1.14.2005

Jessica Hopper is so smart and, today, pissed off. This is my favorite quote of the month from anywhere because I am often vaguely feeling like this but then to hear someone else say it so perfectly is such a relief:
I always try bringing justice and girl plight into the scope, and it always screws things up, there is never room for it.
She's talking about music criticism, and she's right: currently, there is not room for it, there or in similar places where the power to assign cultural value is held. The way there is no room for it is in a way that seems really subjective--people will say, oh the voice is off or throw some adjective around to describe your writing vs. what they are looking for, but really, on a very intuitive level they know when you are threatening the power balance, the current valuation of what is to be taken seriously, what is to be allowed, what not.

This calibration is precise, in miniscule degrees, and largely intuitive, but where the valuation of our stories and our songs gets decided.

This intuitive calibration is why there are so few women in the top echelon of American letters, in newsrooms, etc.: because women bring a perspective outside the status quo into the game. Their voices are not given authority: women's voices pointing out sexism, racism, sheer lame tighty-whitey-bullshit just don't fit into the serious literary/journalistic aesthetic any more easily than they fit into that Asperger's world of music criticism. (When they do bust through, though, my word do they shine: Ann Powers, who will be reading at a special Cupcake on Feb. 25, is a prime example). I am so sick of hearing myself say this stuff about literary gatekeepers and how it works so subjectively. I keep telling Lauren: I've got two more years of the explaining variety of activism in me, and them I'm just going to move out to the forest and write huge wild books and dress like Bjork and marry some guy who makes movies dressed up in a goat head.

My other favorite thing someone said to me this month: I brought up Louise Erdrich and this lovely person said, immediately: "I think Louise Erdrich should win the Nobel Prize." I run around thinking that all the time, but nobody has ever said that to me before. Louise Erdrich is never somehow in the New Yorky discussions of our current literary powerhouses. They do publish her in the New Yorker, but when was the last time you heard someone bring her up at a cocktail party? Start counting mentions of Erdrich vs. Franzen vs. Chabon right now, kay? And then start really thinking about which one of them has surpassed Faulkner, to start.

If I had a cup of coffee right now and weren't fantasizing about my elfin mega-creative woodland future I would come up with the literary equivalents of the following, but for now I will just leave you with a little more Jessica:
So, I'd like to have a toast: to four more years of a tender lapping of Cam'ron's cock n' balls, more fete'd jack-white saviours in the spotlight, more Jeff Tweedy Poco-tributes, more girls in corrective orthodontia hiking up their bra straps in the front row of Good Charlotte shows screaming for consumption, and to all those late night nights where we laboured, nay! toiled over - the articles and insightful sidebars about who the Beastie Boys were voting for . Cheers all around, kiddo - here's to a glorious 2005!
xo
Elizabeth
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