Écrits pour jours de pluie

Parce qu'un jour l'averse cessera de tomber.

Blog bilingue – bilingual blog

To hide when the morning comes

  • 20/03/2014 – I am my own character, meditation on Virginia Woolf’s A Room of one’s own

    20/03/2014 – I am my own character, meditation on Virginia Woolf’s A Room of one’s own

    Virginia Woolf once wrote in her famous feminist essay A Room of One’s Own (1929) that “A female writer cannot afford to live her life too clearly. If she does, she will write in a rage when she should write calmly. She will write in a rage when she should write wisely. She will write of herself when she should write of her characters. She is at war with her a lot”. Woolf is by far one of my favourite authors, the admiration I have for her surpassing even the one I had for Jane Austen. Probably is it because I relate more to her character, the one that was formed by biographers, describing her love for water and her relation with Ophelia and death, with I also have. More than this reduction lazy columnists often make, what strikes me the most in her writing is the way she manage to transcribe consciousness. Her work has a particular taste I wasn’t able to find anywhere else.

    When I first read A Room of One’s Own, I highlighted that quote but I was more focused on other topics to take time to reflect on this one (or at least, no trace of it was found in my notes). However, reading it in Deborah Levy’s Things I Don’t Wanna Know, the first volume of her autobiography as a woman writer, got me to think about what my endeavour was. Since writing keeps the hamster on speed that is my mind, I figured I could maybe discuss it here.

    After reading those words, I had to pose the book for a minute because they made me angry. I didn’t understand why, as a woman, I shouldn’t”t be writing about myself – men do it all the time. Why shouldn’t I speak of my feelings? And worse of all, it was my favourite author that said so. It felt like receiving a F- from Woolf directly. But why ? Does it matter if I’m not agreeing with a writer from the last century? Didn’t literature evolve in the meantime? And I realised how shallow my reading of the specific quote was, and that it was a false problem.

    In my texts, my poetry, I am my own character. It is made in my image and my experiences, yes, but making me and this person being interchangeable is only one of the tricks writing allow. It’s a me shaped character, that allows me to focus on her rage rather than my own, thus an apparatus for my own rage. Yes, I have no shame in expressing rage, and I think that, in 2024, if you aren’t angry against the world, it’s that you decide to stay blissfully unaware to avoid the pain. Like Allan More said in Watchmen, one of those that turns out the news because they can’t bear the anger, the urge to revolt. I admit I’m twisting the words of Virginia Woolf here, but different times, different needs. If in my real texts, I were only to speak of myself as myself and not a character, I am not sure I could touch my (few) readers like I do now.

    Yeah, sorry mom, I couldn’t make this one shorter. Much love to you if you read me. And to all of you

    Barbara Ferreres

    Ps : The books mentioned are a very good read:
    Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own, 1929
    Deborah Levy, Things I Don’t Wanna Know, 2014
    Allan Moore, the Watchmen series (comics)

  • 04/03/2023 – « Never a frown, with golden brown »

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    04/03/2023 – « Never a frown, with golden brown »

    You’re writing your autobiography. What’s your opening sentence?

    If I were to write my autobiography, The Strangler’s « Golden Brown » sweet refrain would immediately come to my mind as an opening sentence. I am of Mediterranean Spanish decent and my skin turns golden in the summer. My dad’s all year. We never argue, and I never feel mad when I can enjoy the sea, the sandy colour, and like the author, a hit of heroin. Never a frown, I will be found making music, poetry, texts. But it’s not necessarily a good thing. You need get mad sometimes. I am someone who gets mad easily. I just stop when I take too much, stop doing anything, stop doing a fuss because I am just sleeping my life away, everyday. In the end, there’s not only never a frown, but never a sound. It almost took my life. I could have went from looking for peace, to resting in peace.

    The fact it plays such a huge part in my creative world right now, but also my life – some person even denying me my dying experience because I am still alive, the audacity! – I feel it would be a good start for an autobiography. It started a fair share or arguing, crying, lying, and family trauma. I’m just getting over it, and I did not quite finish the process, so if it were to start now, I would start with this, and explain how the lack of care for my mental health and late neurodivergency diagnosis as well as late disability acknowledgement played a huge part in having to find peace in the brown sands. And while it’s not every addict story, I know a fair share of autistic and adhd (audhd) people who ended up facing life threatening addiction behaviour because getting care is even more tiring than suffering the consequences of being left to deal with it in the wild.

