Woke up New Years Day in a panic about my indecision regarding motherhood, which in turn spiraled into a crisis about my life up to this point (and the ramifications for the rest of my life). How brutal it is that life is so long, that our lives can be over but we still have to be alive for 50 more years. I’d decided a few days before that my first film for 2018 would be Wanda, the first film being a kind of omen for the rest of the year. So of course I transition from my crisis to a film about a woman who abandons her children, or rather, abandons the only path she’d been given, and floats along others, each offering as little as the first. You see her husband before you realize who he is, but he’s burdened with so many children, spilling out of the car, being ushered in and out of the courtroom. These children can’t be contained, but have to be taken care of. And then Wanda walks in, alone, her children barely noticing she’s there. I imagine a different movie (most movies) where they hold on to her, pleading. But their indifference is mutual, like the baby when we’re first introduced to Wanda — both parties would rather the other be elsewhere.
I picked up Mrs Caliban as a Christmas gift for myself while shopping. I haven’t read it since undergrad, and when The Shape of Water played during TIFF I would describe it as “very similar plot, but she fucks the monster” until someone told that they do, in fact, fuck in the movie. I’m not sure why either are so revolutionary, there’s always something between the monster and its prisoner, somewhere in that chasm between sexual tension and sexual threat. I’m not a big rereader, not because of some principle, more along the lines of too many new things to read, but this might be a good year to revisit my favourites, and see if they should still hold that title. So far up: Ice, Malina, Cassandra, Bear.
Part of the motivation for these notes is that I’m approaching a year without a tumblr. I do miss it, I don’t get the visual stimulation (and discovery) I need elsewhere, but I spent so much time getting annoyed when on it I needed a break, which ended up being a sever . However, when the end of the year came I realized I hadn’t been able to keep track of things, and that tumblr had been that function for me. Books and films are easy, a notebook and a website for both, but articles, videos, songs, etc… Couldn’t keep them together. So that’s what this is for, keeping on top of things. This week I want to remember Andrea Long Chu’s On Liking Women.
The other motivation is Doris Lessing’s The Golden Notebook, which ended up being the book I brought with me from 2017 to 2018. The initial plan for the end of 2017 involved 44 hours in a car for a round trip from Toronto to Daytona Beach. I got 14 hours done on the way there, but we ended up finding cheap flights back, so I got the physical book out from the library (Juliet Stevenson’s voice still with me as I read the rest). I finished it with the help of a 90 minute transit ride to my grandmother’s, and then her dozing for the day. It was a book I’d been meaning to read for years, but it’s length deterred me (length always deters me), and 44 hours in a car seemed like the perfect time to conquer the beast. I was surprised at how funny it was, but the kind of funny that comes from watching people all the time. A kind of wry cruelty. At the same time, as someone who has multiple notebooks for different purposes (and this project is just another one, really) it felt like a book I should have read long ago, and a comfort too. Maybe all this nonsense is work, but not in the way I think it is.
“Then I remembered that when I read my notebooks I didn’t recognize myself. Something strange happens when one writes about oneself. That is, one’s self direct, not one’s self projected. The result is cold, pitiless, judging. Or if not judging, then there’s no life in it – yes, that’s it, it’s lifeless.” — Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook.