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Prep Notes for Week 2


I. Setting up a playground for Kaye!

   thank you!  but, are we brains or raisins?

Thought toys to take outside, play with and share?

Music to start to class and to highlight its (over?) abundance:  Cris Williamson "Waterfall" from her album, "The Changer and the Changed"

  1. Postings
    1. namecards with student's name, serendip icon and username (my icon is a picture of an Aeonium succulent from Chanticleer)
    2. how to post a new entry
  2. In the news
    1. Aug 30 Phil Inquirer:  "Gays' numbers rise in fact, perception"
  3. Wilchins
    1. mapping chapters on to the acts/scenes of our syllabus:  ch 7, 8 = act II, ch 10 = intra-actions, ch 12 = alliance building
    2. ch 2 in/difference, shame/embarassment/stigma, fear/defensiveness, boundaries/semi-permeable fluid membranes/cell walls,
    3. ch 3  very US-centric; is changing sexes or genders less problematic in cultures that are less Puritanical?  where connections with sexuality and sexual expression are not so rigidly controlled?
    4. challenges/questions with ch 4
      1. p36--"we know the meaning of chair by learning what is not chair"  is this really the only way we learn languages?; p40--does the idea of binary no longer represent the current reality, e.g., given changes in the US census;
      2.  p41--woman as the derivative gender--shades of calculus (derivatives, integrals, multi-variables);
      3. p 42--is the problem with any form of totalitarian knowledge/fundamentalism?  can these problems be "solved" through intellectual inquiry, continuing revelation (also see p44:  "Deconstruction reveals that a given Truth is not transcendent, that it is dependent upon other small-t truths, and that it is culturally constructed.  Deconstruction thus is as much political tool as philosophical method.  It is about power.  And it is an antidote to universal Truths"--are there other antidotes?  is this what Barad offers through her analytical tool of agential realism?; p42--"singular truths may make perfect sense when we're dealing with measurable physical phenomena"  yet measurements are approximations, often averages;  p43--"the True is what can be repeated"--yet, multiple "realities" may be repeated, don't we want confirmation by others?; p45 "As a set of tools, postmodernism is remarkably free of political content."  Really?  What about highlighting different philosophical approaches to contrast what Wilchins (Derrida, Butler, Foucault) claims with what Barad claims?  What are the relationships between theory and politics? p5 "Since this is a theory book, we should begin where all good theory hopes to go before it dies: politics."
    5. Ch 5  history of sex:  pleasure-->morality-->public good
      1. p53 "the new Science was not interested in knowledge about Sex, but rather power over it."  I disagree that medicine/science took over sex--laws and religions still remain key players
      2. p56 "but what about the right to be defined by something other than our sexuality or gender?"
      3. p57 "ask how such identities are created, what effects they have on us, and whose ends they serve."  this is a central dimension of Barad's project.
    6. Ch 6  micro-politics of power:  productive/discursive/disciplinary power
      1. p61 "These discourses (medical/psychiatric and academic/feminist) do not study gender transgression; rather, they create it by presenting these people as suspect populations.  As controversial and problematic, such populations must be studied, explained and understood, and perhaps their behaviour must even be prevented."  But when can noticing, attending to people and differences by respectful, helpful, welcome, an act of witnessing--"with-ness" and solidarity and alliance?
      2. p64 are there benefits to gathering demographic data about gender, race, age, sexual orientation, etc.  to whom do these benefits accrue?  how do the data help us track discrimination and enforce anti-discrimination laws?
      3. p66 yet, the continuous surveillance of prisons does not work to produce self-conscious, self-controlling people.  how many "inmates...internalize the gaze of the jailer and learn to regulate their own behavior"?
      4. p68  "Disciplinary society aimed to produce 'docile bodies'...individuals for whom the greatest fear--even in their most private moments and particularly in their private sexual activites--was to be or be thought abnormal"  is this really people's greatest fear?
    7. Ch 7
      1. p71 "To clearly see discursive power at work, we need bodies at society's margins."  intrigued that this is also how genetics works--to see how biological processes work, they look at the less common variants (although they name them mutants).  In genetics, such bodies would be "convenient" not "inconvenient" (etymologically:  not-together-coming)
      2. p 73  "cheryl's future ability to have an orgasm"--other bodily sites can be erogenous.  i thought that work on sexuality of people with various disabilities showed that orgasm is still possible in cases in which someone was paraplegic
      3. p74  "Knowledge is not made for understanding; it is made for cutting" (Foucault)  sometimes...but a gross overstatement.  YET p79 "our power over such bodies is enabled by the kinds of knowledge we create about them."  science asserts truths by its ability to predict (although often in very limited, controlled situations); prediction does imply some kind of power over the future
      4. p76 "We don't fit the words to the bodies; instead it is the bodies that must fit the words."  This suggests that science (and closer attention to material reality) has the potential to move us towards social justice
      5. p77 " for his/her 'own good'."  echoes of Barbara Ehrenreich/Deidre English's classic text on the political history of women's bodies in medicine For Her Own Good.
