Mounds of purple and black clothing, papers, bangles, feminine care product boxes, hair elastics, books. These I was compelled to sort through this morning as an attempt at recovery from a killer (and I mean this in at least two senses of the word, if not the literal one) week. Finally now the bras are in the bra drawer, the papers in a pile (if unsorted), the little suitcase finally unpacked from last week’s speed tour of D.C. I’m both totally wiped and also in a happy afterglow from the week’s events, feeling that I chose, I believe, the right life path, to the extent (fatalism warning ahead) that I may have actually chosen it.
I’ll begin with an anecdote. Last week, I bought a box of super plus tampons at the little pharmacy on DeKalb to deal with my second period this month (everything is haywire, you see). The man behind the counter marked down the price on the box, saying it was labeled incorrectly. It was still expensive for some little pieces of cotton. I said, “It’s expensive to be a woman.” The man said, “Seventy or eighty percent of everything in stores is for women. Women spend much more money than men.” “So they should pay us more,” I said. Everyone in line laughed. I felt this was a fairly beautiful feminist activist moment that was also entertaining.
So on the train home late-ish last night from the Adfempo conference, reading Christine Wertheim’s introductory essay in the wonderful Feminaissance anthology (which she kindly gave me!), I felt particular resonance with this passage, in which she discusses the “problem” of essentialism:
However much signifiers lack essence, however much most meanings may be said to be unhinged from a referent, some meanings are not so unhinged. For instance, however much the traits of a gender may be viewed as cultural constructs, not essential qualities of biology, the fact that some bodies don’t bleed unless they’re in pain, while others shed blood for the sake of the species, means (!) that the subjects of these bodies live the signifiers of gender differently. The cultural attribution of instability to a body that smells and swells and leaks and gushes out blood, and which may host other smaller bodies, dead or alive, is lived by its “subject,” however “structurally neutral,” quite differently from the subject of a body that does not do these things.”
I never thought of it quite like this before: women take a hit for the team. Reparations for menstruation now!
Truly, my experience of the entire conference was ironically colored deep red by the fact that I had to run at every possible break time to the bathroom to change my tampon to avert a possible bleedthrough, which, given the context, may actually have been more a proud badge of differance (interestingly, Word just corrected the spelling on this; I had to uncorrect it) than an embarrassment. Even so, it would have been an awful mess, and would have spoiled my pretty lace skirt I picked out special for the occasion (and this I will take up presently), not to mention the clothing of the next person to occupy the various chairs upon which I sat at the conference.
I said to Kim Rosenfield later that next to being in love, there is nothing that makes one feel more abject than menstruation… even more than shitting. She opined that shitting is not abject, and when I mentioned the expressions on dogs’ faces when they shit she said she thought they were just concentrating, and that abjection I perceived was just a projection. Point taken.
Some of my encounters in the bathroom were pretty interesting, like seeing a lovely apparition in a long green dress and only later realizing she was Kaia Sand, or saving Cecilia Wu from the long tail of toilet paper that had adhered to her shoe, or seeing Rachel Levitsky and Ann Lauterbach and telling Ann from inside the stall, “Ann, I still haven’t forgotten the ‘Mozart following Elvis’ comment you made when we read together,” and when she said that comment was out of envy (?!) I said, still inside the stall, “well, Elvis didn’t bleed.” Once out, I told Ann and Rachel that I had been only the day before to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame annex, where I saw Elvis’ magnificent jumpsuit, entirely embroidered with a giant PEACOCK, and I had asked myself how it was that I had managed to live this long without owning a jumpsuit like it?
I missed most of Thursday’s activity so someone else will have to be girl reporter on that. As I mentioned, I had earlier that day been to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with my students. I have been teaching them about the sixties, since they know so little about it, with a special focus on The Beatles, because I think the hook of Beatles music is one of the best ways to insert the English language into the indelible parts of one’s consciousness. The Hall of Fame has an exhibit curated by Yoko of “John Lennon in New York”, and I’ll be damned if the experience of being there, on top of my already exhausted and excitable condition, didn’t put me in a state near to tears. “Love is the answer,” and “God is concept/ by which we measure/ our pain”: you know, nothing tops that. The induction room at the museum is a wonderfully manipulative (and this I mean to take up later as well as part of a general critique of “anti-manipulative” poetics) experience of SEVEN SIMULTANEOUS PROJECTIONS that make Bruce Nauman look, sorry, like a lame poseur. I mean, what would you rather do, watch and wait for shadows or a mouse to run across a studio floor or see FREDDIE MERCURY in white shorts singing We Will Rock You or TINA TURNER doing an earth-shaking practically Egyptian SHIMMY (and I know my shimmies, believe me: I study them, and can do at least seven variations on them that I can think of offhand). Poetry really should aspire to the condition of rock and roll.
