Excerpt: ‘Militant Spring’, by elena gomez


Image by Михал Орела. Reproduced under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic License.


things i wanted in the video:
> text
? leaves
! clouds
: a harp or a mandolin
$ the camera to pan down my legs.

i’m thinking about my legs.
valeria luiselli on page three: “my legs were long, strong and slim. it was right to offer them: to whomever, to writing.”

how a body is a writing or for writing or becomes what writing is through. how i would reread alexandra kollontai’s speeches and manifestos and directives as long as i could in an evening at the mitchell to make myself believe it was better that she was a mother who abandoned her child. she didn’t really but she had to leave him to help make revolution.

people tell me my legs are like my mother’s (a lot of my body is like my mother’s, but not when she was 15 or 20 or 27 but when she is 63 and i am 27).

“you will be old and look like your mother” (these aren’t the exact words but the way i’ve absorbed other people’s and relearned them in my own memory).

i would have made the video if i wasn’t at work every day. if joan jonas had brought me tilda swinton sooner.

for romi i would frame my work in honour of her but of course after work i was pathological in my laziness. i never framed a thing in my life.

i was thinking about naiman and kollontai and blood and sex how blood was another woman’s betraying fluid & blood this source of shame, deceit, identity crisis (and also later what blood means in queer politics in the 70s).

“love is the only failure to exit capitalism.” who wrote this? it works better cut in half: “failure to exit capitalism.”

love is a failure for kollontai what she wanted what she thought she could make for the world how her agitation was so sincere.

i think about how she wrote for herself if at all when she was always aware of the power of words and so how do you keep an honest diary if you hope for someone to read it?

did she ever have to write herself little notes just to get through the day? i’ll share some of mine:        examples:

        let’s try. going outside.
to buy a coffee it’s just down the road you can move your legs you will be okay.

you will be okay.

change into clothes. sweep some levers. leaves i mean.

the anxiety of kollontai’s writing how anxiety as a dialectic. but. why did she write a novella?

sometimes think about the compression of temporality. what is writing and political activism what is the glitch in the system?

we know the wrong type of body is the glitch.

lisa robertson wrote that “the poem is the speech of citizenship” how much so. & think about what kollontai would be if only she was a poet (what a joke! we all know poets are mythic creatures romanticised and or wielded like a weapon when necessary) but kollontai is the poem     : speech     : a citizenship herself.

how alexandra kollontai embodied and was embattled by womanhood & worker’s struggles. her legacy was popularity & infamy she was shouted down from speeches but never stopped she was exiled she was not even important enough for stalinist extermination.

for kollontai
“the most deadly period was my marriage”

is anyone going to disagree.


militant spring or how a biography is a political tool how it might be culturally a different type of relevance how for cathy porter it was that word i learned embarrassingly recently: a hagiography

what if you could write a non-hagiography what would it say. it would say kollontai was undeveloped but this is what happens when you are forced to defend the same minor point on repeat

of course: stunted a little.
but was it was it a lobster shell did she need to keep growing but instead had shrunk or was hollowing out.

i wonder sometimes what my great fictional autobiography would be titled: the hollowing out of elena g.

the rapid decline of the economy and alongside it elena gomez.

the failure of the left in the absence of 20th-century fascism and how elena maria gomez was educated.

you’re too hard. you write with a boisterous, blunt, catchphrase tone you have no subtle way to capture the intricacies of everyday observations, the minor aggressions & beating down that taking a few steps within the city outside your home might reveal.

i thought i might be agoraphobic for a while but mainly it was that i had a very comfortable balcony. what kind of comfort is easy to leave? a turn of the century russian aristocratic comfort.

it’s too hard to aim to write well. everyone has already done it. alette has descended. hunger journals live on in eclipse.

my common heart i lend out to friends and i don’t even mind if they keep it because we have another copy at home.

i want to move to the next plane.

‘militant spring’ was a runner-up in the Lifted Brow & RMIT non/fictionLab Prize for Experimental Non-Fiction.

This piece appears in full in The Lifted Brow #33. Get your copy here.

elena gomez is a poet and book editor currently based in Melbourne.