“Erm, this makes a lot of sense, and contextualizes some of my ADD-diagnosed-as-a-child husband’s behaviors… and, uh, yeah. this makes it clear that I’ve been a jerk at least a few times. Thanks.”—commenter mandolin on my post @ feministe, wholly validating my entire internet existence in 3 short sentences. man, this is very near the top of the “things it feels awesome to have had someone say about a thing i have done” list.
in which i write approximately A BAZILLIONTY WORDS about ADD, and still somehow manage to say not very much at all. WEIRD HOW THAT WORKS, but nothing that had like, an official point felt like it was going to wind up being done well by me specifically, at least not today, and anyway (as i sort of mentioned over there), ADD is a thing i’ve had people like not just appreciate but actually thank me writing about, even though it’s not a thing i’ve ever tried to write about in any kind of way with a point, which makes sense to me because god knows whenever i hear anyone with ADD talk about ADD in any capacity at all i just about start crying because i feel so much less alone, so… me babbling for a zillion words it is then!
The other thing to know is, and maybe the main thing I would like to get across if I don’t actually manage to come up with like, a “point” to this post (will she? won’t she? STAY TUNED), is: ADD is not about “not trying.” People with ADD are trying. They are probably trying harder than any non-ADD person ever has at the very tasks at which they fail, because guess what: non-ADD people don’t have to try that hard! You can bet your fucking ass I’m trying, on a regular basis, not to misplace my wallet again, because that shit is annoying and also, given my history of losing wallets/keys/cell phones/glasses/FUCKING EVERYTHING, scary. Most people don’t understand this, because most people don’t understand how it could be so fucking hard not to lose a wallet. Just put it in the same place every time! Simple as that!
Right, so: in theory, great. In practice, it takes all of a millisecond’s distraction to completely obliterate that thought from my mind. And this is another hard thing to get across, in my experience, is like: obviously, right, in theory, I try not to forget. In practice, if you could actually not-forget through sheer dint of will, no one would forget anything ever, because the problem with forgetting is that once you’ve done it, you have also forgotten that you’ve done it. So: one distraction, and the wallet stays in the pocket of the coat I don’t wear the next day. Or in the purse I don’t use normally. Or on the kitchen counter, because I forgot to let go of it on my way to get some water, put it down, and – gone! Gone from my mind! Like it was never there.
also let me just keep putting out my blogging decisions for you to boss me around
should i write at feministe about ADD? i don’t really know what i say but, i dunno, it’s a thing i like spreading awareness about, and i know whenever i read something about ADD i am always so grateful to the person who wrote it for sharing it and making me feel less alone, and it’s a thing that pretty much whenever i’ve written about it here i’ve gotten that kind of response also, and also basically it’s a thing like because having ADD CAN be so stressful i really do feel like there’s no such thing as like, overkill of people being like, ADD! a thing that is real! a thing people have! a thing that does not make you a horrible useless human being! let’s remember that, constantly, because it’s so easy to forget!
it’s like, not super relevant to feministe’s interests per usual i guess, but. also it’s one of the few things i actually feel semi-qualified to be like “hey! many people do not know a lot about this topic! i have new information to share with them! possibly they will learn something from me!” and on the one hand, again, not like super feministe-relevant, but on the other hand, not super feministe-relevant which means, again, potential for me to be semi-usefulish.
more ways in which i spare you my hidden potential for douchebaggery
admittedly, i didn’t think of it until the post was up, but either way i wouldn’t have worked this in, but: come on, making the climactic line of a song about men “mysterious as the dark side of the moon” when moon is totally often considered a female-oriented symbol? is totally saying that in order for men to achieve their full potential they have to embrace the “mysteries” (to them) of the feminine, as well.
or… something i don’t know i’m late to meet a friend because i can’t shut up about disney. but someone could write about that in a paper, i betcha.
in which i TOTALLY AM GOING TO TALK ABOUT SERIOUS THINGS SOON (i mean i have, twice, but more than that) but do not have time to finish up any of those posts right now, and feel bad about only having put up one post today that a) wasn’t newly written and b) was such a downer, man! and… didn’t really have time for this one because, lol, i forgot to factor in video transcription time! good thing i HAVE THIS VIDEO PRACTICALLY MEMORIZED. this video, of course, being mulan’s “i’ll make a man out of you.” GOD YOU GUYS, WHY AM I SUCH A CHILD FOR LIFE?
oh speaking of videos! - if anyone who like, knows more about video transcriptions wants to look this over and tell me how i did, i would really appreciate any feedback, since this was my first time doing it and i don’t know if it was like, too detailed, unclear, etc. (my fifth grade teacher told me once i have a problem with leaving out unnecessary detail, which i have spent, now, almost two years proving on this blog). i tried my best!
