NARRATIVE /IDENTITY

kari edwards

 

narrative, isn't that the sort of thing that forms identity, maybe I was thinking of another narrative. whatever the case . . . I see narrative as something that needs to be troubled, discarded or at least sent through the shredder.

I personally attempt to find the edge of narrative where it starts to disintegrate into dada manifesto and ends up negating itself . . . well, that’s not quite it . . . I attempt to find the edge where narrative turns into an endless [cycle] of rejecting, appropriating [and] expelling . . . digressing from the thread of the possible, to the impossible, to the utopian . . . that at any moment, can fall into the depths of a tortuous shadow . . . did I mention brandon teena was beaten, raped, then murdered . . . I am not sure I said that . . . anyways, I try to maintain a thin connective tissue of narrative about the object at hand, so I don't lose myself to a lack of gravity, fear, or trumped up charges listed in the diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders. but the question is how loose can the connective tissue be and still maintain a sense of cohesion? does it even need to be narrative? could it be lists, phone numbers, or instructions on the impossible!?

I don’t know how many panels I have been on, speaking on gender, linguistics, performativity . . . and how everyone’s a crossdresser and so on and so on. after every other queer on the panel has told their coming out story complete with details about their urinary track and what brand of make-up they use . . . someone turns to me . . . so what's your story? I always wonder if they want a lie, or for me to sit there for the next forty some years and recount the minute details of my life.

I think this kind of “what's your line” narrative is either a foucaultian confession, centering on a narcissistic rendezvous with one’s kinship, or a reiteration of some mythic telemarketing scheme trying to perpetrate the social contract, which may be the other type of narrative the big grand master narrative . . . I’m not sure . . . they seem so similar at times, and reinforce each other’s schema. If I say homosexual . . . does that not reinforce heterosexual?

did I tell you gender is surgically enforced on infants ? . . . I’m not sure? did I tell you that?

In reading way too many biographical coming out, I am finally the woman / man, gay /lesbian , top / bottom /leather /king /drag queen, “I always wanted to be” stories, of those that have been labeled, or labeled themselves “transexuals,” “transgender,” “ I was the secret transvestite for the SS” . . . what I’ve noticed, for the most part, is the authors’ struggle to speak themselves into existence, without their voices emanating from the great medicojuridical tongue . . . or to say it a different way, internalizing their own body's colonization. I am speaking about individuals such as jan morrison and christine jorgensen, trying to escape the symbolic only to have their legs caught in bear trap of the binary . . . If you’re not this then you must be that. did you know joan of arc was burnt at the stake for wearing “men’s” clothes? did you know in the nineteen sixties and seventies gender clinics enforced stereotypical gender?

the first crack in the gender narrative was Gender OutLaw by kate Bornstein, that's not really the first, but I think Gender OutLaw did irrefutable damage to the narrative . . . a truly postmodern text that weaves indeterminacy, drama, theory, and a short section on S & M into a multitextual experience. the texts' construction reflected the experience of Kate “a little bit from here, a little bit from there? sort of cut-and-paste thing.” I always thought the cut and paste thing was so ironic, get it -cut and paste?

Gender OutLaw could be seen as a mirror of no gender, a dysphoric, slightly out of phase oscillation, with a light reliance on narrative, chopped up and reassembled but nonetheless narrative. I wanted to see if I could bring this experience into the structure of a text. a sort of text of / and or on gender and language with the inhibition button released, where it becomes a joy ride through the absurd . . . did I tell you that's what it’s like? . . . I mean, here I am riding along in my car and the gender police pull me over and demand that I circle either the, “F” or “M”, and if don't, I am informed I won’t receive my pension, subscription, monthly medication, food stamps, taxes, or student loan repayment plan . . . .

and you know I have to laugh since I know, and you know, this gender thing is all made up, I know I was never a boy, and I know I was never a girl, so hey . . . where does that leave me . . . lying on my gender exam . . . so if am lying . . . I want to know who else lies on the gender exam . . . go ahead raise your hands . . . it’s fine, the destabilization process has already started . . . did you ever see the movie “invasion of the body snatchers?”

if gender is made-up and strictly enforced, you have to wonder what else is made up . . . how deep is the conspiracy? is the world really flat?

and what if the words that bind us were released? what would the world be like? better yet what are the possibilities of sex if we do not have language differences, male, female, man, women, gay, straight?

oh, I was talking about narrative and identity . . . well if narrative is here to reinforce identity, and identity fluctuates depending on one’s mode of expression and the gaze one receives from others, than there is no such thing as gender or sexual categories . . . and identity becomes as indeterminate as the narrative . . . well . . . doesn't that sort of put the superego on a permanent holiday ?


Issue Three
Table of Contents