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
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
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?
if i do not speak
may i be forward?
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?
Guess what, kids! My copy of She has arrived. Who's in, who's ready to read, and how long do you guys think it will take you to be ready to rumble on a book thread?
A quick look over tells me that we're in for a treat. In fact, here's a sample that I especially liked:
that i am a poet
i wonder what
they would say
if they saw me
from the inside
and place them
into the sea
on distant shores
i am unsure
as to whether
they ever reach
and for that matter
as to whether
i ever get
or my love
Yeah, Saul. I know what you mean, man.
Dudes, I don't know about you, but I'm dying to read it.
I love Saul Williams's brilliant records, I love that he's getting his knobs twiddled by notre amour, and I love the possibilities for cross-pollination that there so abundantly are in that rich association. Bottom line? I don't want to be missing any part of the picture when two bitchin' dudes release two of the records I am most looking forward to in the whole world.
Are you in?
Saul's latest, The Dead Emcee Scrolls, looks good, and I'd be in, but I'm just going to throw my preference out there and say that I'd like to go back in time and read She, because I think it's about love, and relationships between women and men, and really, with regard to the Dead Emcees, I'm not sure I have enough of a relationship with Hip Hop to really GET it. I mean, I love me some Public Enemy, and think Chuck D should run for president 'n shit, but I'm hardly an expert with my finger on the pulse.
That said, I'm willing to be schooled. What about you guys?
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.
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?
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!
I figure, with Trent wrapping up another leg of his endless, toothsome tour (shudder), and heading off into the Beverly Hills sunset for a month of hopefully writing what I am certain will be the most heart-wrenchingly beautiful, yet kickass record he's ever made in his entire fucking life, we may be in for some slow days on the NINternet. Despite that, I have no doubt that our passion for dear, dear Sparklepants will not die out, but will smoulder and burn like hot coals in the very heart of the fire, waiting only for the right fuel to blaze anew. Until then, I thought we might give ye olde bookclub another go.
We had a long list of suggestions on our booklist, and I want to put one of them forward that I personally love the bejesus out of: Jolene Siana's Go Ask Ogre. An update on the now legendary, (and legendarily fictional) Go Ask Alice, Go Ask Ogre is a collection of letters and artwork sent by a lonely and depressed teenage girl to her favorite fabulously scary rock firegod, Skinny Puppy's Nivek Ogre. Starting at the age of 17 and continuing until she was 20, Jolene wrote to Ogre compulsively, and in a truly touching and surprising way, he heard her. It's a really beautiful story about a whole bunch of excellent, true things that's unflinchingly honest, sad, funny, and unselfconsciously, authentically poetic, but the reason I think it's loveliest and most pertinent (God, yes) for us here at WTC is that it's about why being a little in love with your favorite rock star isn't really all that dumb at all sometimes. That's a topic that, as you regulars may have noticed by now, is near and dear to my heart.
What do you think, my dears? I hope you're in. The book shouldn't be tough to find -- it's available from Amazon. It's a quick, riveting read, and I think it will be a choice that we can all enjoy, loaded with relevance to our project here at the home of the NINternet's most unwanted, so let me know... Are you in?
If so, drop me an e-mail, or post a message here when you've got the book, and as soon as we have a group that's ready to rumble, we'll saddle up.
Love & Kisses,
[WTC_Bookclub: The_Left_Hand_of_Darkness, Part_2]
Greetings, WTC Bookclubers!
Today we wrap it up on Ursula Le Guin's The Left Hand of Darkness. If you have not finished the book, and want to be surprised, then it is advisable that you stop reading this thread now, and carry on with pitying me for being in love with Trent, or something.
I hope you all enjoyed this book, because I certainly did. In the end, it reminded me of something Vaclav Havel, the playwright and dissident who became the first President of the Czech Republic after an oppressive communist regime crumbled in that country, said about the difference between "hope" and "optimism," and which was, for him, a reason for not letting cynicism defeat the struggle for something worth struggling for, even if the opponent seems totally intractable:
"Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out."
I love, love, loved Genly Ai and Estaven's long, arduous trek over the Kurkurast Domain in midwinter. I loved the bond that was forged in their common purpose, and I loved that they both had their own motives for doing so; that, even though they knew their chances were slim, they were as meticulous in their planning as faith could make them. Somewhere on that frozen wasteland, I fell in love with Estraven, and came to see Genly Ai's strength and courage as a reflection of the purity of his heart and hopes for his mission.
I don't know if you all know this about me or not, but I am a sucker for idealism. I loved Genly Ai's response when Estraven asked him why he came alone to Genthen? Why make the task so difficult?
"It's the Ekumen's custom, and there are reason's for it. Though in fact I begin to wonder if I've ever understood those reasons. I thought it was for your sake that I came alone, so obviously alone, so vulnerable, that I could, myself, pose no threat, change no balance: not an invasion, but a mere messenger-boy. But there's more to it than that. Alone, I cannot change your world, but I can be changed by it. Alone, I must listen, as well as speak. Alone, the relationship I make, if I make one, is not impersonal, and not only political; it is individual. Not We and They; not I and It; but I and Thou. Not political, not pragmatic, but mystical. In a certain sense, the Ekumen is not a body politic, but a body mystic. It considers beginning to be extremely important. Beginnings, and means. It's doctrine is the reverse of the doctrine that says the ends justifies the means."
Is there anything more thrillingly gorgeous than the human urge to perfect the soul and its relationship with other souls? I think not. It's that effort, more than anything else, that makes me love Trent so much.
So, today, my dears, let's hear your thoughts on the conclusion of The Left Hand of Darkness, and also, let's relate all this back to the subject of our dearly beloved raison d'etre, Sparklepants Reznor. I think there are about a million places for comparisons to be made, and I can't wait to hear your thoughts.
