Children know they have no power except to absorb; even the choice between expression and silence is often denied them. As an adult, how can one honestly express that powerlessness? To describe it in traditional memoir style is to introduce a note of self-pity no matter how honest one might try to be: the selective power of the narrating "I" is not available to a child, and the "I" which attempts to put itself in the child's place seems presumptious.

In Ryder, what has been absorbed is wrung out and scrupulously kept apart from the ragged subject which had been its vehicle.

How It Feels to Be Forcibly Fed
A headline from Barnes's gonzo journalism, 1914

Copyright 1996 Ray Davis, except for excerpts from the art of Djuna Barnes