Mario Matus & Cynthia Daffron & Neil de la Flor
I spent ten minutes putting chords together on my guitar, thinking of
writing my first song. Not to worry, Neil, I won't sing (even I can tell
how bad it is). But with a metronome or someone to keep rhythm, and no
bar chords, we can have some plinging behind some spoken word if we have
voice attached somehow. Tape recorder?
Well, since Mario is in our group maybe we can convince him to sing?
Could be very interesting and moving. He doesn't have a bad voice.
Songs are cool... we could do "Kumbaya, My Lord.." I could
sing but would we rather have a music track with spoken word over it?
Visual - The one thing I know is I somehow want a picture of me sitting
on a fence or somehow being divided. I'm the limbo girl, but not how low
can you go, rather, up down and around town. Thoughts on how you want to
represent your self, culture?
I would love to attempt to draw you on the fence. I haven't had much
success finding people to draw. At the same time, I can take some black
and white photos of u on the fence. Color photos too. There are some
interesting walls and fences in my neighborhood. However, any
neighborhood is fine with me.
Why don't you include a self-representation and then include the
pictures that an Other takes of you... how someone sees us...
Topics, words. I'm thinking about aspect of there being three of us, a
triangle, the balances of triangles (the smallest closed shape, length,
height, width, dimensional). I'm also thinking about Rock Paper Scissors, as we have our various
different cultures, and how those stack up against the white male
hierarchy. For instance, I'm white (which, yeah, is a made up term when
the teams were divided -- but anyway, is considered good within the
dominant paradigm), but I'm female (bad). Plus you have the aspects of
sexuality. In a hand of poker, does straight Apache man trump a gay
white male, and is a bisexual actually another word for a full house or
just a whore? What about that we're all artists, poets, academics,
weirdos? Commonalities in culture, things that we share, as writers,
lovers of words, students, liberals, people prone to emotional excesses
and moments of clarity.
The question is: how far or how much do we have to be pushed or push
ourselves to step over the dividing line between straight, gay, or
bisexual. Are these really divisions or like Mario said, really
constructions like the white man is a construction. Are we not what
Anzaldua says, that there is a bit of queer in everyone because it is in
her since we are all human, genetically/socially bound?
The poker hand seems interesting... perhaps we should make playing
cards with our pictures on them? The construction issue is too long for
me to type out... but I'm going to go with constructions, both
self-defined and imposed.
Sex and death. Or rather, not sex, necessarily, but the erotic, joy, as
Mau said. And not death, or rather, that too, but maybe loss, grief. As
noted, I have a big dead brother theme going in my fiction right now,
but that comes out of the circumstances of my not-dead-but-living
brother. So how things translate, little deaths (hmm, which in
Shakespeare is right back to sex). Also deaths that lead to something
else, that is the concept of personal rebirth (not in the Jesus as your
personal savior born again way, but more, ways in which one starts
over). For instance, every year I celebrate an adopted birthday on Nov.
5th, as it's when I started over in a way. Created holidays.
Who is Mau? Hmmmm. Good things to bring up. Especially the dead but
not dead brother. Very interesting idea of little deaths or preparing
for death. I know ever since I met Joe (and to some extent during
Terri's illness) I knew he was going to die and was able to prepare for
it, mourn for him, even while he was alive. Every sickness was like a
little death, in a way. In comparison, when my friend Brandon died it
was a shock, or when my grandmother died, it was a shock. That's a
different kind of death, a different kind of grief. I don't know where
I'm going with this but let's keep our emails.
Perhaps we should alter the way the altars are presented... not only
the ancestors and those that passed... a mourning for the constructions?
a letting go, if you will...?
Also, language. As evidenced by my poem today, it's an obsession, the
way language includes/excludes/expresses. Also, the visuals of different
alphabets, the lines and
squiggles of the Arabic, versus Cyrillic, which looks like the (what is
the English alphabet called? Anyone? I can't remember)-- anyway Russian
looks like a dyslexic made the alphabet. The word for "I" as
in "I think, therefore I am" looks like a backwards R. But
it's also only one letter.
Anyway, so I'm talking randomly, but I just trying to generate a
conversation, things that stir me up, things on my mind.
Things in your butt too! Like whippets.
The Western alphabet... we could do other phonetic and ideograms
if y'all want...
