Week Eight has consisted of applying for corporate jobs, reading beautiful lyric essays and writing ugly lyric essays of my own.
Lia Purpura’s essay collection On Looking arrived in the mail this week, and I’ve dropped the remains of Marieke Hardy and You to read it. Some of the essays are a little too American for me to understand them (I am not being flippant there — I mean the nature and animals described are so distant from my experiences that I can’t quite work out her inferences), but for the most part I loved the spaces between words. The way her essays lie on the page in fragments and invite me as the reader to discover the hidden connections. In particular, the essay ‘On Aesthetics’ stuck with me — fragments of motherhood experiences, with small recollections from her own early childhood. These parallel timelines — equally as intense — are given meaning by the narrator’s recollection of a teenage mother’s experience: sitting with her child on the verandah of their house, and seeing a small red dot land on the baby’s forehead. A dot that come from a gun focusing on a target. It is a group of men, focusing a laser on the child from the window of a car. As the mother jumps to her feet, the red dot floats along the line of her breasts, and the men laugh. What does this scene mean? Purpura invites us to speculate.
Having read Purpura’s essays I was driven to try to construct my own fragmented essays. I played with parallel time, mirroring images, implicit connections. Most of my experiments failed, at this stage, and I’m a little disappointed in myself. I read a brief essay aloud yesterday in class and it was received with blank faces and hardly any feedback. While I didn’t like the essay myself — I thought the jumps in time were confusing and the passages too dense with information — I really don’t like to bore/confuse an audience. I didn’t like the essay because I don’t think I knew what I was trying to say — my point was unclear and thus I was sharing personal experience for no overarching reason which would justify dedicating 500+ words to myself.
This weekend I plan to revisit my own work and try to work out what the hidden connections are in these lyric essays, before I present them as creative work.