WITHIN THE CONTEXT OF NO CONTEXT

I’ve owned –– and lost –– the above title at least three times.  Once was decidedly not my fault, and this last time, I think, was the working of a spiteful G-d, as I distinctly remember having the book in my bed, rejoicing at having been reunited with the slim volume, and then POOF!  A day later it was gone, having, it only stands to reason, evaporated into thin air.  It’s always upsetting to me to live without this book, as I like to re-read it once a month, if I can, to re-educate myself of the wisdom contained within.  For me, it is a kind of prayer book, and I like to pick it up and read certain arbitrary sections the same way that I do the Tao or the writings of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov.

But enough about me and codependency…

In WTCONC, Trow paints a brief portrait of a young woman named Andrea Whips, a “minor Warhol star” who used to put on impromptu performances in the back room of Max’s Kansas City.  In these performances, she would stand on a table and say one phrase over and over again –– Trow’s example was “She’ll be comin’ round the mountain when she comes” –– each time stressing a different word, or moving in a specific way to the incantation, hiking up her skirt on “she’ll” or lifting up her arms slowly on “mountain.”  She ended up committing suicide, but I think I learned that via Patti Smith, and not Trow.

About a year ago, I was doing transcription work for a documentary film company that was working on a movie about Marilyn Monroe.  The filmmakers had hired a number of famous actresses to read sections of Monroe’s diary, but for whatever reason, the director of the documentary had instructed these actresses that if they messed up, they should start the sentence over again instead of running through the rest of the monologue and redoing it in another take.  I listened to hours of these tapes, the actresses repeating the often nonsensical, always haunting speeches of this troubled, sad woman, and I kept thinking about Andrea Whips.

“Actress must have no mouth, feet, shoulder.  Girdle hangs so loose –– girdle hangs light.  Actress must have no mouth, shoulder.  Actress must have no mouth, feet, shoulder.  Girdle hangs light, so loose.  Everything focused on the partner, feeling in the ends of my fingers.

“Actress, actress must have no mouth, feet, shoulder.  Everything, though –– actress must have no mouth, feet, shoulder.  Girdle hangs light, so loose.  Everything focused on partner.  Feeling in the ends of my fingers.

“Actress must have no mouth, feet, shoulder.  Girdle hangs light, so loose.  Everything focused on partner.  Feelings in the end of my fingers.  Actress must have no mouth, no feet –– actress must have no mouth, feet, shoulder.  Girdle hangs light, so loose.  Everything focused on partner, feelings in the end of my fingers.

“Actress must have no mouth, feet, shoulder.  Actress must have no mouth, feet, shoulder.  Girdle hangs loo… Actress must have no mouth, feet, shoulder.  Actress… actress must have no mouth, feet, shoulder.  Girdle hangs loose, so… no.

“Actress must have no mouth, feet, shoulder.  Girdle hangs light, so loose.  Everything focused on the partner, feelings in the ends of my fingers.”

 

This is really all there is to this story.

 

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