Doll Parts

Badge_of_HMS_Benbow (1)



“…And if you gaze long into an abyssthe abyss also gazes into you.” Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil

“…they have grown like flowers—bright thoughts along the psycho path that I can pick and gather when the forest feels too dark. It’s not always going to feel like it does today.” Cat Marnell, How To Murder Your Life

“I feel free when I see no one and nobody knows my name.” Lana Del Rey


To quote David Bowie, I am deranged.

How so? My mother told me I never FIT IN. I fought this all my teens but she was right. In my teens I was a destructive rage-filled terror. People were compelled by my appearance – I did fashion modeling from age 17 to 21 and knew how to bat a lash, charm a stranger. But then my mask would slip, I’d seethe, snarl or toss an unladylike fit. Nothing has changed, only now I’m “too fat” and “old” to model…or get away with half of that shit.

Trapped within a bimbo-looking face was a ticking nervous intellect. I play this card. I smile beguilingly at the stranger who mansplains how I should live and think, go to hell motherfucker. I possess a dualism that I still can’t comprehend. Half bleeding heart liberal, half vengeful harlot bitch. Tellingly, the Benbow family crest features a harpy.  My bloodline has some interesting mad folk. Notably, the notorious John Benbow who laid foundations for other ancestors such as Sir Roy Dowling who sought naval honor and personified the intensity that my family is known for. My Scottish great-grandfather, also a Navy man, returned to infantry despite having shrapnel in his ass. He gave zero fucks; he just wanted to whoop some more enemy butt.

My mother also has interesting relatives in her past. Her German father, surname Bartsch, was a part of a rebel alliance against the Nazi regime and was assassinated for his involvement. My grandmother, Eileen Bartsch, fled to Australia for a new life for her and her young children, most of who she gave up for adoption. A poor German immigrant and young widow could not raise 4 children alone. I think my mother accepts this now. And she has always appreciated the upper-middle class couple who adopted her and her twin, raising them as their own. We’re meeting our blood relatives now and they’re as zany and fabulous as my eccentric mother.

I love the painfully relatable Courtney Love and my favourite Hole song is ‘Doll Parts’. I always felt like an amalgam of pretty meat, stitched together with anger, pain and denial. My mother is the beautiful one, a career model. My father was the smart one, a charismatic academic with uncanny illustration skills and musical genius. I am a weak imitation. I ape their brilliance and their gorgeousness. My brother stuns me with his brilliance. I am the black sheep. I am doll parts. I am a fraud, a pretend Bartsch-Benbow who lives in the shadow of talent and self-assuredness.

“I want to be the girl with the most cake
I love him so much it just turns to hate
I fake it so real, I am beyond fake
And someday, you will ache like I ache” – Hole, Doll Parts


I love too much. I think too much. I am too much.





I Love

I love.

I trust, I treasure, I idealise.

I hope, I want, I see a beautiful future.

It dies. I bleed. My heart rips apart. I think I’m gonna die.

Zizek once said he was going to kill himself over a lost love but first, he had a book to write. I have 2 little cats who love me. A family. Friends. I don’t wanna die. But, damn, that dark pull. That voice that whispers, they’ll be better off without YOU.

So, I talk to people. My ex is being wonderful. He forgives despite the unforgivable and wants to be life-long friends. My family gets me. My friends listen, they don’t judge. They understand the feels that made me name this blog Night Gardenia.

I just spent 20 hours in bed. Internal monologue: I wanna die/I don’t wanna die.

I fear people don’t care. Someone can I say “I love you” 1000 times and it doesn’t resonate. I think, I AM HATED. It lingers.

Am I reprehensible? I am not sure. I know I am flawed. I know I am human. Perhaps it is OK?

I came out as bisexual to my mother. Long time coming…20 years. Long time to be a fraud. I’m scared. I know queer people are vilified, despised. But nothing is compared to my internal monologue.

I miss my cats. I miss my books. I hate what I am. I try to accept what is.  Can I? Time will tell.

