May 17, 2005

Marjorie Perloff, The Vienna Paradox: a Memoir. Relentless insistence on complicating everything--identity, culture, class. This might be the best book I've read by her. It also dodges a lot of the usual traps of the academic memoir by insistingly refusing to figure her self or her family as marginal. Or innocent. I read it compulsively because I was so fascinated by it.

Perloff has been so complicated around identity poetries. Or dismissive? I can't decide if much of her work is complicated or dismissive. Or both. But it was interesting to see her dealing with her identity. And thus her arguments felt less assaultive. More like a primer on how to do the memoir without falling into the I'm all innocent trap. I felt like I also might understand her refusal of identity poetries more than I had in the past.

I keep meaning to write on Fred Moten book which I finally finished. And then I went back and photocopied all the paragraphs I had marked and cut them out and taped them into my quote notebook a few weeks ago. (My new compulsive process for note taking for essay writing.) Ended up with about six pages of quotes because I so loved the book and want to steal all of it. I feel I could just keep saying that I loved it forever. But I think the reason I loved it is that it is so wonderfully associationally written. And so smart. And so clearly explains that avant garde practice is something that intersects with identity, especially African American identity. But mainly I just loved to read about how he reads. Which is as a fan. A sort of fan of the weird and things that don't fit easily into conventions. Somehow when reading the book I felt freed. I guess I felt freed from all those assumptions that the avant garde has nothing to say about anything, much less identity, especially black identity. Why this would feel so personally freeing I can't answer.

Blog Archive