At any rate, to move from there, with that poignant lumpy-throated feeling of seeing the paper bag with John’s clothes that Yoko received after his killing, and his bloodstained, shattered spectacles, to the differently fevered kind of energy at the conference was a little challenging. I only saw part of the first plenary, moderated by Tonya Foster: someone presenting on Tracie Morris’ work, I believe (can’t tell from the program, and I was both late and in the back of the room), then Julie Patton reporting on her visionary project in Cleveland where she created an artists’ community in a building she inherited from her father: “What does one do with a building? Turn it into a book.” She showed images of alphabet sculptures: “the alphabet, which modifies our daily life anyway, is always hitting our ears,” as contested letters when people drive by arguing over which letters the sculptures represent. They were made of repurposed materials bound with sisal that called forth the artists’ “braiding skills” and also evoked “bound bodies.” She also spoke of paper as “soft material” and showed images that were a bit hard to take in in PPT format of detailed paper collages enhanced by spidery “gendered shorthand” that were (I think) created by her mother. Well, I love Julie and her beautiful excursions into all artistic disciplines. Then Evie Shockley spoke on Sonia Sanchez rather discursively and I tuned out a little, distracted suddenly by people’s fashion: Erica Kaufman in these cute black flats with criss-crosses; a fantastically tall woman with very short hair in a polka-dot mini-dress and navy silk fitted jacket; Eileen Myles in a shirt I can only describe as a kind of “batik fresco” in two shades of dove blue, warm beige and rose, and leaf shapes. John Keen spoke next on Kamau Braithwaite, and opened with a funny disclaimer about what does this have to do with feminism, and I enjoyed that, but you know, I was totally overcome with fatigue and knew that I could not stay for the events that followed and needed to get home instead in time to take a dance class at the new yoga studio that miraculously opened recently in my neighborhood.
I needed that more than anything, and was regenerated enough to actually get through most of yesterday without collapsing. Gary helped me pick out my outfit Thursday evening. I’m afraid I don’t have a good picture of it, but it involved a full, above-the-knee raspberry taffeta skirt with layers of mulberry, olive, and periwinkle lace, black tights and boots, a black top with fitted waist, a bit of a peplum and a wild portrait collar, this fastened with a polychrome rhinestone brooch, a rhinestone necklace, also multicolored, and a green emerald rhinestone “slave bracelet” (please see the irony here, people) that interestingly broke upon my arrival at the conference hall the next morning. What does that mean, exactly?
I ran into Brenda Iijima. She looked fantastic in black trousers, black jacket and white shirt with Rimbauldian “poet” string tie. We commiserated on matters gynecological then went off to our respective panels.
Here, once again, for the benefit of the home audience, is our panel description:
Room 4 [Panel 4]:
Chair: Mónica de la Torre
Panelists: Nada Gordon, Vanessa Place, Sina Queyras, Kim Rosenfield, Christine Wertheim
Description: Conceptual writing, still under construction as a 21st century literary form, includes various kinds of work and techniques, such as appropriation, documentation, constraint, process, performance, polyvocality, collapsing search engines and the baroque. Panelists Mónica de la Torre, Nada Gordon, Sina Queyras, Kim Rosenfield, Christine Wertheim, and Vanessa Place will present/perform/comment on critical/creative work on conceptualism.
We were in a little, intimate room. Sina told me she wanted to sit on the end because she is intensely claustrophobic. I thought that was interesting given her talk, which I’ll discuss in a bit. I was extremely impressed by the Conceptualistas fashion choices: Kim in a white dress with swirly, stylized black hearts, Vanessa in olive-green Fluevog pumps, Sina’s Prada glasses, Christine’s entire Comme des Garcons-ish elaborate black ensemble and totally desirable ruby sandals, Mónica’s gray blouse with white polka-dots. Marvelous.
Somehow, I went first. Here is the complete text of my presentation.
I can tolerate the ornaments of the Kaffir, the Persian, the Slovak peasant woman, my shoemaker’s ornament, for they all have no other way of attaining the high point of their existence. We have art, which has taken the place of “ornament.”
