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Notes Towards Day 8: "Being" De-centered

Anne Dalke's picture

I. Coursekeeping
Last call for naming one another
Reminder of this afternoon's conferences
(Marian after class; Vaughn, Sarah, Julie, Rachel @ CC)
Sign up for next week on the board; I won't accept a paper from you,
unless we've talked first--so you need to get yourself signed up...

Planning for next week's activities!

Sunday night you have another posting due-->
can you engage in commenting w/out explicit assignments to do so?
(do we need time adjustments/limitations?)

for Tuesday's class, read Rosemarie Garland-Thomson, Staring at the Other, DSQ 25, 4 (2005)
and also watch her short youtube about Staring and Its Implications in Society

read, too, the sections in our protected reading file from Roland Barthes's 1980 collection, Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography. Laura Swanson, the artist who will be leading our classes next week, selected these (and wanted me to tell you that she edited the pdf with Start/Stop of the passages you should read; that the pencil markings/notes are not hers, but existed in the original pdf, which she pulled from the internet; and that the language and translation are dated, so there are some politically incorrect terms describing the people in the photographs).

this is preparation for the workshop that Laura Swanson will be conducting with us
(and with Kristin Lindgren's "Portraits of Disability" class @ HC) on making (anti) self-portraits--
the first of these will be held from 2:30-4 next Tuesday,
in Stokes 102 (the Humanities Center room) @ Haverford
How are you going to get there on time?!?
(I can take 5 latecomers, and bring back 5 athletes...
will that work? Where shall we meet up?)

next Wed @ 4:30, Laura will give a public talk @ HC: "Resisting Representation" (about "withstanding literal representation of the body through a deconstruction of the conventions of portraiture, the  implementation of human attributes to inanimate objects, and the construction of refuges and surrogates....")--I'm really, really hoping you can all go!

on Thurs, 10/3:
we will continue the workshop w/ Laura, in our classroom here,
and you will present your "anti-self-portraits" to one another...
working on them will be your homework for that class...(no additional reading)

7-9 p.m. on Thursday evening, here in EH Lecture Hall: Laura will also offer a portrait
session (you can sit for your portrait w/ her...also not required but highly encouraged!)

by 5 p.m. on Sun, 10/6: your first 5-pp. web "event" due, on self-representation
(perhaps, but not necessarily, including the 'portrait' you've just made,
and commentary on its "gendered"/ungendering qualities...)

questions about any of this...?

II. an interesting update from Tuesday's mini-lecture--
just in from the FOURTH Edition of “Feminist Thought: 
A MORE Comprehensive Introduction”!

Introduction: The Diversity of Feminist Thinking
1. Liberal
2. Radical: Libertarian and Cultural Perspectives
3. Marxist and Socialist: Classical and Contemporary
4. Psychoanalytic and Care-Focused
5. Existentialist and Postmodern
6. Women of Color Feminism
[from multiculturalism to intersectionality
in the US….
on the World Stage: Global, Postcolonial, and Transnational…]
7. Ecofeminism
[each w/ critiques of…
Conclusion: I used to think that Marxist/Socialist feminism was the most inclusive form…but didn’t notice that it glossed over heterosexism, racism, ableism and specieism…now I regard ecofeminism, particularly vegetarian ecofeminism, as the most inclusive form, embracing all of nature, including nonhuman beings…]

not really highlighting eco-feminism, because I like using literary texts to get us to ideas, and though I have  found some great eco-texts for the Eco-literacy class I'm offering in the Spring, none of them are *especially* feminist, or foregrounds questions of gender

III. Does the genre of fantasy? The Sandman in particular?
How's that help us think differently/more/other about gender?

On Tuesday, Piper mentioned both a book about "dream incubation"--using dreams to problem solve--and the film Waking Life. She read/posted a quote, which says that we are not alive, but "really asleep in life's waiting room. The trick is to combine your waking rational abilities with the infinite possibilities of your dreams. 'Cause if you can do that you can do anything."

The protagonist's final talk in the film is with a character who looks like him, and explains that reality may be only a single instant that we falsely interpret as time (and, thus, life); that living is simply our constant refusal of God's invitation to become one with the universe; that dreams offer a glimpse into the infinite nature of reality; and that in order to be free from the illusion called life, we need only to accept God's invitation.

