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2006.07.04

[WTC_Bookclub: Saul_Williams's_She]

Bookclub time, kids!

What did all y'all think of this one? I'm really looking forward to your thoughts, and don't want to say too much before you've had your say... but, I did want to put my favorite except here for your condsideration, and also to give everyone, even those of you who did not read this book, something to chew on and respond to, if you are so inclined.

For that purpose, I picked the verses from pages 79 and 80, and these are them:

i do not mean
to exploit our relationship

all that i have
learned from you
i cherish most

should i keep it to myself?
should i keep you to myself?

i want to tell my mother
what i have learned

what is personal?
what code should i say?

i say so little
too much

when meanings are already hidden
should i hide them?

what am i going to keep for myself?

the wild woman is unkempt
the changing woman is unkempt

she speaks her mind
that is a great thing
for a woman

as it is for a man
to speak his heart

he art

do i not serve a purpose? 

did i make this up
to give myself
a sense of fullfillment?
is this ego play?

and am i writing this
for an audience?

i do not wish
to lose my mind
only to find my heart

or should i?

she knows what she is talking about
exploitation: to share resourses
that are not yours to share

what is mine to give?

excuse me
if i do not speak
in metaphor

may i be forward?

before word
is intent

Now, that is chock-loaded with shit this book is all about, and, I might add, stuff that seems extremely pertinent to some of Trent Reznor's work. I'm not sure I want to be the one to say where we begin on this one, so what do you guys think? If you have favorite parts, let's hear 'em! And people, let's hear WHY they were your favorite parts, too, Ok?

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Comments

i do not wish
to lose my mind
only to find my heart

or should i?

True, true, true. Nice one to start off this book discussion. This little excerpt from Dierdre’s favorite section sums up my obsessive tendencies quite nicely. My personality is one that I cannot just dip my toes in to test the water; I cannonball myself into all projects and interests until I’m just fucking drowning in them. This past year I have become engrossed with Trent Reznor, his music, and the beautiful process for whatever it is he’s been searching for in himself over the years. He’s helped me to lose my mind and shed many tears on more than one occasion which has been no picnic, especially with the song “AATCHB”. He’s reopened scar that was left on my heart by my father, which I thought I had come to terms with long ago, but it’s like some sort of weird corrective surgery that has also helped it to heal a little better. He’s taught me that going a little crazy every now and then isn’t such a bad thing. Let’s you reexamine things and put them into your current life perspective.

Yeah, this has gotten a little sappy, but what can I say. Listening to “Still” gets me this way. I’ve got other favorite poems but I’m feeling too long winded to suffer you all through it tonight. More later…

Posted by: Iris | Jul 5, 2006 12:00:39 AM

I gotta say, I wasn't entirely in love with this book. It had its moments, but it seemed a bit indulgent to me in a lot of places, and frankly, if this is published poetry, I got a few haikus to sell you.

Having said that, I think it totally did have its moments. I really liked the small one that goes:

i had begun
to point my pen
at her heart

...because, yeah -- it's awful when we use what's best and strongest in ourselves as a weapon, and I liked how he didn't say too much about it, just pointed it out, like that.

Now, as far as this poem above goes, I'm not too sure about this bit:

the wild woman is unkempt
the changing woman is unkempt

she speaks her mind
that is a great thing
for a woman

as it is for a man
to speak his heart

he art

I don't like that "he art" at the end of this snippet -- I think it's affected and moreover, I don't know if I am cool with this assignment of emotionality and intellectuality to women and men, respectively. I mean, why is it such a great thing for a woman to speak her mind? Because it's unusual? Is it unusual for a man to speak his heart? I guess there's a kind of cliche there, and cliches are only cliches because they're often true, but still: I don't know if I'm down with that use of that particular cliche. Maybe its the hint of the way he seems really to think that? I don't know.

However, I do like the part Iris quotes, and I think it's a worthy aspiration -- a man who hasn't lost his mind, but who has found his heart. Lovely.

Posted by: Jane | Jul 5, 2006 12:27:11 AM

So, what I'm trying to figure out is what S times the square root of HE equals. I far as I can tell, the problem we have on our hands is exactly what "HE" stands for. Is it H times E, or is HE some kind of integer or constant? What about S?

