Playing with Categories

"In the Garden"

For Friday:
post 100-word prospectus for politics paper in on-line forum.
Over the weekend, we'll group the postings into "books"
(let us know if you have a preference for a cluster).

In ten days (by Sunday 11/13) your group will post on-line a collaborative 3-pp. introduction to your book.

For Monday: read Chris Ware's graphic novel Jimmy Corrigan--think about gender AND genre...
(no postings due--but are warmly invited ahead of time--til Tuesday evening).

Day 18: Self-Damnation--
Or Imagining Better?

From Fannins Collectables: Music by The Divine Comedy

"...we may say that there is an element of self-damnation
in the taking on of subordinate roles in Western capitalism.
However, this damnation is experienced, paradoxically,
as true learning, affirmation, appropriation, and as a form
of resistance....the tragedy and the contradiction is that these
forms of 'penetration' are limited, distorted and turned back on themselves..."
(Paul Willis, Learning to Labor: How Working Class Kids Get Working Class Jobs)

Cf. the striking similarities of Michael Warner's "Memoirs of a Pentacostal Boyhood":
"...religious culture gave me a passionate intellectual life of which universities are only a pale ivory shadow....when I read Nietzsche on the ressentiment at the heart of Christianity...I recognized what that pleasure had been about. In my experience, ressentiment...was directed against everything....Not even the final paragraphs of The Order of Things contain a more thorough distrust of everything in the human order...

Jesus was my first boyfriend. He loved me, personally, and he told me I was his own....religion makes available a language of ecstasy, a horizon of significance within which transgressions against the normal order of the world and the boundaries of self can be seen as good things. Pentecostalists...require a whole set of beliefs about the limitations of everyday calculations of self-interest, about the impoverishment of the world that does not willingly yield its increase to satisfy your lusts...ecstatic religions can legitimate self-transgession, providing a meaningful framework for the sublime play of self-realization and self-dissolution....

The bliss of Pentecostalism is, among other things, a radical downward revaluing of the world that despises be a kind of social affirmation.... Ressentiment doubles your pleasure....fundamentalists...too consider themselves an oppressed minority. Who gets to say, by what standards, that [they] are not....? This is not a rhetorical question."

The Trouble with Normal calls for
a recognition of diverse sexualities which "would
give us no view of who "'we' are," would replace
the desire to be represented with
membership in a movement that insists on variance.

But cf. Moraga's "The Breakdown of the Bicultural Mind," which takes a counter-view (?),
directing Warner's "non-rhetorical question" as a challenge to us,
with an insistence both on "taking a stand" and being "set apart":

"What fiery pit awits us, we new breed of 21st century mestizo? Into what shapes shall we be transformed?....We light-skinned breeds are like chameleons...We change for...lack of definitive shade and shape....We invent our selves....people read the women you're with....And then ...the choices become more limited....

I have always hated the terms 'biracial' and 'bisexual.' They are passive terms, without political bite. They don't choose. They don't make a decision. They are a declaration not of identity, but of biology, of sexual practice. They say nothing about where one really stands. And as long as injustice prevails, we do not have the luxury of calling ourselves either.

Call me breed. Call me trash. Call me spic greaser beaner dyke jota bulldagger. Call me something meant to set me apart from you and I will know who I am. Do not call me "sister." I am not yours.

...we are the hybrid seed...We are Malinche's children and the new Malinches of the 21st century. We are talkin' breed talk...when Third and Fourth and First Worlds are collapsing into one another....I am of that endangered culture and of that murderous race, but I am loyal only to one..."

A little background re: La Malinche
malinchista ... is used by modern-day Mexicans to identify countrymen who betray their race and country; those who mix their blood and culture with European or other outside influences....Many historians believe that La Malinche saved her people: that without someone who was not only a fluent translator but who also advised both sides of the negotiations, the Spanish would have been far more violent and destructive in their conquest.

My notes from Cherrie Moraga's talk @ BMC, 2/24/05:

Cf. Orah's account of her experiences with a child @ the Thorne School who WILL NOT sit on the rug:

we are NOT by NATURE social beings. bf the age of 3 there is no reason not to grab something from another child. bf the age of 3 there is no reason not to kick another kid. other's pain has no meaning bf the age of 3. it is at this age that we begin to LEARN to be social. we must LEARN to inhabit social context. the world-context is contrary to our individualist natures: we are surrounded by others and a part of learning to live in the world is learning that the self is bounded by others....there is a nature that does not want to be fit into being, that does not want to be in the world, that want to remain the god of the womb-universe. when they enter into the world they must be taught the concept of otherness. this entails limiting the physical space one inhabits bc there are others who need physical space. this entails sitting on rugs. i am not a killer of selves ... i am a tamer of the gods.

And cf., finally, Dorothy Allison's "Femme"--how does her story intersect with these others?
"I woke up every morning terrified that anyone would know what I had been imagining....I would will myself different....I wanted an operation...a lever in the flesh, one I could permanently switch to off. I longed for..the end of the need...never successfully denied....

I have an ambition to be my own adolesent fantasy....I want to say, Sex is delicious....I'm going to...promise my younger self that the struggle will be worth...the price, worth the struggle...'Child,' I want to say, 'you are going to be happy.'"

Following up on the challenge Flora issued
from the Women in Leadership Forum last week:
"I found myself easily dismissing theoretical arguments in favor of
real life stories of women working in their fields.
Where does theory fit in?"

We have three "real life" stories here.

Where does theory fit in?

Where does experience fit in?

"I am stuck between witnessing and coming out." (Michael Warner)

"...the language of personal experience turns into 'confession' when it becomes self-protective, when it shuts people off from really examining themselves and their discourses....'testimony,' in contrast, is 'toward something,' meaningful to other people as well as to the testified." (Alisa Conner, "Feminist Pedagogy and the Feminist and Gender Studies Program at Bryn Mawr College: Reading the Stories," Senior Thesis, 1994).

From Global Collage

"...both the notion of having a rupture with your self and the notion of narrated personal coherence are Protestant conventions....We've invented an impressive array of...conversion religions. They offer you a new and perpetual personality, and they tell you your current one was a mistake you made. They tell you to be somebody else. I say: believe them." (Warner, in conclusion)

Do you?

From Dorothy Sayers' notes, Canto IV of Dante's Inferno,
describing the placement of the Virtuous Pagan in Limbo on the edge of the Pit of Hell:
"the souls...enjoy that kind of after-life which they themselves imagined for the virtuous dead;
their failure lay in not imagining better. They fell short in the imagination of ecstasy."

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