Everything else

Editor’s Letter

August 2014: Enchantment

Back to Anaheed:

I think if a man were writing that scene about Jessica, he wouldn’t focus on her agency the way Adrian Nicole LeBlanc does. Maybe I’m being unfair, but I don’t think he would be likely to talk about her skillful management and “deployment” of her “power,” or how part of that was about generosity—she is “sharing her pleasure in it.” I think a lot of men would see a girl so young and beautiful taking pleasure in exercising her ability to enchant people as a kind of dirty trick, and see the men in the scene as victims of that trickery, rather than as sharers in the pleasure of being enchanted.

Here, Sady said it way better than I could, when Rookie was just one month old:

Once you realize that The Exorcist is, essentially, the story of a 12-year-old who starts cussing, masturbating, and disobeying her mother—in other words, going through puberty—it becomes apparent to the feminist-minded viewer why two adult men are called in to slap her around for much of the third act. People are convinced that something spooky is going on with girls; that, once they reach a certain age, they lose their adorable innocence and start tapping into something powerful and forbidden. Little girls are sugar and spice, but women are just plain scary. And the moment a girl becomes a woman is the moment you fear her most.

I mean, not to get too dark here, and I’ll move off this subject in a second, but when I think about a lot of the male anger directed at women in general, which I have been doing a lot lately, I think a lot of it has to do with anger and resentment about rejection, but even before that, about the thing that made them vulnerable to being rejected, which is someone else having the power to pique their interest. What Adrian Nicole LeBlanc sees as “radiating intimacy,” others may see as a kind of dark witchcraft.

Before I get totally off that subject, there are vague, sleepy ideas swimming around my head about persuasion and manipulation and how they are tied to enchantment—and how they also can be interpreted as evil or good, depending. Like, activists use many of the same tactics that advertisers do, and even though it’s only their goals that are different, people tend to describe the actual tactics that advertisers use—persuasion, manipulation, seduction—as evil. [FUN FACT FROM ME, TAVI: Charles Manson took Dale Carnegie courses in prison before becoming a cult leader!]

Why is magic so powerful to children, and what kinds of magic are still powerful to us as teenagers and adults? I can think of so many: superstitions, rituals and objects that we engage with for “luck,” INTUITION, “soulmates,” New Age-y beliefs, “vibes,” even prayer. Why do we need these things?

Me again:

They give us a way of feeling in control—putting vibes out into the universe, manifesting what we want—as well as a way to explain something after it has happened, making it easier to remove ourselves from any responsibility for the event. But I think I also believe in this stuff—feel like I’m guided by something when it keeps showing up in my life, like whenever I look up at the moon I decide it’s Stevie Nicks watching over me—because I would like to believe that there’s not only order and structure in my life but MAGIC (again). I want to think everything is unfolding on a specific trajectory because I would like to believe everything can be more fantastic than it truly is. It’s nice to feel that your life is a story—like Michael Chabon’s essay about Wes Anderson where he says that the most crucial part of Joseph Cornell boxes is the box itself, the outline, the same way that Anderson’s movies are about these worlds’ self-containment more than they are about what happens in these worlds. This is also why in high school I wrote down moments that felt especially CINEMATIC. Maybe life was annoying, but it could still feel like a movie or like magic or like for that one drive or dance or kiss, the universe was closed in around me.

Anaheed:

I am a boring, stodgy literalist, so I don’t actually believe in supernatural stuff, but I do run as fast as I can after a certain kind of enchantment that comes when you’re really into something you’re doing or watching or reading or listening to or looking at or WHATEVER. That experience where you feel spellbound and captivated by something—seriously, like you’re under its spell and you are its captive!—and you lose your sense of self and time and everything else and just sit there slack-jawed, and when you come back to the world you can’t believe three hours have gone by. The fact that it’s easier for some people to feel that than others is just proof, to me, that enchantment is never something someone is DOING TO YOU—our girl Jessica isn’t victimizing anyone, in other words, she’s offering up her charisma and charm to the world, which is a GIFT, and people’s reactions to it is their own thing. It’s like how people sometimes say they’re “looking for love,” as though love is a thing that comes to you at some point and you just go “great, thanks,” rather than something you do or don’t, at any given time, have the capacity to feel for someone else. No one makes you fall in love, in other words—you do that. It’s the same with enchantment. It comes from you, it’s not done to you.