At this point in the movie, it is the first day of… boot camp, I guess, or Disneyfied-incorrectly-portrayed-ancient-Chinese-army-equivalent. The song is basically Shang, her captain (voiced, awesomely, by B. D. Wong), telling his people they have to shape the fuck up or… get killed. Except he phrases it, essentially, as “man up,” promising them (as possibly you smart readers have guessed) that he will make men out of them.
Sexism like whoa, right? Right! But what makes this awesome is that, of course, Mulan is among his “men,” and she mans up with the rest of them! Thus, the scene becomes a super-efficient demonstration of the artificiality of assigning traits as belonging to a particular biological sex! Disney has a couple other heroines who could be argued to do their own versions of ass-kicking, but to my knowledge none of them kick the assspecifically of enforced gender roles, and also invading armies. Gender essentialism: take THAT!
which was originally me right here, like a gazillion years ago (read: like, almost two), because i dunno if i’ll be able to write something to today but i feel bad missing so many days already (hopefully i will even if it’s just like a moderately intensive discussion of i’ll make a man out of you, or something, but idk today is busy), and also it’s one of my favorite things of mine i’ve written, and the only thing i’ve written that’s ever made me cry. i mean, it’s like not really saying anything that a thousand other people haven’t said a thousand times before, but whatever, in this case there’s no such thing as overkill i think.
Let’s talk about: letting herself go. Watching your weight. Language of being on guard, of control, of threat, of shame. Constant vigilance. If you are not reigning yourself in, you should be ashamed. If you are fat, you will be subject to ridicule and shame, you will be unworthy of love and affection, you will not be deserving of basic respect unless, maybe, you are trying with all your energy to change it. Never mind spending energy having fun, being a good friend, discovering your passion. You can do those things when you’re thin. If you are thin, well, you better not fuck it up. You’re okay, but you better not change. You’ve seen what will happen to you if you gain weight. If you let yourself go. If you pack on the pounds.
i'm usually slightly too full after i finish a sandwich
and only today did it occur to me that sometimes, this is avoidable by leaving off one of the pieces of bread!
granted this makes sandwiches way less convenient if you are using them as a transportable meal (especially if they are, as this sandwich was, peanut butter jelly & banana - with black cherry jelly, om nom nom, on 12-grain bread, double nom). but still! for breakfast at home (or lunch, or dinner… i eat a lot of sandwiches, this insight is extremely exciting to me)! problem solved!
“We’ve been together an amazing three months… you’ve been great about not pushing… and the pill’s been GREAT for my skin.”—holly j on degrassi explaining why she is totes ready to go ~all the way~. i… just love this show, i don’t even know.
mine: robin hood, sword in the stone, the rescuers (oh, berrrrnard). also fantasia which fascinated and terrified me. (i guess i preferred the het romance come from singing animals if we had to have it at all and i always knew drugs would be for me.)
i don’t really have anything to add, i just thought this response deserved to be shared with the world. robin hood was just okay by me, rescuers i liked but weirdly think i would appreciate more now, sword in the stone i actually do remember liking a lot and would probably enjoy a lot now, and fantasia i don’t really like consider as anything but its own special masterpiece thing.
probably, it's true, i won't be able to refrain from posting about disney at feministe some more
i could talk about disney FOREVER, Y’ALL, it’s really true. especially now that i did put up like, a srs bsns ish post, i’m like, “oh i’ve totes earned the right to talk disney talk!” i’m thinking maybe i’ll do at some point a mini-post about the SHEER BRILLIANCE of i’ll make a man out of you (because really, not much needs be said except THIS IS SO AWESOME Y’ALL), and then maybe next weekend i’ll talk about aladdin, which… is probably my favorite disney movie, if i haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad to pick one. i mean, it’s EXTREMELY NARROWLY TIED with little mermaid, mulan, and… great mouse detective, didn’t see THAT one coming, didya? most underrated disney film for my money. but aladdin, man. anti-sexist, anti-classist, anti-slavery, with bonus vagina dentata, coded-evil phallic imagery, and song about fucking sung by easily the cutest disney couple of all. can’t beat that. well, if you had that, minus the racism, that would beat that. sigh. oh disney, you irresistible bastards.
