The psychopathology of fandom…

I have no idea whether or not I will write about being a fan (comes from “fanatic” doncha know?) – but certainly I am grateful for having tracked down and purchased the little beauty you see in the image above.

It wasn’t quite what I had in mind – small hand-held fans were common on London buses in the sweltering city summers while I was working there in the 1990s – but it will do nicely. Next time we travel in a university bus to some gathering and the temperature climbs into the 90s, I will be there, fan deployed to mitigate the effects of the so-so air-con.

“So-so air-con”…ain’t words grand? They can do stuff you never intended. I almost feel like getting up from this desk and and boogy-woogying around the room chanting “so-so air-con, so-so air-con”. Why? Because that’s what toddlers do as they discover the delight and the power in making noises that turn out – helpfully, much later – to be human speech and afterwards, writing,

It’s easy to forget the non-verbal, and the non-rational roots of speech – and poetry. Listening to Luis Bravo, a performance poet supreme from Uruguay at a Shambaugh House reading last night, I was reminded of this.

His avant-garde vocalisations, his soundscapes actually defy the category of reading (although he did do some conventional reading off the page, later). I was in the presence of language, but what did it all mean?

Meaning is not everything: listening to Milagros Socorro from Venezuela reading excerpts from a novel, in Spanish, I closed my eyes with visions of her high heel shoes and her long skirt reminding me of Billie Holliday and Connie Francis. I heard, but I did not know: it was like listening with mother, absorbing language as the genuine primitive I once was, and in some part of me still remain.

Why are we obsessed with analysis? I don’t know. Why do we have to understand? Pass. Sometimes just to be is enough. That said, I was busy posting poetry posters yesterday – carried all the way from New Zealand – about the the town. I was hoping the literate citizens of Iowa might stop and enjoy reading them, in their busy days. This one did.

Mission accomplished there: Jim Wilson, USA-ophile, poetry lover, boss of Phantom Billstickers in New Zealand who prints and distributes poetry posters for free is smiling now. “We don’t have anyone posting in Iowa, mate,” he remarked, on sending me a bunch to put up. Now he does.

Back in the hotel after the reading, feeling like I was going down with some malady, I put myself to sleep by reading the latest Bob Dylan interview in Rolling Stone. I lost him halfway through as he went on at some length to the interviewer about “transfiguration” – but that just might be me, feeling off colour.

Fans always suffer disappointment and confusion somewhere along the line and they do have a tendency to get left behind in the slipstream – that’s why they’re fans.


About paparoa

Writer and researcher.
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