Finally, let's hear your suggestions about a next book to take up. Personally, I am suggesting the controversial J.T. LeRoy's book The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things because it arrived in my mailbox just yesterday, but what do you think?
[WTC_Bookclub: The_Left_Hand_of_Darkness, Part_1]
So? How's everyone feeling about The Left Hand of Darkness?
I'm really enjoying it.
This here's the first dedicated discussion thread for the book, and I'd like to ask that you all keep to discussions including only the first five chapters, because we don't want to spoil anything for anyone who hasn't finished the book yet.
Chapter 5 ends with Genly Ai in conversation with Faxe, The Weaver, after his question has been submitted to, and answered by the foretellers; foretelling being a discipline perfected by its pracitioners for the purpose of exhibiting "the perfect uselessness of knowing the answer to the wrong question."
Beautifully (I thought), Faxe goes on to tell Mr. Ai:
"The unknown... the unforetold, the unproven, that is what life is based on. Ignorance is the ground of thought. Unproof is the ground of action. If it were proven that there is no God, there would be no religion... but if it were proven that there is a God, there would be no religion... What is known? What is sure, predictable, inevitable -- the one certain thing you know, concerning your future and mine?"
Mr. Ai replies that only death is certain, to which Faxe replies:
"Yes. There's really only one question that can be answered... and we already know the answer. The only thing that makes life possible is permanent, intolerable uncertainty: not knowing what comes next."
There are plenty of resonant themes in that little snippet, and I think it's as good a jumping off point as can be wished for to kick off our discussion. Let's hear your thoughts!
And, if you had another favorite bit from the first 5 chapters, do tell!
Hey guys. Sorry I haven't been around much. I've been a little busy lately, getting laid 'n shit, and I've had a tight schedule of staying out too late and then trying to recover from it all the next day. It's rough, here in Paris.
Anyway, with this post, we officially kick off the WTC bookclub. The following people have declared their intention to participate:
That's a good crew. You guys are total rockstars. I can't wait until we get it underway. If I have missed your name somehow, or you're interested, but not listed here, let me know, and I will add you to the list. Also, if each one of you would send me an e-mail with "wtc_bookclub" in the title, that would be great.
Here are the books that have been mentioned thus far:
The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin
The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things by J.T. Leroy
The Disappointment Artist by Jason Lethem
The Hellbound Heart by Clive Barker
Valis by Philip K. Dick
Why Girls Are Weird by Pamela Ribon
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitgerald
A Fractured Mind by Robert B. Oxnam
Flowers In The Attic by V.C. Andrews
Long, Difficult Philosophical Tomes, as suggested by Jane
(I'm all for it. Anything more specific, Jane?)
Something by Bret Easton Ellis
The Myth of Sisyphus by Albert Camus
Go Ask Ogre by Jolene Siana
Being that I currently reside in a foreign country where the procurement of specific books in English can be difficult, and since Baal has already sent me The Left Hand of Darkness, I'm going to move that we begin with that book. It's a classic in its genre, so it should be easy enough to get. Meanwhile, I will set about trying to get these others, and hopefully, will have one or two of them by the time we finish. If any of you have other book suggestions, please post them here, and I will keep a running list.
I don't know what you guys's schedules are like, or how quickly you all plow through books, but it would be great if you could let me know how much it would be comfortable to cover per week. I read books really quickly, so I think we need to set an amount of the book to get through each week, and make a rule that no one can post anything that spoils anything beyond that for the others. Then, I suggest that we make one day per week, say, Wednesday, "WTC_bookclub day," and I'll post a discussion thread about that week's portion of the book. Sound cool?
Finally, I think Baal is right -- whatever we read, we need to somehow relate it back to the collected works of our raison d'etre, Trent Reznor. Shouldn't be too difficult, since, as we all know, everything is all about Trent. Obviously.
And, finally, for reals this time, sometimes I cannot thank my kind readers enough for the good shit they send my way. I'll leave you with more utterly scrumptious Trent's teeth porn. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
Oh my God, you guys! Someone stop WearingTheseChains from totally ruling ass!!
I just want to say, for the permanent record, that the haters can so blow me, because there is nowhere else on the web where you can discuss Nine Inch Nails with cooler, smarter, funnier people.
I mean, where else can you kick off with pubic rug styling to discuss the tension between authenticity and artifice as it manifests itself in the collected works of Sparklepants Reznor with a tie-in to the latest publishing scandals?
I love you fucking guys.
I'd feel all G-A-Y for blowing our my own horn, if that's what I were doing, but I'm not; I'm blowing yours. WTC would never be what it is without you, so thanks. You totally rock. If Trent himself came around here and hated on us, I'd tell even him to FUCK OFF. Then I would tell him to get a fucking sense of humor transplant, because people, we rule.
Of course, I would still offer him all of my most devoted love in the next edition of [Dear_Trent]. I mean, "love is not love that alters when it alteration finds, or bends with the remover to remove" am I right? Oh no, baby, it is an ever fixed mark that looks on tempests and is never shaken. I'll be bearing that shit out even to the edge of fucking doom, my friends. I'm not fickle.
All the book talk around here makes me think we should organize. Last week sometime, during the epic Lathe of Heaven discussion, Buttercup made a suggestion that I, personally, think is fucking awesome: WTC BOOKCLUB.
Here's my idea: first, who's in? Second, what should we read? Use this thread to ante up, and let me know your thoughts on what we should tackle. Once we have decided, we'll give it a week for everyone to get the book in question, and once we all have it, we can get started. Once a week, we'll have a WTC bookclub thread.
Sound fun? Let me know.
Oh, and Trent Reznor?