Adolf Loos, Ornament and Crime
(What follows is my retort.)
Wear your costumes with conviction — by which
we mean decide what picture you will make of yourself,
make it and then enjoy it! It is only by letting
your personality animate your costume
that you make yourself superior to the lay figure
or the sawdust doll. Swathe it in clouds of fake smoke,
snake oil, blue taupe silk, a tangle of vines.
I hover as a fever, I serve as a hot welt. The magma’s
gruesome: its cardinal fierceness rumbles in
the public spaces of my prattling verse. Personality
carries great responsibilities, because we expect it to represent us
as individuals. We should therefore clothe our personality
with ballooning finery and papery ruffled taffeta interrogations;
how else to perform the burgeoning imperatives of my (our)
pandoral catachreses? A large placenta emerges
smelling of maple and bluejays. Poetry is junk.
I ache out the law of soaring, my human brain dividing
the spoils, describing a lacy arabesque on ice until
something just breaks. The ear of a woman is usually
clear pink, not ill-shaped, and there is a note of
individuality about it, the attractiveness of which
one should emphasize, not conceal. I want all of you
here with me. Hi! Hi everybody! Femmage.
I’m here as a passionate dunce, still skating the well-
worn arabesque, sincere as butter but twice as musical.
Look, this is a zither of affect: its octaves are multiplied
by the vocabulary of others, and if I feel it more intensely
then so will you. The beautiful girl inserts the dildo
and turns it around, shivering in pleasure. It gets covered
with her secretions: primal cream. The writing is the dildo,
and the girl, and the secretions. It’s like learning other languages.
Vocabularies expand infinitely, tourmaline glitters in a damp cave.
Rob Fitterman writes, “I am interested
in the inclusion of subjectivity and personal
experience; I just prefer if it isn’t my own.”Own?”
Expression irrigates expression. Me and the multitudes
form a lacy network: no containment, just connections: me
and the multitudes weave into each other. Drew
Gardner: “Your own handwriting is collective.”
Who’s containable? I’m all apertures.
Dana Ward: “Correlated ooh la las between us.”
No one’s not a sieve: desire leaks: we drool
when screen lovers kiss. It’s all language, antic
and lascivious. Susana Gardner posts an update
quoting Mina Loy: “LOVE of others is
the appreciation of one’s self. MAY your egotism
be so gigantic that you comprise mankind
in your self-sympathy.” I steal with love and
out of sympathy. Both love and poetry are
alien visitations here in the breathable
room of lazy heresies, and I am writing this for you
(the primordial you) (the resonating body)
with my weeping heart and ornamental personality.
Aesthetic intimacy, not distance, but not for “authenticity.”
Behold the fruits de mer of this torrid cornucopia: the sea belt,
the furbelows, the dabberlocks, the sea lace. Proper regard
for the “intimate little feminine things”— that is the secret
of charming individuality. Gathered rosebuds, re-strewn.
Gaudy miasma of decoration. If decorative woman
makes up her mind to retain a line or limit, she does it,
but only because she wants to, and not because you told her to.
This can be demonstrated by the use of silver stockings
or magenta slippers with magenta stockings.
Licking the wounds of love in four-inch platforms.
Since all words are already concepts, I’m giddy with concepts.
Let’s call instead, with Lippard and Chandler, this thing we do,
ultra-conceptual. That sounds better, like dish soap.
Here I am wandering in lupine, and Queen Anne’s
lace, and mariposa lilies, and wild irises, and because
they are beautiful (and grotesque, like all flowers)
they compel me and I steal them and arrange them,
Flowers are nature’s readymades. The words of “others”
are warm salt blossoms. I run a mermaid ranch in my
eerie birth canal, and this aeronautic palaver is a saucy pose.
Listen. Some people hold the mistaken idea that ornament
is all very well perhaps for those who like it, but that what
they want is something practical. A pot roast of unicorn,
perhaps? Or braised mermaids? The works of Nature
gently rebuke this cold utilitarian spirit, and afford us countless
illustrations of beauty wedded to use. The painting of the petals
of the commonest wayside weed, the exquisite markings
on shells so minute that only the microscope enables us
to appreciate their beauty, the gorgeous colouring of the peacock’s
feathers, the rich markings on the wings of the butterfly,
the splendour of colour of the ruby and topaz, the graceful forms
of the evanescent snow crystals, are but a few instances
that at once rise to our minds. This is the horn section
of my cavernous malady, its logical loops and mathematic
baobobs. Baobobs. Under the baobobs and mooning.
