Cecilia Corrigan - a series of punchlines of non-set up jokes self-avowedly sketchy and 90s, sort of sloppy and bananas poetics: 'Oh look can I get a volunteer to call me ‘the enemy of all things good and holy?'

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Cecilia Corrigan, Titanic, Lake Forest College Press, 2014.

Cecilia Corrigan’s first book, Titanic, is an epic love poem depicting the eternal gothic romance between man and machine. Titanic’s protagonist is Alan Turing, cracker of codes and father of artificial intelligence. Turing escapes his frustrated love life and tragic death into the safe haven of virtual reality. The setting shifts from Snow White’s forest to Ludwig Wittgenstein’s seminar at Cambridge, amid iMessage chats and appearances by a cast of thrilling guest stars, including Frank O’Hara, Spike and Willow from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Julianne Moore’s BMW. Titanic: collide with destiny!

“Cecilia Corrigan’s poems dissolve into the real the way foam laps against a giddy shore or greasepaint becomes part of the skin or the mercurial is denied entrance to the dispensary. Titanic makes whimsy infectious.” —Charles Bernstein

Former television writer Corrigan places Alan Turing at the center of a bizarrely playful debut collection. The blurred continuum between technology and humanity—where does one end and the other begin?—has long been a poetic trope, but it’s rare for a book to perceive the contemporary moment so authentically, let alone presciently. Corrigan achieves this by refusing to limit her work to a prescribed set of forms; its lexical, thematic, and narrative landscapes vary as to appear otherworldly. Her poem “The Phenomenon of Fantasy Football Teams Signifies a Lot of Things” transforms from a mock spreadsheet into stanzas that reuse the table’s language before becoming a letter to a mother about “our earthly existence.” Poems move in and out of talk shows, scenes and characters and rationales come and go—the whole of the book a series of rapidly shifting events. The experience of reading it, while disorienting, can be exhilarating; the musculature of taut poetic lines and earned insight keep it going, as “Still we are bound, destined to endeavor, and to the critical./ Why did you never tell me how sweet it is: the rational?” The book flaunts intentional errors and is also quite funny: “I overstate, saying that having a body was just/ hell on so many levels, no homo.” Many readers will find Corrigan’s lines to be nonsense, but for those ready for a hybrid ride, here is the ticket. - Publishers Weekly

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Cecilia Corrigan, True Beige, Trafficker Press, 2013.

Don’t call me ‘you,’ me!, Cecilia Corrigan commands herself in a startling line from her recent chapbook True Beige (Trafficker Press, 2013). I read this line and totally flipped out. Throughout her voracious and hilariously self-defeating piece, Corrigan weaves similar, self-reflexive threads that jolted me out of my basic assumptions about everyone’s roles in this unspoken contract: the poet writes a poem, bows out, and then the reader reads it. Not in Corrigan’s world. Here, the poet sticks around. Her active gaze follows you everywhere; it makes a subject of you, of the poem, of itself (Cecilia?), of the narrator (separate from Cecilia?), and of other characters, swiftly and freakily, like a demon possessing different hosts.
The poet’s thoughts about the unfolding poem appear often: These Sentences are getting more complicated in this poem, now; The ‘you’ is shifting in the poem; So many abrupt changes in this poem! By reminding the reader of everything that is happening as it is happening, Corrigan creates a real-time temporality that slaps your imagination on the wrist just when you were about to suspend disbelief. Spooky, twisted, and strong, each of these observations seems to be Corrigan’s cannibal who eats her own body.
The narrator of True Beige has a brassy voice, eager to leap off the page and into a throat.The read-in-my-head text simulates a read-out-loud text, aperformance. There’re only two possible outfits I could wear which could be appropriate for the performance of this poem brings me right there, in the audience, watching the poet in her outfit, gesticulating. When I read, Oh look can I get a volunteer to call me ‘the enemy of all things good and holy?’ I’m like “Ooh! pick me!” Because I do want to call her that.