lol i appreciate your concern <3 BUT OKAY the reprise off is TOTES CHEATING though, when belle gets her reprise she hasn’t even MET her (ABUSIVE) love interest yet
yeah, but he is totes cute when he feeds little birds. which is way awesomer than being “HYPNOTIZED” into teh…
soooo easy to be cute and charming when the person you’re with CAN’T TALK and seems more interested in tossing about TEH GOOGLE EYES than standing UP FOR HERSELF.
not true? not true? bring it lady. bring it.
but it’s NOT THAT HARD to NOT KIDNAP RANDOM PEOPLE WHO HAPPEN TO COME INTO YOUR CASTLE and then trying to STARVE the dude’s daughter when she sacrifices her freedom for his, which SHE WOULDN’T EVEN HAVE TO DO if you WEREN’T SUCH A SOCIOPATH.
i’m sorry, belle is a bad-ass, it’s true, but the beast is just a douche.
lol i appreciate your concern <3 BUT OKAY the reprise off is TOTES CHEATING though, when belle gets her reprise she hasn’t even MET her (ABUSIVE) love interest yet
yeah, but he is totes cute when he feeds little birds. which is way awesomer than being “HYPNOTIZED” into teh sex with ur best friend who is pretending to be u. (um, yeah, he was “hypnotized,” mmmhm. that’s what they ALL say.)
was he totes cute when he was KIDNAPPING HER AND VERBALLY BERATING HER? idk dude, i don’t find that particularly “cute.” and eric taking her around town is totes adorbz ok
because i’m like, trying to write a thing for feministe, which is sort of a less-pissy, less-waffly version of this post, but i mean, i am still both kind of pissy and waffly on the subject and trying to wrestle it into anything even resembling coherence is… exhausting, and possibly ultimately a…
I’m sure you don’t know me from a hill of beans, but I have been reading all your posts about trying to write for feministe, and I think it’s really cool how seriously you’re taking your own work. Maybe you’ll laugh at me and say “with the freud and the huh-wha?” but it’s all obviously important to YOU and the fact that you’re self-conscious about what you’re writing just makes it all the more admirable.
what the hell are you talking about! of course i know you! you’re like one of those people i was secretly depressed to discover was younger than me because of how smart and wise and impressive you are!
ANYWAY. thank you for the kind words! they made me realize i guess i am taking this seriously, which is probably why it’s weirding me out so much, because like, i am not good, as a general rule, at taking myself seriously! i prefer actually not to do it very often. which is mostly cool, but sometimes it’s important to you know, challenge yourself and yadda yadda, so this is cool too! even if also scary! no: BECAUSE also scary! ha HA! so… yay, i think, is my final word on that subject. or… something.
oh geez, this one i am nervous about, also i a) am not sure if my own thoughts on the subject make any sense and b) am even less sure if the post makes any sense. but you know what’s life without doing something that freaks you out every once in a while, hmm? and apparently what freaks me out is trying to put my serious face on at feministe, talking about how maybe there are better ways to approach young women & girls about the sex-feminism combination than telling them how many orgasms they can have. just putting that out there! with sentences and such!
I think there is a real risk, when you are talking about feminism to a broad audience and, especially, to a broad audience with a lot of younger women and teenage girls, that emphasizing the feminist=good sex! equation will wind up alienating a lot of people.
So we’re clear: I don’t mean that as some kind of loss for feminism, like it’ll send our numbers down; this is not a strategic thing, for me. When I say alienating, I mean making them feel alienated; making them feel less comfortable, not more, in their relationships with their bodies; and if there is a reason to lament their hypothetical turning away from feminism because of this it is, to me, solely that they would have then closed themselves, understandably, to a potential set of tools for improving that relationship.
because i’m like, trying to write a thing for feministe, which is sort of a less-pissy, less-waffly version of this post, but i mean, i am still both kind of pissy and waffly on the subject and trying to wrestle it into anything even resembling coherence is… exhausting, and possibly ultimately a fruitless effort.
not to mention that i have no like concrete examples of the thing i am talking about except the one i linked to in that post, which… i do not want to bring up. to say the least.
if anyone ever wanted to know why i not only do not have a real blog but also do not have EVEN THE REMOTEST POSSIBLE INTEREST in a writing-related career, well: WONDER NO MORE.
i KNOW i have used the word “moar” in posts. I KNOW I HAVE. one of them, right now, i would like to read, and i can’t remember when i wrote it or what the title was or anything like that! but i know i said the word moar. YET YOU WILL NOT TURN UP FOR ME A LIST OF POSTS IN WHICH I HAVE USED THE WORD MOAR. WHY, TUMBLR SEARCH FUNCTION. WHY DOST THOU FORSAKE ME SO.