A woman is prettier when she is sensitive. She must be taught
not to throw away her honey. Honey and salt soak into
the shuddering lace. One who has never made lace –
that is – the bobbin variety – cannot imagine the charm
of the softly clinking, tinkling bobbins, like the singing of
a simmering teakettle, or like a lullaby gently hummed
in the twilight. I see Guy and Kathy and Yoko and Lucy
in the spermy sky with fighter planes, hanabi, a zillion
idiolects, and legions of anonymous females. Their DNA sings.
Their merry little jingle is very soothing, and some physicians
claim that the rhythmic effect is most beneficial to the nerves.
Doubtless, the regular shifting of the bobbins – keeping the mind,
eyes and fingers busy, proves a means of working
off overwrought feelings and serves the same quieting purpose
that piano-playing does for some tensely strung nerves.
Our nerves preserve us from isolation: I skate on my nervous
arabesque. The bad surplus smiles at the lonely preeners,
and stinky sculptures spring up where there were none
before, and that’s kinda cool in the prosodic tinniness
of this cranial bhangra, you know, I love
my dog I don’t have a dog, I love the paper clock
that threatens sudden endings, I love the conversations
that play air guitar in my genetic memories.
One well-known sanitarium has, with such an end in view,
introduced bobbin-lace making, and whether or not it is directly
calming the patients’ jangled nerves, it is doing so indirectly,
by taking their thoughts off themselves and absorbing
their interest in seeing grow under their very fingers
so pixy a product. Woman, the instrument of reproduction,
pours into life’s cauldron the best of herself, unstinted,
unmeasured, singing: “Boys, eat a plastic peach for me
in the flawed wisdom of your stretchy
genitalia, and I will sing a hurting song for you
while the peevish she-crabs wail.” Lace-making
is one of those pursuits which, seeming tedious
to the onlooker, have an undeniable
fascination for the maker; and it seems as though
almost no one who really enters upon its enticing
pathway ever cares to turn back. That’s because
every molecule remembers a time before time,
and if I open up to receive all emotional messages (for example,
in my food), it’s because that’s the kind of maladroit
I am: preponed, animated, reticular, birdish. Mawkish.
freakish pinkish ticklish girlish.
Girlish! All conceptuality in writing is feminine because it is
aware of itself being looked at. One may follow
Woman Decorative in the Orient on vase, fan, screen
and kakemono; as she struts in the stiff manner of Egyptian
bas reliefs, across walls of ancient ruins, or sits in angular serenity,
gazing into the future through the narrow slits of Egyptian eyes,
oblivious of time; woman, beautiful in the European sense,
and decorative to the superlative degree, on Greek vase
and sculptured wall. All writing is crafty, rhetorical, sited,
intertextual, posed. Here in rhythmic curves,
she dandles lovely Cupid on her toe; serves as vestal virgin
at a woodland shrine; wears the bronze helmet of Minerva; makes laws,
or as Penelope, the wife, wearily awaits her roving lord.
I feed off everything, especially my own haunted breasts.
My thoughts, my verse, my size, my clothes.
She moves in august majesty, a sore-tried queen,
and leaps in merry laughter as a care-free slave; pipes,
sings and plies the distaff. Can one possibly escape
our theme — Woman as Decoration? This milky force
of cerebration? No, for she is carved in wood and stone;
as Mother of Gawd and Queen of Electric Ladyland
she gleams in the jeweled windows of the monitor, looks down
in placid serenity on lighted altar; is woven into Gracie Allen,
in fact dominates all art, panting, slinky or marvelous,
throughout the gleaming monstrosity of the ages.
Knowing all there is to know of my subjectivity,
which is also yours, and everyone’s, [WHAT?]I have had the genius
to weave the innumerable and perplexing threads
into a tapestry of words, where the main ideas
take their places in the foreground, standing
in futile contradistinction to the deftly woven,
unintelligible and obtruding background.
My underpants have their own ideas.
The meaning shifts pleasurably.
I always confuse “midrash” and “midriff.”
One sets out gaily to study costumes, full
of the courage of ignorance, the joyous optimism
of an enthusiast, because it is amusing and looks
so simple with all the material, old and new,
lying about one. My fingers summon it with little clicks,
caressing information. Hollow noise pools up in my candy
head. Frenetic clutch. Noxious erudite
suggestiveness. I babble and I am sticky with live cultures.