Me:

This was like the premise of a talk I gave last year about the importance of fangirling, like how One Direction fans are far more fascinating to me than One Direction themselves, or how the best part of watching David Attenborough’s Life series is watching him watch the natural world and get all excited about it. I talked about, in spite of all the snobbery most people meet with “fangirling,” how wonderful it is to be someone in this world who has the capacity to love something that much, even if it is projection, even if it does come from you— that’s great! That makes it, like, an act of self-love! I really like crushes for that reason. They are not about the dummy I am projecting onto. They are about ruling my own world and volunteering practical strangers to participate in my madness and creating for myself the experience of relating to songs about unrequited love and whatnot.

That’s kind of the basis of the book I Love Dick—that the writer, Chris Kraus, is fixated on this man named Dick and writes him all these letters and is repeatedly rejected, but by the end of the book, it has nothing to do with him anyways, and it never did. He was just the little spark she needed to beat her writer’s block, and now you’ve just finished this insanely great book that is about so much more than love. I pick up on similar feelings with Taylor Swift’s music.

And, finally, Anaheed:

Kids have the capacity to be enchanted by everything, and hopefully we never lose it completely. This is getting real corny, so I will leave you with two quotes:

In my experience, singularity and isolation and jadedness are all parts of the same thing—they’re all reflections of being limited by an understanding of yourself as separate and isolated from things around you. The more [you experience] a more permeable relation to other people and other things, the more naturally that sense of wonder comes. I think if you allow it, it can happen naturally over time. —David Hildebrand Wilson

He who seeks beauty, will find it. —Bill Cunningham

Enjoy, wizards/witches/fairies/et al.

Love,
Tavi

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33 Comments

  • Jenoris August 1st, 2014 3:33 PM

    It’s so incredible the way you and Anaheed were able to not only really look at enchantment at various different angles, but also tie it in so wonderfully with feminism and discussions on the Male Gaze without taking anything away from, but rather giving more credit to Jessica. One of my favorite quotes of all time and the quote from which Fall Out Boy’s third studio album title is pulled from goes: “Be clearly aware of the stars and infinity on high. Then life seems almost enchanted after all.” There is so much around us. So much greatness and vastness and depth around us and I don’t just mean the oceans and the skies. I’ve tried very hard these past few years to not project negative assumptions onto people because of this or that and it’s really helped me when I got to learn more about them about how truly endless the thoughts of mind are, how unfathomably deep the desires of the heart run. I often find myself so overwhelmed by all the everythingness of life. I feel like I’m never going to have enough time to read all the books I want to read, or see all the tv shows I want to see, or watch all the movies, or know about the moons and the stars because there’s a new one every day. I think oh I’m never going to have enough time to be anyone or do anything because there’s already (-hits jukebox, initiate Smashmouth-) so much to do, so much to see. But then I really stop and think, dude isn’t that kind of a reason to NOT give up?

    • Jenoris August 1st, 2014 3:38 PM

      Isn’t all the endless everythingness of the entirety of existence from the universe to the galaxies to yourself and all the undiscovered insects every reason to stick around? Isn’t it worth it to try and photograph all of the people and things you want to? And write all the words you currently have unwritten (-jukebox glitches, enter Natasha Bedingfield-)? And read all the books and do everything you can while you can? Sure, a lot of things are going to get in the way and the obstacles are going to SUCK but what’s Harry Potter’s journey to becoming a great wizard without Voldemort? What’s Sam’s loyalty to Frodo without Gollum? What’s Katniss Everdeen without Rue’s death? I think all of the magic lies in equal measure in what we know about the things we know, and what we don’t know about them.

    • elektraheart August 1st, 2014 11:16 PM

      I agree. The everythingness of life. That’s enchanting.

  • rhymeswithorange August 1st, 2014 3:35 PM

    Great food for thought, guys! Can’t wait for this month!

  • laneyjane August 1st, 2014 3:37 PM

    I can already tell that this month’s theme will be my favorite. Like all time favorite.

