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fat barbies on parade

April 20, 2011

There’s something about my grandmother’s empty house that is eerily moving to me–like shadows of the past might have the chance to re-create themselves in grotesque ways, and in so doing, fully reinvent and re-appropriate that empty space into something usable and lively once more.

It doesn’t help that I keep having dreams about her house. Last night played out mostly in the living room, which had grown to gigantic proportions. The big round coffee table was still in the middle, and the two couches sat facing each other as they should, but they were very far apart, let’s say twenty feet. The room was packed with people, including some famous ones. I sat among my old English professors from St. Michael’s, the whole department, chatting and laughing, allowing ourselves to be thoroughly entertained by the main event. That event was a doll parade. Specifically, the event was a parade of personally-modified (DIY) obese Barbie dolls, in hand-sewn glamor mumus and caftans (on a side note, I went looking for fat Barbies online and found this compelling–and banned–advertisement for the Body Shop). They were being walked around the room in a circle (dog show-style) by their creators, who were mostly drag queens.

As we oo-ed and ahh-ed over the artistry of each doll, and some of them were quite amazing, the English department and I got into a heated discussion about Harold Bloom and his Anxiety of Influence. He may have been on my mind because I heard he recently published some more books: Anatomy of Influence: Literature as a Way of Life; The King James Bible: A Literary Appreciation. Or, he may have been on my mind because my brain actually, and contrary to my own belief in my inability to understand his writing, internalized his theses and applied them to the dream I was having at that very moment. While Romantic poets struggled with breaking out of the influence of Milton (nearly impossible, he was in their heads and in their culture..hence the anxiety), I struggle to break out of my own past, and what ensues is a literal parade of grotesquely large and colorful creatures in the mild and conservative living room of my grandmother’s house. At any rate, in the middle of our conversation, I turned to Carey Kaplan, a hero of my undergraduate English studies and liberal feminist extraordinaire, and said, “I wish Harold Bloom would just die already.” She laughed, and so did all the women of the English department, and the parade continued until I woke up.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 20, 2011 6:12 pm

    This is fabulous. Imagine if they did make “fat barbies”? The world would be a different place.

  2. Jen permalink
    April 20, 2011 8:02 pm

    What an intriguing dream!

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