The narrator further transforms the reader into a listener with these deliberately audible emphases: liiiike, It is so uhhhh?,MATH MATH! MATH! .But the listener in this audience doesn’t stay distanced from the performer. Corrigan is quick to wink at you, show you backstage, even take you home with her. You get to be in her room late at night, creeping over her shoulder, watching her lean on the w key: I think it was the American Poetry Reviewwwwwwwwwwwwww. There are other, less intentional, spelling and grammatical errors that show up across the poem like little cuts and scrapes. Did someone copy edit this? The effect is either revealing of some kind of rough honesty, or just a product of an editorial process that was, as the poet puts it, a real horror.
Settings and narratives in True Beige arise and drift off. Cecilia is in front of a classroom, she gchats with Trisha Low, writes little essay fragments on Spinoza, makes outrageous requests of interns. A breathless female character shows up at a library, then at a Delray Beach restaurant, a brief glimpse at cinematic clarity. These tantalizing moments of story fade in and out – well-placed and oddly erotic distractions from the main work of the poem, which is, invariably, the writing of the poem. Corrigan shows us everything about this process with unflagging irony: Ok. insert dialogue from maybe a movie?Oh should I mention something German now?
Roman numeral sections and poems within poems provide some structural organization of the work. Corrigan calls her Roman numeral use a bad habit and a lazy self aggrandizing style, an admission both shameless and accurate. The poems in poems are tricky though. The narrator will periodically find a poem under a floorboard, or a rock with a poem tied to it will fly through the window, and the reader will be momentarily fooled into thinking that this is the entrance of a brand new poetic voice, only to hear the same the narrator’s voice, hidden behind the italics. This move comes off as egotistical, but also honest, like the poem itself. Corrigan’s narcissism is so explicit that it evades judgment or criticism. She writes, I couldn’t stand being around anyone who didn’t think I was the best and most enchanting person ever. You can’t argue with that. It’s beautiful.
The persistent but complicated feminism of True Beige rings true to the scenarios in the life of a young-privileged-white-academic-female (I would know, I’m one myself). The female narrator fluctuates between outrage (he was looking at my shirt ‘yeah I know it’s see through fuck you I’ll rape you’) and apologetic doubt (sorry to be so negativedoes this make any sense?) and a combo of the two (Yeah, I’ve looked at other women. Yeah I hate my body. Ts’a lifestyle choice). A lot of her feminism shoots arrows directly at the patriarchy of the poetry academia scene as well. I delighted in her line Do I sound like Bruce Andrews yet?, a sarcastic jab at the broetry (poetry bro) community that fawns over the straight-white-male poetry canon.
Corrigan warns her reader immediately on the first page: I’m a big faker. She seems to dismissively admit that the content of her entire poem is arbitrary, instructing, just imagine I’m saying different things. And as a reader, this is extremely comforting. You realize like, yeah, that’s right. It doesn’t even matter. All I really care about is the sound of her voice. And I think that’s a product of the expert and almost manipulative flirtiness the narrator plays with. She calls you baby, she seduces you completely. And ultimately the poem is about her power over you: without Cecilia you would not exist. (In that particular moment, the you is actually the poem, but I couldn’t also help but feel that is was also me). It’s about Cecilia Corrigan being the shiny object. And does it turn me off? No. It wrestles me into total submission. I put up a tiny fight for show, but totally love being pinned down.
