WASHINGTON—Congress convened a special investigative committee this week in an attempt to put to rest questions that have puzzled the nation for much of the past decade, namely what public figure Miranda July's whole thing is, exactly.
July—of whom many Americans are somewhat aware without being able to articulate what, precisely, she's driving at—was subpoenaed by the Senate following the release last month of her high-concept independent film The Future, just her second feature in the past seven years. July's latest cinematic offering, in addition to her myriad other confusing, seemingly unconnected multimedia projects, has reportedly left the nation more perplexed than ever about what it is she's going for with all this.
"Now, Ms. July, we want to stress that you are in no way on trial here," committee chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) said at the outset of the proceedings. "On behalf of the American people, we simply want to know what it is you'd say you're about, in a nutshell. We know that you're an actress, in a manner of speaking, and that you're also some kind of performance artist or something, but to be quite honest, no one can quite put a finger on what your whole deal is, so to speak."
"On a personal note, we'd like you to know that we find you to be a perfectly pleasant young woman," Grassley added. "But seriously, what are you trying to accomplish? What's the whole endgame here, Ms. July?"
Though finding her polite, many lawmakers later described July as largely uncooperative, especially in regard to her responses to the committee's queries, which often took the form of enigmatic aphorisms or the suggestion that members of Congress try looking at a candle for a few seconds to find the answers to their questions.
The committee pushed forward, however, saying that while they were aware July had recently published a book and has contributed short stories to The Paris Review and McSweeney's, among other publications, they remained concerned as to whether July's disparate, largely ephemeral activities could be said to amount to a cohesive body of work or a sustainable career.
"We see you have a website here in which you give people what could best be described as arts and crafts 'homework assignments' of various sorts, but to be quite honest, we can't make head or tail of it," Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) said while consulting a laptop in order to view one of July's perplexing Internet outlets, learningtoloveyoumore.com. "By all outward appearances, you seem to be doing just fine, financially speaking, but if money somehow directly or indirectly changes hands due to your online activities, it's really completely beyond us how, or to what end."
"If, for example, I wanted to buy something from you, how would I do it?" a visibly frustrated Schumer continued. "And what would it be? Would it be something I could hold in my hands?"
Others on the committee noted that July had released a smattering of music through Portland, OR's influential Kill Rock Stars record label, and suggested that maybe she just stick with her recording career exclusively so everyone could just say she was a musician and leave it at that.
Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) at one point attempted a drastically different style of questioning in which he clearly explained to July what his own whole thing is in hopes that she would reciprocate in a way that everyone could understand.
"Perhaps we're approaching this in the wrong way; Ms. July, when I wake up in the morning, I say to myself, 'I'm going to go to work and help make the laws that keep our country running,'" McConnell said. "Now, when you wake up in the morning, what do you say to yourself? What is it that compels you to do all these things that you do?"
July, however, mostly ignored the probings and proceeded to cut up pieces of construction paper to make a large banner reading "You Will Find It!" which she then hung from the front of the table at which she was sitting.
"Please, Ms. July, we're just trying to understand!" an exasperated Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) said at one point during the hearing when July dumped out a large shoe box full of buttons of various sizes and colors onto the Senate floor and began sorting them.
After nearly nine hours of questioning, the committee adjourned without having made any significant headway in determining what July's whole thing is.
"What an unbelievable slog," a congressional aide who wished to remain anonymous said following the proceedings. "That was even more unproductive than the hearings held to find out who the fuck James Franco thinks he is."