And I’d finished this so I sent it to my girlfriend and she called me back and said, “um, err, I don’t, understand.” So after sulking for a bit, obviously upset, I explained. And she understood. I asked her if she could write a short note on why she found it difficult and how she finally came to understand: something which would stand apart from the main article, concept-the-dots. This is what she wrote, it’s brilliant:

“So, here it is, criticism. The problem for me (and I didn’t beat around the bush the first time, either) was that I couldn’t understand. Was it that I couldn’t understand, or was it really a problem with the writing, as I thought after reading it three times over? It begins; yet it doesn’t begin for the reader. ‘Pagan Poetry’ – a difficult link with Lena and Julia, you think, but you deal with that, yet the problem grows as you read on in this first section. Where is Pikefossen? And Maze, and Domremy-la-Pucelle? Your eye is caught and your heart tugged by the tenderness of it all – the blue-sky cadence – but what does this mean? The personal impenetrability of the first section is not in keeping with expectations, nor is any meaning immediately obvious. This was the problem; how did this all connect with Tatu?

And then Nabokov: a Russian link, you think, perhaps maybe, something to grab onto and hope it leads you to the connection between Pikefossen and Tatu. But it didn’t. How can this suffice as a bridge between tenderness and analysis? I guess what I’m trying to say is that this article lacks obvious pointers. They were eventually explained to me; but that brought up the obvious question – ‘is it right to have to ask the author for explanation?’ Of course not, I cried, in my frustration; but the flipside of that is, after I got the explanation, it did make sense and the tenderness and analysis didn’t jar quite so much.

We, as readers, arrive at the image of this piece first: the structure, the strange mix of the unexplained and the explained, the seemingly deliberately wilful. But sense can be made if we change our approach. Read the last bit first; this is not the agreed and measured. The upshot of this being, therefore, is neither are t.A.T.u. I was asked to write this as a sort of pointer system – something which the piece immediately lacks – but I guess there’s only one pointer that’s required: although the piece focuses on the non-image side of t.A.T.u., it is t.A.T.u. that shape the image of the piece. The skewed, difficult (yet tender and intelligent) shape of this writing seems to reflect what the writer is saying about t.A.T.u. And not just about the girls themselves, but the effect they have on him, which is surely why the analysis is interspersed with seemingly incongruous pieces of personal insight, creation, memory. It’s not important to necessarily understand the whys and wherefores of the personal sections, rather, they demand concentration on the feelings they evoke. They are a theme rather than an authentic narrative; they don’t matter to the audience in a specific sense, but that is not to say they are not important in a thematic and suggestive sense.

So there it is. I guess in a way this is an archetypal response, in that it is a mix of the personal and the objective, the analytical. Maybe the language and structure are difficult, but it’s not meant to fit together like a jigsaw; it maybe even reveals a perverse pleasure on the part of the author in constructing something that you have to dig away at and still not get all the answers. Even that reveals something fundamental about the nature of t.A.T.u. and the fundamentally different approach taken here, looking at the (however clichéd it may sound) something deeper and more interesting rather than the mostly agreed and measured.

It’s funny, for me, that in retrospect, after the hour or so of vexed chat about this (and numerous re-readings) that I’d only need to look at the title and the last section and it would have all made sense. I suppose that only makes it more perverse and fitting.”

written by Cozen, March 2003