We had our Icarus Presentation by the awesome Sabrina Chapadijev, who discussed the struggles of authors and artists from her book, Live Through This: On Creativity and Self-Destruction and how these struggles embodied the link between self-destruction and creativity. From provacative performance artists like Annie Sprinkle to insightful playwrghts like Carolyn Gage, Sabrina explored how self-destruction should not be labelled black-and-white "bad" - instead, it should be seen as a mechanism of coping. However, she also reiterates that the same amount of energy used in self-destruction can be converted to creative energy.
Important themes/discussion points:
- Isolation - There is solitude in self-destruction, like cutting. But there is also a positive isolation like writing in your room, what Sabrina calls "rage through the page." Putting your pen to the page can be cathartic and less harmful than choosing to hurt yourself.
- Political Consciousness - Tired of how the media is selling papers by the tragedies happening to women all over the world? So is HotHead Paisan. Express your rage at all the injustice against women, and you may just become a homicidal lesbian terrorist, too.
- Shame - We are often taught to feel ashamed about our bodies or who we are. Those who don't fit the superskinny model stereotype, those who are born as men who want to be women, those who defy gender stereotypes are discriminated and criticized on a daily basis, constantly preventing them from pursuing what they want to do. Shame creates self-destruction, and self-destruction creates shame.
- Myth of the Suicidal Female Poet - What do you do when all your feminist heroes all kill themselves? Sabrina discussed how there is a "gang mentality" in self-destruction, in which different self-destructive groups (the alchoholics, the smokers, the cutters) form cliques that cultivate the character of the tragic artist -- as Sabrina put it, "We want to show people that, 'Yeah, I hurt that much.'"
- Power and Control - Yet with that self-destruction comes a sense of power. As Sabrina said, men and women in general react differently to stress: "Guys say 'fuck you,' women say, 'fuck me!'" Males express themselves aggressively, straightforwardly, while females are forced to keep it all within. The pain that women feel thus comes out in self-destructive behaviors such as cutting, which provides a map that provides a physical manifestation of how much they hurt, and also establishes a control they feel they cannot achieve otherwise in life. They feel control over their bodies, they are now the only ones who can hurt themselves.
- Choice - We have a choice. To feel power through self-destruction or through creativity. To kill ourselves or to invent ourselves. To medicate genius or to abolish it completely. The choice, of course, is much more nuanced and complicated than these dichotomies suggest. Do we keep our madness? Do we use it? Each person must make that choice on their own, while being aware that they can replace their self-destruction with their own creation.
- Formation - What is formation? Using our emotional pain as nourishment for our creativity. Formation is the stage in which previous invalidation and pain becomes a pathway to salvation, reflection and modes of expression. As Sabrina puts it, "It's harnessing your rage, realizing it's yours, and finding a way to annunciate it is what saves you." So save yourself. Start today. Instead of cutting, write. Instead of drinking, draw. Instead of dying, live through this.
For more on Sabrina and her book, as well as the authors/artists involved, please visit the websites below:
http://www.sabrinachap.com/LTT - Official website for Sabrina's book.
http://www.myspace.com/livethroughthis2008 - Sabrina's personal blog.
You can also e-mail Sabrina with questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
THERE WILL BE A RAGE-TO-PAGE WORKSHOP FRIDAY MAY 2ND! This is an actual workshop which will be interactive. "Nobody wants to talk about it in a real way- why women actually cut, starve or drug themselves, what it feels like, and why it is so socially acceptable to self-destruct. Based on the essays of her newest collection, "Live Through This: The Art of Self-Destruction", Editor/Playwright Sabrina Chapadjiev will be leading a workshop on the themes that surround self-destruction: shame, power, and control, as well as ways to channel self-destructive behaviors into creative ones." More information here.
*Breast Cancer Walk was cancelled.
See you next week and thanks to those who attended this special event!