  • 03/03/2023 – On owning books (or not)

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    03/03/2023 – On owning books (or not)

    I should be sleeping instead of sitting on the toilet writing this but, reflecting on how satisfying today’s date is and given it’s 3am, I am really glad I didn’t listen to reasonable me (for now). 

    I was thinking about something. Well, I was reading a book (Autumn by Ali Smith, which is a really good book but not really relevant fro the rest of this diary entry I’m afraid) and thought damnI don’t really think I could date someone who doesn’t read. When I’m speaking of reading, it’s not in elitist terms, I don’t really discriminate: I also include comics, mangas (they are books and very interesting no matter what snobbish people are saying about them), fanfictions, audiobooks, you get it. But then I realised, it’s a very stupid thought, because I did date people who’s single book was something they were meant to read in french third grade and never got around to do it (even though it was mandatory) but still had hopes of reading and I’m no one to judge that. But thinking more about it, all of those relationships were major failures. I think from that list (which is, in fact, my entire dating list, and fling list, except that shady thing with that girl I almost got to shag in the psychward only to find out she hadn’t really broke up with her long term girlfriend, but she did read so it doesn’t really count) only one person hasn’t blocked me or gently removed from their friend list. In fact, we got to talk very recently and even though their life and health showed a huge improvement after from good changes on their part and strong commitment to it, which made me happy, it wasn’t a really interesting talk. I mean, few of our talking has ever been stimulating, and I think I wrote some of my best breaking up pieces thanks to him, but I would hate to be their girlfriend right now. 

    Apart from high school friends (that’s as close as I will get to childhood, which is fine because I remember none of it) and internet friends, I realised from friends and acquaintances for their I met in real life, except 7 of them (I’m not talking to any of those right now, and only three weren’t a heart wrenching separation), none of them really read novels, even the ones I met during my literature undergrad program, and only one shared my taste in books (the psychward girl which is, thinking of it, probably the only reason that led me to think I was in love with here that and being in the psychward, but that’s a thing people who were never thrown in the bin will never get). 

    All this unnecessary text to say that I can in fact sustain long relationship with people that don’t even like to read. I mean, they all ended up being life destroying failures, probably for the best, because I realised I would rather have my life as a crazy non functional addict that the normal life with a house, a routine, a community like most of them got – no offense meant, since the feeling is probably mutual – but in the end, books played a little, or none, in this. It’s even maybe better I don’t only have relationships with fellow reading enjoyers, are those proved to be pretty intense and I would probably never had left the house if it were the only kind of people I got to interact with on a daily basis. But just as other drug users can tell for sure I use drugs and the police doesn’t, I can smell another book reader. 

    I’m not speaking about those who make reading their whole personality about it, which I might be somewhat guilty of – an interesting social experiment was creating a side twitter account where no one knew me and people just guessed I was a bookworm even if all I talked about was taking drugs – but of something different. It’s not that people who read a lot of book are always speaking about it, but in a way, they are. It’s not that they are more empathetic – some of them are real cunts, if you allow me, which is okay, because I am a tad of a cunt myself – it’s the way they are speaking, or not speaking about things. The way they are making links, and their ability to make up things. I didn’t say lying because lying implies you’re not telling the truth, it’s changing a whole relationship dynamics and taking the risks associated with it. They know the power of words and together you can have discussions where you are making things happening, manifesting things into the dimension of existence you are living together. It really sound fanciest than it is, but you might get what I mean if you are doing any kind of art. Let’s say it’s the literary equivalent of knowing someone walking past you in the street is doing ballet just by looking at their posture. Or the way you can tell English is not my native language and that’s I’m getting lost in translation, somewhere in the world where my parents weren’t speaking English while I was in the womb. Tough one. You would be telling France, since my blog is in English and French and I mentioned France in my biography, but I could be taking vacations in London right now, in Leiden, be from Mars, or just a really good liar and messing up my relationship with you. 

