I’ve been reading a book called “reading psychosis” by Keitel which analyses different literary representations of psychosis. It mentions that it is almost impossible to render the experience of psychosis into a literary form and language since the experience is beyond language itself. I’ve also read 4.48 psychosis a play by Sarah Kane- which I did not find as experimental as I hoped- it does things with form of the play but I found the content repetitive and unenlightening. I’ve been thinking about my own work and how I am using psychosis as a narrattive device in the case of my thesis novel “Digging up the bones”. I want to structure Ba’s recollections as flashbacks that are out of order and centre around moments of greatest stress in her life (of which there are a few). I have been warned to not romanticise mental illness and I don’t think I do- Ba is in great distress during most of the novel. I have been thinking about extending my HEAT piece into a novel length work- but the challenge will be to keep it interesting. I’ve applied for the Peter Blazey fellowship on the strength of this idea- as a fictional autobiography- if such a thing exists. My partner thinks it’s a lazy descriptor and you may as well call it fiction but I guess he doesn’t differentiate between autobiography that is only one version of the reality of what could have happened and toying with the form and straight out prose fiction.
This morning I did a recording with the girls from the Voicebox- an all girl Vietnamese radio program broadcast in English on 3CR on Tuesdays from 6:30-7pm. Our guests were from the Vietnamese Student Association and they talked about the fall of Saigon April 30 anniversary and how they went up to Canberra for a conference and protest. We discussed the political process in Vietnam and how repressive the regime was. I found it really interesting that these young people were so in the know about it and concerned about it even though they have their lives here. I have been writing a lecture about “Vixen” and have mentioned that it tries to be politically neutral portraying all human governments in Vietnam as repressive or corrupt. But I think nowadays it is impossible to be apolitical- my next novel has a protaganist who is anti Communist. My mother has warned me that when Im in Vietnam to not discuss politics. Chi Vu told me she was quizzed by the ministry about what the Viet Kieu were like in Australia. And how they viewed Vietnam. I think that we cant point fingers- Australia keeps people in detention without trial and treats indigenous people abonimably. But it will be interesting I guess.
I went to the ASAL conference in Perth a couple of weeks ago- and it was really inspiring. The theme was Ghosts, Shadows, Screens and Sceptres- which all comes up in my own work. The talk that has stuck with me was one by Gail Jones who talked about haunting and how in relation to Aboriginal history there are some wounds that we cannot get closure on and we should remain haunted by them as the ethical thing to do.
My own writing is going well. I have to update my website and put on it the HEAT issue that I’m published in (number eleven). The launch was crowded in a shop called “Sticky” but had an underground ambience to it since it was in a subway under Flinders St station it was very appropriate for an issue featuring zines!
I will be doing a guest lecture at the University of Woolongong on Monday August 15th as part of their diasporic literature subject. Their theme is postcolonial ghosts- again very appropriate!