      6. p78  why refer to IGM as mutilation rather than cutting? (as in FGC not FGM)  When are cultural processes politicized/resisted and by whom?
      7. p80--some demonstration of the tiny difference between 3/8" and 1/4"
    8. Ch 8--"But the question has always been how much difference that difference makes" (p84)
      1. p85  definitions of sex--on the board?
      2. p86  if unity is sometimes an overarching metanarrative and thus should be treated cautiously, and difference/diversity can sometimes lead to people being labeled as problems/data, where do we go?  why can't diversity be celebrated and not regulated?
      3. p88 her account Emily Martin's analysis of gendered gametes is incomplete.  "It is not that the facts are wrong--quite the opposite."  They are incomplete--eggs (and the female reproductive tract) are more active than what Wilchins claims as "facts"  LOVED the sentence:  "If the testes are Marines on Paris Island, the ovaries are all inventory problems and K-Mart." (p90)
      4. p91 In discussing the rise of science, "The world was understood less as God's than Man's, and Science's task was not to find the divine underlying similarity..." This focus on control has a biblical foundation--"to have dominion over the fish of the sea..."--making science a handmaiden of religion.
      5. p93  timing of menstrual blood as being "separated from all other fluids and discharges" is too late--what about Jewish traditions that pre-date 18th c?
      6. p93 Laqueur:  "The nature of sexual difference is not susceptible to empirical testing.  It is logically independent of biological facts."  I disagree (if you add an 's' to difference--so that it's not a single difference).  However, this does raise the important question of what can science offer us?  Also, would it be helpful to ask students how many of them have studied Derrida, Laqueur, Foucault, Butler, etc.? 
      7. p95 Foucault:  "Nothing in man--not even his body--is sufficiently stable to serve as a basis for self-recognition, or for the understanding of other men."  But, can't the seeking, the questioning be a fluid basis for self-recognition and community building?
    9. Ch 9  differences are good/binaries are bad?
      1. p98 "By politicizing Thought, Derrida denies us the luxury of thinking objectively about bodies"  "By politicizing Knowledge, Foucault makes us consider how the kinds of things we want to know about bodies--their pleasures, dress, and reproductive capacity--gives us power over them."  Power/potential can be positive!
      2. "The frustration is not a sign of failure; it's the point of the exercise."  (and our class?)
      3. p100  "Because social groups cannot exist without shared norms of structure and meaning, postmodernism sometimes appears reflexively suspicious of community, often equating it with tyranny."  (I've seen this in the HC faculty!)
      4. p102  For activists, what is the relevance/value of postmodernism?  of gender theory?  (see last paragraph in chapter as well)  Robert A. Heinlein:  "Never worry about a theory as long as the machinery does what it's supposed to do."
      5. p104 "the conviction that culture produces us as individuals means that postmodernist theorists are loath to follow theory into individual consciousness..." can we use this to explore the intra-action of personal experience with theory and texts and shared culture???
    10. Ch 10  critical race theory (and potential way to focus first web event)
      1. p108 "postmodernism often assumes a universal value of individuality and difference..." way to introduce different cultural perspectives into class
      2. p112 if race can be invisible to whites in the US, what are other invisibilities wrt age, religion, ablebodiedness, class?  in what settings?
      3. p116  "Is all identity a kind of passing?"  PASS WITH CARE
      4. p119  still struck by different meanings of normal--in particular, that in geometry, normal means perpendicular
      5. p120  "in deconstructing identity, are such scholars not destroying the political base for actions"?  KEY QUESTION for theory/scholarly work
      6. p121 "Racial oppression is not just what happens to raced people, it is the how and why people emerge as raced."  as gendered, as disabled, etc.
    11. Ch 11 "Laugher in the face of serious categories is indispensable to feminism" (Butler)  performative play
      1. p125  "Liberatory movements should be about flattening hierarchies, not establishing new ones."  but are hierarchies inevitable?  does flattening require constant attention?
      2. p126 "a movement that embarks on the critical task of freeing women paradoxically also ends up imposing a new set of limts and restrictions on them..."  but, feminism has less cultural/political power than patriarchy, so the limits/restrictions are not as high/firm, they are more permeable.  by dismantling segments of the patriarchal wall, by extracting some cultural/political power from it, doesn't that help women, and all other marginalized groups.
