This website was archived on July 21, 2019. It is frozen in time on that date.

Sonya Mann's active website is Sonya, Supposedly.

Gender Rules

“I love everything my sister loves, but I will not admit it. I know she and her friends will make fun of me. I know my parents will chastise me and correct me. I am learning the rules, and I am learning that boys liking girl things is a very high stakes issue. I am learning that adults react the same way to my interest in makeup as they do to my interest in matches and lighters. [¶] As if maybe, by being what I am, I might burn down something very important to them. Something that makes their life more comfortable and easy.” — Jennifer Coates

Arresting Quotes From The Blazing World

Last month my book club read The Blazing World by Siri Hustvedt, which is about a frustrated woman artist. The novel is remarkable, but this is not a review. I want to discuss a couple of quotes that grabbed me.

On being best friends:

“We were a team of two against a hostile world of adolescent hierarchies.”

That resonates. Being a teenager sucks in myriad ways, one of which is the constant feeling of social alienation. I don’t know if that feeling is universal, but certainly a lot of people experience it. During middle school and high school my friendships were self-protection against the brutal clique-ism, against the shame of eating lunch alone. Manufactured terrors of teenhood. You’re nobody if you’re not surrounded. I didn’t submit to it entirely: I spent hours in the library watching My Little Pony on YouTube or surfing Know Your Meme, which is super embarrassing in retrospect. But I still think “How’d it get burned?!” is the funniest thing.

The friendships that I’ve kept, that I still maintain, are based on genuine connection. My best friend recently messaged me on Facebook, just to check in, and I felt a surge of affection. A warm glow arises whenever she gets in touch. Forgive the cliche, but we’re kindred spirits.

On the irrepressible subconscious:

“Mysterious feelings: ingrown, automatic, thoughtless. Before words. Under words.”

I love the idea of “before words”. It makes me think of HP Lovecraft. In his fiction, monsters destroy the people who glimpse them, even if the characters aren’t attacked directly. Every horrible creature he writes about is supposedly beyond description, beyond the power of reason and language.

It makes me think of Sylvia Plath and her Freudian obsessions.

“Before words” makes me think of the sensation when I wake up from a dream with a vague concept, more like an impulse, unable to remember exactly what was happening. But I wish I could act on it.

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