Goo Goo Guide – October

A month passes by so quickly. Between family and work, it’s difficult to find the time alone, to let my hand scribble feverishly across paper, but leaving that desire to take note of all that is happening unsatisfied.

My cousin’s wedding prompted the largest family gathering since I was in elementary school. I didn’t realize my extended family was so gregarious. Is it that in the States, we are timid, too courteous and conscientious of our broken English?

I sent my mother off to the airport this morning, and I am immensely tired and heavy watching the air conditioner unit across the street drip, drip, drip down a rusted stream.

I am tired but restless, overwhelmed by the little “research” I’ve done. Listening to The Smiths with a cup of coffee in hand, recreating the comfort of home in the hopes of stirring a sense of energy, but I am in a daze.

I’m feeling my introversion, my body begging me to crawl into a hole, preferably with some sunlight and AC. Answering text messages and e-mails proves to be even more laborious than usual. Rectilinear lines and tiny squares fill my screen and I start to copy and paste. Thank God, Goddess, celestial being, for Google Translate. Speak to me, tiny speaker phone icon. I listen. I press the tiny microphone and hold the phone to lips, uttering my chopped Chinese. Turnt into text, I copy. Open up LINE, e-mail, whatever messaging application, paste text. Press send. So goes each interaction.

In a taxi, after drinking with old friends I haven’t seen in a decade, my tongue is loose and Taiwanese slips. The cab driver finds this hilarious — the way Taiwanese rolls with such ease and Mandarin feels like a lump rock. He’s green, he’s green, from Chiayi, he tells me. Green and blue signifies political alliance. Generically speaking, Green being pro-independence, and Blue belonging to the Kuomintang, the party that fled China during the Cultural Revolution.

I’m sitting in on a class on The Indigenous Languages and Cultures of Taiwan, consuming the documented history of this island. Settled by Austronesians, then colonized by the Spanish and the Dutch, the Japanese, the identity of the island changes like a rotating rack of ties. And so it is with me — I reshape myself, my tongue, to project the proper language. My environment dictates my form. Like goo goo, I am malleable. But at what point, do I resist? When I can stop pretending, or is this it? This me, protean goo.

In the mid-1600s, thousands of poor Fukien peasants sailed from southern China to Taiwan due to the opportunities to farm for the Dutch East India Company. My family, or the men at least, were they the poor peasants unable to pay taxes? “The taxes were so onerous that people sold even their daughters to pay.”

My grandfather is humorously (or is it depressingly?) sexist. He tells me women are dirty because they defecate more. I find this hard to believe, and I laugh. Why is that the predominant cultures of the east and the west are so fascinated by our filth?

In “The Gender of Sound,” by Anne Carson, she writes, “By projections and leakages of all kinds — somatic, vocal, emotional, sexual — females expose or expend what should be kept in.” She continues, “It is an axiom of ancient Greek and Roman medical theory and anatomical discussion that a woman has two mouths. Both mouths provide access to a hollow cavity which is guarded by lips that are best kept closed… Greek myth, literature and cult show traces of cultural anxiety about such female ejaculation.” ​
If there is one thing about my protean goo that is consistent, it is that is always female ejaculate. This container, my leaky body, can attest to this, but everything else flows without an anchor. In an email correspondence with a friend from home, I was asked to make some claims for goo goo. I struggled. In an artist statement, I will tell you. In life, I am not so sure. I keep goo goo amorphous, without a thesis. But is this resistance rooted in fear rather than empowerment? I’m afraid that I’m afraid of making claims. I’m afraid of making commitments, because I am afraid that I can’t hold them, make them last, make them true.
In words, I am still searching for the claim, why it must flow. But through my hands, I could care less. Learning to spin the raw ramie plant from an Atayal weaver, whom we call Teacher Feng, this process begins to feel like a dance. Feng grows the ramie outside her home/restaurant/studio, and when they mature, she harvests the stalks, which become the fibers that we wear around our neck when we spin them into thread for the warp. When spinning, one wears a string with a bouquet of raw fiber at the chest. You comb through the long fibers with yours fingers, securing the wavering material with your feet. Your neck and fingers are entangled. You tear a thin strand of ramie at a time, adding it on to the previous strand you tore and you spin and you spin and you spin. And the string grows longer and longer and so it flows and it flows.

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