      3. p128  'radical' lesbian feminists focus on the 'unarguably...Feminine'  is this a step backward, or is it a group with which to form alliances?
      4. p129 "The price of a less coercive feminism may be resigning ourselves to conflict and fragmentation and then agreeing to move forward with all our contradictions intact."    (The etymology for conflict is "to strike together"!!!)  "Woman is not longer assumed but is always incomplete and unstable, in the process of dissolving and reforming as the political needs emerg.  And mobility of identity is no longer a threat, but an important tactic, even a central feminist goal, and the disruption of identity becomes a means to overturn the male/female, boy/girl, man/woman binaries that make patriarchy (and gender sterotypes) possible.  The loss of unity and the incompleteness of the category might even promote new meanings, new ways of being, and new political possibilities for women to emerge."  LOVE this quote, which summarizes much of the book's value to me.
      5. p130/1  Butler's idea of coherence:  "each gendered identity must maintain a strict coherence among sex, gender identity, gender expression, and desire.  Female is to woman as woman is to feminine as feminine is attracted to Male."  coherence in quantum physics--the need for coherent light in the double-slit experiment.
      6. p132 "performatives are the name for special kinds of speech that also qualify as offical social acts"  would it help to have a glossary for some commonly used terms?  can we use what people have posted about ppppp?
      7. p135  if all gender is performative, how can woman be the blank slate, the negative space to man's positive traits?  don't men also need to perform gender?  if so, does this imply that the two genders co-create each other?  if so, is there something special about binary categories--is this all our brains can easily handle?  are we 2-D creatures (Flatland)?
      8. p136  "The focus on individual subversive tactics reflects postmodernism's longstanding preference for private individual action.  If enough people did it, it might indeed be a successful way to break down gender norms."  This is not the way that the civil rights movement was successful--it was collectively organized.  (yet another problem with postmodernism and social justice?)
      9. p139  "When Butler impertinently demurs from the idea of writing for a gay anthology as a lesbian..." why is she willing to silence her lesbian voice?  is she merely denying this label?
    12. Ch 12
      1. p150 "As we splinter into finer and finer groups, it may be that even if I am wrong, the centrifugal forces of identity politics may have flung us far enough out into our own orbits that it's time to start looking for common issues that bring us together.  Gender is one of those issues.  Gender rights are too fundamental to belong to any one group and too important to leave anyone behind.  Gender rights are human rights, and they are for all of us."
  4. Swartz
    1. in/validity of "authentic selves"?
    2. how does "age" intra-act with the different modes/goals of therapy about integrating sexual orientation/religious beliefs?  How would therapy differ for an adult, for a teen, for a 10-year old?
    3. what are the differences between shame, embarassment, stigma?  how do these differences matter?
    4. intrigued by parallels with 3 kinds of calculus:  differential, integral, multi-variable
    5. problematics and benefits of "mixed orientation marriages"; can secret liaisons be fulfilling?  sustainable?; what could/should one tell one's partner?  If the goal is to parent within a tradition and the wife knows the husband is gay, does that make her a parental prostitute?
    6. an emphasis on "choice" and identity management, yet little consideration about the consequences for others of one's choice.
    7. "But people don't wake up in the morning..." however, many people do change religions over time.
    8. how useful is the concept of "health" in disentangling these issues?  what is sexual health, moral health, emotional health, etc?  can these be reconciled if in conflict?
    9. "The longer I walk this road, the easier it seems to be."  Is this a marker for "passing the test"?
    10. many hetero couples also divorce
    11. "the important thing is meeting where the client is..." this is the basis of harm reduction.  Can we/should we accept where people are, even if it contradicts our deepest beliefs?
  5. Barad: acknowledge the difficulty of this text, and affirm how exciting we find it; who has taken physics? when? who is physics-phobic?  Remember that Barad will be visiting our class--compile a list of questions for her?
    1. terms of engagement:  diffraction, reflection, realism, representationalism, agential realism, entanglement
    2. videos:  Dr Quantum--diffraction (double slit), entanglement
    3. p.ix  "this book is about entanglements.  To be entangled is not simply to be intertwined with another, as in the joining of separate entitites, but to lack an independent, self-contained existence.  Existence is not an individual affair.  Individuals do not preexist their interactions; rather, individuals emerge through and as part of their entangled intra-relating."  This implies that relationships (alliances?) are inevitable.  How can we choose some, work with some, reject some?
