funkyfest: thespithouse: I just don’t like autobiography…



I just don’t like autobiography ok



or perzines for that matter

for some reason this is something that comes up a lot and I’m starting to get unnecessarily defensive about it

I don’t think liking personal narratives means you have better politics

it might mean you’re a better person on an individual level but I spit on the individual, so

feminists against memoir
feminists against personal experience
feminists against the personal
feminists against the self
feminists against authenticity
feminists against politically mandated disclosure
feminists against the confessional
feminists against pain
feminists for history
feminists for abstraction
feminists for theory
feminists for fiction
feminists for secrecy

I mean, I like perzines just fine and have written them- I just like other stuff more and want to find ways to leave my self out of it, transcend myself or whatever… as a personal desire, not because I don’t like experience and pain- they are great too!

feminists for complicated feelings articulated through theory.

feminists for having your cake and eating it too.

situology: For a really long time I stayed away from making autobio comix because I thought they were “for fuckin’ girls.” (even though many of my favorite comics were autobio). I was all, oh yeah, I’m going to write all this fancy hyper theoretical magical realist fiction; everybody is going to know I’m a genius. Then I realized that memoir type stuff is what I enjoy making/is helpful to me right now. Maybe 4ever.

So I have the opposite “problem” I guess.

edit: I guess I am into abstraction and secrecy though, despite memoir? So, what does that make me…

feminists for obscured details?


thespithouse: i see nothing wrong with autobio as a cathartic exercise, and i found if one has a sense of humor about their personal experiences (rather than being mopey/whiny/depressed about them), they can be quite entertaining to read (such as the personal comics of lizz hickey, julie doucet, and justin green), or if the person has had more unique experiences (like marjane satrapi or david b) it can be a quite interesting read as an insight into another kind of culture or experience. However, in general, i’m much more interested in the fictional aspect of comics, and the characters an artist can create from their imagination. 

Anyway, expect to see me play around a little bit with autobio funnies with comics workbook the next few weeks, but don’t worry, i’m sticking to my crazy made up stories and fictional characters with my regular comics :)

Super into the above conversation, I’ve had similar experiences reconciling my desire to make auto-bio with how I perceive most auto-bio work out there. And also fully agree that all it really needs to do is be funny and I’m fucking sold.

[For complication purposes, I think the non-fiction/fiction dichotomy is difficult for me to take to heart because people are so often full of shit in their non-fiction and so often being really honest, in some way, about their desires/experiences/understanding of the world through their fiction. Or something else an undergrad writing student would say. Feminists for stating the obvious.]

I recently went through my bin of zines and mini-comics and did some weeding. I’ve been buying them for 5 or 6 years now and naturally my tastes and interests changed over time. But I came to a really harsh conclusion at the end: Some people should not make zines.

At first I tried to rework that to say: not everyone should SHOW their zines to people. Since making things quite honestly keeps me wanting to live on this planet, I don’t want to say that anyone can’t or shouldn’t do a thing. But I think what I meant is that not everyone should make auto-bio art. Because what is sitting in my recycling bin right now is overwhelmingly auto-bio zines and comics.

I’m actually a big fan of auto-bio art, both writing and comics. When it is done well there isn’t much I like better. I make it myself,  though I’m quite frankly kind of ashamed that I do it sometimes and don’t show the internet everything that I make. It can be a really helpful framework to understand your experiences though, but the rub is that not everyone needs to understand your experiences. 

The stuff that I think really doesn’t work is when people make a thing simply because they want you to know THIS THING IT HAPPENED TO THEM, whether it was a pretty wild incident or like they felt anxious but drank tea and then felt better, self-care is so important you guys. I think what’s missing from a lot of memoir, both in indie comix, zineland, and feminist bookstores, is a fucking story. A narrative arc with tension and climaxes. Even if it’s only 3 panels, that can be done.

The best auto-bio work is the stuff that isn’t just about THIS THING IT HAPPENED TO ME. It’s not that passive. There’s an active attempt to make a connection between that thing that happened and to bigger ideas and to other people.

I fully support ourcatastrophe’s resistance to the genre, at least symbolically, because there needs to be less of it. People need to be told when they’re being boring and contributing to a dynamic of compulsory oversharing. I like auto-bio because when it’s good, I really get a lot out of it. But when it’s bad? To quote the Alkaline Trio song I am currently listening to, “that self pity shit is just too hard to take.”

Love this conversation. I shy away from saying things need to be funny or don’t need to be shown, but I’ve also been thinking a lot over the past few years, as a white cis straight educated middle class feminist (ie, basically EveryFeminist), about the notion of stepping aside. That seems like one of the few radical acts available to someone like me, if it even is radical. Listen and read, our story has been told. To death.

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