Ways of Seeing: Phenomenology and Semiotics

Van Gogh crows cornfield

In his 1972 book ‘Ways of Seeing’ (derived from a BBC TV series), John Berger asks us to analyse the above image twice. The first time, we are instructed to view this recognizable Van Gogh painting in its current context of ‘art’. Then, in our second viewing, we are told that this painting was Van Gogh’s last work – before he committed suicide. Berger asks us to reflect on how different the image becomes with this new knowledge. The additional information adds a lingering shadow to the painting and imbues each brushstroke with despair and horror. What was quite simply ‘Crows in Wheatfield’ becomes a semiotic hotbed of intent. Are the crows flying towards darkness an analogy? Do the orbs of light signify afterlife? Or perhaps the crows distract the viewer from the green path that transverses the wheat field – a kind of reverse-Yellow Brick Road to nowhere which dissolves before the horizon. Once we consider that this was Van Gogh’s final work before suicide, we see new things and uncover fresh meaning.

Roland Barthes’ ‘Camera Lucida’ also reflects on the image and its multitudes of meaning. The image has many transmutations. The punctum I feel looking at pictures of my lost father and others who have broken my heart grips me, horrifies. It drives me to want to self-harm, to neutralise the unbearable. People I love are dead. People I love don’t love me. It is a chronic terror, a deep wrenching. An abyss that gazes back, amplifying one’s hideousness, their faults, their inherent unlovable status.  That loneliness that clings like a cold June Melburnian fog, eating at your dignity and self-confidence. You are hated. You are unworthy of love and human affection.

I understand suicidal ideation. I sink to the low all too often. Sometimes, one feels like they have nothing to offer, nothing good within them. Death looms as a definite future possibility and one may feel power in speeding towards this inevitability.  It’s control, right? Something the neoliberal rationalised society values. If one takes things into their own hands, however ghastly, then they’re an ACTOR, they are not acted-upon, a stooge. This illogical and slippery thought pattern shouts at me frequently. I battle it, decrying its nihilism and anti-humanism. I want to Be. I somewhat accept me, however flawed that person is. As an agnostic, I feel death might possibly be the end. Odd experiences I have had suggest otherwise: perhaps the Dead can communicate in a Finnegans Wake-like, or Bobok-esque nonsense-speak. But I am certifiably crazy. I am an unreliable witness.

However, I cannot deny that Western death rituals are sanitised, dehumanised. Phillipe Aries beautifully chronicles this. We love death, yet loathe and hide it. The social constructions of contemporary Western death are odd. To paraphrase (abuse?) Tom Waits, one is ‘dead and lovely’; yet abhorrent, forgettable. The workplace gives us little time to mourn. Get on with life, you lowly scum. How dare you FEEL?

This contradiction is a mind-fuck. As humans, we love, we connect, we mourn and we pine. But corporatism commands a cold rationality: dead is dead, gone is gone, get back to work and move on, motherfucker. Mourning and feeling creates LOSS, ECONOMIC INEFFICIENCY. How dare you be human, with relationships and connections?

This is what leads me to my current emptiness. I lost my beloved father, my closest relationship, mid -2013. I will never heal, I will never get in with it. It defies modern rationalised sanctioned grieving. Yet…I am beginning to give zero fucks about what this awful neoliberalised society wants and needs. It doesn’t feel. It defies my basic empathy and humanity. I want to defy it. I don’t want to create a ‘Crows in Wheatfield’ and then self-destruct as a perfectly human response to the horrific reality of corporatist unfeeling norms. I refuse to be this kind of asshole. I will not conform. It may take me more than 7 years to finish my PhD, which I have continued from a previous failed attempt, but maybe this is OK. Maybe it is contemporary norms that are problematic. I am failing to care. I am beginning to accept myself, as dangerous to patriarchal capitalism as it is. In immortal words of Rage Against the Machine, “fuck you I won’t do what you tell me”. I’m not going to be an anally-bleached hairless pawn with a shiny stretched face full of injected fuck-knows-what who blindly follows dictate. I am a Nasty Woman, somewhat accepting of her gradual corporeal rotting and slow decline into the grave. I want a Green Burial and we cannot be sure whether silicone and other prostheses break down into the dirt seamlessly like flesh, bone and sinew. I want the ravens, the worms, the black and crawly things, to re-purpose me, to consume me, to recycle me, and to resurrect me into a new form. I feel at one with the earth: some kind of deep existential Monism which I want to uphold in the afterlife. Human is human; age, ruin and decay, to me, is good.