ETA: REST ASSURED, EVERYONE, i found the posts in question. but i had to turn to google for it. tumblr search, i am shaking my head @ u rn.
to dig up a post from back in the early early days of this blog where i had like 2 followers one of whom was like a spambot type thing and then put that up at feministe? cuz idk it is not often that i feel like i get my head together to come up with something decent about srs bsns shit, and once or twice i have done that and i would like to show feministe i can do that, also, and not just talk at excessive length about disney movies. but it feels like cheating. IDK TUMBLR TELL ME WHAT TO DOOOOOOO
so super-good-girl god-hates-premarital-sex claire got all addicted to the fortnight books (a popular YA vampire series), and started having sexy vampire dreams about her crush, rich-kid declan who is dating queen bee holly j. so she started writing fortnight fanfiction, UNDER THE NAME MADAME DEGRASSI LIKE HELLO THAT SORT OF RUINS THE POINT OF ANONYMITY, about sexy vampire times with DECLAN SHE DIDN’T EVEN BOTHER TO CHANGE HIS NAME.
LO AND BE HOLD it turns out holly j’s secret vice is fortnight fanfiction, and she like gets all obsessed with this chick who is WRITING SEXY ROMANCE ABOUT HER BOYFRIEND, and the dude is like, “yeah this is kinda weird, but whoever this writer is, she’s good.” so claire keeps writing STILL NOT CHANGING DECLAN’S NAME WTF. then at some party they’re doing 7 minutes in heaven and she winds up biting the dude’s neck, which is kind of intense for 7 minutes in heaven, and storms out and returns her fortnight books to the library because they’re making her a pervert, and her BFF alli is like “you’re just normal” and she’s like “i don’t want to do something i’ll regret like you did that time you lost your virginity too early” like WAY TO BE SENSITIVE CLAIRE, GOD.
and then she’s working on theater production stuff with declan and in a moment of weakness KISSES HIS NECK wtf and is like “…uhhhhh” and he’s like “…claire… are you…” and she’s like “madame degrassi?” which WHY, CLAIRE, JUST FUCKING DENY THIS SHIT and he’s like “yeah, okay, that’s…” and then just walks out, which made me laugh out loud.
and then instead of killing her and hiding the body in little pieces, holly j talks it over with declan, who is a pretty cool guy, and i guess they take pity on poor sexually repressed claire, so instead of a beating (though she says hi to holly j by saying “please don’t kill me” which also made me lol) claire gets a Puberty Is Normal And It’s Okay To Express It By Writing Vampire Fanfiction, Also You’re A Good Writer, But If You Try To Kiss My Boyfriend Again I Will Ruin You talk, which, oof! haven’t we ALL been there? in which there was that line i just quoted, “if writing fanfiction stops you from trying to suck my boyfriend’s neck, please continue!” which, seriously, i just can’t even, this show. wat. WAT.
…..well, what do YOU do with your sunday mornings??????
i don’t know if it’s the ADD, or what, but, podcasts. can’t deal. NPR, also cannot deal. i don’t really have an issue with lecture classes as a pedagogical tool, because god knows i learned more from many lectures than i did from many seminars, but i do always sort of resent them because i’m like: can’t you just send me your notes and i can read them in about a fourth of the time?
i feel bad for this, apparently professors hate that mentality. but it is so, so hard for me to follow something that is just like, a person talking, uninterrupted. i will almost invariably learn less from that than i would from the same material presented to me textually. i’m one of those visual learners, i guess. i don’t actually know if that has to do with the ADD or not. but i’ve always been like that, i hated storytime as a kid.
well, lectures are better because at least, it’s a person i can see, talking and moving and. sometimes they have slides, those are nice too. plus we all know i have like a mild professor fetish, so sometimes lectures have been very, ahem, “exciting” for me if you know what i mean. and also, at a lecture i am trying to take notes, which if i do well enough will keep me on track. if i space out i am more or less doomed for the rest of the class. but if i keep at it i’ll be fine.
but i dunno, if there was a podcast i REALLY cared about maybe i would take notes on it, but as it is: podcasts, cannot deal with them. there is like… too much space, between the words. too much time in each word. for some people this is beneficial! preferable perhaps even to reading, for some people, i assume this is part of the appeal of books on tape, which is another thing i can’t do. but it’s like, there’s a second between words, and in that second my brain is like COME ON WORD HURRY UP AND oh a thought-butterfly! and it just doesn’t work out.
sorry podcasts. it’s not you, it’s me! no, really. it’s me. i wish things could work out between us, but alas. some things were not meant to be.
much other food for thought in that post, as per usual, but this stuck out to me, because yeah: people i kinda hate trying to align themselves with ideas i kinda dig is really not new and feminism is actually maybe last on my list of priorities, maybe, to reclaim. like: can we reclaim family values, anyone (or, jesus, can we also remember that sometimes focusing on the family is not in the best interests of the people actually in that family)? can we reclaim for the sake of the children? i could, i am sure, go on.
don't you think mental health issues should be taught as a part of high school health class?
