Hi Darling Ones,
I recently re-read for maybe the twelfth time Geek Love by Katherine Dunn. It is one of my very favorite books. When I told my friends I just read Geek Love I got puzzled responses. My friend EM was shocked because she thought it was my first time. One of the Tea Ladies was a little stunned because it’s such a weird book.
Whenever I have to explain my love for this dark, mean book I need to slow down and take a few deep breaths. Crying giants who are blubbering about a book tend to freak people out. I love this book because despite its mean-spiritedness and cynicism it does such a good job of what describing what it’s like to be a physical other.
“Just being visible is my biggest confession.”
That line from the book, it slays me every time. The story about wanting and not wanting to be normal, the struggle to fit in a world where you just don’t. It’s a book that speaks to the core of who I am in all the deep dark places. Reading it makes me feel less alone in a world where I am always lonely.
When I read Geek Love (or The Giant’s House or Beezus & Ramona or The Bluest Eye), I have a visceral reaction. I feel the words or the story or the emotion deep deep inside of me.
Over the weekend I was trying to explain this to my friend EM.
“It’s like when I hear the song ‘I Will Dare,'” I said. “As soon as I hear that first note I am smiling. I feel that song in my collarbones. My molecules rearrange themselves and my heart feels like it’s full of Pop Rocks. And I feel this way every single time I hear that song. Still.”
This visceral reaction to art, this connection on a cellular level is what I’m always seeking. I want to be changed by the art as I’m consuming it. This is why I read so much, I told EM. I’m searching for the next book to make me feel. This is why I listen to music all the time, because the feeling is easier to chase & to find and yet it’s still illusive.
There are songs I love with my entire heart and mind that don’t make me feel different inside the way “Supernova” by Liz Phair does. These songs I love are because they’re pretty or sad or the drums make me want to shake my hips or they remind me of that one time, that one person, that one thing.
But the songs click inside of me without any context are the ones I’m talking about here.
I’m telling you all this because I found one of those songs today.
The song took me by surprise. I spent the morning listening to “Holy” like seven times in a row because I was enjoying singing the line “You’re acting all holy, my, I’m just full of holes.”. Eventually, I had to do something besides sit and listen to music. I let Spotify play the rest of the “Pedestrian Verse” record while I got to work in the HTML mines. I was in the middle of making unordered lists when I stopped.
At first I thought I might be annoyed by the guitar intro, but no, no I wasn’t. I felt this song in my chest. Not my heart, higher and more centrally located. I was already grinning when I heard the line about writing a song for a muse and that really captured me. I’ve been pondering muses a lot lately — wanting to be one, having one, etc. There’s no time for talking about that now.
Then Scott Hutchinson sang “Only an idiot would swim through the shit I write and my insides felt like they were coated in melty peanut butter. It was a divine. This song is divine. Being high on art is divine.