THE LINDSAY BOOK
I can only get an impression of Lindsay Lohan. A trace of her essence. I think I most fully conveyed this impression in the poem “Midriff.”
Is purity a lack of direction? Is Lindsay pure?
Lindsay Lohan is radiant for me. I’m fascinated by her. I see all the nuances in her moves. All the wrong moves that seem so right.
I began thinking about Lindsay Lohan a long time ago. Do you remember when she appeared on the cover of Interview magazine in 2006 as Liz Taylor? And now, six years later, she’s portraying Liz in a biopic about Liz and Dick. That’s consistent. It’s rational. I think Lindsay knows her origins, and I think she’s living her life accordingly. I mean, I think she knows what she wants her life to look like in retrospect.
I have feelings for Lindsay Lohan. That’s what I wasn’t able to admit when I first began writing this book, in the other draft. The one nobody believed in because I was lying to myself about what the book was. That I identify with her and I’m attracted to her.
It’s a book about falling in love. So yes, I let myself go so far into Lindsay’s image for the sake of cultural studies that I fell in love with her. But that’s not true. I fell in love with her first. Then I decided to write the book.
I’ve never met Lindsay Lohan.
I feel close to her ways, her dispersion.
The Lindsay book used to be called “Pure Celebrity.” This is a sentence from an early draft, “The desire to create art is evident in her every physical movement, the self-consciousness of which directs one’s attention to her gestures and the surface of her skin, as if there is an energy on the exterior of her body that no matter how hard she may try to contain is wildly charged.”
A lot of the times I tried writing the Lindsay book I would get stuck thinking about her wildly charged skin and how much I wanted to touch it.
How many times has Lindsay crashed her car? I don’t care. She’s still alive.
There was a little while when I thought I would just write about Cold Spring Harbor in Long Island as an in to this book. That didn’t last. Do you remember when Lindsay cried on TV? There was a time when I wanted to call the book “Lindsay Cries.” In the early draft I wrote this about her crying, “It’s edifying, because what I want so much to see from Lindsay is her level of desperation to mimic everybody’s desperation in a way that is transcendent and universal, but always with the assumption that few people can relate to its heaviness.”
I don’t care about dates anymore, that she began modeling with Ford at the age of three, I think. Don’t care. There were a few days when I had a timeline of her career tacked to my wall so that I could get the big picture, the complete impression. What I discovered was that there is no order to her career. Her career is more than interesting to me; it makes me ecstatic, almost panicked.
I don’t care about facts anymore. This book isn’t about facts. It isn’t a biography, although I called it that once when I wasn’t willing to admit that it’s a love story. Isn’t it?
That’s what everybody really thinks anyway. That I’m in love with Lindsay Lohan. And I imagine they believe I can’t write this book because I’m blocked. That my love isn’t reciprocated, and so I can’t write it.
Vice magazine says I’m “obsessed” with Lindsay Lohan. It’s not an obsession at all. It’s awe.
I think I unraveled on a beach in Santa Monica. I left New York to write this book I’ve only been talking about. The Lindsay book that I could never get at in New York. The Lindsay book that prompted me to go to the Purple magazine party at BLK DNM to find Lindsay. Lindsay was there, but only after I left for a prior engagement.
That shut me down. I was sad about it for weeks. I just wanted to say “Hi, I’m writing a love story about us.” I mean a star study. A love study. A starry love.
I couldn’t see for the stars in my eyes. I wrote that sentence in a book called The Hot Tub.
I couldn’t see for the stars in my eyes. I couldn’t write.
But that’s all over now. And when I look outside I see palm trees. And inside I listen to Chico Hamilton’s quintet while the sun slowly descends over downtown Los Angeles and I think to myself about how adrift I am here. How it’s all vague, like Lindsay’s career. Like her motive. What is her motivation for living? What does she really want? I think about this all the time.
I want Lindsay Lohan to keep living. I want to keep living.
For a long time I thought I was only learning how to read the media. There wasn’t anything there. I mean really, there was nothing I could get hold of at all. I wrote, “She is undoubtedly most compelling when in flight.”
I talked about the impoverishment of personal life. Her image speaking volumes. Los Angeles nostalgia. Jack Smith even. Jack Smith on Maria Montez, “Why insist upon her being an actress, why limit her.”
I wearied. I cried sometimes. I hated the people who didn’t get it. I mocked them. But perhaps they were right. That I hadn’t written anything because the Lindsay book wasn’t just about Lindsay. It’s about me. I wrote in an early draft, “I’ve never been more turned on by Lindsay.”
