Friday, January 21, 2011

Rebecca Brown responds to Sonja Sekula: Grace in a cow’s EYE : a memoir : by Kathrin Schaeppi

This book came to me when I needed it.  It’s got grace and torment and beauty and it’s a memoir.  Whose?  Sekula’s?  Schaeppi’s?  Mine?  Yes, yes and yes, I guess.  That is, I think or need.  Therefore the way I read.  I read me in these words that tell me pictures I’ve not seen.  The words in black and white (well, creamy-white, but nothing is ever truly, fully just itself, is it? And no one is.  Like someone’s life.  Like hers or hers or mine, is mine, in that I take from hers from it to help me when I need (and I need it) are to describe the colors I can’t see, but do.

This book came when I needed it.  

“ + believe that I am so much aware of you... that you have given me friendship when I needed it +”   (39)

Crazy women see unreal things, think unkind thoughts about themselves and everybody else, the world in fact, the ones both out and inside of our heads.  Blake saw angels singing in the trees.  When he told his father, he beat him.  He did not then stop seeing them, he saw them more, in secret.  Then he painted them and wrote them when he could.  (His wife helped, and his dead angel-brother too.  They gave him friendship when he needed it.)

When you think you ought to stop,  you are so tired, you want to get it over with, to struggle not anymore, somebody else’s going on can help you.

It stops me for a moment and I get to see that someone else considered dying but went on, at least a while, kept trying, doing and not doing as she could.  Kept listening and seeing, making, saying.   Longing to....something....whether anyone did back to her or not.

The work remains.  Though she is gone, I see it.

“I am learning how to do nothing” (pg. 103)

Having done nothing, then less than that, and felt inert, undone, immobile, stopped and blocked, I tried to try to accept my doing nothing, incapacity.  I read the Buddhists and how Jesus became the most himself when he was handed over, made to wait, became an object as opposed to leader, healer, actor, savior, (The Stature of Waiting, V. H. Vanstone).   To wait is to endure.  To not demand.  To let them be and do while you do not.   You’re nothing.

As if she could, as if even I, too, as taught by her, could have the right to live although not working not producing not creating, not being useful but being naught.  But only sitting still taking up space and fretted waiting.  Or not even that, but sitting without waiting.  No sense of future, only forever miserably here, the breathing stuffy in the dark, as if what is is not a broken thing.

What is that is enough?  What if, as if, almost or sometimes even good?  As if it’s sometimes right to be poor. (32) The poor we will always have in us.

“Again and again patience and much waiting and much silence” (52)

It was really, really hard to read about her being locked away.  About her wanting to die.  About her doing it.  I don’t want to know this. 

I do not romanticize mental illness.  I do not romanticize suicide.  I do not romanticize an artist’s a woman’s a person’s being rejected (again and again...) or anger, envy, giving up, injustice or despair.  

We need the stories of others whose lives might help us.  

Whose memories are these?  If you recognize something does that make it yours?  Can you ever really understand somebody else?  Is it better to only know their art? Does that let you feel you know although you don’t?  

I do not know. 

I know that what I saw I think I see. 

She finds her after she is dead and lets us see.  

Sonja Sekula: Grace in a cow’s EYE : a memoir : is available from SPD:

No comments:

Post a Comment