Women whose throats are getting lined should
take to jeweled dog-collars, and skirts of black tulle
or net, caught up with great rhinestone swans,
An artist’s instinct could trim a gown with emerald pastes
and hang real gems of the same in the ears. Who cares?
Artists strut their oily coats of “sick Spaniard” color, trimmed
with lace, but nobody ever clothes a “dying monkey”
with a hat of questions. On all the clothes
were yards and yards of lace, painted like a tapeworm’s
soliloquy. The whole world had sometimes diamonds
and pearls sewed on: it went lace-mad. It has been suggested
that the accidental intertwining of these threads,
as they hung downwards, gave the first idea
of that network which is the underlying principle
of lace-making machines. Whether this be the case or not,
it will be of interest to pay a visit, in imagination,
to a modern lace factory. I remind you: Woman is the instrument of
reproduction. When the nuns in the fifteenth century made
lace, they designed the patterns as they went along; their patterns
were the carrying out of artistic thought, asymmetric as love
and singular like fetishes. Put any woman into a Marie Antoinette
costume and see how, during an evening she will gradually take on
the mannerisms of that time. Binge thinking. The pastel honorifics
of glide stupor. Whatsa matter, cat’s got your brain?
Please, please! Who are you, swanky others under cool black
nomenclature? With your mule gait, your quirky haircuts, your
swear words, your personal devices? Your constraints and pretty
formulae? And if I abandon myself to friable sound? What then?
Heavy with terms like a cop’s belt, we melt into our styles. Love
is all around, a minty concept on a pendunculate sphere. Let’s say
we understand things only by analogy: breath, breadth, bread:
where does that leave us – my darlings – in the ocean of original things?
I don’t know what people thought about it, although Kenny wrote me later with some kind words. I replied to him, I feel like such a freak. I’m not entirely sure, honestly, what constitutes my alliance with the conceptualists, although I’m happy for it, but I really wanted to stress my commitment to the LYRIC here in my contrarian way. Also, what occurred to me in terms of delivery was this, and this has something to do with my notion that poetry should aspire to the condition of rock and roll. We should perform as if we are making our case to or giving ourselves to a lover or making some kind of extremely high-stakes persuasive speech. The rhetoric must be urgent (and Gail Scott, later in the closing plenary, addressed this necessary condition of urgency).
Again, a passage from Feminaissance resonated with me: this time from Chris Kraus, on female writing (her translation of ecriture feminine):
The schizophrenia of female writing is more pervasive. It doesn’t stop. It’s sense-surround. And because the schizophrenic state remains a CONSTANT within the condition of being female in this culture (as any woman writing hard enough soon comes to recognize) female writing (re)presents a more generous nimble state of schizophrenia. It’s devious, and also more inclusive. If schizophrenia is the state you’re consigned to live in – if you are fated to remain within a universe that’s ALL FEELING ALL THE TIME, you have to make it large. Therefore, female writing is extremely intellectual. It is conceptual, but not programmatic….Female writing can spazz out in a million directions, but it isn’t formalist writing because all these directions lead back to the self….There is always way too much feeling in female writing, but feeling itself isn’t the point. Female writing is compositional. It is intellectual vaudeville. It arrives at the moment of feeling, then leaves. It demonstrates something: itself.
OK, enough about me, then, for the moment. From my sketchy notes, let me try to reconstruct what I heard from the other panelists. Panelists or others, please write in with clarifications or corrections.
In contrast, Mónica followed by saying that she wasn’t going to talk about her own poems or poetics, but instead with the statement “I am only interested in what is not mine.” I was in a little bit of a post-performance daze here, and I think this may have been a quote from Juan Luis (? someone please correct if wrong) Martínez, an avant-garde post-Nicanor Parra Chilean poet whose works and circle she went on to describe as being concerned with a “communism of language,” less obsessed than U.S. conceptualists with “coining a style.” This was extremely interesting historical material, and I want very much to see Mónica’s translations… but at the same time I do wish she had talked a bit about her own work, which I have written enthusiastically about in this space before.
Christine went next with a heady series of statements on conceptual art from Peter (?) Middleton and Clement Greenberg taking off (I think) from Kant, addressing the “moment where mind falls away from the objective world and meets itself.” Mmm, this was complex, I’m sure I haven’t summarized that properly. Christine went on to “actively explore concepts and how they relate to each other through letter combinations” in the folk etymology tradition she traced back to Lucretius. She then performed on the blackboard a series of these feminist folk etymologies which I couldn’t note down without painfully twisting my neck around, although my general impression was that they were quite ingenious. She was the only other one of our panel who, I think, approached the task somewhat performatively.