If I had to assign an image to the whole poem, I would describe it as a ruched silk glove, unavoidably beige.The spacious, drifting fragments of text create the effect of the glove’s fabric falling away from itself in loose folds, and the dense, prose-y sectionsare where the glove clings to itself with the tight cinching of elastic. In True BeigeCorrigan puts on this glove, winds up, and spanks you. Or does she finger you? Feel you up? Titty twist you? Whatever it is, you like it. - Leslie Allison

Miranda Mellis interviews Cecilia K. Corrigan

MM: Cecilia, the form of your aphoristic, annotative, epistolary, comical, scrawled-on-the-bathroom wall, or ripped script of a text is described by the content. “These are all the things I’m going to chop up later,” the narrator tells us, so I’ll characterize the piece, using your lines, as a series of “punchlines of non-set up jokes” self-avowedly “sketchy and 90s,” “sort of sloppy and bananas poetics.” There’s no “writing this like Beckett” because that’s “one of those things only a person who’s already dead would have done well.” The text pushes back at a range of pressures, including the pressure of the sentence, but then, reflexive to a fault (“Do I sound like Bruce Andrews yet?”) it suddenly becomes inert, recessive, falls off. Like trying to punch in a dream, there’s a will to be kinetic, but the medium is somehow exhausted and there’s an abyss between every utterance, or a trap in every heuristic. It’s a “female voice that worked best” we’re reminded, but one precipice later the body is “on a stage feeling naked everyone laughing at me” and so the “female voice,” whatever it has meant, whether or not it “worked best,” is sublated, a mere literary device, while her (presumably her) naked body is laughed at, abject. Inverting the confessional, the text says Fuck it, fuck it (or fuck me, fuck me!), but is haunted withal by an apparatus projecting the idea that “I” will, inevitably, resigned, need to cathect to a “stabilizing force” and become a mother (which takes place, wittily, over “thousands and thousands of years”). Assimilating “like a consonant” is as inevitable and naturalized as the transformation of a D into an L. Here figures don’t choose how they signify–“You think you come up with a new way of being-with but really you just forgot stuff that happened”– nor is there any avoiding the prolepses of reproductive family life. Is this writing itself a “delaying tactic” for you, to hold atavisms (aesthetic and sexual) at bay?
CKC: As a whole, this piece is an attempt to communicate a clear and distinct idea, and a singular one, not a multiplicity. I know the work doesn’t look that way: in fact what's left on the page is quite a mess. It’s the result of a crazy fracas, a party where I invited way too many people, from too many different social groups. Sorry about the tacked on metaphor, metaphor’s the snake in the grass that shows up when I try to make determinate statements. Anyway, the writing itself looks to me like water rings left on the dining room table and inexplicable half eaten take out in the fridge. The ways in which it's clear and distinct are more like the ways an event clearly happened than the ways an idea is clearly true. An event, even when it’s in the past, is made real by its trace effects: you know something happened in a confined space at a set time, even if you can’t describe what it was. Fox Mulder said it best, “I've often felt that dreams are answers to questions we haven't yet figured out how to ask.” I believe your question primarily applies to the sections of the piece that look the most like a poem (the more confessional parts with the short, clipped, stuttering lines). I’m not into mystification, so I’d like to describe the means of production for that section, and to do the same for the other voices, or channels, of the piece, (I’m going to use the words channels and voices to mean the same thing). So that part, let’s call it the “confessional voice,” was mostly written on the subway, when I was up at some ungodly hour on my way to teach that now-empty acronym, the SAT. I was generally too zonked out to read and too awake to sleep, so I tried to write this as an exercise. It wasn’t originally meant as even a creative project for the “public eye,” (if that’s even where we are now?) it was more like an inside joke or game I played against myself.
To explain what I mean by “exercise.” I felt like I each time I started to write, my education (both academic and social) was influencing my choices in a way that felt smothering. Every reference or allusion felt like Winnicott's transitional object, and I wanted to test out what would happen if rather than grasping, I just noticed my desire for the safety of either obfuscation or derivative literary devices, while resisting giving in to either one. So the exercise was to notice every impulse and try to record it as it was happening without allowing myself to relate it to the poem as a whole, or to justify it with any kind of intellectual apparatus. It was an experiment, not a political choice. I'm not “rejecting” anything here, just acknowledging that I'll never really be able to inhabit or possess the things I admire or desire, and it's frustrating. Winnicott might say I had to try to destroy the objects of my narcissistic attachment, once I learned they were external to my body. “The price has to be paid in acceptance of the ongoing destruction in unconscious fantasy relative to object-relating” (DW).
