Thanksgiving Is Ruined
January 28, 2008
to get even, or get out
Darryl Pinckney sure knows how to select an opening line to grab an audience's attention. From the new NYRB, on the late Elizabeth Hardwick:
In the fall of 1973, she told her creative writing students at Barnard College, "There are really only two reasons to write: desperation or revenge."
Wuh, not "boredom"? Not even as Reason # 3?
Who knows? Could be that boredom is a compound or molecule that is break-downable into either desperation or revenge. Or at least it was to Hardwick.
Perhaps, but why did she have to write it down? Why does anyone?
She, however, did not know what she thought until she'd written it down.
OK, but why then inflict that writing on the world? Why did she not come to know or learn her thoughts, then hide them in a drawer?
Could she not satisfyingly "know" her own thoughts until she shared them with others?
Maybe. But if so, how did writing assuage her feelings of desperation and/or revenge?
Huh, what an assumption! Why do we automatically assume that Hardwick wanted to "assuage" those feelings? Maybe Hardick wanted to get to know those thoughts or feelings in order to intensify or plunge deeper into them, instead of, or in addition to, ameliorating them.
However, if "to assuage" was her goal, how did the letting go of her writing into the world, as a public or social act, serve to discharge or balance her psychic accounts (assumption here: revenge, at least, is felt to be transactional, or forgiveable/cancellable, like a debt)?
And even if to write was indeed, to Hardwick, to settle or escape certain interpersonal, transactional contraints, how might her writing perhaps have enskeined (Auden's word, we discover) her into a new emotional economics, or different or (maybe to her) more satisfying relationships of revenge and desperation? And open up new but more interesting accounts with others? (gloomy momentary assumption here: feelings of desperation and revenge can almost never be completely escaped, merely deferred or exchanged) Thus creating the inevitable need to write some more?