  • electriceden August 1st, 2014 3:45 PM

    Haven’t listened to that Manson interview, but while you don’t need to tell me about how horrible a lot of the Sixties were (especially for women and people of color), I’m always curious why that decade/scene keeps getting singled out instead of, say, 70s punk or 80s indie – both of which had THEIR share of problems. I mean, I understand that THE SIXTIES definitely share a larger piece of the cultural unconciousness (and therefore requires more deflating), but given the high esteem those other areas enjoy in certain circles, you’d think someone would think to shine a light at their garbage.

    Don’t get me wrong – the underbelly of the first decade needs to be brought out every now and again, if only so younger folks will stop wishing they had “been there” – ugh! But the lack of discussion about the faults of the latter decades seem less like Boomer cover-ups and more like Gen-X ommission.

    Sorry if this reads like somebody who’s read too many cultural history books for their own good – I have – and I have no idea if this website is the right forum for this rant, but what the hell.

    • electriceden August 2nd, 2014 5:42 PM

      Okay, reading this back a day later, this seems kiiiinda incoherent.

      I guess that I was trying to say was that, while you certainly have a right to dismiss the hippies wholesale, I think that to not be a hypocrite, you’d have to disavow punks and indie kids as well on the same grounds. Your mileage may vary on that hypothesis, of course.

      • electriceden August 2nd, 2014 5:43 PM

        Oh, and despite my word vomit otherwise, this seems like a great month. Keep it up!

      • makedolive August 3rd, 2014 7:38 PM

        Makes perfect sense to me!

  • mangointhesky August 1st, 2014 3:57 PM

    After all these amazing things that you wrote here, Tavi, and after being given so many words and thoughts to say say something meaningful about, I still can only seem to think about the almost-first line of this: “Summer witches and summer fairies” (I think it was that!)
    Whenever I think of Rookie, I picture something magical and wonderful, which is the reason why I’m so overly excited that this months theme is enchantment!
    Anyways, cheers to Rookie and August!

    http://lescarousels.blogspot.com

  • krevlorneswath August 1st, 2014 5:08 PM

    This quote from the editors letter of feb. 2013 hangs on my wall: “My goofiest-sounding secret is that I also believe in magic. Sometimes I call it God and sometimes I call it light, and I believe in it because every now and then I read a really good book or hear a really good song or have a really good conversation with a friend and they seem to have some kind of shine to them.”
    That’s really what I think of with this months theme, and Tavi already said it better than I ever could. Super excited!

  • alienbabe August 1st, 2014 5:26 PM

    yasss, this months theme is everything.

    http://bratmobilee.blogspot.com/

  • enthusiastictruckdriver August 1st, 2014 5:50 PM

    I love Rookie because a lot of the things you guys do, from talking about believing in magic to fangirling over glitter or boy bands, remind me of the things I used to do as a kid and then stopped doing because HIGH SCHOOL and I recently realized I can give myself permission to enjoy all of those things so THANK YOU <3

  • Chloe22 August 1st, 2014 8:01 PM

    This is so fabulous. Right now I’m head over heels, consumed by quicksand, blown away, knocked over, enchanted, enamored, under a spell, CONSUMED WITH WONDER for the Rolling Stones. I am not dramatizing… in any way. This letter totally encapsuled my emotions right now. I have so much stress and semi-not-a-big-deal-but-kinda-but-not-starving-to-death chaos going on, and this obsession is helping me push through everything. And your letter, again, totally explained this savior called enchantment. And yes, the obsession isn’t all about Mick…or Keith…or Brian…or Charlie…or Ronnie (not putting Bill in because he was a total perve). It’s me experiencing the love I am capable of putting into a not always loving world. And getting that love back.
    http://criticallycouture.blogspot.com/

    • Chloe22 August 1st, 2014 9:39 PM

      I forgot the other Mick- Mick Taylor!

  • savana August 1st, 2014 8:23 PM

    This was perfect- I met Lady Gaga a week ago and have been thinking a lot about how I felt like she had a sort of magical quality about her and that I hoped I would somehow “absorb” it from her. I thought that I was going totally crazy until I read this- the timing and subjects of your editors letters are somehow always perfect for where I am in my life (magic?). Thanks Tavi and Anaheed!