    4. p.x "...'we' have 'intra-actively' written each other ('intra-actively' rather than the usual 'interactively' since writing is not a unidirectional practice of creation that flows from author to page, but rather the practice of writing is an iterative and mutually consitutive working out, and reworking, of 'book' and 'author')..."the passionate yearning for justice enfolded into the core of my being"..."there are no solutions; there is only the ongoing practice of being open and alive to each meeting, each intra-action, so that we might use our ability to respond, our responsibility, to help awaken, to breathe life into ever new possibilities of living justly."
    5. p.xi  "Some of the greatest debts we have are to those who live in different times and spaces (at least according to the wholly inadequate conception that there are such external measures of absolute difference);  To whom do you owe appreciation and acknowledgment?
    6. p.xiii "The way (my daughter Mikaela) meets the world each day..."  a wish for the class--to all be like Mikaela--so that we can make "possible futures worth remembering"
    7. p71 Haraway: "Diffraction is an optical metaphor for the effort to make a difference in the world....Diffraction patterns record the history of interaction, interference, reinforcement, difference.  Diffraction is about heterogeneous history, not about originals."  p72 "a diffraction pattern does not map where differences appear,  but rather where the effects of differences appear."
    8. p72 "diffraction patterns--as patterns of difference that make a difference." (video?)
    9. p73 "diffraction apparatuses measure the effects of difference, even more profoundly they highlight, exhibit, and make evident the entangled structure of the changing and contingent ontology of the world, including the ontology of knowing." ..."The analysis at hand then will require thinking through the details of diffraction as a physical produce a new way of thinking about the nature of difference."  We each have diffraction gratings--what are your slits?
    10. p74 "...the specificity of entanglements is everything.  The apparatuses must be tuned to the particularities of the entanglements at hand.  The key question in each case is this:  how to responsibly explore entanglements and the differences they make."
    11. examples of diffraction--total eclipse of the sun--Feb 26, 1979 in Montana
    12. p76 "Classically speaking, particles are...Waves, on the other hand..."  p77 "Crucially, diffraction patterns mark an important difference between waves and particles:  according to classical physics...(at the same time)" ...classical optics = geometrical optics (light as a ray, used to understand reflection) + physical optics (needed to understand diffraction and investigate the nature of light) p85 "quantum mechanics and physical optics are understood to be formalisms that represent the full theory and can account for phenomena at all lenght scales"  (yet, at some scales, certain variables become insignificant.)
    13. p77 "In contrast to reflecting apparatuses, like mirrors, which produce images--more or less faithful..diffraction gratings are instruments that produce patterns that mark differences..." how many of you have had assignments asking you to reflect on a text, an experience, etc?  p86 "Reflexivity aims to acknowledge the tripartite arrangement between objects, representations, and knowers that produces knowledge, as opposed to less-reflexive modes...and their representations." ...p87 "...reflexivity is founded on representationalism...based on the belief that practices of representing have no effect on the objects of investigation...still holds the world at a distance."  
    14. p90 "as Haraway suggests, a diffractive methodology is a critical practice for making a difference in the world.  It is a commitment to understanding which differences matter, how they matter, and for whom.  It is a critical practice of engagement, not a distance-learning practice of reflecting from afar."---leads into a preview of agential realism. p91 "...the point is not merely that knowledge practices have material consequences but that practices of knowing are specific material engagements that participate in (re)configuring the world.  Which practices we enact matter--in both senses of the word."  ... p93 " method is to engage aspects of each (disciplinary practice) in dynamic relationality to the other, being attentive to the iterative production of boundaries, the material-discursive nature of boundary-drawing practices, the constitutive exclusions that are enacted, and questions of accountability and responsibility for the reconfigurings of which we are a part."  Can we use this to connect with ideas in Wilchins' text?..."Hence the diffractive methodology that I propose enables a critical rethinking of science and the social in their relationality.  What often appears as separate entitites (and separate sets of concerns) with sharp edges does not actually entail a relation of absolute exteriority at all...the relation of the social and the scientific is a relation of 'exteriority within'..."
    15. p91 ..."diffraction effects are attentive to fine detail."  importance of concrete, specific in writing, speaking, etc.  ... this also highlights the benefit of having a discipline:  p92 "Attention to fine details is a crucial element of this methodology."  Is this true for all methodologies and only by learning a discipline, can we attend to detail and nuance.
    16. table on pp89-90:  what parts of this are useful as summary, markers of main ideas?
    17. p83 'wave-particle duality paradox'--how comfortable/tolerant/appreciative/respectful of paradox are you?
    18. p94 Haraway:  "diffract the rays of technoscience (and other social practices) so that we get more promising interference patterns on the recording films of our lives and bodies."  Let us go forth!