I drank a lot of champagne. I went as far away as Mexico City. I blogged about the book. I put it in my official bio. I told people it was happening. No matter what, I would write this book about Lindsay Lohan. I let them know just how serious it all was. The spirit. I had spirit. I wanted it. I wanted Lindsay. To understand her. To write about her in complete sentences and not in poems on Chateau Marmont stationary.
I wanted to be a real writer. I wanted Lindsay to know I am a real writer and this is happening. A biography of a twenty-five year old written by a twenty-nine year old. The ultimate love story. The book of my life. A book about living. A book about being cool and damaged. A book about escaping, running away, about desperation, trauma, art.
It was so negative really for a long time. I felt empty before I got to this point when I could say that I’m just writing it because I want her. Because I think she can handle it. Because it got to the point that The Boom Boom Room was like the symbol. Yes.
The Boom Boom Room.
The bloody night at Boom Boom as The Post reported. I’m not going to cite that. Don’t even remember when it was.
It was Boom Boom. Who cares.
Terry Richardson nearly walked into me in Soho. I saw him out there in the fog, the rain that beat New York for weeks before I vacated. He was carrying a large bouquet of flowers. I was with a beautiful woman. I didn’t want to say anything right then. I let him walk by me. The man who doesn’t do interviews. The man who inflates her image.
I’m past Lindsay’s image. I want to know what she feels and how she deals with it. I want to know what she thinks about. I want to hear her talk about her vision. Because I know she has one. I see the vision. I relate to it. I anticipate it.
I wrote, “Her self-consciousness pins her back on a conventional entertainment scene that hasn’t the imagination or vision to support her talent.”
And then her participation in The Canyons was announced.
Every letter I wrote seemed superfluous. I wrote about the jet black nail polish she wore on the cover of Nylon in 2007 like it was phenomenological. Because it was. It is. I wrote about “a perverse number of hits.” How I wanted to make a video with Lindsay. A penetrable study. Against the grain. Beneath the surface. “Paradise” by The Stranglers.
I wrote, in the Lindsay book, that I believe “her fake remorse is a barely veiled fiction or deliberate misinformation that I decode as an admission of her total resignation to a life of great variety and attenuated waste. Her commitment to waste.” A mania.
Is that true? They told me to make it a fiction. The editors. Like it would make it better. The Lindsay book was already a fiction, a construction, artifice.
This is true artifice. This book is open, intersubjective, in real time.
Let me shine for you.
Does Lindsay touch her mouth a lot? Aren’t there a lot of pictures of Lindsay putting her fingers in or around her mouth? Her lips. Her teeth.
Once I messaged the address email@example.com, “I’m writing a book about you. At Bacaro. Let’s hang.” Then I did some illicit stuff on Hester Street.
Really, who cares.
“I want her to be Marlon Brando in Last Tango,” I wrote in the first draft. I don’t want her to be just alone in a hotel room like Veronica Lake. She carries her suffering with style and grace. She suffers elegantly. An “elegant refusal,” Diana Vreeland. She “advances life as a horror show as an antidote to life as a bore,” Susan Sontag. “People like you need to fuck people like me,” Tracy Emin.
The earlier draft that drove me to quit my job in fashion.
Summer 2011, Lindsay entering Mr. Chow Beverly Hills in a vest and sheer black. A fucking icon.
Failure is not a guarantee. If it was I could at least find some solace in the end of this. I could absolve myself of it. I could empty myself out and let it go. But at every turn the possibility of succeeding in my explication of her movement is hinted at. Success isn’t guaranteed, but it is alluded to, leaving me in a perpetual mode of return.
I continue to write Lindsay. I write Lindsay in an interstitial corridor, away from the media, and away from the critic, away from the audience, away from awareness. I channel through myself and the culture with a directionless velocity. Every event I touch is a resolution to end the event. To complete a project that is tenuous and lost. Lost to its very subject, lost to its purpose. It is an infinite distance, a desert.
Perhaps it is an empty action. This writing through mediation. I aim to add definition to an undefined form. The psychographic in her, the consciousness that resides outside of any conception of order.
I am writing about a human being. I am hoping that there will be a moment that gives meaning to all prior moments. I imagine my entire life in letters to be a retirement that opens onto a limitless vista.
Writing about Lindsay is like looking at the ocean and expecting to see land.
The lack of mass, the absence of her body.
Is it her body after all that I want to touch? Yet I touch a book instead of her body. I dine at fine restaurants in place of the woman’s neck.
Jon Leon’s latest book is The Malady of the Century (Futurepoem, 2012)
Preview image from Midriff by Jon Leon