the art of cruelty

The Art of Cruelty by Maggie Nelson

I got really into Maggie Nelson last summer, devouring both The Argonauts and Bluets within a few weeks. The Argonauts encapsulated the type of writing I strive to do – it was both creative and critical, telling the story of Nelson and her transgender partner, of her mother’s death, of child-rearing in the 21st century, and of falling in love. It also had lots of great gender theory and excerpts from queer scholars. Bluets, on the other hand, was a small book that centered on the color blue. Blue in art, film, life, psychology, and more. I read it mostly on the metro back in June and I remember feeling happy because it the passages were beautiful. Art of Cruelty (I realized after page 3) would be one of those books I’d have to read with a dictionary by my side. I truthfully don’t have much to say about this book except that humans have weird, violent fetishes whether we deny it or not and that art is crude and beautiful and strange and performative and we’re kind of all just living in this illusion where we have to suppress the things that we really feel. Oh, and I learned about Marina Abramovic from this book and I think she’s kind of a queen.