Dress in Words: The Self Unstable by Elisa Gabbert
The Self Unstable
by Elisa Gabbert
Black Ocean, Nov 2013
96 pages / $14.95 Buy from Amazon or Black Ocean
Already, I have the problem of memory. Memories act precariously when they are the palate of thought. Example: I can’t remember when I first read Elisa Gabbert, but I remember the rough poetics of The French Exit. Bodies and minds took beatings. The words violenced through the poems. I was especially captivated by the sexual aggression. A voice attempted to transcend the self through bodily destruction, like autoerotic asphyxiation. Like a lack of could force the mind out of the body.
The Self Unstable exemplifies a bodiless self. Gabbert explores how thought dictates action, then action dictates belief. Memories lead the way because they create an illusion of understanding. “It can almost ruin you, the belief that you can choose,” (3). Language shreds the roles of identity. Her Twitter-brain essays/poems fragment connections. Art, games, leisure, love, sex – everything that fills our time – seem like activities to enjoy. Instead, they [dis]assemble the violent act of creation.
Animals, news, dreams pollute the mind. Where is placement? Ego feels displaced. Ego never had a place. Like grandparents coming through Ellis Island, body and mind attempt to locate a self. Look, my Dad found the papers. The family’s entrance was legitimate. At least on my Mom’s side. Names were misspelled, but sound has barely changed. The art of phonetics assert an idea of WHO. Some sort of declaration of I AM.
Generations exist as fragments collaged through shared behaviors. Family is why I’m here, but is family ME? Who has a choice in creation? Forget ideals, love and sex are “enjoyment of adversity,” (67). We ruin others. Relationships start based on these fallacies. Gabbert explains that a shared a taste in music creates the idea sameness. My mixtape to you means SOMETHING.
May 5th, 2014 / 10:00 am