I read Scarecrone by Melissa Broder in the bath. Originally, I bought every copy of Scarecrone from Adam Robinson but then I sold them all back to him for the same price, except one, which I kept. That is the copy of Scarecrone I read in the bath.
I had a notebook and pen by the bath because I knew it would be an experience that I would want to express something about, even though I’m uneasy with experiences and expression.
Earlier, I’d read an interview of Melissa Broder by Shane Jones in The Believer about food and food rituals. The interview answers are very honest and detailed. I became upset as I read it because it put me in touch with a kind of radical normalcy in my thoughts and behaviors around food and my body. I began to wonder, as I’ve wondered before, if that normalcy has to do with how many hours & hours I spent in the bathtub as a child and teen, around my own naked body but not confronted with it. As a child and teen, in the bathtub, I usually either read, in which case I saw my headless naked body in the lower periphery, or I did things to make my body feel or do things, in which case I guess I closed my eyes or saw my body through unusual filters.
(I don’t know how to describe any of this in non-dualist ways, especially from the bath point of view since–unlike in the mirror where you see everything or mostly your face– in the bath you see your body but not your head where your brain is, so that the body really seems like something apart.)
I thought about how I have no discipline about food–no habits–but I do have a modicum of self-control. A lot of the interview was about bingeing, which I’ve never done, and which must require even more discipline than purging or limiting food. Bingeing must require a kind of vision, or drive, that will only work via an extreme amount of discipline that I’ll never have.
I thought about how uninterested in purity I am, especially when it comes to food and the body, which is part of what upset me about the interview. I have been slow to read Scarecrone in part because it seems pure and honest, and I am uncomfortable with purity and not very honest. Part of that dishonesty has probably led me throughout my life to deny the existence of any bad feelings about my body. Shame itself is so pure, or at least it’s predicated on the desire for purity. I am not honest about shame I might feel, or ways that I might wish I were pure or that something in the world were pure.
Still, I wanted to read Scarecrone in the bath. I thought something would happen to me if I did because I read reviews that said it is a book of spells, and I am most vulnerable to spells in the bath. I ran the water and realized it was much too hot. For the spell to work, I thought, maybe it would be better to sit naked on the cold toilet seat beside the bath but not get in, and read Scarecrone like that. Or maybe for it to work I should light candles and put them around the bath.
When I got in the bath, it was still too hot. I kept thinking, for it to work, I have to be less comfortable than usual. It has to be too hot, or too bright. Dogs barking. For it to work, I should probably stop looking at my phone to see if anyone besides my boyfriend and my therapist fav’d my tweet about the relationship between taking baths and body image.
Or, for it to work, I should not read with a pen in hand because that is a way of hiding from the book and thinking when I should be reading in an immediate, non-thinking, experiential way, if it is to cast a spell on me.
But I guess it did work despite my not taking any of those steps because I didn’t think about any of that while I read Scarecrone in the bath. I got off the toilet seat and into the tub, I made it comfortable, I kept checking my phone, I used my pen–but it still worked.
Unlike the interview, which made me think about Melissa and her experiences and simultaneously made me think about myself and my experiences, the I in Scarecrone was neither and both of us. It is specific but not particular. I’m not talking about universality; I’m talking about something that has to do with age and mortality but not life or death, something that is apart but not outside of experience. The poems in Scarecrone are vital reckonings. It reckons with how separate and the same we all are. And how orgasm is not a moment of union, but apartness–you don’t come, no–“you go and you go and you go and you go/and you go and you go and you go and you go.”
And what I thought I could deny? I had the wrong word. Really there’s only forgetting: “Mostly it’s hard to believe/what matters is in your heart./I’ll remember for an hour.” It is so much easier to believe we are just brains and bodies.
After I got out of the bath where I read Scarecrone, my cat fell into it. She jumped back out but still stalked around the tile and stared at the water in the tub as it drained. She tried to lick the water off her fur, or maybe she wanted to lick it in.