After a lengthy pause — a series of pauses, really, punctuated with intermittent updates — August 2022 marked my return to the challenge of *redacting Rosslyn* out of sprawling scrapbooks, flaneurial field notes, poetry and storytelling, lyric essays, monologues, and an avalanche of artifacts.
One of the persistent questions that I’ve been exploring is whether or not there is a cogent (and compelling) way to weave sixteen and a half years into a single, cohesive composition, an engaging word-work worth sharing. (Truth be told, it’s actually more like twenty years since the preamble to our Rosslyn adventure is intricately interwoven with the decision to exit Manhattan and embrace our new life in Essex.)
Ostensibly a memoir in trajectory and scope, this idiosyncratic experiment I call Rosslyn Redux is actually an anti-memoir in format and style. It’s an amalgam (my mind defaults to a book’s tidy vessel, though it’s proving overly confining in many respects) that bridges and blurs genres, that gathers heterogeneous ingredients and collages them, more buffet than entree. It’s an experiment in interstitial narrative, allowing the wholeness to emerge out of the fragments, not altogether unlike a mosaic. Or a montage. Or a sculpture… The space in-between the fragments becomes as important as the fragments themselves.
My path forward is primarily bushwhacking. Chopping through and chopping out. Advancing by felling obstacles and skirting ravines. Navigating treetop to escarpment to promontory.
Yes. No. And…
My path forward is sculpting by removing. Collaging by reducing the shards to only the most relevant, discarding the rest, and then reassembling them in a “mobile” of… words.
Yes, this intoxicatingly compelling process is also daunting. The repository of memories and essays and stories and poems and photographs and artifacts and drawings is so vast and so sprawling, that wrapping my arms around it is an almost hubristic aspiration. Obsession. Wrangling this rhizomic narrative into a tidy, chronological, page-to-page experience is at once enticing and daunting, sexy and scary, viable and perhaps beyond my capacity. But I must, I will give it one final push!
What in the World is Genre Resistance?
I probably mean this in the most manifesto-ing way that genres don’t exist. They don’t exist at all. They serve the needs of marketing, of academic specialization, even as modes of work, but in terms of meaning or content or associative formations they are like traffic lights—not so interesting and most adamantly not what we are doing today. Genres for me are just a way in which we are controlled, protected I suppose but I’m not a writer to be protected at all. — Eileen Myles (Source: The New Inquiry)
Maybe this is why I’ve gravitated towards digital storytelling and blogging for so long. I don’t find it interesting to stay in my lane, to observe the rules of the road, etc. Blogging for me has been an opportunity for genre resistance since the beginning. It’s not journalism. It’s not memoir. It’s not fiction. It’s not poetry. For me. I’m not talking in overarching generalizations. Just my case. My experience. A direct-to-reader platform where I can play around and experiment and defy expectations and overlap genres and distort genres per the whims or needs of my moment, my message. And this doesn’t just go for word salad. It’s a visual salad too. A library, stage, and interactive interactive gallery. And more. Lately I’ve been experimenting with video. With audio. Experimenting. Exploring. No rules.
This freedom to share our Rosslyn adventure per my mesmerizing muse, uninhibited, unbound, has been an exhilarating and liberating counterpoint to the often rigid structure, rules, and traditions that guided our historic rehabilitation. Untethered. Whimsical. Freestyle.
What do you think?