Wednesday, May 20, 2009

SSM: Kirsten Kaschock's 'from Sleight'

The analogy of the 'Russian doll' has been discussed to death in the manner of speaking about 'worlds within worlds,' and in a way, this notion is so wrong: it makes the worlds seem clear and separate, contained within one another as a placeholder, to be toyed with and stored, each painted cool.

Hell naw.

Let's drop the cute crud and pretend like we're actually talking about something that exists, and is made not of snap-shapes, but of air and doors.

Like, here: Kirsten Kaschok's 'from Sleight', which appeared in the always brain licking Action Yes in Spring 2007. I hadn't read any of Kaschok's text until coming upon this in reading and rereading the AYes archives for some fuel to make me want to spurt.

(How easy it can be to forget how much the act of writing is as much a method of intake as it is out-.)

Excerpts in fiction often suffer in that they feel strung out or lopsided: I've never had so much trouble and frustration as when I am trying to cut up a very long text into something 'submittable,' etc. In this case, with this excerpt from 'Slight' (which I am now very interested to find the body of, having chewed a digit and wanting body), the effect is forward-pushing, if also maddening for how it makes the blood boil wanting more (good!).

This text, in its most reduced state, is an exploration of one my favorite, or at least perpetually recurring, thoughts: the body as a house and house as a body, and how rooms connect to rooms, with blood, etc.

And while these ideas are things I've walked upon for so long, here in 'Sleight' the approach feels fresh, in the way it takes an even more literal, somehow almost clinical approach (the narrator goes into a room and flexes her body, thinking about the state of the architectures) and the way is mashes with Kaschock's manner of melding the heavy-headed with the offhand: an aesthetic that can often come off bratty, but not here.

Clef rearranged her leotard. She adjusted the elastic along her hipbones, tugged at her spaghetti straps, then bent over to gather up the architecture. During performance she wore no leotard beneath her web, but in rehearsals the women wore them and the men—athletic belts or biker shorts. She looked in the mirror. Her hair, though pulled back, was coming undone around her face—which was growing somewhat red. She could already see blood pooled where a few bruises would be forming: one beneath her left knee, one on either hip. A throb told her of a fourth on her shoulder. It felt good—her—moving again. Tender.

So mathematical, almost bizarrist, using the anatomy as a map, inside the worm of rooms where the body itself has gone to flex for no apparent purpose but to do so: leaving that insisted upon 'Russian doll' junk at the gate. The narrator is aware of her body, and the body around her body, without wanting their connection: though all still within a mood of kinetics, like someone is about to somewhere be stabbed or have a fuck.

These ideas are propagated and allowed to worm, rather than be needled, letting the sentences and their surrounding space do most of the work, like here, a one sentence paragraph:

Clef began to rotate her tubes and wires.

There is likely an analogy of the name 'Clef' that could be fucked up out of someone wanting music but the music is just there, and is not asked upon, and rides, and lets eat: this is a text and not a story, not a poem. Text. No labels. Words. MMM.

The last graph, in its exit from the space of the rest of the narrative, a connected disconnection, takes the architectures of the fleshy body in the building body and reverts them to the fleshy body's own ingestion of a smaller cell, the eating of an apple, which, once bitten of its best flesh, is tossed away, left in a trash pile to be resettled somewhere, bitten somewhere else, maybe, or left to rot:

Clef ate an apple as she walked toward the subway. The apple was a world. The wind that whipped a lock of wet hair into her mouth was inside the apple. She sucked salt from the hair before pulling it from her lips. Above her the blue pressed down coldly. She was taller now, and could pierce it. Clef cut a swath from the air as she moved down the street. First, someone noticed her passing. Then, someone else. Scraps of newspapers and neon-hued flyers drifted down to settle in her wake. She tossed the apple core into a wire trash can and peeled some red paint from her palm. It had the irregular shape of a continent. Some vagrant continent—brightly bloody.

The variance of space, like something throbbing, lands in lands in the best way, the sanguine, tunneled way, over the insistence shelf-sat 'doll' diagram where everybody already knows: this is a text like meditation. This is text made of fine things: High, low. Bloody food. Sentence. Sentence. Shit. Rapacity for shit same as a temple, and for flexing. Yum.

More Kaschock please.


John Dermot Woods said...

Here's the good news, Blake: Sleight (not Slight) is a whole novel. So there's plenty more of this, and I'll bet my kid that it'll be published so that you all can read it whole. It's a pretty amazing book. Kirsten is a dancer and has a very particular relationship with the idea of the body that, as you pointed out, she explores in beautifully exhaustive ways in this book. The book is also inspired by the geography right outside of Atlanta (that world around 316) - a world you probably know something about.


hi john, dang, whoops, thanks for catching me titular mistake. i am blind or dumb.

that news is indeed good, i want to read the hell out of it...

peter markus said...

Thanks, Blake, for pointing the way. My attentions are seized. My sensations a-hum. Bravo to this Kaschock for such lingual acrobatics. I'm wicked. This story, a world.


i am glad you dug it as much as i did peter