Scribbling on Foucault’s Wall: Bullet

This piece from the novel in progress by Quiet Riot Girl originally appeared on her blog.

They are in the midst of a discussion about the ‘clone’ identity that emerged in Sanfrancisco in the 1970s. Colette had read somewhere, she forgets where now, how those moustached guys in their leather and their caps, with the hair from their chests poking out from their shirts, probably invented themselves to kill the myth that all gay men are effeminate queens. They were the real men they had been looking for all their lives. But, Mike suggests, getting excited and animated by his own idea, wasn’t the clone identity really just another form of dominant masculinity and maybe not quite as radical as it seemed at the time? Because those macho macho men were making women out of other men. Not in sex he adds, hastily, those dudes can fuck each other as ‘real’ men all they like, but in discourse. Sexual difference has to exist in discourse. Somebody has to be the fairy!.  He gulps his wine in triumph and wonders if it would be too pretentious to stop the conversation and write that down. He also wonders, less triumphantly, if Luce Iragary hasn’t said that very same thing before him. Just in her usual, incomprehensible, cloyingly feminine way. For a split, heartbreaking, Freudian, terrifying second he reminds Colette completely and utterly of her father. But she feels so comfortable, and relaxed by the wine, that she doesn’t let the similarity take hold in her mind. Her subconscious has other ideas however. It joins the dots and jumps to the conclusion and interrupts him and uses Colette’s voice to ask,

‘So are you gay?’

She always expects the intelligent ones, the articulate ones, the ones who can deliver a line, the ones with the tight asses that wiggle so well in their jeans, the ones she falls in love with, to be gay.

‘No!’ he replies, laughing. ‘What made you say that? Just because I am into Foucault?’

‘No not really. More that you seem to know so much about the gay scene and, about, er, about gender’.

‘Ah, gender’. He nods and strokes his chin, in a mock-intellectual way.

‘No I am not gay. I am just not a typical ‘dude’ as they might say. I’m not even a typical untypical dude if you see what I mean.’

‘You mean you are a freak?’

‘That is correct’.

‘I don’t really bother with sexual identity, anyway, it just seems one surefire way of closing down your options. And honey, I need all the options I can get!’

‘Good answer’.

And then he gets really serious. He isn’t stroking his chin now, but looking straight at her, so she can’t escape. Colette has learned over the years to duck out of the way of positive attention the way someone else might dodge a bullet. This time she is too slow and the shot reaches its target.

‘I am into Foucault though. He is one of my favourite untypical dudes’. He pauses, for dramatic effect, and because he is suddenly struck by the blackness of her eyes, in contrast to the paleness of her skin and hair, ’But I am into Foucault’s daughter more’.

‘Oh’.

‘Yes. Oh’.

Colette sips her wine in silence. Mike continues to ponder on the blackness of her eyes. And the bullet, the bullet makes itself comfortable, lodging itself deep under her skin, somewhere that it will not be found. Not until it is too late, when the wound has spread and infected her blood, when the words have long since been forgotten, but their shadow has remained hanging over her all this time.

~ by yearzerowriters on December 4, 2010.

9 Responses to “Scribbling on Foucault’s Wall: Bullet”

  1. Thanks for posting this Dan.

    A ‘novel in progress’ is a very annoying thing. It taunts me. I think it is better to have bits of it out in the open though, than all hidden away as it reminds me I need to finish the thing. That it won’t go away until I do, whether people know about its existence or not.

  2. there is no Foucault’s daughter

  3. that’s funny J because she is very real to me.

  4. I love the bullet making itself comfortable

  5. Alright, I can accept her metaphorically. Pleased be assured that I only respond because it is interesting enough to respond to. Normally I wouldn’t bother.

  6. Very potent. I liked it!

  7. thsnks sarah. That means a lot coming from a writer as potent as you. But how do I keep up the potency for a whole novel? That is my question.

    • That’s a very big question. There was a really good discussion of this on farmlanebooks in the context of Veronique Olmi’s great novella Beside the Sea, and it’s something I’ve mentioned in various review pieces of short stories. There comes a point, the triple chocolate pudding point, when intensity and rich cadences no longer add to but detracty from a piece because you sinply get acclimatised/worn down, so the edges are taken off and the prose gets greyed out. I think where that happens varies from book to book but beside the Sea is one side of the point, The Line of Beauty the other. One answer is to give the book breathing space, rhythms so the intense parts shine. Though that may defeat your object

      It’s complicated by the fact that once you get through the grey and the boredom, you can actually pick up again and the repetition itself becomes a factor that serves the novel. Warhol was a master of this, of course. The best example from my generation is Steve McQueen’s stunning Deadpan, the endlessly repeated film of a house falling down that won the Turner Prize the year of Tracey Emin’s bed. And in literature it has been done most recently and famously in “The Part About the Killings” in Bolano’s 2666. What happens fromthe endless repetition is that the piece becomes disembodied (it’s like saying the same word again and again until it just sounds daft and meaningless and you can’t imagine it’s a word that means anything at all), and you are taken beyond the words to a meaning that’s absolutely symbolic. Get that right, like Bolano, and it’s breathtaking and metaphysical. Get it wrong, like Lionel Shriver in We Need to Talk About Kevin, and it’s just interminably contrived, self-absorbed, and dull. As an author, it’s safer to think about the first threshold.
      Dan

  8. I love Steve Mcqueen, he is also responsible for the longest single-shot scene to date in cinema history I believe in Hunger. He is so not scared of the repetitive/banal and does it brilliantly. But I am not he. Thanks for all your food for thought, Dan.

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