LOL, i know, trying to make like there is a prayer of high school health classes being reformed into something useful and beneficial. but while we’re dreaming! shouldn’t there be a unit on mental health? or at the very least, depression?
because first off, maybe then some depressed kids would know to get help. probably not all of them, since part of depression is being convinced that everything you are feeling is 100% based in actual truth and fact even when confronted with directly contradictory evidence. but maybe some! which is enough reason by itself to do it. or maybe in the future, they’d remember, and be like, “oh i should get this checked out.”
BUT ALSO. then, maybe there would be fewer situations where people who had never been depressed are like, “well i get that you’re depressed but can’t you just DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT???” or even worse who are like “whatever you’re just being lazy, it’s all in your head!”
i mean, i don’t think it’s really possible to understand depression if you haven’t lived it. i think it’s tempting you think you can, because you’ve read novels by or about depressed people (cough, catcher in the rye, cough) and related to them, deeply, but i don’t think you can know what it is like to actually live INSIDE those novels nearly 24/7 for a really long period of time; i don’t think you can understand how wide a gap there is between “i relate to the feelings expressed therein” and “this describes my entire life for an extended period of time.” which of course doesn’t even get into “the book is okay but why doesn’t the main character just cheer up? what does he [it’s usually a he, unless maybe you’re reading the bell jar] have to be so bummed about?” which like, it’s weirdly hard, in english class, to be like, “uh, i think this person, if i’m armchair-diagnosing fictional characters, may have been suffering from mental illness,” because it’s kind of mundane, i guess, as far as analysis goes. like, “why does he break down? because his neurochemistry was such that he just couldn’t do anything else” is not much of an essay topic, really.
BUT ANYWAY. so then there are all these people who think that because they have been sad in their lives, they a) understand, more or less, depression and b) have some kind of helpful advice to give to people who have been depressed. also, they do not understand that bad advice from them is even worse than bad advice from people who have been depressed. like if a person i know has been depressed is like, “for me this was a helpful thing,” and i’m like, “this is not helpful for me,” no biggie, really, and it was nice of them to try to help. but if a person who HASN’T been depressed is like “when i am sad, i go jogging,” i am like FUCK. OFF. ASSHOLE. (well, not now, i’m doing mentally health wise okay these days. but sometimes in the past.)
and while i do think you can’t understand it if you haven’t been there, i feel like it might not be a total waste of time to introduce people, early, to that fact. to be like: “depression is a thing. a real thing, even. if you don’t have it and never have, you don’t know what the fuck it’s like. so if you ever feel like giving a depressed person some helpful advice based on that time you were sad, or if you feel like maybe it would be helpful for everyone involved if you gave the depressed person a good talking-to about how they should just try harder to get their shit together already, please remember that time you were sixteen and your health teacher told you, preemptively, to SHUT THE FUCK UP.” and thus we spare thousands of future depressed people the agony of not so much having their friends not understand them as having their friends THINK they understand them when, actually, they don’t and can’t.
i mean, whatever, like teenagers listen in health class. but, you know. in theory, i feel like this is a good plan.
i went over to the complete list so i could print it off in plans of going to the library next week. There are a lot of awesome books on that list. Some i’ve read, most i haven’t. Several have been on my “to read” list for a long time and i plan to fix that over this summer! Please do check out the list and broaden your horizons. i look forward to maybe being able to discuss some of those books with others. i am so grateful to Patrice for compiling the list, and i appreciate that she tried to look for the “less obvious” choices as well.
But i have to admit that i was sorta disappointed in the list for two reasons.
1) If you specifically call something a suggested reading list for young women of color, it would be nice if it showed some diversity. If you wish to put together a list for young Black women, or young Latina women, or young indigenous women (you see where i’m going with this), that is totally FINE to do. But then be HONEST and say that is who the list is for and who the list features.
