGHT about him.

All of that was done by a guy who, according to legend, was as much a wreck as notre amour has ever been, if not far, far worse.

Also, I would want to post INFINITE bail to get Trent out of jail, but I wouldn't be able to because I AM FLAT BUSTED. Don't get arrested in my town, Trent!!

Posted by: Dierdre | Apr 24, 2006 11:27:27 PM

I can't really see this here because YouTube and my work computer don't get along, but here's Trent singing "Suck" with Ogre...

Posted by: maise | Apr 25, 2006 6:51:44 AM

Hi, it’s Jolene (Go Ask Ogre author),

Thanks Deirdre so much for telling me about this and many thanks for your support of Go Ask Ogre. I’m in the midst of chaos (nothing bad…but just busy busy) but I’d love to be involved in this discussion. I’m going to read over everything and try to answer any questions you may have.

I’m learning (slowly but surely) to develop a thick skin so even if there are some things in the book that you’re not fond of, it’s OK to address it. For example, the intolerance for depression. One thing I’d like to say and perhaps some of you feel the same is that often times the only way I could cope was to write things down therefore much of what was written was the whining and complaing and yes, it was very desperate. It made me think of reading my grandfather’s journal after he had died and it was so freakin’ dark and depressing and not at all a reflection of who I knew him to be and I spoke to my aunt about this and asked her if she thought that he only wrote when he was down and she said “yes”.

I try now to write when I’m happy and excited and in love and all of that fun stuff but it’s the same as the past. I write mostly when I’m down…dumped…heartbroken…and such. It still heals me…and still makes me cringe later, but I learn from it and I do enjoy it.

Oh and…I promise at some point to share some of my Trent stories. I have a few. I met him a couple of times, one of those times being when he toured w/ Pigface and sang with Ogre. He was very cool.

More soon!
xoxo,
jolene

Posted by: jolene | Apr 25, 2006 9:25:15 AM

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