The only thing I can really take from this whole S times the sqaure root of HE, if HE is a kind of integer of its own or a constant, is that HE is always divisible.

But, perhaps, S, H, and E can be graphed as the three points of a triangle? If that's the case, then depending upon whether it points up or down, it is, perhaps, either a rudimentary phallus or a symbolically vaginal "cup," as is so clearly demonstrated in The Da Vinci Code.

I'm no expert at maths, though.

Posted by: MJ | Jul 5, 2006 2:10:18 AM

Well, as Saul puts it, on page 43:

i thought she was her
and she is

Which, I think, offers us some clarification. I really think you're completely missing the point here, MJ.

Furthermore, page 13 tells us:

i wore suspenders
for the judgment
in my pants

So, it's all perfectly obvious, isn't it?

Posted by: JM | Jul 5, 2006 2:35:50 AM

That's very true, JM. But this mathematical problem still concerns me. Perhaps the key is Saul's contention that "Saul Stacey = Solstice". Solstice, Saul tells us, is the point at which the sun is furthest from the equator.

Perhaps if we take the equator as the line defined by HE, and point S = the sun, then in fact, we aren't merely considering a triangle here, but, actually, A CONE.

Posted by: MJ | Jul 5, 2006 2:46:10 AM

It's absolutely immaterial to the consideration of Saul's poetry, MJ, but while two points can define a line, it is not possible for them to denote a circle, which, in fact, the equator is.

And, anyway, Saul puts it to us best when he writes, on page 50, that:

it matters not
which part of you
is lit by the sun

Posted by: JM | Jul 5, 2006 2:55:13 AM

God, JM, you are so dense. If you want to insist that the math doesn't matter, at least choose a poem from the book that confirms your point. On page 50, Saul also tells us:

i am a witness
to your circumference
i no longer need the sun
to see you

Which places the protagonist at the apex of the cone, i.e. point S.

Posted by: MJ | Jul 5, 2006 2:59:12 AM

There's no need to attack me personally, MJ. Can't you discuss a work of art without resorting to name calling? Violence, even of a linguistic nature, is nothing but cowardice. Perhaps you are

...the cowardly elephant
who runs from the mouse [?]

and, that's no metaphor. I mean it literally (see page 66).

Posted by: JM | Jul 5, 2006 3:05:33 AM

If that's the case, JM, then you are clearly

...the foolish mouse
who perceives himself
as an elephant [.]

Also literally, and also page 66.

Posted by: MJ | Jul 5, 2006 3:07:31 AM

Oh, fuck off, MJ.

you will sit in darkness
swallowed by silence
until the angel of solitude
ignites your spine

(page 61)

Posted by: JM | Jul 5, 2006 3:10:14 AM

Oh. I see. Now I think I understand.

You know what, MJ? What I truly despise is people like you who don't care enough about art to apply the principles of mathematics to it, should that be necessary. Just because you fear and hate math, doesn't mean that it isn't important to Saul's poetry, you imbecile.

It's the goddamned title.

When I was a child, there was a tree at my summerhouse that was home to hundreds of daddy long-legs spiders, which, as everyone knows, are the most poisonous spider on earth, though their fangs are much too small to pierce human flesh. I used to place my palm against the rough surface of the bark at the base of the tree, and count the spiders as they walked up and down my arm, their 6 long, spindly legs tickling me, as I considered their absolute impotence.

You are like them.

Posted by: MJ | Jul 5, 2006 3:24:26 AM

I'm not going to dignify that stupid digression into your pathetic childhood memories with an answer.

Posted by: JM | Jul 5, 2006 3:26:22 AM

Impotent.

Posted by: MJ | Jul 5, 2006 3:27:01 AM

Just had to have the last word, did you?

Posted by: JM | Jul 5, 2006 3:28:05 AM

Erectile deficiency.

Posted by: MJ | Jul 5, 2006 3:28:39 AM

For your information, I am a WOMAN, and I ask that you respect this forum, and the wishes of our author when he says:

one cannot enter a courtroom bearing arms

(page 21)

Put your weapon away, MJ. Nobody is impressed.