That's the frustration you notice in the Beckett line; it’s my inverted desire to take on a formally regulated voice, validated by a procedure or apparatus, an impossible desire to fulfill because doing so feels like I'm wearing a dead white guy’s body, and not in the fun way. So the “inverted confessional voice” as you describe it, wasn't actually ever supposed to have a lyric function, the whole piece was sort of meant to be an examination of my own avoidance tactics. The text as a whole is definitely attempting to do something kinetic, but it keeps getting choked out by self-reflexivity. Every one of the voices is coughing and choking, and so the cultural hierarchy is flattened, made equal, because no one can really get to the point. Or rather, they start to, and get cut off before they can elaborate and really win the audience-reader over. It's like every person in the poem is standing at the bar with a group of avant (or academic if that’s your poison) bros, and watching them talk to each other, waiting for the right moment to dash into the conversation and slip her contribution in like a knife. But in this poem, maybe everyone talking is the outsider amongst the avant-bros and I'm the bro? Something like that. The self-reflexivity frustrates my ability to move forward in the work, or rather traps me so I can only continue writing through deflection: shuffling compulsively through techniques, through a bag of tricks.
Turning away from successive voices manifested in a tendency to use disjuncture, to deconstruct, to write in a way that could, as you point out, be considered “feminine” as per Cixous or Irigaray. This style of attack also frustrated me, as yet another distancing device which I discard, return to, fall back towards, and so forth. That particular voice in the text continually performs and rejects the “talking cure.” The piece comes to the same breakthrough over and over again but experiences no release. The breakthrough is this: that overcoming my distaste for sectarian aesthetic groups is an impossibility, but also that a radical stance seems the only way to protect myself & my work from the pull of the aesthetic & social “middle” (those atavisms you mention).
To say this another way. The poem exhibits the classic symptoms of a garden-variety neurotic. I long for comfort, but fear that with it would come a complete loss of control (over my urges, over the text, over my body). Apology as side note: a friend of mine recently pointed out I tend to anthropomorphize tones or affects as characters, sort of the way the ancient Greeks did with natural and psychological phenomena. So, I apologize if it gets confusing when I slip and talk about them as people. I’ll talk about the other voices in the piece now. There’s sections from two academic papers, one on Ulysses, one on Spinoza’s Ethics, as well as a text I wrote as a collaboration with the artist Kah Bee Chow for her gallery show in Sweden. There are also a couple poems (described as threatening letters) that are older work, repurposed but not rehabbed. The bit of dialogue at the end of the piece is an excerpt from a gchat with my friend Trisha Low, whose essay Kitty Complicity: On Hello Kitty band-aid as cosmological fetish, is also lurking in this piece. I’d like to say more about that. Parts of True Beige were originally part of an essayistic, vaguely scholarly talk on Spinoza, Joyce, and desire, which I presented alongside Trisha’s essay. It’s hard to find the right word to explain how our compositional processes were related, maybe simply by saying that we’ve been close friends and intellectual /poetic co-conspirators for many years, and it felt natural to have these two pieces verge incestuously near to one another in content and style. In Kitty, Trisha writes about the band-aid as an object designed to both conceal and fetishize the female wound, occasionally breaking out of the critical into a pained, confessional letter to a lover. She writes “applying the Hello Kitty band-aid is certainly complicit in making a wound palatable but also labels itself with a narrative implying a history of silencing. A case wherein the wound remains concealed and yet is so very loudly and formally pronounced.”
Or, in Mulder’s words, “I wanted to believe. But the tools had been taken away...They closed our eyes. Our voices have been silenced. Our ears now deaf to the realms of extreme possibilities.”
