THE ZAMBRENO DOLL
TWO WEEKS AGO I saw on Facebook a comment Kate Zambreno made regarding a review of James Franco’s new book that mentioned Kathy Acker, presumedly in reference to Franco’s ventriloquizing River Pheonix, possibly others. (My exposure to the book is limited to Michael Silverblatt’s Bookworm interview with Franco.) Zambreno’s position was that this comparison is really dumb, completely off-base. In the comments thread, I posted: “Altars are altars.” I was immediately unfriended by Zambreno and thus occluded from the conversation and any subsequent threads, a chess move that — tho clever — strikes me as a bit ridiculous, considering the neutrality of my statement.
The Word is The Word.
I re-requested her friendship and sent the following message:
Probably that Franco & Acker are both Americans of ambiguous sexuality writing within the same 100 year period and using similar devices within hybridized genre is reason enough for it to be mentioned in a review, is my thinking. .. Guarantee Acker got at least a few dozen readers she’d never have had otherwise if the reviewer hadn’t dropped the name, erroneous tho the comparison may be within the world of our specialized knowledge. .. This, admittedly, appealing to that ‘Oprah does good for lit’ kind of sensibility.
Considering I received no response, I regret having put even as much thought as this into a comment placed in tangent with a request to participate in a conversation I’ve got as much right to as any other human being, regardless of the seemingness of my being white or male. The notion of feeling obliged to ask permission to express an opinion, no matter who or what you are, is humiliating. And tho I find the prospect of humiliation somewhat exciting, my conviction to challenge hypocrisy and reductionist thinking — in this case, ongoing invective generalization practiced with impunity — wins out.
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Barred from this particular temple, I sit down outside the gates and I weep. What is the cause of my tears? I wonder, palms slick and face hidden from the priestesses streaming in arrival and departure from the pylon. Is it envy? and of what? Have I not got my own good things to feel glad about? Must I access *every* goddess? Why is it I care so much..?
These questions — or simply the act of questioning — are enough to stop my crying. I pick myself up, dust myself off, and return to the keep of my Citadel.
: : : : :
The Zambreno doll arrives in the mail. Part of the ‘Iconoclast Series’ I’ve been collecting. Perhaps one day I’ll be similarly immortalized, tho I have my doubts. I read the copy on the box: “Speaks Over a Dozen Variations of Reactionary Polemic Toward History’s Majority Shareholders”. This seems in bad taste for a number of reasons.
I remove the doll from its box. I remove the accessories from the box. The Zambreno doll comes with its own Green Girl doll, stuck thru with pins.
: : : : :
GREEN GIRL. I read that one. I enjoyed the cruelty with which the author handled her character. Indeed, if not for this cruelty, I’d have had no interest in a character so shallow and insipid. Ruth. Ruth reminded me of some of the girls I’ve gone out with. My tendency to chase shiny objects. And indeed, I found something of myself in a young man in the book who had the misfortune of falling for Ruth. When they finally had sex, Ruth was disgusted that this boy adored her, his face beaming up from between her legs. She wanted to be fucked, not worshipped. Poor kid.
Not that I’ve not repeated similar mistakes. My natural tendency in relationships has also been one of adoration. In bed when my ex-girlfriend said, ‘Do whatever you want to me,’ I didn’t do anything different. In the past, in more intimate settings than the internet, I’ve expounded that — because women have plenty of historical reasons to resent men, and not the other way around — a certain artificial misogyny must be invoked at will in order to strike a balance and produce the magnetism necessary to drive the engine of desire/attraction. Admittedly, I am not so great at doing this, and so I fail at fucking the shit out of someone. Achieving the heights of penetration. That said, I’m still learning.
: : : : :
I pull the pull-string on the Zambreno doll’s back. A pre-recorded phrase issues from somewhere within the doll’s depths.
Something is wrong. I assume from both the box’s copy and what I know of Zambreno’s public persona and character that I am being condemned for occupying my body. This assumption provides a certain giddy thrill. And yet, I am unable to understand. Why? I pull the string again. A different phrase. The same effect. And yet the words themselves are clear. The syntax is sound. It’s just that I can’t make sense of what the doll is saying.
Rather than any problem with the mechanism, I assume the issue lies with some personal deficiency, or deficiencies, of my own. Perhaps certain gaps in my education apropos feminism and its waves. Probably for too long I have been staring into the vastness of the Supernal Ocean and imagining its Depths, whereas I should have studied spume. Its contexts. Its effects. Its specifics.
I pull the string a few more times. No luck. I look for some sign on the doll.
On the foot of the doll in small letters: ‘Made by Men’.
Obviously this must refer to the facsimile of Zambreno — the doll Zambreno — and not Zambreno herself. I cannot imagine that the woman Zambreno is herself tattooed with these words.
At first, I am tempted to read it as a misprint. Surely it should read ‘Mankind’. On further reflection, however, I suspect this is incorrect.
Is it that only a man would make a fetish object of Zambreno ?? The internet has proven this is not so, the difference between an idol and a doll being negligible. Even so, if this doll was in fact produced by men, the men who made the doll were themselves made by women, so it seems a half-truth at best.
: : : : :
I decide to take a different sort of view.
On a more abstract plane, I see the doll coursing with essence.
I observe in the doll the womb of the doll,
giving rise to wave after wave of tiny Zambrenos,
like Charlotte’s eggsack hatching at the center of her web
a force spread glowing out in all directions.
: : : : :
A friend of mine has it that Zambreno’s project is nothing less than the destruction of the female — and hence the male — archetype.
I like archetypes. Being a metaphysician, they are more or less my primary means of navigating the multiverse.
Is the objectification involved in an act of worship or transubstantiation identical to a sexual objectification, a corporeal objectification with physical satisfaction as its means ??
And presuming they’re different, is it possible that these seemingly disparate forms of objectification can be bridged ?? If bridged, are they still bad ?? Are they to be eradicated ??
or are they simply an inevitable part of existing in a world where birth signs us into a gender ??
I won’t pretend to have an answer. I am, however, concerned, since I’m a part of everybody.
I suspect the problem is the notion that History is something that matters.
: : : : :
Donning my robes,
I step up into the sanctum-chambers of the Citadel.
On the holy slab at the temple center,
surrounded by mirrors,
Kathy Acker is pegging James Franco.
She reaches down below the harness, dips her fingers into her snatch, then pops them fish-hooking into Franco’s mouth all moaning.
Infinite Ackers and infinite Francos flank out all arounding.
Nearing the moment of climax under my presiding chants,
Acker draws up the boline, etched with the appropriate symbols.
Slapping stone reverberant echo and moan as they cum the blade is drawn across Franco’s throat, severing his head gone rolling.
Amongst and from the blood come spurting from the stump springs an Acker-Franco fully formed.
An androgyne fit to occupy by all // and here we are // together.
TUNE IN NEXT TIME FOR THE EXCITING CONCLUSION:
“The Assassination of the Angel of History”