The following interview is part of a series of interviews which were conducted as part of a project that was concerned with the subject of failure in relation to Alice Jardine’s concept of ‘gynesis’ (putting into the discourse of “woman”). I wanted to write about the spaces that failure creates, what happens just after the moment of failure, and how that sensation can be a horizon or a void (a generative space); I was also interested in the relationship between failure and rites of passage. Four specific conceptual inquiries were posed to a diverse group of people, who are anonymous here, and phrases from their answers were spliced together to create part of the rhetorical language in a lyric essay that is forthcoming from the online poetics journal, Something on Paper. – Lauren DeGaine
Lauren DeGaine: Please describe the feeling of stepping down when you think there’s a stair and there isn’t.
colleague/friend: The abruptness of gravity. I broke my foot that way, not looking down. Anticipating a non existent obstacle. Clumsily navigating domestic topography. Sometimes it’s a relief, not having to step down. An unexpected hello from the pavement.
LD: In a community that you are a part of, have you ever experienced a rite of passage or initiation? Please describe it.
c/f: I feel like every community has their own unofficial initiation of some sort, whether consciously performed or otherwise. Am I good enough to be a part of your conversations and lifestyle. Am I what you are looking for in a friend. Can you blend in with us in a way that highlights our favorite parts. I’ve been introduced to lover’s friends who grilled me before acceptance. Who drowned me in so much alcohol that I had a hard time staying afloat. As if my stomach was an initiation, a rite of passage. As a young woman my Mexican father wanted me to have a quinceanera, but my American mother refused. She held firmly to the fact that just because I turned 15 didn’t mean I was an adult yet, or a sexualized object ready to enter the world as a commodity. I thank her for that. Only I wish I had the pictures.
LD: What does a void mean to you? What does a horizon mean to you?
c/f: A void is what I felt when Roxanne died. I paced the hallway around the kitchen until the sky turned black. I folded into myself on the carpet. I went to meet Alex so he could take me somewhere far, only I got lost because I couldn’t stop walking. I arrived at our meeting place but it was too soon and too close. I wandered Twin Peaks and Excelsior. Grief as a void. A void as wandering. Negotiating a loss too heavy, too something, to really comprehend or wrap your mind/heart around.
A horizon is a location. It is a carrot in front of the horse’s mouth. You reach for it but as you reach it pulls farther away. Kind of like a rainbow. Or an answer.
LD: Please explain the word, “feminine.”
c/f: It means nothing. I’m at a point where I use the word so much it has lost its significance, its gusto. Feminine is tulips draped in snow or the red button on a heavy piece of machinery. It is a mask and not a mask. It is everywhere at once without a specific notion of place. It’s political, I think, feminine. Not like a flag or a podium but something less tangible. A secret that everyone knows. Or a lie. Something whispered between tongues.
Lauren DeGaine is a cross-genre writer, music festival journalist and printmaker who explores language, place, and the body through her work. Originally from Palm Springs, CA, Lauren now lives on Vancouver Island, where she is preparing application materials for MFA programs in Canada and the US. Before arriving on the island, Lauren obtained her bachelor’s degree in Writing and Literature from Naropa University’s Jack Kerouac School in Colorado. Her work has appeared in Betty and Kora, Fest 300, and ineffable.