#5: When she said (repeatedly) she only learned ancient Greek in order to be more like Oscar Wilde:
Carson did admit, in the end, that part of her desire to learn Greek came from her childhood desire to be Oscar Wilde — classically educated, elegantly dressed, publicly witty.
I asked her when she stopped wanting this.
“I didn’t,” she said. “Who could stop? It’s unachieved, as yet.”
That’s the other thing about being a gay man. Model yourself on Oscar Wilde and you just lie all the time.
#4: When she wrote Autobiography of Red, especially “Chapter XVIII: She,” but really the whole book.
Who am I? He had been here before in the dark on the stairs with his hands out
groping for a switch—he hit it
and the room sprang towards him like an angry surf with its unappeasable debris
of woman liquors, he saw a slip
a dropped magazine combs baby powder a stack of phone books a bowl of pearls
a teacup with water in it himself
in the mirror cruel as a slash of lipstick—he banged the light off.
He had been here before, dangling
inside the word she like a trinket at a belt.
#3: In The Anthropology of Water, when she called herself “a young, strong, stingy person of no particular gender—all traits advantageous to the pilgrim.” So young and so brave.
#2 This iconic Paris Review quote:
I see. Yes, that may be true. I haven’t read that for a while. I’m sure it is true. I guess I’ve never felt entirely female, but then probably lots of people don’t. But I think that at different times in my life I located myself in different places on the gender spectrum, and for many years, throughout my thirties, which is when I made that pilgrimage, I didn’t have any connection to the female gender. I wouldn’t say I exactly felt like a man, but when you’re talking about yourself you only have these two options. There’s no word for the “floating” gender in which we would all like to rest. The neuter gender comes up in the unbearable poem, but that doesn’t really capture it because you don’t feel neuter, you feel just wrong. Wrong vis-à-vis the gender you’re supposed to be, wrong vis-à-vis the other one, and so what are you?
Historically we use man for people of any gender because men win. So it’s useful to do that when cornered.
#1 When she led a performance of her play Antigonick, in which she cast Judith Butler as kreon, and to which she wore:
“what she called her ‘Oscar Wilde suit’: slim plaid pants, a long dark coat with white stitching on the lapels and a bright red necktie featuring a picture of Geryon.”
Slay me, Anne.