What I’ve Learned from Empathy
by Sarah Schulman
The MacDowell Colony, August 15, 2005
I’m trying to remember when I first got interested in juxtaposition, which is the experience at the core of this novel: relations between ideas, word fragments, genres, lovers, and relational existence as a fallback position for people whose reality is not acknowledged. Homosexually, it probably began in my 1962 nursery school class. Our young teacher was getting married, and she organized us into a mass mock wedding. The four-year-olds had to couple up boy/girl, boy/ girl and march down the aisle. I refused. I said I would be the photographer, and ran around with an invisible camera, snapping nonexistent pictures. I existed, in that moment as a lesbian and an artist, relationally. There was no girlfriend and no apparatus, yet I survived as myself, a not-bride.
“Is it always the same story, then? Somebody loves and somebody doesn’t, or loves less, or loves someone else.”
“Part of the thing the character’s doing,” Ms. Adler said, “is trying not to live the stereotyped version of that story. There are many stereotyped versions of that story.” Miranda Popkey interviewed Renata Adler about the rerelease of Speedboat and Pitch Dark.