Dear Frances Jaffer:

I just wanted to drop you a note to tell you that I read Being Antinova. In fact, I read it voraciously, but had alot of mixed feelings about it. I was fascinated about her whole process of playing a role, or I should say, living a role, the whole idea of being observer and observed at the same time. But I had alot of problems with Antin at the same time--I kept finding her petty and self-indulgent in her shifting moods and insecurities about being an artist in the world--but even that, I had mixed feelings about, ranging from being threatened because alot of it was too close to home, to feeling a sense of gratitude at seeing that I'm not the only one in the world to experience such things. I found her honesty repulsive, admirable and suspect all at the same time. When I finished the book I reread your review of the book, which helped me to resolve some of my feelings, especially your ideas on the journal being a performance itself, Antin's portrayal of multiple identities, and the way she was portraying an illusion and a reality at the same time. That last idea is very important to me right now since I've been using alot of fantasy in my own writing, projecting my "heroine" into various horror films, feeling that through that device I can get closer to what I'm trying to get across than if I approached it more directly.

Thank you for pointing out the book. Best,

Dodie Bellamy

Dodie Bellamy's piece, "The Debbies I have Known," recently appeared in Feminist Studies. She is currently working on an experimentalist parody of a vampire novel.

Excerpt from a letter to Kathleen Fraser:

In my deepest moment of the heart, where the soul meets the body, I have never had gender consciousness, and thus have had philosophic blankness regarding any female-male ritual of language. I side here with the seeming coldness and aloofness of Georgia O'Keeffe . . . .

There is, there is always, a new sentence, a new voice, a new timing that needs to be found, and it may come out of a female experience but must be transformed into something else, larger, to move from construct into art and from report into rite. Great poetry is always, to me, about more than one thing, and so I gather that the dividing of appropriate texts into gender is necessary, central and ephemeral . . . .

My first literary experiences into eros occurred reading Jill Johnston's column in The Village Voice, ostensibly articles of dance critique but more and more, better and better, about her "coming out." From this I deduce how important it is to have one's own sexual imaginings, one's own environment, mirrored in art: obviously, we all need approval, confirmation and communion . . . . A woman has to be fully present before she can write.

The mistake, I think, many women make in this process, is to confuse subject matter with state of being. Naturally a subject is important, but only as a guide to some other moral map. . . there's a time and perhaps the time is now, when feminism blocks transcendence (not to another world, but in this one) and is another crutch. I myself am working towards a voice with character, not of character.

--- Jane Miller

(Jane Miller's collections of poems include The Greater Leisures, Doubleday, 1983, and many junipers, heartbeats, Copper Beach Press, 1980.)

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