MM: I understand you have written for HBO and there’s a certain split or tension you feel in navigating between the rough tangle of poetics and the smooth artifices of the TV serial. Yet there is something to your “non-set up jokes” that one hears in the better television writing these days, something of the tang of poetry, especially in HBO programs that push the medium. Though you’d miss the missing half of the quotation mark, I could imagine some televisual, half-finished “I” performing your line Remember when I was like “I. On “Enlightened” last Sunday, Mike White’s character Tyler, in an extended, poetic interior monologue, describes himself as “the ghost” and “a pearl” that no one sees. Do you see your poetic practice as also a training for writing literary television, and is there any vice versa?
CKC: Generally, writing for television, (in my totally green experience) is much more focussed on keeping things tight and above-board than poetry–and I worked for the very poetically-minded show runner David Milch– but I think you’re definitely right that the two are starting to have more in common; to be, if not bedfellows, at least friendly acquaintances. Not in every case, but certain entities in both fields are starting to use their commonalities as advantages. David, my boss on the show, did a show called John from Cincinnati that didn’t do well ratings-wise because, well, it was a bit strange, but I think followed a very poetic logic, more than anything else I’ve ever seen on television. It could have been like, Bruce LaBruce or David Lynch! I just love it, it’s really a beautiful show.
The most important thing that I think television and poetry have in common is that they’re regulated by set, discrete time limits, which break down the larger whole into small parts. I’m saying episode is to season as poem is to poetry book. To respond to your question about training, I’d say I aspire to imitate television in my poetry or, to be less cute, to plunder the tactics television uses to control and compel its viewer.
Poetry is a perfect space to set up multiple voices, it’s a form where the page is a lot more like a screen than a page. I describe switching between voices as changing channels. It's an obvious metaphor but appropriate: the juxtaposing scripts and chatter are in part attempts to recreate the feeling of switching channels, gchatting, reading an article online, and eating, all at once.
Alternatively, this is what happens in True Beige: somebody's sitting in a small space between their bureau and their bed with their laptop on their knees, digesting food and talking to multiple people on gchat at the same time, and they're getting accusatory emails from probably an ex or a parent. The overarching character speaking here is a sad clown who’s not getting any laughs, could be a creepy clown too if that’s your thing...
About the transition to a more performative tone. At a certain point, I got fed up with all these voices stammering in frustration, and intervened, shifting the tonal aphasia towards exploiting this textual weakness by using the voices as character foils for one another: jumping between the academic and the confessional etc. It's hopefully a little funny. I like to think of the tone as vaudevillian; that the piece creates a sort of stage for my own embarrassment, and pursuant rejection of said embarrassment through bald-faced showmanship.
I have a great admiration for writers whose work is replete with a nervous energy that communicates both self-control and extreme risk, whose work takes its goals seriously while at the same time knowing it might be laughed at and treated like a clown. I like thinking of this project as an attempt to follow in the footsteps of my dogmatically skeptical heros, like Wittgenstein for instance. He’s a total superhero of neurotic self-reflection, in the way he flinches looking at his subject while attempting to get a grip on it. He had reason to flinch, going after the core problems in language and philosophy, whereas I don’t have that much to be nervous about, I’m just trying to find a way to write some kind of subjective relatable experience.
You mention the tension around assimilation, as to whether it’s inevitable and part of being culturally naturalized. I thought that was interesting, because a large part of the original exercise was to notice what I resisted, “naturally,” and to notice those things towards which I was drawn which seemed “unnatural,” like heuristics or apparati. To some extent there’s a desire to find out what’s a priori in my mind, and what is “artificial,” what’s been planted there. I just realized that for all my crushes on cognitive science and philosophy of language, this is a bit of a Cartesian exercise after all.