More on the idea of three:
When I was at Trinity College, 2 women and I dubbed ourselves for a time the Unholy Trinity, the Crone, Mother & Virgin (I was the
mother, I believe, which amuses me now). Anyway, it was a reaction, of course, to the Father Son & Holy Ghost. Which brings up the
religious cultural aspect. Do we all have some Catholic background? N, I know
you went to Catholic school, and I'm thinking you did too M. I have almost no religious background, but technically, I am Catholic, as I
was christened. My father was an altar boy (back when he went to church, well before I was born).
I'm a recovering Cath-a-holic...
Jesus Christ was my lover. As far as the bible, I've forgotten or
willfully erased from my conscious most of the religious teachings I was
taught. However, I do think society is very Christianized. It's even
part of the constitution so no matter what Christianity is somehow a
part of everything we do or fight against whether we know it or not.
I hate Larry King. Why does Mario use so many ellipses?
Because Neil, my sweet, you read your e-mailís but not whatís in
them, here's the synopsis:
From Mís syllabus: "Begin the creation of a collab-altar/an
autohistoria (note 4). Discuss the possibilities with one another,
visual, literary, web-based, etc. Five weeks until the launching of the
Day of the Dead, Nov. 1. Draw up proposals and bring next week."
From Borderlands "4. In the essay, "Border Arte: Nepantla, el
Lugar de la Frontera," Anzaldua identifies border visual art as one
that "supersedes the pictorial. It depicts both the soul of the artist and the soul of the pueblo. It deals with who
tells the stories and what stories and histories are told. I call this
form of visual narrative autohistorias. This form goes beyond the
traditional self-portrait or autobiography; in telling the
writer/artists' personal story, it also includes the artist's cultural
history." She continues that when she creates art, such as an
altar, she represents much more than herself, "they are representations of Chicana culture". While her
definition targets visual artistry, I believe that it could well
describe the Borderlands genre as well.
From me (!) - So if I tell the story about a date I went on with Jerry and his Shiny White Teeth that proceeded to grind to halt when I
mentioned to the Jerry I was bisexual, and he told me I'm
"defective" I'm not just telling the story of my personal
history, but also the culture history of living in a sexual border town.
You're bisexual? I would like to take a video camera to Twist and use
part of it as a video montage for our altar.
Yes, everything is construction, but there is an element of
self-definition. Anzaldua defines herself as queer, makes a choice to
identify with a particular group. Granted, it would be difficult for me
to define myself as a black man. But, on the other hand, there's my
cousin, a woman of Italian Irish American descent, who participates with
a Lakota sweat lodge, does vision quests in the desert, so she's adopted
a new religious definition.
I think some people can become black because black is a construction.
Look at Melissa. It sounds like she's part black has a claim to black
but doesn't get accepted by her black ancestors. In effect, they want
her to assume the black stereotype or their concept of what black is. So
yes, it's still a construction. Being white has something to do with
lineage, values, morals, religion, and cows!
True, the whole black/white thing is a construction, largely an
I'm into what you were saying about mourning while living, have the
chance to say goodbye ahead of time. I'm wondering in the differences in
the grief experience.
I think we really need to put Joe in here. I think he is sort of your
patron saint in a way, symbolizes a lot for you. In a way, I have one of
those too, Anne, the dead rings girl, who I never met, but who I feel in
a way, a guardian angel.
Yes, interesting. Not that Joe is essential. What's essential is
Cassandra Do and all those who have perished because of the dominant
And yes: what's essential is Cassandra Do and all those who have
perished because of the dominant cultural attitudes -- but what is also essential is that we do
not kill ourselves, believe all the dominant culture hype about how we
are bad or wrong or undeserving or deviant one way or another. What is
essential is not just mourning the dead, reclaiming and restructuring
history (although that is crucial), but also surviving the present,
staying alive (ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, staying alive), meaning retaining our
selves, our joys, and so subverting that dominant paradigm.
A poet friend of mind in Minnie used to do a Day of the Dead thing where
she set up altars all around town and asked people to put the names of
their ancestors on a piece of paper & put it in the altar, at which
point they were welcome to take one of the little clay skull heads. At
the end of the project circulation, she has a ritual reading of all the
names on the pieces of paper (along with some poetry, etc., I think. I
don't know. I never saw the final event). The altars were quite groovy
though, with paper skeletons and quotes and such, pictures.
Anyway, my point is (and you thought I didn't have one) we should think
about the physical presence of the altar as well.
Ok.. I think that a physical presence is a good one...do we want to
base it on a traditional style (i.e. candles, skulls, pics, etc) and/or
develop our own version? Maybe pastels for Neil...
E-Mail to Neil is bouncing...