    Anyway, I think this rambling is coming close to an end. If you went to university (or college), this is the part of the seminar where very optimistic or bored scholars, despite years or experiences and knowing this might as well be just the end of the introduction, are starting to grab their keys from their suit’s pockets. If you didn’t go to university, you have now something up your sleeve to make people believe you actually went, because this is an universal experiment for people who where unlucky enough to have a seminar with a very talkative scholar – or lucky, it depends if you are the one going for your keys or the one looking at the unfortunate person with a mix of amusement or pity. During one of those lectures, where I was the one looking for my keys – but it was alright because the teacher wanted to be there as much as I did, which didn’t prevent him from teaching me a lot of valuable things – that teacher told us, don’t buy books, it takes a lot of room when you are moving out. This is a very fair advice, because all the times I have been moving out have been a struggle and, to be honest, a real test on the relationship of whoever was helping me out. But another thing I would say is, don’t be fucking posh about owning books, or reading them. Don’t buy books that you don’t read just to look cool, because everyone knows you’re not reading these and now you just lied to everyone and they know something about you you didn’t want them to know in the first place. This also mean don’t be the reason people do this – you’re not better because you are reading books. A lot of awfully mean or uneducated people have been reading classics. It can help you learn things, but it won’t make you someone you’re not. That’s why as someone who love books, I’ve never really maintained any of the relationships I made in my literature undergrad program – most people weren’t there because they were interested in reading, which is fair. But I would rather have been reading than listening someone presentation about something they weren’t interested in, and even if I learnt a lot of things I still use today, I found the whole thing very posh. You can’t say that, this is too vulgar. Fuck off, they’re words. I don’t think William Burroughs ever cared about not being vulgar. Why should I use the exact right way of forming a question for a dissertation, using only book examples to discuss the world, only for it to be read by people who’ve only wrote about studying book and not writing them. I loved my teachers and what I learnt about reading; I just didn’t like to be told how to read and how to write about it. Honestly, that’s a me problem – I get taught that books stand in their own, and then that they don’t. I almost killed myself living in theory – I love how Babel speaks of that – everything that was too mundaine became suspicious. That’s also the reason you shouldn’t hang out with other artists too much. Everything that came from the body, whatever it is hunger, fatigue, having to deal with people, showering – became annoying. Soon, I began to understand why Victorian people would not feed or hydrate themselves or stay in bed for days because being incarnate was disgusting. 

    I’m not saying reading or not reading is dangerous for fragile minds like Flaubert was, first because I think he was a bit of a misogynist writing Madame Bovary; I don’t get why the reader gets this kind of affliction, when it should have been the writer. The Naked Lunch is way more honest. Even Baudelaire was more honest. The issue with Madame Bovary was that she wasn’t given the opportunity to write; else she might have stopped to make what she wanted manifest in her relationships and shopping, because she would have the tool of words at her disposal. She, sadly, wasn’t just not the right class in the middle of nowhere: she was a woman. A depressed man reading is a cursed writer. Anyone else’s just read too much. Oh, the irony is, I was first diagnosed with anxiety « because I was reading too much » in 2014, the year I first read that book and wondered if my only fate was to off myself. While I did off myself, I also made it to write. The issue is: to most of people, my words don’t matter. A person in position of power who reads and write is an intelligent mind, it’s a proof of authority. Just watch how they painted Macron as a literature lover in the 2017 french elections. But if you’re not the right kind, your words don’t have power. I am not the right kind. Proof is, they give you writing groups while you’re at the ward – well, not every ward, because some have common sense. They don’t believe you’re in the right mind for your writings to hold any danger. But I beg to differ. I lost friendships over being vocal about my beliefs and who I were. But I made some too. I had people telling me, it was the first time they were reading someone speaking about being mentally ill or suffering addiction like it was normal – and honestly, it is my normal. I woke up to a message this morning to someone telling me they thought they were too multiple for it to fit into a single writing project. But in the end, it’s us they remember. And if it’s not me, it will be someone in the same vibe. Words give us means to get together, as weird people, and celebrate being weird, and the power to tell the other not in their right mind people there is nothing wrong about it and that maybe there is nothing wrong with being in the margins. That, they don’t like it very much. Or, only if it comes from the right person, which wasn’t quite the right person when they were alive. 

    In the end, it’s not owning books that will really change how you live as a person. It’s your relationship with them that will change everything. Your relationship with words. You don’t need to own Baudelaire to do that. One of the smartest people I know favourite book series is Where is Charlie? And I think that’s amazing. But he’s smart. Not book smart. Smart. You can be both. Or none. Most of people who think they are smart just have to compensate something. You just need to find your way around things. I know a lot of readers that fit the description I made; I think of most them as artists, even if they never published a single blog post. You don’t have to make it public you are able to manifest things. I can’t, for instance. Not always. But sometimes I can. And owning books just made me more eager to vomit my thoughts on paper than I used to be, which says nothing about my worth as a person. If you think you can’t get along with people who don’t read – I beg you to reconsider what you really mean.

    Not all people who create are artists, and not all artists are aware of it – let’s show them they stand a chance in this world.