Thursday, February 9, 2012

Kawabata and self loathing

I am on a roll reading Kawabata. House of the Sleeping Beauties, Beauty and Sadness. I am now simultaneously devouring Snow Country and Thousand Cranes (due only to a handbag/book issue) and each new book is similarly exquisite and I become more and more hideous in my reading of them. In Thousand Cranes - and I am just beginning on this slim but potent journey - a woman has a birthmark that blemishes one breast. The birthmark is the blemish that makes her both monstrous and perhaps more desirable. The single flaw in such a beauty creates a kind of mystique. All other women are exquisite. This is what I have found in Kawabata. The women are so fragile and perfect to view. Perhaps they are misguided, or wicked or even violent, but their physicality is always enough to stop breath.

I have cut my hair. I have cut it short as a boy. It teeters between cute and frumpy, this new cut. It makes me see my mother in the mirror, my mother who kept a wig on her dressing table. The wig was exactly the same cut as her own hair. I never understood why she had that wig. A different style perhaps, a different colour, but when she slipped it on there was no discernible difference. I am afraid that I have had my hair cut in the very same style, the style of my mother when she was my age, the style of that perplexing wig. My hair is not long and lustrous like the women in the Kawabata novels. My skin is not pale porcelain. Men do not leap off cliffs for me. No one takes a second look when I pass through the room.

I have sprained my neck and I hold my head up with difficulty, tilted imperceptibly to the side. I fall into a sudden email driven fight with a really influential author. I try to read something I have written out aloud and burst into tears, unable to continue to the end.

I am addicted to the Kawabata. nothing I read outside of his work can touch me at the moment but I am afraid that I am plunging into him in order to justify how bad I feel about myself. His perfection is the perfect companion to this pit of self loathing I am drowning in. This is how I sometimes am in love, desperate for someone's bad opinion of me to match my own. Someone maybe should wrestle these books out of my hands. I have picked up Vox again, and I love Nicholson Baker and I see the cleverness but cannot respond. I think I need this moment of self derision at this stage. If I am still reading Kawabata in a month, come find me. Rescue me.

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