"Novel Reading. - A whole family brought to destitution in England, has had all its misfortunes clearly traced by the authorities to an ungovernable passion for novel reading entertained by the wife and mother. - The husband was sober and industrious, but his wife was indolent and addicted to…
I love to hate Anthropologie furniture. In particular, the way they stage it for their website. There’s this gross fantasy they’ve created of an art student who can afford to spend thousands of dollars on a paint-splattered flea market find. It’s like all their customers are aspiring to be Charlotte in Tiny Furniture (a loft-dwelling trust fund dilettante).
They’ve gone off the deep end with the juxtaposition. You know those fashion editorials every fall where models lasagned in Prada swing around street signs in Red Hook? It’s like that, but on acid. The settings are more deteriorated and the designs are more design-y. It’s like shopping from deep within Fuck Your Noguchi Coffee Table.
If you choose to purchase a piece of Anthropologie furniture, it will only really look right in one of three settings:
1. An alternative gallery space six weeks from opening
2. An urban cabin with faulty electrical wiring
3. A crumbling Southern plantation (soon to be deemed “the new loft” by the NYTimes)
Let’s take a stroll through the Anthropologie furniture section together. What’s for sale today?
I was curious if anyone’s ever had a muffin tower instead of a cupcake tower at their wedding but apparently that’s super weird because Google’s response was basically, “Did you mean CUPCAKES?”
If you’re a boy writer, it’s a simple rule: you’ve gotta get used to the fact that you suck at writing women and that the worst women writer can write a better man than the best male writer can write a good woman. And it’s just the minimum. Because the thing about the sort of heteronormative masculine privilege, whether it’s in Santo Domingo, or the United States, is you grow up your entire life being told that women aren’t human beings, and that women have no independent subjectivity. And because you grow up with this, it’s this huge surprise when you go to college and realize that, “Oh, women aren’t people who does my shit and fucks me.”
And I think that this a huge challenge for boys, because they want to pretend they can write girls. Every time I’m teaching boys to write, I read their women to them, and I’m like, “Yo, you think this is good writing?” These motherfuckers attack each other over cliche lines but they won’t attack each other over these toxic representations of women that they have inherited… their sexist shorthand, they think that is observation. They think that their sexist distortions are insight. And if you’re in a writing program and you say to a guy that their characters are sexist, this guy, it’s like you said they fucking love Hitler. They will fight tooth and nail because they want to preserve this really vicious sexism in the art because that is what they have been taught.
And I think the first step is to admit that you, because of your privilege, have a very distorted sense of women’s subjectivity. And without an enormous amount of assistance, you’re not even going to get a D. I think with male writers the most that you can hope for is a D with an occasional C thrown in. Where the average women writer, when she writes men, she gets a B right off the bat, because they spent their whole life being taught that men have a subjectivity. In fact, part of the whole feminism revolution was saying, “Me too, motherfuckers.” So women come with it built in because of the society.
It’s the same way when people write about race. If you didn’t grow up being a subaltern person in the United States, you might need help writing about race. Motherfuckers are like ‘I got a black boy friend,’ and their shit sounds like Klan Fiction 101.
The most toxic formulas in our cultures are not pass down in political practice, they’re pass down in mundane narratives. It’s our fiction where the toxic virus of sexism, racism, homophobia, where it passes from one generation to the next, and the average artist will kill you before they remove those poisons. And if you want to be a good artist, it means writing, really, about the world. And when you write cliches, whether they are sexist, racist, homophobic, classist, that is a fucking cliche. And motherfuckers will kill you for their cliches about x, but they want their cliches about their race, class, queerness. They want it in there because they feel lost without it. So for me, this has always been the great challenge.
As a writer, if you’re really trying to write something new, you must figure out, with the help of a community, how can you shed these fucking received formulas. They are received. You didn’t come up with them. And why we need fellow artists is because they help us stay on track. They tell you, “You know what? You’re a bit of a fucking homophobe.” You can’t write about the world with these simplistic distortions. They are cliches. People know art, always, because they are uncomfortable. Art discomforts. The trangressiveness of art has to deal with confronting people with the real. And sexism is a way to avoid the real, avoiding the reality of women. Homophobia is to avoid the real, the reality of queerness. All these things are the way we hide from encountering the real. But art, art is just about that."
— Junot Diaz speaking at Word Up Bookshop, 2012 (via ofgrammatology)