Sina, the self-described claustrophobe, addressed the problem of hermeticism in “a room of one’s own” in 20th century feminist poetics. Instead, she said, she was interested in taking thinking into more civic realms, and also in considering walls as skins and in women inverting architectures. She wanted to emphasize “the vessel” as well as process: “a container, but not impermeable or rigid.” She quoted Donna Haraway’s Cyborg Manifesto, noting that the word “conceptual” does not appear anywhere in it. She then referred to Lisa Robertson’s writing as being exemplararily (?) “structural” (I should interject here that I heard Lisa Robertson’s name referred to at this conference so many times that I almost thought it should be the conference subtitle: Advancing Feminist Poetics: an Examination of the Works of Lisa Robertson). She mentioned that conceptual writing offers distance, and said that “architecture is the transformation of material.” To my great delight, she quoted Acconci as saying that “clothing is the first architecture” (a parallel I have also noted, in the act of constructing garments).
Kim opened with this great quote from Kara Walker: “The work began by thinking about my own body as it encountered the mythologies of the world: I was fed up with the expectations of what a black girl ought to be, but instead of rejecting them outright, I thought I would embrace every concept out there, sort of flouting the notions and taunting those who held them at the same time.” Kim asked how we can, in writing, mine insulated paradigms, and “stay pluripotent…able to turn into any kind.” Language, she said, is always already written. She then shifted into autobiography, and it seemed to me that the room then sort of pricked up its collective ears. She spoke of how as a young writer amongst the NY Language Poets, many of whom came out of what I think she called a 70s Marxist cultural critique, she sometimes felt that her embrace of, for example, the feminine pleasures of consumer culture were frowned upon, and that it was with female peers such as Stacy Doris, Yedda Morrison, Lisa Robertson, and others that she began to explore appropriation as writing technique. She also mentioned her readings in psychoanalytic theory and mentioned the Boston Change Process Study Group’s finding on the phenomenon wonderfully (to my mind) labeled “sloppiness”: that is, the fact that indeterminacy and surprise were key elements of intersubjective systems. Kim said that her methods of writing, which embrace a “fuzzy intentionality,” are a way of seeking “something more inward than [her] own inwardness.”
Vanessa was the last presenter, and she began with an examination of the fact that one can receive a huge number of Google hits (I don’t remember what she said, but I just tried it, and got 33,600) for “Madonna/whore,” but nothing for father/predator or padre/predator…my notes got sktchy here, as the astounding factoids were coming thick and fast, each more dazzling than the next… “woman as original multiple”… she referred to Courbet’s incomparable painting “L’Origine du monde” and its history, how it had been donated to the Orsay museum by Lacan and his wife Sylvia Bataille… as a tax shelter? … OK, both notes and memory are failing me now… I remember thinking at this point… “I will need to ask Vanessa for a copy of this as I am losing focus and this is something I need to read…” but I had to pee so desperately and was worried about bleeding… and still had to get through the Q and A.
There was a question for Mónica, something about Chilean “disappearing” and, uh, other questions, and I think another question for Sina about Robertson?, maybe something from Steve Zultansky about how politics fits into conceptual practices, and something else from I think Rachel Blau du Plessis maybe about what is and isn’t conceptual (I remember saying I wished I could answer that but I was wondering the same thing), and someone else how does conceptualism differ from modernist lyric, and someone else asked how can we teach this stuff to our students, and one of Rob Fitterman’s students spoke up, saying that he felt freed by these approaches, and I commented, “hallelujah, he’s been saved!” and Rob said something about how he aims to demythologize the self, and I said I’m not interested in that all, but in multiple infusions of mythologies, and Rob said that was tantamount to the same thing. But basically no one had a question specifically for me, which is good because those Q and A sessions are so brutal, you know? With two main purposes, I believe: one being a kind of inquisition and the other being to show off the intellectual prowess of the questioners. I always wonder to what extent people asking the Qs really genuinely want to know the answers to their burning questions? Often the questions are so layered and labyrinthine that they seem to me more like syntactical exercises than communicative transactions. But then, I’m not an academic, so that’s not my stock in trade.
OK, you know what? I think this is quite enough for one blog post, and my typing fingers, as well as all the rest of me, need a break. I will attempt to do a part two tomorrow. Whew!