Discover more from internet princess
to be honest: i have been in a lot of pain recently.
when i was growing up, i would sometimes ask my father why things were so difficult for us — why bad things kept happening, no matter how hard we tried to be good — and he would always say that God was throwing us curveballs. i feel that God has been throwing me curveballs recently. it’s kind of funny to imagine it that way — like maybe He just got bored and wanted to play baseball again.
anyway. i’ve been in a lot of pain. the idea of sharing purely confessional trauma-porn makes me uncomfortable, so i may spare the gorey details until i can figure out a way to wring some actual art out of them, but the problem i’ve been facing is that i’m not sure what to do in the meantime. i can’t think about anything else, so i can’t write about anything else, but it’s hard (in a variety of ways, as it turns out) to write about difficult emotions and painful situations as you’re experiencing them, so i’ve been a little paralyzed. on the bright side, the next essay i’ll put out will probably be long and crazy and embarassingly earnest, for all you masochists out there.
i’ll finish that essay (and more) soon, but for now, i wanted to share with you a kind of multi-media playlist of the art, music, and writing that’s brought me comfort lately. i would love to hear about the things that bring you comfort, too, if you’d like to share. (i really am sorry that i can’t be more fun (or more novel) in this post, but my brain kind of feels like chewing gum. i do want to say that i have a lot of really exciting news and really big projects coming out over the next month, and i am so, so looking forward to sharing them with you. i hope you all have been well and that you’re having a lovely summer!)
the meaning of suffering by becca
becca is a friend of mine who wrote this really thoughtful, careful essay about suffering, chronic illness, and the search for meaning.
it was through talking to becca that i was introduced to the following simone weil idea: “[Weil] sees affliction as a nail driven into our souls fastening us to the very centre of the universe—the 'true centre which is not in the middle, which is not in space and time, which is God.’” this concept has held a lot of importance for me, lately. i don’t think you have to believe in God to connect with it — “God” here really just represents the sublime. i’ve chosen to believe that suffering pins me to the centre of the universe like a dead butterfly displayed on corkboard. it brings me comfort.
grand unified theory of female pain by leslie jamison
this is an internet princess classic, and i return to it frequently whenever i’m feeling a particularly intense period of pain (and, especially, whenever i consider writing about it). thought i would put it in this list to remind you to re-read too, if you haven’t recently <3
“The moment we start talking about wounded women, we risk transforming their suffering from an aspect of the female experience into an element of the female constitution—perhaps its finest, frailest consummation. The ancient Greek Menander once said: “Woman is a pain that never goes away.” He probably just meant women were trouble, but his words hold a more sinister suggestion: the possibility that being a woman requires being in pain, that pain is the unending glue and prerequisite of female consciousness.”
party anthem by sloppy jane
a couple nights ago i was at a party where everyone was beautiful and naked and dancing and then something intangible washed through me like a wave and i suddenly felt so hollow and lonely that i forgot how to breathe for a second, like all the air had left my body at once. everyone i know says they feel like this sometimes at parties, and it makes me wonder if everyone at any given party has this moment at a different time — like maybe there’s a single unit of melancholy that we’re all passing around, taking turns. anyway. in this song there’s a part where she sings “When I went to the party, everybody looked so clean” in this really desperate and haunting way, and it somehow captures that feeling for me better than anything i’ve ever heard. it’s been running on a loop in my head ever since.
on self respect by joan didion
not much to say about this that hasn’t already been said. this essay is life-changing, life-giving, transformative — i read it very often and get something new from it each time.
wilt by sloppy jane
another sloppy jane song. it makes me feel like i’m the guest of honour at a blowout brass-band parade where the theme is crushing melancholy. love it.
the place where he inserted the blade by black country, new road
okay, kind of an obvious pick, but this song really just feels like getting the wind knocked out of you. i love listening to it while walking on a busy street and crying.
ol’ 55 by tom waits
there’s something that feels so final about this song. i don’t know what tom was thinking about when he wrote it, but to me — for reasons i can’t really explain — it’s always reminded me of the enormity and inevitability of death. i’ve been thinking a lot about death lately, and about the death of people i love, and about the powerlessness involved in being made witness to it. but there are parts of this song that have always made me feel like there’s something right after death that’s sort of beautiful and peaceful and not so scary. i really do think this is one of the greatest songs of all time. it feels like it’s full of something more than itself.
illness as metaphor by susan sontag
i actually only just started this book, so i can’t say too much about it, but i already love it. i’m finding it both illuminating and cathartic. this quote from the introduction says it all:
“My point is that illness is not a metaphor, and that the most truthful way of regarding illness—and the healthiest way of being ill—is one most purified of, most resistant to, metaphoric thinking. Yet it is hardly possible to take up one’s residence in the kingdom of the ill unprejudiced by the lurid metaphors with which it has been landscaped. It is toward an elucidation of those metaphors, and a liberation from them, that I dedicate this inquiry.”
sontag also wrote the following, as quoted in the theory of female pain:
“The melancholy character was a superior one: sensitive, creative, a being apart,” she writes. Sickness was “a becoming frailty … symbolized an appealing vulnerability, a superior sensitivity, [and] became more and more the ideal look for women.”
christina’s world by andrew wyeth
sometimes i just sit in silence and look at a picture of this painting for like 45 minutes. it always makes me cry.
the greatest by lana
every time i hear her say “don’t leave, i just need a wakeup call” it feels like it’s probably worse, on a medical level, than if someone were to hit me in the stomach with a baseball bat !
ghost world, dir. terry zwigoff
this is one of the best-ever ennui movies, to me. every shot feels like visual nihilism. it makes me feel like a teenager again — that weird contrast between feeling completely trapped and also feeling more promise and opportunity than you ever may have again. it also kind of makes me want to fuck a weird old man, though, so maybe proceed with caution.