Monday, December 04, 2017
It's a hard case of Mondays, even though it's not exactly a re-entry situation, having worked yesterday, but I have been deeply confused by a couple things that normally I feel I'd have figured out somehow. (two future dgp authors with the exact same name, printer woes. how to open a package of cookies. ) It's nice outside though, or at least it was when I came in, a mild 50 degrees even in December. I am determined to make it a productive week though, as I do all weeks, but there is all the usual unravelling that happens around Wednesday that continues til the weekend when it starts all over again.
I've been thinking the past couple days about the idea of the "gothic midwest." something that I associate mostly with Sam Shephard plays for some reason When I was in college, we came in to the city to see a production of "The Buried Child" at Steppenwolf. At the time, I would have told you the most noteable thing at the time was that it starred Ethan Hawke, who was somewhere in his career between Reality Bites and Training Day. The thing that stuck with me was not, in fact Hawke's performance (meh), but more the final scene of another man carrying a baby's skeleton around the stage. And rain, so much rain, and the kind of light that only happens in the midwest in march. (or this is what it reminded me of.)
I always think of that, even when I fancy that some of my work might be considered of the "midwest gothic" ilk, particularly the fever almanac, and definitely girl show. (and beautiful sinister has always seemed sort of a "wisconsin gothic" and more woodsy with a different feel..lol..) But then pinpointing what it is about these texts that MAKES them such is a bit harder..not merely that they are set in the midwest, or that they could be considered gothic, but maybe more that they have a certain quality that I only associate with the midwest. Visually, there are the ghost landscapes paintings, of course, and the attendant poems, and perhaps these capture it most.
While Southern gothic seems easy to pinpoint and much written-about. This is probably the best description I came across for the midwestern version.
"While Midwest Gothic shares many similar traits with Southern Gothic and Gothic literature, such as the grotesque, characters with strained mental states, and elements of the supernatural, it is not just a mere transportation of these elements to the Midwest. Two key ideas inform Midwest Gothic: restraint and the unspoken. Emotional restraint keeps characters from revealing their secrets and also isolates them from others. A lot is left unsaid between Midwesterners–this is how they can be outwardly friendly, surrounded by people, yet still be utterly and hauntingly alone. Geography mirroring the psychological landscape is also an important element in the Midwest Gothic aesthetic. At first, the flatness of the landscape appears one-dimensional, static, and dull—until you realize the vastness is overwhelming, limitless, and eternal. The void can swallow you. Running underneath all of this is a current of horror, which is sometimes overt and sometimes only alluded to or implied. "
If I think about in terms of other work, you could probably fold in the shared properties of water and stars, though it is more suburban than rural. And what of the urban--the mermaid poems in salvage--the description above somehow relates to those as well. . It's neither here nor there, just something I've been thinking about as I start my week and move further into transcribing the very last of the unusual creatures pieces...