I was writing this while reading some of Sontag's journals, and I pillaged little things from her, which are threaded through the piece. She was so self-aware, constantly analyzing things she’d thought or said in the past, and so hard on herself! I've always been really interested in people's notebooks and journals, like I remember when I was about 12, I read The Great Gatsby, and I went right out and found Fitzgerald's Notebooks. Now I remember his little notes more clearly than I remember the details of Gatsby, and it's been just as long since I've read them. I've always been obsessed with the personal notes and marginalia of artists and intellectuals that I like, because I guess I think that those are their “real” thoughts. Or maybe it’s just comforting to me to feel sort of kinship with people's self-reflexivity, especially people I admire. I think people’s personal notes and correspondence can allow great intimacy, while sidestepping the sort of schlocky taste that can make “Confessional Writing” so hard to swallow. In this piece, I tried to play with the idea of intimacy between writer and reader by including things like gchats and (what appears to be) information about my personal life. I wanted the invasion of my personal space to transition from being implicit towards being explicit, and ultimately, for the reader to feel like they’re watching someone being pulled apart right in front of them when they read it.

MM: There are a crowd of men in the poem, several deranged, invading letters from creepy sources, wrapped around rocks or hidden under the floor, and then there are a few scripts in the works, including a parody in which the narrator wants “men’s styles to move from “dry” (objective, action oriented) to “wet” (emotionally bogged down, introspective). And this latter piece is “set in 2003, because I think it was the “emo peak” of our culture in terms of expressive self-pity.” Bagdad was invaded in 2003, and millions of people protested; more people than had ever protested at once, protested that invasion globally. The ideological freight of the “objective, action oriented” man was epitomized by the dissimulating, spectacular postures of the Bush administration with respect to the invasion. And people were “emotionally bogged down,” depressed if not in despair that Bush had come into power despite not winning that office. “All desires are for imaginary objects,” you write, paraphrasing Spinoza. The “objective, action oriented” and “dry” men above enact the Spinozan “tendency of cognition to form perceptions based on self-preservation rather than clear and distinct truths.” We believe what will preserve us, not what we can verify and “The fetish itself is a cosmology,” you write, “the fantasy of another object in another world.” Your gloss is breathtaking and marks a turn in the text. And you double your point eloquently: the fetish, as another object in another world, is never attained, e.g. the War on Terror” is never won because terrorism is a fetish, as is democracy. Speaking of receding horizons, at the end of your piece there is a funny/upsetting snatch of dialogue in which “any anthology of women’s writing is going to fail” because it’s historical, remedial, a supplement–“another object in another world.” What kind of fetish is feminism?
CKC: You’re right, there are a lot of scary men in this poem, as a matter of fact they’re all a bit creepy, unless they’re being puppeted, like Leo Bloom or Spinoza.
There’s also a lot of different channels playing at the same time. As I mentioned, the piece is sort of meant to feel like channel-switching. In addition to the way I try to rip off television’s best qualities, I’m fascinated by the logic that governs our attention when we switch channels. I think the way we engage with multiple browser windows and multiple tv channels follows a poetic logic. When you’re in a deep tv-watching or internet-watching zone, the moves you make from channel to channel or page to page are governed by choices which draw on both our intuitive and rational motivations. If I could visualize how multi-tasking (allegedly my generation’s modus oprandi), writes itself on the brain, it would be discursive but not incoherent. Leaps from aesthteic object to object are made through metonymic association and relegated by time-constrained chance (for the television), or habit (for the internet). The aesthetic and informational objects we jump between leave a causal trail, whether or not we’d call these choices conscious.
Recently I heard this cognitive scientist saying that single-player shooter games like Call of Duty are actually better for the brain’s informational processing than multitasking of the sort I’m describing. So maybe, as a poet, I’m attracted to trying to describe or recreate the experience because it’s a totally empty act of curation, a waste of cognitive labor. It’s trying to be ambient in a more amped up, caffeinated, hungover way than, for instance, Tan Lin’s work, which has somewhat similar goals but is generally much more beautiful and well-wrought, less frustrating.