2) Ayaan Hirsi Ali. GRRR… i don’t even know where to start with that one. First off, she is a bigot. And there’s really nothing you can read of hers or see of her in interviews that could leave you unsure of that reality. She is a bigot and an Islamophobe who has aligned herself with some of the biggest well-known Islamophobes in the world. Second, she is a liar. And i don’t mean that there are no “issues” in cultures that claim to be Islamic - most certainly there are issues of patriarchy, abuse, etc. in those cultures, and it is important to work thru them and to talk about how to move forward. But it has been proven that her “personal” story is completely fabricated. And that she lied massively obtain her residency in Europe. Furthermore, when that is the only example of someone from a Muslim/Islamic background that you highlight, you contribute to a very slanted view of not only the Somali culture (which is a very beautiful culture in many ways) but also of Muslims and Islam as a whole.
Which brings me to a larger issue that i have written about previously (in regards to Regina Spektor and Ke$ha, specifically, but trying to tease out the more general issue i have): we are responsible for what we recommend to others. If you choose to recommend known racists (John Meyer), bigots (Ayaan Hirsi), misogynists (R Kelly), ableists (Amanda Palmer), and all around offensive people, then you are aligning yourself on a very problemmatic side of the line. i can’t tell people to throw out all of their Morissey, Lady Gaga, Clint Eastwood, Bret Easton Ellis, Miley Cyrus and Carlos Mencia stuff. You are free to enjoy and support who you wish, though i hope that you do so cognizant of what you are supporting and that you do put some thought into where your personal line is. But i will not be ashamed to mention what i have problems with it when you are glorying on that writer/singer/actress or whomever.
And i definitely, very strongly, feel that we move into a whole other territory when we take it upon ourselves to actually recommend these people to young and impressionable minds that we are trying to have a hand in opening. So, it is my opinion that if we are going to recommend a list of books for young women of color (and fully understanding that “young” is relative and that i would hope the books would be appealing to all women of color), we would consider what those readers will be getting and what they will be supporting if they follow our suggestions. The beauty of reading is how it opens us to whole new worlds, concepts, cultures, and lives. i would feel remiss to recommend that young women read something that is going to be hurtful to them, silencing of their own experiences, or contributing to closing their minds to the world around them.
So, i am in the process of creating a suggested reading list by women of color, for women of color. It will not be limited to fiction but will encompass different genres and forms. It will not be limited to one group of women but include indigenous authors, Asian authors, Black authors from Africa and from the diaspora, Latina authors from various cultures, Arab authors, at least one Persian author, etc.
i will also be taking suggestions, so if you have a book (or two or three) that touched your life and heart and you think it belongs on the list, please message me at http://healingsakina.tumblr.com/ask
books! i remember when i used to read books! possibly some day, i will again! on that day, i will try and remember to check out the original list (from which i have only read one book ;_;) and this one when it happens!
The source of my unease reading this amazing, troubling book now seems clear: an imperfect coming to terms with three matters Twain addresses - Huck Finn’s estrangement, soleness and morbidity as an outcast child; the disproportionate sadness at the center of Jim’s and his relationship; and the secrecy in which Huck’s engagement with (rather than escape from) a racist society is necessarily conducted. It is also clear that the rewards of my effort to come to terms have been abundant. My alarm, aroused by Twain’s precise rendering of childhood’s fear of death and abandonment, remains - as it should. It has been extremely worthwhile slogging through Jim’s shame and humiliation to recognize the sadness, the tragic implications at the center of his relationship with Huck. My fury at the maze of deceit, the risk of personal harm that a white child is forced to negotiate in a race-inflected society, is dissipated by the exquisite uses to which Twain puts that maze, that risk.
Yet the larger question, the danger that sifts from the novel’s last page, is whether Huck, minus Jim, will be able to stay those three monsters as he enters the “territory.” Will that undefined space, so falsely imagined as “open,” be free of social chaos, personal morbidity, and further moral complications embedded in adulthood and citizenship? Will it be free not only of nightmare fathers but of dream fathers too? Twain did not write Huck there. He imagined instead a reunion - Huck, Jim and Tom, soaring in a balloon over Egypt.
For a hundred years, the argument that this novel _is_ has been identified, reidentified, examined, waged and advanced. What it cannot be is dismissed. It is classic literature, which is to say it heaves, manifests, and lasts.
”—toni morrison, in her introduction to 1996 edition of the adventures of huckleberry finn, reprinted in the norton critical edition. nothing to add to this, really, except that her explanation of huck finn as a novel that is the argument it presents is i think both brilliant and utterly true.
And right there is the other speech void - cold and shivery in its unsaying. Jim tells Huck that his money is safe because his father is dead. “Doan’ you ‘member de house dat was float’n down de river, en dey wuz a man in dah kivered up, en I went in en unkivered him and didn’ et you come in? … dat wuz him.” Huck says and thinks nothing about it. The following sentence, we are to believe, is Huck’s very next thought: “Tom’s most well now….”