How's that help? With understanding Gaiman's text?
With feminism, or feminist action in the world?

What is the dream world like in A Doll's House?
How is it like/different/an extension/alternative to the waking world?
What does it suggest our relationship to the dream world is?
Is one realm more "real" than the other?
More "authentic" or "authoritative"?
Are we the dolls of the endless? Or are they ours?
cf. p. 222: "we're just dolls" with p. 226:
"We of the endless are the servants of the living...we are their toys. Their dolls...."
Who's in charge here? Who is manipulating who?
Is the world of dreams, or the waking world, a patriarchy?
What position do women have in either/both of these worlds?

Emma was talking in her conference y'day about using Kathy Acker's "Seeing Gender"
to read the graphic narrative: what might that get us?
How could that help us think more/differently about gender?

Acker says,
"We don't have a clue what it is to be male or female, or if there are intermediate genders. Male and female might be fields which overlap into androgyny or different kinds of sexual desires. But because we live in a Western, patriarchal world, we have very little chance of exploring these gender possibilities."

"What if language need not be mimetic?"
What might it mean to imagine that "language has no discernible mimetic meaning"?
What role does dreaming play in this imaginary?
"Could gender lie here?" What would it look like?

Cf. Acker--> "Literature is that which denounces and slashes
apart the repressing machine at the level of the signified,"

w/ "Chantal is having a relationship with a sentence. Just one of those things. A chance meeting that grew into something important for both of them....However...she has no ideas what her sentence is about." (The Doll's House, Part Six, p. 185)

The reason I picked this text is an essay by Rodney Sharkey, "'Being' Decentered in Sandman: History, Dreams, Gender, and the 'Prince of Metaphor and Allusion,' ImageTexT: Interdisplinary Comics Studies 2008 (4, 1): 1-32.

Let's have a "silent discussion" about what he says....
get up, and write a comment on @ least three of these sheets.....

"what an unimaginably broad access to knowledge of unconscious mental life
we are promised by the interpretation of dreams" (Freud).

for all of Morpheus' domineering attitude and downright misogyny--
for all of his 'Name of the Father' authority--his influence is somehow,
simultaneously, gender pluralistic....

Sandman succeeds in both constructing a realistic picture of relations between the sexes--
where phallocentric discourse can often entrap and brualize women--
and in providing a space where a handful of women arrive at a form of liberation from this discourse.
It is able to produce this contradictorily coherent paradox by alternating beween two planes, or two worlds--
that of the physical plane and that of the dreaming plane--where finally
neither plane is the site of an originary, central form of authority.

Morpheus is burdened with the responsibility of maintaining a universe very similar to what Lacan calls "the symbolic order" is Dream who is the center and locus of humanity's transcendent expectations....Dream is the locus of a metaphysical logic that he himself resists.... issue by issue of the Sandman series he is a different figure drawn
and pencilled and coloured by different artists....He is the site of infinite play...
the fluidity and unfixity of dreams themselves.

" has been argued since Aristotle that events in narrative are radically correlative, enchaining, entailing. Their not simply linear but causative....But...our minds inveterately seek structure"....
However, in  Sandman this organizational capacity turns on the fulcrum of an essential
metaphoric displacement....the condensations and displacements of the dream-work
confound the readers' ability to properly distinguish between  supposed 'dreams' and 'reality.'

....borders are not fixed...identities are not entirely separate...experiences are shared
..."fused into a single unity in the manifest dream".... a more democratic notion of
the social is articulated through dreams which erode rationalist conceit...
reading literature gives us the chance to formulate the unformulated."

....we have come to recognize words as a means of stabilizing differences; as
a way of representing experience in a universe built...on play....Vocal expression
...attempts to delimit the signifying capacity of words through intentionality....

Morpheus exists in comics and dreams which are both places so far unsubordinated....

Is it possible that a feminine place of writing may exist in dreams...?

From the Evolving Systems Group: a few Rorschach tests
of our pattern-seeking, dream-imagining inclinations...