Speaking of CoD. I like what you pointed out about my choice of 2003 in terms of the invasion of Baghdad. I did think about those events as having a direct relation to the time period’s pervasive cultural affect of “(scr)e(a)mo,” but in terms of 9/11. I think the mood of that time, at least domestically, was adolescent, the frustrations more sulky than pragmatic. As you rightly point out, it was a time when realities were warped in the service of personal agendas, with its dissembling political posturing and manipulation of mass public emotions. The public performance of self-deception, in the corporate media and the government, was everywhere. In that sense, imagination ruled the nation! The politics in this piece are diced and mixed like everything else, and I appreciate your very cleverly teasing them out. The channel in the piece when I describe this script is meant to be in part an act of self-deflation, as the participant in a long-standing Joycean tradition of overladen, imitative narratives. The desire to contain history is as inevitably frustrated as the next imaginary desire, as said history is a malleable object, endowed with whatever qualities are most amenable to one’s own self-preservation. Perhaps the connection is that democracy is like all other fetishistic desires: the repetitive attempt to grasp the immaterial. Fuck it, the sigh of cerebral frustration, becomes Fuck me, insisting on the material body.
It’s important that 2003 was the year I started high school. I had a tough time adapting to the American suburbs, as I’d grown up largely outside the country, and having 9/11 and Iraq as a backdrop to my adolescence only increased the feeling of alienation. Maybe that’s the real reason the unholy alliance between Bright Eyes, Xiu Xiu, and George W. was forged in my brain.
Spinoza was also alienated from his peers; he was excommunicated from his synagoge. The rabbis of his community were way harsh, decreeing that "no one should communicate with him neither in writing nor accord him any favor nor stay with him under the same roof nor within four cubits in his vicinity; nor shall he read any treatise composed or written by him." So basically he was a social pariah. He moved to this little house where he worked as a lens grinder. Eventually he died from inhaling all the tiny shards of glass.
It’s not really clear why he was excommunicated, it’s generally assumed it was because of his writing, though the decree also refers to his intriguing “ monstrous deeds” and “evil ways.” Given this treatment, he was incredibly empathetic to the human tendency towards hubris, and miscommunication in his philosophy. I mention him as one of the men being puppeted here with affection. I love that guy.

I’d like to address your question about feminism by first making a clear distinction between feminism as a (admittedly fetishistic and utopian) politics, and the “female voice” which you mention in your first question. The latter is something I struggle with as, in your words, a “mere literary device,” which had already been incorporated into course syllabi and hegemonic discourse before I was born, yet hasn’t yet been supplanted by a better tactic for arguing one’s disenfranchisement at the level of the text. I’ll try to speak carefully here because I’m not a social scientist or a post-colonial scholar, and I usually skirt around talking about the politics of my work. It appears I’m already doing so though, so enough pussyfooting around. Feminism is a utopian fetish that I commit to materially, which is as close as I ever come to believing something’s real. I commit to it more so than I do to the fantasy of, say, democracy. That said, I don’t feel much affection for the last few decades’ discourse around identity politics. Nor do I feel totally comfortable with an orthodox Marxist analysis of gender inequality. I believe that all oppressive power structures rely upon the exclusion of the subaltern subject from public spaces of representation, be they economic, physical or yes, even aesthetic. This idea might be, probably is, a self-preserving idea, something I desire to believe from a position of privilege, and here we are again at vertigo. And then again, vertigo is the causal root of this belief: for me, feminism holds the utopian idea of escape from the hegemonic labyrinth, a false promise which is actually the subject of the book, and I’ve finally admitted it! This piece is a cruelly optimistic video game where I’m in the labyrinth trying to find a way out, running down every promising trail and hitting the same dead ends. It’s like, I know there’s really no chance of escape, but I need to believe the chance exists so that I’ll keep trying.

Cecilia K. Corrigan lives in New York. Her first book Titanic was awarded the Plonsker Prize, and will be published by & Now Books in 2014. Her current research interests include Alan Turing, immaturity, Ludwig Wittgenstein's adolescence, Alice James, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and therapeutic cosmetics. Her work has appeared in The Journal, Death and Life of American Cities, O'Clock Press, The Awl, The Nicola Midnight St. Claire, Glitterpony, and Emergency Index. She wrote for HBO's show Luck.