Posted by: JM | Jul 5, 2006 3:33:17 AM

i drew a blank
and i think
it may be
the best thing
i've ever drawn

(page 111)

Posted by: MJ | Jul 5, 2006 3:38:23 AM

Oh when will the hilarity ever end?

Posted by: maise | Jul 5, 2006 6:52:30 AM

ANYWAY...

I think that my favorite lines in the book are "Most relationships are built on faults" and "i want to be/the one she calls/on her cigarette break/not the cause of it."

What I really like about this book is that the day-to-day annoyances of a relationship are kind of exalted and made the subject of art. I'm the perfectionist who becomes highly troubled when I find fault with things and people...it's kind of nice to look at things from a perspective of frankness and honesty. The relationship between Saul and "She" feels very natural and real.

Overall, I probably wasn't completely blown away by this book, but it was an enjoyable read. I remember being annoyed by the concentration camp imagery (p. 46-47). It felt very trivialized in this context. I'm not one of those people who thinks that the Holocaust can *never* be invoked less than literally, but I just didn't feel that he had earned its use.

But other lines that I liked:

"it is your freedom/that i love/i have not yet/learned to love/without holding on."

"i lie to you/about twice a day."

"invisible scars/take the longest/to heal."

Posted by: maise | Jul 5, 2006 7:03:35 AM

Well if it’s the title you’d like to discuss MJ and JM, I can throw in some ideas too. I don’t necessarily like that HE is divided by S (which I still take as she). It makes it seem that a woman is the dividing force on a man. She wants to divide and section. Is he suggesting that women use mathematics to departmentalize their feelings and try to use the same equation on relationships with men?

But you could also flip that analogy around that She is always riddled with confusion and things that don’t make sense when you try to analyze the HE. Let’s break it down to prime numbers shall we. Prime being an ideal sort of number because it is only divisible by itself and 1, which seems appropriate because how well can we really break down into each other? Okay assign the primes in any order you want to the alphabet. No matter how you arrange it you never get a whole number after the division. Which means in the SHE equation you will never have the man or the woman contributing equal parts to the relationship. Someone will always have a decimal point more or less.

But now some silliness with numbers. Let’s apply the Fibonacci numbers to the alphabet and just for shits and giggles do it backwards. Here S=21 H=4181 and E=28657. Those are awful large numbers to be crunching so let’s add each side up. Then S=3 and HE=42. Finally a number that makes sense. Because as we well know The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy says 42 is the answer to life, the universe, and everything. So when we take that divided by 3 we get 14, which also happens to be the age of our newest reader Hannah. And 3 being the number of the posts that I can tolerate from her before I want to just shut my computer down permanently. Saul it would seem you are not only a wiz with words that can apply to our everyday lives but with numbers too.

Retarded number geek out!

Posted by: Iris | Jul 5, 2006 7:20:42 AM

Iris, that's amazing!

Posted by: maise | Jul 5, 2006 7:36:54 AM

As for the title, I didn't read all that much into it. Just a cleverer way to write "She" (or more pretentious, depending on your perspective). It's not like there's some intricate running mathematical theme or something. Not that I noticed, anyway.

Posted by: maise | Jul 5, 2006 8:04:46 AM

Clearly the thing you are missing, Iris, is that fact that it isn't S divided by HE, it's S times the square root of HE.

Don't you know anything about maths?

Posted by: MJ | Jul 5, 2006 10:08:16 AM

Well I suppose then it comes down to artistic interpretation again which bugs the hell out of math gurus. The square root symbol I’m accustomed to seeing has that extra little line attached to the V. Whereas the division symbol we used in school did not. But you at least have to give it up that they’re pretty darn close.

Boy what a book discussion this turning out to be. And here I thought I would be pondering feelings and sentiments, not mathematical equation symbols. This site is fabulous!

Posted by: Iris | Jul 5, 2006 10:26:48 AM

Like I said: you know about nothing about maths.

Posted by: MJ | Jul 5, 2006 10:31:56 AM

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