Act 39

February 18, 2009

So you want to be a cyberfeminist—re-writing Bukowski

Hello and welcome back to 52 Acts. I have had a lovely Internet-free (after working through withdrawals) holiday and thought a bit of re-worked poetry might be a nice gentle way to kick things off for the year.

Recently I was sent a copy of Charles Bukowski’s poem So You Want to be a Writer via an email list I am part of. Now, the only thing I know about Bukowski is what I learned from a Modest Mouse song, the key lyric being “yeah I know he’s a pretty good read, but God who’d want to be, God who’d want to be such an asshole

Well I read it over a few times and couldn’t quite work out if it was meant to be taken at face value or rather if it was a tongue in cheek exploration of the way that people see artists as conduits for divine inspiration. The above lyric makes me think probably the former, so I decided to re-work it to my way of thinking.

So you want to be a writer

if you wait until it comes bursting out of you
in spite of everything,
you won’t do it.

if you only want it to come unasked out of your

heart and your mind and your mouth
and your gut,
don’t do it.

if you think sitting for hours
staring at your computer screen
or hunched over your typewriter
searching for words makes you a failure,
don’t do it.

if you’re doing it for money or fame,
you may well be disappointed,
but don’t let that stop you,
you might find something even more valuable on the way.

if you’re doing it because you want
women in your bed,
again this may not work,
but you might meet some interesting people on your journey
and heh, some may just end up in your bed.

if you have to sit there and
rewrite it again and again,
please, please do,
editing is as important as getting the words out in the first place.

if it’s hard work just thinking about doing it,
start it now.

if you’re trying to write like somebody
don’t worry,
you are just like the rest of us,
we all have idols
but you will find your own style soon enough.

if you have to wait for it to roar out of you,
you may be waiting a very long time.
better to give it a kick start by going through the motions anyway,
it will roar out eventually
but you need to help it.

if it never does roar out of you,
do something else,
like go for a walk and then come back and do a
creative writing exercise and see if that helps.

if you first have to read it to your wife
or your girlfriend or your boyfriend
or your parents or to anybody at all,
make sure they are people who are likely to be encouraging and give
you good editing advice.

don’t be like so many writers,
don’t be like so many thousands of
people who write but are afraid to call themselves writers,
or worse, are afraid to write at all.

don’t be dull and boring and
just be yourself.

the libraries of the world have
yawned themselves to
sleep over your kind,
waiting for your book because you waited for inspiration.
don’t add to that.
write it now.

sometimes it comes out of
your soul like a rocket,
but being still won’t
drive you to madness or
suicide or murder,
sometimes you need to be still to allow the ideas to come.

you need to fuel the fire so the sun inside you
burns your gut,
it doesn’t happen on its own.

it is truly time,
and you have been chosen,
but it will not do it by
you need to will keep on fueling it
until you die.

there is no other way.
and there never was.


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Act 36

November 28, 2008

The New Feminine–Flickr group and tagging project

Organic Farmerunder the umbrellaNatasha

As we are coming to the end of the year and I am beginning to wrap up the 52 Acts project I have been looking back on some of the previous Acts and thinking about some of the ways in which I have wanted to further the knowedge I have gained from them. Early on in the project I had a look at Flickr images and the way in which they were tagged (see Acts 5, 6, and 7. I feel this was an important element of my work because the idea of ‘tagging’ (attaching several descriptors to an item for the purposes of searching) rather than categorising is central to the concept of web 2.0.

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Act 33

November 12, 2008

Watching Women Street Art–Part 2c WOC Edition–Turkish Gold

One of the biggest offenders in the gender ads WOC gallery seemed to be cigarette advertising. The Virginia Slims ads are particularly bad using stereotypes to sell the sexiness of their cigarettes while using the tagline “find your voice”. Firstly, cigarettes have long been proven to damage and actually remove your voice, secondly, using a stereotype and calling it individuality is just plain baffling.

I chose to use this camel cigarettes advert as the basis for my third and final stencil in part 2 of the series. It seems representations of Middle Eastern women are either belly dance/mysterious/spicy/sexy or completely veiled. It is the virgin/whore trope taken to extremes.

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Act 32

November 12, 2008

Watching Women Street Art–Part 2b WOC Edition–Reebok Geisha

Following on from the Aunt Jemima stencil I became interested in other representations of women, and particularly women of colour, in advertising. I found which is a fantastic resource, particularly useful was their WOC exotics section. I was inspired by this old reebok ad depicting a shy geisha girl stereotype wearing reebok sneakers.

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Act 28

October 4, 2008

Putting Us Back Together Again–Cyber-Flip-Doll

I am stoked with this weeks act. I am really happy with it because it fulfills one of the goals I set for 52 Acts which is to use conventional items or programs in a way which they were not directly intended. To creatively misuse technology.

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