Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Thesis Pieces

I've been severely neglecting this blog. However! Did you know it's for a super awesome reason? That reason is that I'm working on a book that deals with these subjects in a much more distilled, almost prose-poem style. When I say "book," what I really mean is that it's my MFA thesis project, the goal of which is to be a publishable creative work after graduating. I'm trying to train myself to say "book" rather than "thesis" in most cases simply because it sounds so much more legit.

When explaining it, I classify it as a memoir, sort of, though it is not all about me and my cute little life. Many parts dwell in histories that I did not live (nineteenth century dandyism and 70s glam & goth), and others dissect the impact that individual words have on our perception of gender and aesthetics. It feels super slow going, but it's also pretty exhilarating to see a cohesive project coming together. This is a first for me.

Also a first for me: I never publicly share things I'm working on, especially in draft form. But I want to share one of the pieces that IS about me and my cute little life, because I had wanted to make a post to the same effect, but never did. The following is super drafty, and will probably be different in a couple months, but this is a blog, in theory that shouldn't matter.


In Which I Become Clip Art

Living the dream: in 2013 I became an internet meme. It began with a club photo. On the patio at the Dragonfly, I stand beside one of my posing and gesticulating friends, giving the photographer dagger eyes over a glass of whiskey, as if only noticing him in passing. By the time the meme happened, the photo was already about two years old and another hair color ago.

In my new life as clip art, I leave the Dragonfly and travel to the Taj Mahal, to space, to the pyramids, to a Syrian warzone, to ComicCon, all with the block-letter caption: VESTA IS NOT IMPRESSED.

I had a moment of worry that strangers on the internet would come to view me as some gother-than-thou douche-bag (such are the concerns of our day and age), until I recalled a fleeting passage in Baudelaire’s essay The Dandy. It was one of very few lines that previously had not resonated with me: “It is the delight in causing astonishment, and the proud satisfaction of never oneself being astonished.” According to Baudelaire, this aura of indifference, disdain, of being thoroughly and consistently unimpressed may be a cultivated affect of my dandy persona.

In my regular human life, I emote unconsciously yet obsessively. To act effusively polite and engaged is exhausting–especially in a corset–and the merits of honest disinterest are one of few points on which Baudelaire and Robinson* might agree. For this reason I have come to accept the teachings of my clip art self.

*Mary Robinson was an 18th century feminist who meant well but said some pretty shitty things about femme men, and she shows up toward the beginning of the book.