The Safety of Plastic

My life is changing, the sky is falling.  After my wonderful weekend, many particles of my humble existence have taken a nose-dive.  I am to reevaluate everything.  I’m feeling a bit like bruised fruit, ripening to the point of rotten.  I spent this morning editing someone else’s assignments, adding notes here and there, elaborating on arguments when necessary.  There was an analysis to be done on Anwar Khan’s “The Pose”, about a young woman in India who sneaks into a shop window and pretends to be a mannequin.  She watches passersby, unfettered and unnoticed.  Or else, when she is noticed, it is for her beauty and well-crafted parts.  In being considered plastic, there is comfort to be derived in being a silent entity.  After the work was done, when the time came to write my own blog entry, I felt emptied out of ideas.  I turned to my trusty notebook.  I flipped through the ideas, with a pouty, “Argh, do I have to?” kind of sneer.  Writing is sometimes like exercise.  It’s seems daunting until you’ve actually done it.  You always feel better after you’ve written. Like Gloria Steinem says:

I do not like to write – I like to have written.

makers-02_steinemms Sometimes it is the act of writing, the words flying out of fingers, effortless connections being made, and it feels like there is no where else you’d rather be, than at the desk, pouring your heart out.  Steinem also touches on that sentiment as well:

Writing is the only thing that when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.

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Then again, I’m sure Steinem never came across “Bruce Jenner/Andy Warhol” scribbled in one of her note books.  Now where was I going with that?

Bruce Jenner…

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plus Andy Warhol…

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Equals what? What was I thinking here?  This scribble is a metaphor for the current status of my life, a poorly told joke that I don’t have a punchline for.  A little internet re-con leads me to this comment made by Warhol.

“I love Los Angeles. I love Hollywood. They’re so beautiful. Everything’s plastic, but I love plastic. I want to be plastic.”

Well there’s the connection, if Warhol, who had coined the phrase “fifteen minutes of fame”,  had lived, he would have eventually morphed into Bruce Jenner.

Phew, fuck I’m good  at deciphering my own work.

But really, I’m making it up as I go along.  Aren’t we all?

The mash-up of ideas, of “The Pose”, Bruce Jenner and his Kardashian connection and Andy’s Warhol’s artistic vision and of his life and legacy has made me think about plastic.  It also led me to read about Valerie Solanas, the radical feminist writer, who famously shot Warhol at his studio “The Factory”.  Before she wrote a play called “Up Your Ass” she wrote the SCUM Manifesto which urged women to “overthrow the government, eliminate the money system, institute complete automation and eliminate the male sex”, which are all perfectly reasonable goals.  When not trying to eliminate the male gender, she was trying to get Warhol to produce her delightfully titled play.  He then lost the script, and when she tried to retrieve it, she was met by his indifference.

paperYou know, call me crazy, but one would not dare carelessly misplace the only copy of a script written by a woman who wrote a book like this…

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Seriously? You don’t need a man for anything? Who’s going to do the heavy lifting? What if your car broke down? Is that pickle jar going to open itself?

Solanas wasn’t going to take Warhol’s dismissive crap, she felt he had too much power over her life, and just she wasn’t going to stand by and let him grow gracefully into his transformative twilight years where he’d finally become Bruce Jenner.  She fired three shots, hitting Warhol once, and then promptly turned herself into the police.  Warhol was never the same.  The Factory was no longer easily accessible, and many hangers-on reckoned that the 1968 shooting indicated an end of a particular era.

 Before I was shot, I always thought that I was more half-there than all-there—I always suspected that I was watching TV instead of living life. People sometimes say that the way things happen in movies is unreal, but actually it’s the way things happen in life that’s unreal. The movies make emotions look so strong and real, whereas when things really do happen to you, it’s like watching television—you don’t feel anything. Right when I was being shot and ever since, I knew that I was watching television. The channels switch, but it’s all television.

And others that spoke of Warhol said that he was suddenly untouchable, that he wished to be made of plastic or cardboard, that this attack on his life caused a spiritual death.  He lived another twenty years, but never fully recovered from the shock.

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I think once more of the woman in “The Pose”, standing behind glass, watching the world pass by, allowing people to believe that she was plastic, safely swaddled in synthetic value,  immortal and unbreakable.  A beautiful construction.   Wanting to return to the crush of bodies in the marketplace, to be thought of as flesh and blood once more, she  eventually slips back into the crowd.  To be human again, no matter the cost.

8a90743da2e0Warhol-Mannequins

All Images Courtesy of Google

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