  • TessAnnesley August 1st, 2014 10:58 PM

    One Direction fans being fascinating = literally my life

    I know one song of theirs and have listened to it maybe once but I’ve acquired all this weird 1D information from having friends who love them. (And I pay attention of my own accord because ZAYN’S FACE, HAVE MERCY.)

    So excited for this month… Enchantment is one of my favourite words/concepts and it’s my birthday month… turning 20. Officially no longer a teenager even though I will keep reading this here magazine for TEENZ until I die. <3

  • gracethirteen August 2nd, 2014 12:04 AM

    I really really loved this. You guys continue to amaze me while simultaneously providing me with new thoughts to happily overthink.

  • Jane-Eyre August 2nd, 2014 2:54 AM

    Ooh I can’t wait!
    I love that room in the picture… It’d be really ace to make one of those colourful triangles. It reminds me of a gods-eye :)

    http://shineongolddustwoman.blogspot.com.au/

  • thuychi14 August 2nd, 2014 7:03 AM

    I think that most magic in my life comes from my understanding of it as a fluid that runs across time and space. Everything is so interconnected that you both possess and lose your own sense of control over it. For one part, you’re definitely involved in the overall process of living the moments and creating meaningful substances from materials of life and its matters. But for the other, certain things are destined to happen beyond your expectations that would round up the higher experience and transcend everything above whatever you used to attribute it to from the beginning.

  • Shanlew August 2nd, 2014 10:25 AM

    I really understand what you mean about the importance of being a fan, Tavi. I went to a One Direction concert and felt more connected to the fans than I did to the band, and that to me was being part of something and the whole reason I went. I enjoy being a fan of their music more than I enjoy their music. I have the exact same view on crushes, too. I enjoy them because they give me something to relate songs to (T-Swift especially) and also I just like giving myself exciting things to think about. The actual object of my crush is definitely not the center of it.

  • Catrine August 2nd, 2014 10:32 AM

    Wow wow wow. This editor’s letter. Wow. Anaheed, the part you wrote about the girl named Jessica makes me think of my high school. It seems that often, girls who receive a lot of attention (often for being pretty/charismatic/popular etc), are then criticized and questioned on their morals. There is a girl I went to school with who was very pretty, friendly, flirty, and popular. Despite the fact that she was never mean to anyone, people (BOTH boys and girls) would say that she was being fake. But she really wasn’t; she was simply trying to be nice to everyone. I think mainly, those who criticized her were jealous that she received so much attention. It reminds me of how people react to celebrities.

    Also, Tavi, I love how you phrased that part about the Other Girls, and then how you acknowledge that you yourself are to some, an Other Girl (look at this website though, it’s phenomenal!). I’ve been thinking about that idea of the “Other Girl” a lot lately. There are times when I am completely at peace with myself. Then I might see a girl with super awesome pink dyed hair, and I think “I did not pull that off nearly as well as she does” (or any sort of comparison incident, ya knowww). I have, I dunno, “trained” myself to not dwell on these little negative thoughts when they come up, and I am increasingly happy with who I am. :)

    xo to Rookie; this is a great piece.

    http://studio815.blogspot.com/

  • girlhero August 2nd, 2014 11:53 AM

    it’s a really vague idea so I’m super open to input, but when I read this I got the feeling that what tavi and anaheed are referring to as ‘enchantment’ is something very close to privilege.

    obviously it could be argued that jessica is underprivileged in many ways, but arresting beauty and youth are certainly privileges she ‘shares pleasure in’ and ‘deploys’. it’s true I suppose that enchantment would come from within – but if you lack a certain level of privilege I feel like no matter what ‘good vibes’ you throw out into the world, no matter how charismatic you are, you will routinely be treated in ways that are woefully realistic and un-magical.

    IDK!!!

  • GlitterKitty August 2nd, 2014 12:08 PM

    Tavi, given this month’s theme, I think it’s time for you to watch Harry Potter.

  • izizansari August 2nd, 2014 12:54 PM

    i love magic but what i love most about magic is how people are beginning to look at it in different ways. it’s no longer about witchcraft and spells and potions. it’s about little, everyday things, and even though i would love to believe in literal colloquial magic, i find it so much easier to believe in the things that i see. and i’m so glad i’m going to get a full month’s worth of magic-related feedback from people who can show me even more.

