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Karen Carpenter Sketch #2/Petit Beasts

Confession: I've put down and had a very hard time getting back to The Best Little Girl in the World. The novel was written by Karen Carpenter's psychiatrist who is still widely considered a expert in the field of disordered eating. While Steven Levenkron's work is notable in that he is "pioneer" in Western psychology to tackle disordered eating as their own beasts, pioneers well - they're often problematic. After my experiences in various therapeutic spaces around disordered eating and trauma, I'm deeply skeptical of some of the core assumptions that are largely the foundational understanding of disordered eating not least because while we know folks from all walks of life wrestle with EDs and yet the framework for understanding it is rooted a cis, white, middle and upper class woman/girl hood. And while the first patients who were able to be treated did fall into those intersecting identities (because: healthcare, especially mental health care problems, especially in America), that's no reason to understand the problem through that limited lens. Not to mention that limited lens has its own bias issues that has for a long time negated the impact of trauma or just you know, the individuality of each patient. The Best Little Girl in the World 's lack of you know, character development, speaks to this problem pretty clearly.

It's been an odd experience reading a book that I read (twice) as a young person and both struggling to get through it (it's really clunky, dry, cliche-filled fiction writing) while also having a very vivid response to it psychologically. Basically, I hate it? Yeah. The book is more or less terrible (even making room for its historical importance, I'm still going to say it's mostly terrible) and it's causing weird old things to light up in my brain that awaken patterns that don't really serve me (as my therapist would say).

So, I put it down. And I'm leaning into the odd, slow, viscosity of time 2020 has brought to my process. I haven't moved into any integrated work where I'm explicitly working from source material in composing this thing. Just taking in what I can and moving through it (literally). Eventually I'll sort through all of these sketches to see if there's anything that jumps out at me either in the bits themselves or the writing around it, bring in other collaborators, and see what happens when we tackle this together.

Here's my rainy day improv sketch from this morning. I haven't brought Karen's voice in yet. Today I was hanging out with the cover tribute compilation If I Were a Carpenter - a real gift from 90s. You can read about that album here. This is 4 Non-Blondes cover of "Bless the Beasts and the Children", a song I am really intrigued by and hope to spend more time with in this project's process. I'm working out of our basement space which has a low ceiling, so I was attempting to play with a deconstructed petit allegro (so as to not hit my head or reawaken my shin splints) in the hopes of getting out of some my usual languid pathways and pacing (not super successful, ah well). What I'm seeing reminds me a lot of when I'd do various improv/performance art shenanigans with bands and djs in my 20s (sometimes in spaces just as tall and wide!). Remember shows? Those were fun.

My own little beast, Samhain (the black cat) is chillin on the carpet the whole time. Not particularly impressed, apparently.


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