Riding the Blinds with Maggie Nelson
April 30, 2015 § 1 Comment
Micah McCrary interviews Maggie Nelson, author most recently of The Argonauts, in The Los Angeles Review of Books, delving into her thoughts on the difficulties of tone, her use of ‘autotheory,’ and control and surrender in the writing process. Below is an excerpt followed by a link to the full interview
Which brings us back to the subject of autobiographical writing. How do you personally know what to aim for when writing about the self, as opposed to writing in order to react to what you’ve read or seen?
I don’t make a big distinction between writing about “myself” and writing about “larger issues.” (Maybe I’m Emersonian in that way, or just feminist.) I guess I treat myself as a sort of mystery or microcosm or materialized fulcrum for the larger issues in a project, be they justice, fear, spectacle, voyeurism, heartbreak, sadism, masochism, happiness, perception, pain, privilege, injustice, etc. I focus on aesthetic problems as I work, rather than on psychological ones. Because in my experience, if you resolve the aesthetic issues in any given piece, you’ve also worked out the psychological ones, albeit through the back door. For some reason I keep thinking of the great ending of Fred Moten’s poetry collection The Feel Trio: “when the water come I come to the unprotected surge / and division in my old-new sound booth. I am fmoten.” The use of his name makes a claim on the political and has also become pure music. This kind of autobiography, I like.