Friday, January 15, 2016

Fangirling








Fangirling

transitive verb: to admire excessively, perpetually, intelligently, avidly, with all the feels


A few months ago, I met with a terrifically smart student to talk about some work that she was doing. She had been invited to do a really cool thing (sorry to be so vague – I just don’t want to embarrass her) and I asked her how she knew the organizers. She looked up and said, without missing a beat, “Oh, I fangirled them.”

I loved that.

And I thought about that moment again when I read Laura Fisher’s brilliant review/fan letter on Carrie Brownstein’s Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl. For Brownstein, “to be a fan is to know that loving trumps being loved.” Fisher beautifully observes, “Brownstein finds words for the particular quality of feeling that is love for the stranger who compels you, who has somehow formed you, and who may but more likely will not answer you back.”

I love that.

I love that for so many reasons. For one thing, and I guess this speaks to my essential nerdiness, I immediately thought of all the theorists and critics and writers who compel me, who have somehow formed me, and who will not answer me back because I don’t want them to. I just want to read them. I just want to soak them up and let myself and my ideas and my thinking be transformed by that nearness. It is no accident that they are all feminists. It is no accident that Fisher’s description of the “sensuality reality” of a being at a Sleater-Kinney show (“It’s a mass conversion. You can feel the crowd’s collective longing for a moment of mutual recognition, for any indication that its affection is reciprocal.”) brought me immediately to the intensely sensual reality of reading something that you know, just know even when you barely understand it, will change you.

Maybe you are falling in love – in the way that Eve Sedgwick has so perfectly articulated:

Oh, right, I keep forgetting, for lots and lots of people in the world, the notion of “falling in love” has (of all things) sexual connotations. No, that’s not what I think is happening. For me, what falling in love means is different. It’s a matter of suddenly, globally, “knowing” that another person represents your only access to some vitally
        transmissible truth
        or radiantly heightened
        mode of perception,
and that if you lose the thread of this intimacy, both your soul and your whole world might subsist forever in some desert-like state of ontological impoverishment.

(from A Dialogue on Love and so perceptively re-lived and related in Jane Hu’s poignant exploration of Hal Sedgwick’s devotion)

Fangirling is not mindless. Fangirling demands a certain openness to being “radiantly heightened.” To allow oneself to be open to, and to fall for, this kind of global knowledge is hard work. It is mindful. It asks that we let go of our skepticism and our paranoia and our desire to be too smart to fall into the vulnerabilities of a crush from which there is no return.

And, as this student showed me, it can be productive. It builds connections. It makes communities. It can make the lonely work less lonely.

I’m a fan. I hope you are too.



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