Introduction #2 Country Girl #3 Pictures and Early Words #4 Big Words 5

Avant-Garde Journalism: Hannah Weiner's Early and Clairvoyant Journals


This will be a trend: a contiguity between specific episodes of clairvoyance and a listing, insistent fixation on placing orders in the retail sense. The above is from "FAST DAY 1," and "DAY 2" begins,

I went out shopping for wooden spoons, forks, knives. ... I want to distinguish here my knowledge of wanting the spoons and knives and the strong intuition that expressed urgent need. The shopkeeper had a medium clear blue outlining his right side. Then I went to a men's cut-rate store where my mind and I had a few shopping differences. ... I had some spine and shoulder pain. I had some inkling that I was laying in for a siege, but I didn't know what kind. I just felt I would not shop again for ages. (2-3)

Weiner's narrative develops as a dramatization, through bodily metamorphoses, of the competing wills meant to represent the democratization afforded a society by capital exchange. But the "want to distinguish" is not a function of this state function, however foregrounded by these "states" of mind.

This desire is to be understood as we understand Weiner's sense of authorial function vis-à-vis "words," since this is finally what is "seen." Nowhere, except in the first paragraph of the book, does the desire or even intuition to write come up, but as they do, the notion of a pre-lingual (i.e., "informational") "power" via the "Other Person" is nascent;

I want to write but I am lazy. I would like to put my thoughts about the fast directly on tape without the medium of speech. California does psychic. It is unnecessary for us both to speak. Does she send her thoughts to me or I send my thoughts to her? When we both think it is 10 o'clock and it is 11:30 we are both not perceiving reality. (1)

Hence the book begins, and the rest is presumably mere reportage. But this is, of course, hardly the case. The narrative form is here developed as if this is a preface written as a meta-narrative once-removed (for, even in the journal, whose entries are dated, no writing is spoken of). The journal goes on to tell the tale of a nearly month-long fast, with developments in the seeing and feeling of auras, reflexive debates developing in several forms, and bodily metamorphoses centering on a hyper-sensitivity to metallic materials (hence long hours spent bathing in the ceramic kitchen sink, which washes away "bad energy" as well as unsightly visions). The reflexive debates mark the emergence of the "person" in the narrative, insofar as the "visions" are able to "tell" Weiner to do things and she is able to question them / herself. "Words" first occur three weeks into the fast as silent teaching (as the metanarratives twice-removed, such as jacket blurb and actual prefaces, are signed in the clairvoyant works and those published later, like The Fast, "Simple Teacher" or "Silent Teacher");

I secured a detail watch over my body and then continued. In the groin area I saw a whole picture superimposed on my body. Red and green and black lines and dots going from one side down the urinary tract and the ovaries. It was a cartoon superimposition in the same place I months later saw the clock image which I interpreted as meaning this will take time. I was pretty impressed with that little diagram and kept asking the so-called I myself spirit, a light outline of a face smoking a pipe, what to do. I had previously seen a picture of my spine superimposed on a drawing on the wall. The other things I saw images of on me were the instruments of my lingerie trade, a plastic ruler, a stapler, staples (in the knotted muscle areas of my hands), scissors and pins. This amused me and I made them go away with my mind or with the little words my mind taught me. (36)


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