An Ongoing Nonfiction Reading Series
This Month: THE ARCHIVE
Jocelyn Saidenberg & Stephanie Young
Friday, December 9th
Doors at 8pm, Talks at 8:30pm
An Elsewhere of Survivals: Inscriptions and Echoes in Little Sparta, while walking with John Clare, Bob Glück and Virgil, and later listening with Saussure and Lucretius
It’s about how we read and think with the dead. How we attend to transmissions and attune our attention to what is almost inaudible. It’s about how we lend our voices, animate an inscription that re-members the remains of a voice, and gives voice to a sound silenced but alluring, perching in letters, the marks of the dead, on a stone that summons a passerby to breath together in concert. So it’s about sound. About the sound between words, the echoes. And it’s about listening and how the stones in a garden sounded me. It’s about working in the archives of Ferdinand de Saussure, his notebooks on anagrams–the resonances of sounds he perceived in ancient poetry as he walked among the tombstones in Rome. He heard an echo, sounds reverberating through time. In over a hundred notebooks he worked through this intuition. The aesthetic principle he elaborated in these notebooks is roundly dismissed by linguistic scholars. It scandalizes them. So I went to Geneva to listen for myself. In this performance, I talk and show some pictures about what I heard.
A Haunted Thing
What a haunted thing, US feminism. Wreck of “sisterhood” where you can still hear Susan B. Anthony pledge “I will cut off this right arm of mine before I will ever work for or demand the ballot for the Negro and not the woman.” Where someone, maybe the FBI, pours abrasive powder into the printing presses. Where Robin Morgan calls for Beth Elliot to be ejected from the 1973 West Coast Lesbian Feminist Conference, calling her a man, “an opportunist, an infiltrator, and a destroyer—with the mentality of a rapist.” Where, after the National Guard ends the Attica prison uprising, Jane Alpert declares “I will mourn the loss of 42 male supremacists no longer.” So, too, Florynce Kennedy’s response lingers: “we are Attica or we are nothing.” Jeanne Cordova, publisher of Lesbian Tide, writing in support of Beth Elliot and against transphobia. Books of poetry by Judy Grahn and Pat Parker, published before Diana Press went under. Angelina Grimke insisting in 1837 that the relation between slavery and women’s oppression demands action. Some voices are louder. Some stories linger longer, reproduce, emerge as history. We lose something when we lose the story of fights, of struggles that aren’t new. There was a bookstore in my Oakland neighborhood once, a collective of lesbian feminists. Their project came apart in the early 80s, in court, in financial documents, in divisions of every kind: race, class, sexuality, age. I went to the GLBT archive to understand the story of their fight. I found more questions.