I was struck yesterday by Saeed Jones’s post on LambdaLiterary.org, “The Ferocity: Fierce Manifest.”
Fierce is Helene Cixous demanding in The School of The Dead that, as we write, we ask ourselves honestly “Am I writing? Am I burning? Or am I pretending?” Fierce is the urgency in Essex Hemphill’s voice in “For My Own Protection” as he declares “All I want to know / for my own protection / is are we capable / of whatever, whenever?” Fierce is the look I imagine Zora Neale Hurston had on her face when she said “I love myself when I am laughing and then again when I am looking mean and impressive.” It is Audre Lorde taking her seat for her panel at the Second Sex Conference in 1979, adjusting the microphone in front of her and calmly stating “The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.”
We need fierce. We need risk. We need raw will.
Many of you will have seen my own manifesto:
…a year ago, I wrote a rant, which I’ll share with you now:
When I write, dear reader, I don’t want to build a careful tale for you to discuss with a smile in a sunny place, I want to own you. I don’t want to be The New TV Series, I want to be pornography: to thrill you so hard you’re ashamed but can’t help yourself crawling back for more.
I want to write a whole novel that invades you. I want to control what you think and feel, to put you right there, right then, killing and being killed, fucking and being fucked, cooking and starving, drinking and thinking, barely surviving and absolutely thriving. I want to give you a life you’ve never had, change the one you live.
How? I will take control of your mirror neurons. I will give you tastes and textures, torments and terrain you might never find in your real life. I will take you, sweep you off your feet, own you. For a while. For a while when you’re lost in my book you will be somewhere else, somewhen else, someone else.
I control the horizontal, I control the vertical. Sit back, relax, enjoy. When you’re done, take a breath, smoke a cigarette, figure out who you are now, and come back for more.
It’s more than a rant, actually, it’s a dedication. A vow: with my next novel, I’m going to run my software on your hardware. You’ve been warned.
Consider this a reminder.