Sunday, April 21, 2013

In Memory of Elizabeth Howe, Salem, 1692

I've been having a bit of trouble lately with being able to write the words I'm meaning to say, as I've been working on my last paper of my first year of grad school and I've pretty much used up my word bank in the 100+ pages of (English) writing I've produced in the last eight months. So, I'm not sure I can connect these two things together, but I'll try. Around the time Alexander McQueen's A/W '07 collection went down the runway, I was finishing up what I thought would be the last I wrote on Sulpicia, supposedly the only female Roman poet who's work survived long enough to reach us. I quite vividly remember handing in my 60+ page manuscript to my advisor and, as I walked away from her office back down the long hallway, as I was on the verge of tears. I had lived and breathed Sulpicia for the last year, and wasn't sure what to do with myself when that was taken away from me. I also remember feeling quite depressed for the following summer, feeling like I had absolutely no direction, sure that I was permanently separated from a great love, namely university. Now, 6 years later, I feel like I've reversed time somehow and am walking backwards in that same hallway, about to take back my manuscript, return home and un-write it. Of course I'll have to stop rewinding the tape soon, as I now have another 100 pages on Sulpicia to write. At least. Anyway, these two looks from the McQueen collection came out at the time I've now re-arrived at, so their strange ancient history/sci-fi hybrid aesthetic fit both my time traveling experience and area of study.

Funny thing is though, the collection was actually inspired not by sci-fi, but by the women that were killed in the Salem witch trials, including some of McQueen's own distant relatives. This subject speaks to me on a different level, having just completed Damien Echols' book, Life After Death. Some of you were probably more aware of Damien's case than I was since I was too young/sheltered when it began, and too self-involved/in a daze when it came (somewhat) to a head. Due to my reliance on Henry Rollins' show to get me through some of the tough 'in a daze' nights, and then through the healthier 'translating a lot of Latin/Greek' nights, Damien's name at least entered my subconscious, and so I thought I knew what the documentary West of Memphis was going to be like when we saw it was playing at our local indie theatre. I didn't. I immediately bought Damien's book after watching the film and devoured it within a few sittings. Damien's book contains some of the most beautiful passages I've ever read, as well as some of the most heart-wrenching ones. I have not been able to get it out of my head in the last week since I finished it, though I truly don't ever want to.

Here's the runway video of the McQueen show, if you're interested. It has some NSFW material playing on the screen above the runway, so proceed with caution.

(Runway photos via

Related Posts