Thursday, February 1, 2007

Little Earthquakes

I was listening to this Tori Amos album the other day. It's probably my favourite of her albums, but I couldn't listen to it for a couple years because some of the songs would make me cry so hard I would throw up. As my therapist would say, they "brought up stuff." Heh.

I always think Tori Amos must have really experienced lots of the more unpleasant things she writes her songs about--rape, abusive relationships--because I don't see how she could give such a succinct and poignant picture of them otherwise. You just can't make up the terror of the words, "Don't try it; the phone's been disconnected" if you haven't been there. You can't make up the way your throat goes tight and silent about some things and how when you discover your voice it's both beautiful and frightening.

Which makes me wonder, how does she manage to write these things at all? How does she face that stuff and get underneath it? How does she create the things she does? I know a lot of people, artists, talk about their "stuff" being fodder for their art and I guess that's true--in my experience it's true enough. But also in my experience you can't just trust that to be there. You can't necessarily access that at will; it's too much. Sometimes when I try to think about things I just go black. I can't imagine writing them down. Well, I guess that's my trauma talking.

Then there's the times that I can talk about stuff--like I can describe in detail being raped in my dorm room my first semester at college--and I can't think why I should bother. It doesn't seem important to me. So it's not an inspiration for art at all. I talk to my husband about things some times and he gets all, "I want to kill the people who did this to you" and I don't know why. Because to me that was just life. Even saying, "My family was abusive," doesn't seem to have any edge to it. It's unimportant.

Or maybe that's just part of my thinking my life is unimportant. That's interesting.

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