Eileen Myles Believes In Evil But Not Witch Hunts

Rachel’s Team Pick

Sometimes Eileen Myles writes a thing and you can’t explain it or even talk about it very intelligently because she already used all the words that you would want to say. Sometimes I think Eileen Myles is the smartest person I (don’t) know. Sometimes Eileen Myles sounds like a total wingnut which is good because so do all of my favorite people.

All this is my way of telling you that Eileen has written a thing, it’s not poetry, it’s like an essay I guess and it’s called “School for Witch Burners.” It is about, in no particular order, 1) Harvard 2) Elizabeth Warren, a teacher at Harvard and one of the creators of the Consumer Fraud Protection Bureau 3) the 2011 Anthony Hopkins film The Rite 5) the 2010 film The Social Network 6) witch hunts.

Maybe it won’t change your life, whatever, I didn’t even see The Social Network, but I guess I just felt really dumb upon reading this for not knowing it needed to be written, but also really glad it was. I don’t know what part to quote, so I’m just going to pick the part I liked the best:

I wanted to see The Rite because I miss my simple beliefs in exorcism. I believed in exorcism as a child and I also feared that I would tip unwittingly towards the side of Satan. Consuming The Rite the other night in my artist colony single bed I thought to myself quietly that perhaps I am Satan. I have lazily and simply made room for him and this is my life. Placidly evil. Eating peanuts, farting and drinking tea in bed… The Social Network is not frank about evil. It really doesn’t know. Do you? Is there evil in the world. Well just watch a government divided between those who want to heap more opportunity on the rich and openly sabotage the middle class, the “working people” (is any one? Working, I mean) in America and the poor—and the poor and the working people by and large do not know their true names. Most of them except for the most frankly indigent and drug dealers will proudly call themselves middle class—isn’t that in fact a big part of the problem. So bear in mind that in The Rite we learn that to destroy evil—and Satan, we must learn his name. The Catholics still have that down at least.

So if you were wondering on a Thursday afternoon if any smart women still have smart things to say about other smart women, if poets still have anything relevant to say, or just what Eileen Myles watches on Netflix, hey, this one’s for you.

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Rachel is Autostraddle's Senior Editor and the editor who presides over books as well as news and politics coverage. Originally from Boston, MA, Rachel currently lives in Michigan, where she teaches writing at the college level and is pursuing her MFA in fiction. Her favorite Ciara video is probably "Ride," but if you're only going to watch one, she recommends "Like A Boy."

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3 Comments

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    There is so much attention being paid to the witch hunters on the various queer websites. Repeating their words again and again, reproducing over and over their professionally photographed and shopped head shots. Does this not give them strength, more presence, legitimacy?

    Let’s listen to ourselves for a while. Let’s listen to Eileen Myles, for example. Thanks for referencing this essay.

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    so i’ve been re-reading Inferno on trains and typing on my typewriter, realizing that she’s influencing my writing more and more. like don’t you find yourself asking questions without question marks at the end of sentences.

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