“”Actually I am recovering from getting very drunk last night, and if I do nothing I feel everyone in the office is looking at me, so I have to write letters as there is nothing on at the moment.””
— The novelist Anthony Powell, writing in a 1927 letter. Read Ed Park's reflection on the writer’s work.
I recognize this; this is a selfie that someone else took
Last week, I bumped into a very famous music artist. She started talking to me about her nails and her hair extensions, and how getting this stuff done makes her feel like a woman, and she has to have so much money to get this stuff done because she’s a woman and that’s what being a woman is. I thought to myself,That’s very interesting, because what makes me a woman is when I know I’ve produced a song myself—when I’ve found an artist to work with, given him a beat to work on and told him what I wanted, and he’s given it back to me and it’s what I’d envisioned as a producer.
Or when I’ve made a video and released it into the world. That’s what makes me feel like a woman. Like, fuck anything else—fuck how tall I am or how long my hair is! This is the absolute epitome of what makes me feel like an adult, and like I’m handling my business. I’ve sat in front of my computer at three o’clock in the morning and I’ve made something myself that I had to learn how to do that was very difficult. When you find something easy, that’s a talent, but when you find something difficult, that’s when you get to really work and push and challenge yourself.
I’m not saying that [that artist’s] image is invalid, because that might be where she gets her power from. Everyone is different. But for me, there’s something about learning that makes me feel the most adult I’ve ever felt."
From me, Catie:
I’m happy for the last paragraph here, but despite that, it really sounds like FKA was frustrated with the way the other music artist was performing her womanhood.
No shade on FKA, because sometimes I feel a knee-jerk negativity when I meet another woman who does womanhood differently, and like FKA, I think through that response and generally come to the conclusion pretty quickly that I was wrong to dismiss their choices.
I’m just hoping one day we live in a world where our first responses to the ways other woman choose to live don’t threaten - even momentarily - the ways we choose to live.
"I see myself and my life each day differently. What can I say? The facts lie. I have been Don Quixote, always creating a world of my own. I am all the women in the novels, yet still another not in the novels. It took me more than sixty diary volumes until now to tell about my life. Like Oscar Wilde I put only my art into my work and my genius into my life. My life is not possible to tell. I change every day, change my patterns, my concepts, my interpretations. I am a series of moods and sensations. I play a thousand roles. I weep when I find others play them for me. My real self is unknown. My work is merely an essence of this vast and deep adventure. I create a myth and a legend, a lie, a fairy tale, a magical world, and one that collapses every day and makes me feel like going the way of Virginia Woolf. I have tried to be not neurotic, not romantic, not destructive, but may be all of these in disguises.
It is impossible to make my portrait because of my mobility. I am not photogenic because of my mobility. Peace, serenity, and integration are unknown to me. My familiar climate is anxiety. I write as I breathe, naturally, flowingly, spontaneously, out of an overflow, not as a substitute for life. I am more interested in human beings than in writing, more interested in lovemaking than in writing, more interested in living than in writing. More interested in becoming a work of art than in creating one. I am more interesting than what I write. I am gifted in relationship above all things. I have no confidence in myself and great confidence in others. I need love more than food. I stumble and make errors, and often want to die. When I look most transparent is probably when I have just come out of the fire. I walk into the fire always, and come out more alive. All of which is not for Harper’s Bazaar.
I think life tragic, not comic, because I have no detachment. I have been guilty of idealization, guilty of everything except detachment. I am guilty of fabricating a world in which I can live and invite others to live in, but outside of that I cannot breathe. I am guilty of too serious, too grave living, but never of shallow living. I have lived in the depths. My first tragedy sent me to the bottom of the sea; I live in a submarine, and hardly ever come to the surface. I love costumes, the foam of aesthetics, noblesse oblige, and poetic writers. At fifteen I wanted to be Joan of Arc, and later, Don Quixote. I never awakened from my familiarity with mirages, and I will end probably in an opium den. None of that is suitable for Harper’s Bazaar.
I am apparently gentle, unstable, and full of pretenses. I will die a poet killed by the nonpoets, will renounce no dream, resign myself to no ugliness, accept nothing of the world but the one I made myself. I wrote, lived, loved like Don Quixote, and on the day of my death I will say: ‘Excuse me, it was all a dream,’ and by that time I may have found one who will say: ‘Not at all, it was true, absolutely true.’”
—Anaïs Nin declining to be profiled in Harper’s Bazaar, from her diaries