Monday, 16 April 2018

Letters read on the literary event the other day

A cute lady read 9 letters by famous women, written to various people for a plethora of reasons. Here's the summary, in a hurry:

Ursula Le Guin wrote to her editor - but I honestly forget what she was bitching about, because the woman who read it mentioned how Gaiman liked Le Guin and that killed my boner for a few minutes. It was a well written letter, she was sharp for sure, but I really don't recall what she went on about.

Harper Lee wrote to a foundation that supplied "forbidden, banned" works to people, including her own book for obvious reasons, saying she hopes her contribution will make a difference. Whether she sent money or books or both I'm not sure.

Rosa Luxemburg wrote from prison in 1943 to her friend. She got out later and established some sort of a resistance with the friend's husband, but they were both executed when found. In the letter she explains workers pull soldiers' clothes carts into the yard with oxen and the inmates have to wash and mend the uniforms so they're then sent back to new men. She wrote the oxen had been replaced by water buffaloes, this was the first time she saw them - they had wet, innocent eyes and were magnificent to behold. A cruel prison guard beat the shit out of them and they stared with those eyes as punished children who don't understand what they did wrong. Far were the Romanian steppes and meadows where they were from now, in this filthy, brutal city and reined-in. Sad fucking letter, truly.  

Anais Nin responded to a collector's remark, regarding her erotic prose (as most people made money writing smut at the time), "less poetry, focus more on the fucking"... that the mechanics of coitus are hardly enough to inspire arousal - you gotsta keep it fresh, hot, tricky, sticky, unpredictable, jealous, temperamental, mysterious and so on ad so forth, to keep it good. I disagree with her entirely, because after 12 years of marriage there is zero mastery or unpredictability or jealousy in our mechanics, but my husband and I like sex with one another so much we have it all the time and it's still good, even when it's just lazy, boring, middle of the day nap ordeal. The trick is you either like it or lie you like it well enough to a stupid enough lover. Though, probably, she was talking less about what she thought or knew a good fuck was and more about what she thought it was and what it ought to be in writing.

Ayn Rand had something to say, but I didn't really listen, because I don't like her. She responded to a reader a line from Fountainhead, about how to be able to say 'I love you' you must first understand what the word 'I' means, though coming from her it sounded more like she was bullshiting to apologize for her selfish and aloof attitude than to encourage housewives with four children to take an hour out of the day to be just themselves. Dunno, I just don't appreciate that woman. Her books are self-serving. She strikes me as someone who was incredibly mean to her servants.

Emily Dickinson responded to an editor she wrote previous, asking for evaluation of her early poems. She says the surgery was not as painful as she's feared, then proceeds to answer the man's questions: how she has a brother and a sister, how her father buys her books but then fears she'll read them; how she's not really formally educated on the subject of poetry as one could be; how she's shy and dislikes to socialize (people thought she was weird for wearing white and shunning guests..), and so on and so forth. Dunno what I feel about her. She didn't have the balls to show people much of her work, I guess I resent that the most. Being privileged by her family enough not to have a job or any social graces, that's just a description of a British brat. She was defensive about her pathetic stance. That bit I liked. 

Simone De Beauvior managed the most pathetic letter of them all: she writes to her long-term pen-pal love-affair guy, who either dumped her to marry someone else or they just drifted apart, I don't know that much about her - but she writes to him how she'll always come if he asks to see her, they don't even have to fuck, but she'll always be there for him, in love, willing and ready for his attention.. I am suddenly not even a little bit interested in the rest of their famous correspondence, I disdain needy women.  

Virginia Woolf's suicide note to her husband, before she sank to the bottom of the river, says how she feels the second episode of her mind going rotten coming up and she fears she will not bare it, so she's checking out instead. She said she believes, though they were happiest as two people can ever be, she's holding her beloved husband back and now he'll be able to snap out of his depression and succeed on his own. Dunno, maybe he did. He certainly replaces her within a couple of months. 

The most beautiful letter goes from my girl Tove Jansson to Too Ticky (Tuulikki Pietila), writing to a lover two days after one has returned to town and the other remains on their summer island escape. She talks about she keeps looking for her, reaching for her in bed, telling her stuff; how she stood up for fishermen who were caught catching illegally; how she's doing stuff around the house and island, the birds, the animals and so on... The tone is almost exactly the same as Summer Book, same magic in the light of the air, but more intimately trivial. Lovely, lovely, lovely stuff.