As a reader I am relieved to know Pap is no longer a menace to his son’s well-being, but Huck does not share my relief. Again the father business is erased. What after all could Huck say? That he is as glad as I am? That would not do. Huck’s decency prevents him from taking pleasure in anybody’s death. That he is sorry? Wishes his father were alive? Hardly. The whole premise of escape while fearing and feigning death would collapse, and the contradiction would be unacceptable. Instead the crevice widens and beckons reflection on what this long-withheld information means. Any comment at this juncture, positive or negative, would lay bare the white father/white son animosity and harm the prevailing though illicit black father/white son bonding that has already taken place.
”—toni morrison, in her introduction to 1996 edition of the adventures of huckleberry finn, reprinted in the norton critical edition. of the MANY, MANY fascinating insights and foods-for-thought in this rather short essay, this is the one that stuck out to me most (probably because of my own daddy issues) the first time i read it - huck as essentially a dissociated child by necessity. to literally not react at all to news of his father’s death - morrison is, i think, absolutely right to zero in on that as an absolutely crucial moment for what it means for huck, and the book as a whole as a novel where what remains unspoken is as telling as what is said.
“As an abused and homeless child running from a feral male parent, Huck cannot dwell on Jim’s confession and regret about parental negligence without precipitating a crisis from which neither he nor the text could recover. Huck’s desire for a father who is adviser and trustworthy companion is universal, but he also needs something more: a father whom, unlike his own, he can control. No white man can serve all three functions. If the runaway Huck discovered on the island had been a white convict with protective parental instincts, none of this would work, for there could be no guarantee of control and no games-playing nonsense concerning his release at the end. Only a black male slave can deliver all Huck desires. Because Jim can be controlled, it becomes possible for Huck to feel responsible for and to him - but without the onerous burden of a lifelong debt that a real father figure would demand. For Huck, Jim is a father-for-free. This delicate, covert and fractious problematic is thus hidden and exposed by litotes and speechlessness, both of which are dramatic ways of begging attention.”—toni morrison, in her introduction to 1996 edition of the adventures of huckleberry finn, reprinted in the norton critical edition. since a recent theme here is people’s own connections to books - someone i know well who had extremely emotionally neglectful and abusive parents has always latched on to that aspect of huck, first and foremost and certainly well beyond the idea of the novel as a story of freedom; to her it has always been (among other things, but most emotionally resonant to her) a story of abuse and its ramifications.
“Pleasant as this relationship is, suffused as it is by a lightness they both enjoy and a burden of responsibility they both assume, it cannot continue. Knowing the relationship is discontinuous, doomed to separation, is (or used to be) typical of the experience of white/black childhood friendships (mine included), and the cry of inevitable rupture is all the more anguished by being mute. Every reader knows that Jim will be dismissed without explanation at some point; that no enduring adult fraternity will emerge. Anticipating this loss may have led Twain to the over-the-top minstrelization of Jim. Predictable and common as the gross stereotyping of blacks was in nineteenth-century literature, here, nevertheless, Jim’s portrait seems unaccountably excessive and glaring in its contradictions - like an ill-made clown suit that cannot hide the man within. Twain’s black characters were most certainly based on real people. His nonfiction observations of and comments on “actual” blacks are full of references to their guilelessness, intelligence, creativity, wit, caring, etc. None is portrayed as relentlessly idiotic. Yet Jim is. There may be more than one reason for this extravagance. In addition to accommodating a racist readership, writing Jim so complete a buffoon solves the problem of “missing” him that would have been unacceptable at the novel’s end, and helps to solve another problem: how effectively to bury the father figure underneath the minstrel paint. The foregone temporariness of the friendship urges the degradation of Jim (to divert Huck’s and our inadvertent sorrow at the close), and minstrelizing him necessitates and exposes an enforced silence on the subject of white fatherhood.”—toni morrison, in her introduction to 1996 edition of the adventures of huckleberry finn, reprinted in the norton critical edition. i have been occasionally turning this statement over in my head since i read this essay in october and am… still not done with it.
