19 August 2014
0 it is a tragedy of sorts
for the writer that the reader only gets the end. a final product. finished and polished off. because that isn't the experience of the writing.
would that we could write books that read like the writing.
and so a chunk of coherent story on the weird historical collision of the moon landing and jackie's 40th birthday begins with a logical parallel between a speech jfk made in houston in 1962 and the lyrics of the fifth dimension's "age of aquarius." and moves into discussion of existential fatigue and space as man's greatest adventure- reenforced by a quote from jackie referencing the same 1962 speech- and jackie's 40th birthday as the locus for astral anxieties- an argument solidified by a 1962 norman mailer article on jackie that explicitly identifies her as a central figure in an age where we are all like broken satellites. all tied up with an image of jackie in the newspaper connected to an image from a 2006 bright eyes lyric about how once the satellite's deceased/ it blows like garbage through the streets/ of the night sky into infinity.
ok. maybe it sounds like a mess here, but it reads seamlessly.
which upsets me for some reason.
a reason that is probably the fact that this is the first chunk of story from the jackie book that i'm going to be reading aloud to real live people in the autumn and that-- THAT. it feels like the beginning of an end. the initiation of my letting go and handing her over...
and so this weird little piece that began last april has, in these last days, assumed an enormo significance. which makes me want to lead workshops on it and write pamphlets and posts and give presentations to explain its architecture. to explain how, since that first moment on that train where i linked the jfk speech and the song from hair, it has been a long, slow slog towards completion.
because biography doesn't come together like critical theory. with theory, there's a visceral, beautiful mind-style coming together. last week, i wrote a sentence that bridged two paragraphs on the 8th page of an 18-page document and instantly knew IT IS DONE.
but, with biography, i do not know that one feels that same sense of completion. critical theory is like laying bricks. biographical writing is like painting. you get the base on and then there's just layer after layer after layer after layer applied on top. so that it comes together to be a picture and the brushstrokes aren't even evident, but MY GOD. the emotional investment, the personal melodrama involved in each one.
so that i remember being on the train when that jfk/"age of aquarius" connection clicked. and i remember sitting in my flat, how i randomly googled "jackie kennedy space" and happened upon a random mention in the transcripts of the schlesinger interviews. and later, in the british library, reading through the entire, often annoying, mailer article on jackie and catching the amazing, incredible ending of it, which supported everything i had gone out on a limb to say.
three things. 5 months. 6 pages that are the beginning of the end. and take maybe 20 minutes in total to read.