  • greensherlockian August 3rd, 2014 6:46 AM

    I really like what Tavi said about unrequited love. It reminds me of something Taylor Swift said recently:
    “I think unrequited love is just as valid as any other kind. It’s just as crushing and just as thrilling. No matter what happens in this situation, I want you to remember what you are doing is selfless and beautiful and kind. You are loving someone purely because you love them, not because you think you’ll ever have your affections reciprocated. You are admiring something for its beauty, without needing to own it.”

  • Maradoll Mynx August 3rd, 2014 12:07 PM

    Oh. My. Gosh. *Amazing* article :) I had chills going up and down my spine for a few minutes after reading this. I’m going to have to read it again right now, but I had to just say it’s beautiful, I’m so happy for you that your mind looks at the world this way, that I adore you, thank you for sharing this, and that I AM YOUR OFFICIAL FANGIRL…
    Peace, Magic, and Admiration-not-jealousy~MM

  • makedolive August 3rd, 2014 7:37 PM

    This month looks truly amazing. Thank you for these monthly letters (and all the rest, of course) I always get so excited when they come up!!!

  • irismonster August 3rd, 2014 8:18 PM

    Have you guys read the Magicians series by Lev Grossman? The final book in the trilogy recently came out and has been getting a lot of press lately, but basically it’s about a Brooklyn teenager who becomes a magician. It borrows a lot from Harry Potter and all, but it manages to create this really unique and new idea of what magic is. What I love so much about the books is that in them, magic ability isn’t some predestined quality that’s reserved for the lucky few, but it’s like this *special thing* that is real and accessible to everybody if you just try enough. It’s like, magic is not another dimension, just an extent of the one we’re in now, and if you try really hard you can see it and control it. And I just really love that, I think it’s a beautiful idea, and when you think about it that way magic is real, it’s everywhere and it’s everything and it’s just kind of omnipresent. It’s not something you can disprove, because it’s the most real thing there is.

  • Kiana August 4th, 2014 4:51 AM

    I am beginning to like what Tavi’s doing in her letters, especially the letters in the last two months, wherein she shares with us what the staffers write/think. It’s like peeping in their private messages box minus the creepiness and ~invasion of privacy~. I like that.

    Also, Anaheed got me thinking and nodding. So excited for this month!!!

  • DarcyEmma August 7th, 2014 11:38 AM

    Gah Tavi, you nail it EVERY TIME. This is just perfeeeect. Somehow, every Rookie theme seems to be just what I needed at the time (or maybe it’s just that ever Rookie post is so great that I ALWAYS need EVERYTHING on here) (either way).

    http://girlisgreenhorn.wordpress.com/

  • Renee.F August 12th, 2014 4:56 AM

    I saw you at the writers festival in Melbourne (I flew over from New Zealand) and so I remember you talking about Chris Kraus and David Attenborough. I also remember going to a bar afterwards with my boyfriend and talking about your presentation and feeling like a failure. For the rest of the night, and the next day before our flight, I analysed how I had got to where I was, questioned why I didn’t keep numerous journals, questioned why I wasn’t as prolific and well read as someone 12 years younger than me. I had no idea what I wanted to do, what direction I was heading, and most of all, I didn’t have the ideas, resources or confidence you had.

    Of course i was classing you as one of the Other Girls. I was enchanted by all of your attributes that I wish I’d had at your age, because equipped with similar capabilities, perhaps I could have achieved so much more? Maybe I would have known what I wanted from a young age, instead of feeling so disappointed in myself?

    It’s been almost one year since you presented in Melbourne, and in a way this editors letter has come full circle for me. Since then, I have got pretty close to discovering what I want to do with my life. As with Dick, you were the spark that I needed to really evaluate my situation, to assess my feelings of inadequacy, to understand how discouraged I was with myself. I could see the magic that I really wanted, and that there was no reason it couldn’t be mine. And so while you may not be Bjork with a lantern, and I may not be you, It’s all ok.

  • littlejulie August 13th, 2014 10:34 PM

    hey tavi~~
    im not sure if you check these things but I’m going to see your show “this is our youth” in nyc next thursday and I’m PUMPED :)