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Creative Engagement with Doug Rice’s dream Memoirs of a Fabulist (copilot press, 2011)

 “She says, so slowly that it is nearly autumn by the time she comes to the end of her sentence, that she is wild about seeing”

Black and white photographs, inverted text, pages that are black and pages that are white, loose pictures that fall out of the book when it is opened, an actual transparent page, a hand written note to beloved Luisa, no page numbers, really, no page delineations: Doug Rice’s new book dream Memoirs of a Fabulist is non-contented content in a constant state of motion.

Experience of this book is a bit like physically and psychically passing through old, smeared photographs sold at a thrift store. I used to make it a point to go and investigate the figures in such photographs, but after a while (after I had gazed into them), I began to feel the figures vigilantly remain with me (“Some photographs make me feel irresponsibly innocent”). That creeped me out a bit. Made it harder for me to function sanely–so I stopped. It is an intense sensation to have unexpected things stay with you. Anyway, I feel the figures of Rice’s new book, in a similar kind of creeping stance. They place me close to the threshold of non-sanity and all that that might make possible regarding complex bodies with difficult genders. I am saying that this book was a somatic challenge for me, but somatic challenges are never so, without within them, these unbelievable, shocking beauties.

The photograph on the page that has the following text: “Not in this story” is an up close view of a rough hand in rough dirt with the view of a hairy chest with a bit of lacy negligee showing. Then on the “She desired something that she could not touch” page, there are hands with lengthened nails, maniacally husking a pomegranate’s seeds out of it.

As these aged and smeared photographs anchor the book, we meet Luisa. Luisa holds positional relation to Doug’s girl selves (“The little boy I once was when I imagined I was a little girl”) and I think that the reflection of Doug in Luisa’s eyes (“She promised to teach me to bury memories of a little girl inside mirrors” / “The near truth of her sudden desire coincided almost photographically with her gazing at my body” / “Luisa becomes so curious when Doug takes off his clothes” / “What unveiling might reveal to you of you”) is by far more accurate than that which the lone mirror could ever reflect.

The main figure in the photographs (Doug Rice? Or additive-to-Doug Rice?) is wearing a bra or piece of negligee. Glaring at self as if engorging on what of self is visible (hair of chest with bra on) which is conjunctive. Gazing into self and what of self is there but not necessarily visible. Are mirrors liars? Are retinas mirrors?

Re investigation of dream Memoirs of a Fabulist I am interested in: me reflected to me in the retinas that you house. I am interested in this because I am curious what would happen if a tribe of participants within our planar realm was built around NO one on one engagement with mirrors (“Our reflections get in the way of our seeing”).

Perhaps if we depended on others’ seeing of us accurately (Luisa), and revolted against the limited dimensions of mirrors’ propositions to us, we would better know ourselves in limitless ways. To know ourselves in limitless ways would be to see our own right to build authenticities and accuracies. To not have our identities and embodiments be relegated to or by exteriorly imposed strictures.

This particular book of Doug’s (“One day I will invent a grammar that will make the unknown possible”) reminds me a bit of Del LaGrace Volcano’s photography work (http://www.dellagracevolcano.com/publications.html#) with the body. dream Memoirs of a Fablusit is a dissection site; a superimposition site (“Imagine a photograph that you cannot see”). It relates to Del LaGrace Volacano’s artist statement posted on-line whereby the following is noted:  “I name myself. A gender abolitionist. A part time gender terrorist. An intentional mutation” [] “I believe in crossing the line as many times as it takes to build a bridge we can all walk across.”


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