“If the emotional environment into which Twain places his protagonist is dangerous, then the leading question the novel poses for me is, What does Huck need to live without terror, melancholy and suicidal thoughts? The answer, of course, is Jim. When Huck is among society - whether respectable or deviant, rich or poor - he is alert to and consumed by its deception, its illogic, its scariness. Yet he is depressed by himself and sees nature more often as fearful. But when he and Jim become the only “we,” the anxiety is outside, not within. “…we would watch the lonesomeness of the river… for about an hour… just solid lonesomeness.” Unmanageable terror gives way to a pastoral, idyllic intimate timelessness minus the hierarchy of age, status, or adult control. It has never seemed to me that, in contrast to the entrapment and menace of the shore, the river itself provides this solace. The consolation, the healing properties Huck longs for, is made possible by Jim’s active, highly vocal affection. It is in Jim’s company that the dread of contemplated nature disappears, that even storms are beautiful and sublime, that real talk - comic, pointed, sad - takes place. Talk so free of lies it produces an aura of restfulness and peace unavailable anywhere else in the novel.”—toni morrison, in her introduction to 1996 edition of the adventures of huckleberry finn, reprinted in the norton critical edition. this essay is one of those “everything i thought but didn’t know i thought it yet, and also things i didn’t thought but think are true, and also things i just want to think about for a long time” things. in particular, here - like, on second thought how utterly typical of US critics, right, to be like, “it’s about freedom! and the river is that freedom!” and how typical toni morrison, which is why toni morrison is amazing, to be like, “actually also it is about love, like that is the real key here.”
“I have finished the story & didn’t take the chap beyond boyhood. I believe it would be fatal to do it in any shape but autobiographically - like Gil Blas. I perhaps made a mistake in not writing it in the first person. If I went on, now, & took him into manhood, he would just be like all the one-horse men in literature & the reader would conceive a hearty contempt for him.”—mark twain, on tom sawyer. he didn’t take tom into manhood, but he did have him grow up a bit by the time we meet him in huck finn - where he is, indeed, intolerable and deserving of contempt.
like i COULD have talked about if you wanted to bust out your freud, the sea = the womb and thus bursting from the sea = being born, which is why ariel’s legs are all wobbly at first, she is like a baby - HEY which is actually in this reading also why she can’t TALK because she is, again, like a baby! and she needs a kiss to awaken her sexuality which doesn’t freud say that happens at like 6 months or something? i don’t know, i’ve never read freud.
but i didn’t. and AREN’T YOU GLAD? i mean, i am, i would have felt like an asshole, and anyway i don’t care much for this brand of analysis, personally speaking. plus there are like a zillion things it’s like impossible to fit into it. i mean basically i think this reading is BS but probably, if you wanted to, you could argue it, because texts are magical like that.
it's like, i DO have other posts in the works for feministe?
as drafts, or outlines, or notes, or plans? and i would like to do some of them soonish so i don’t just wind up being that chick who loves disney weirdly much?
but i have to tell you i am so tempted to just sit down and write a bazillionty words about why i love aladdin so much (hint: the EXTREMELY EXPLICIT anti-classist message is only one reason).
(tumblr, probably if i were to do that, i should make myself presentable and not talk about the cave of wonders = vagina dentata thing? i feel like that would be an act of good judgment on my part? like wearing slacks to a business meeting, or something?)
so someone in the comments at feministe pointed me to this post, and do you know how good it is? it is so good, i am linking y’all to a post on FEMINISTING. okay? ME. linking you to FEMINISTING. approvingly! enthusiastically! THAT TELLS YOU A LOT.
for real though, this post, written by a trans woman who identified with ariel as a little kid is really smart, and really lovely, too.
When I learned words and concepts for what I’d felt about myself for years I also gained a vocabulary to understand my version of The Little Mermaid. Ariel was a trans girl. Her toys were a secret collection of human artifacts, similar to me playing with my sister’s Barbies, a way to access the identity I belonged in. She tried to explain herself, but her father couldn’t understand - he had a picture of who his daughter should be, and she was saying she belonged in a whole other world! Ursula was only half a villain for me - she was also the twisted drag queen fairy godmother who could give Ariel the body she knew she belonged in (Ursula made that funny feeling shoot sparks). Ariel’s happy ending was far too good for my young self, who’d been pushed towards being a person I just wasn’t, to believe - Triton accepts Ariel as a human and lets her be herself! And, as commenter zes points out, Eric still loves Ariel after she’s outed as trans.
is this really the worst post title… EVER??? maybe so! may. be. so. but yeah, so i wrote like a bazillionty words on how much i love the little mermaid - i tried to like, keep it shorter than i would if i were here? i don’t know if i succeeded? I JUST HAVE A LOT OF FEELINGS, OKAY, but, uh. if you want to! there i am! writing about the little mermaid at feministe! i compare it to romeo and juliet at one point! i overshare about my teenage years! i embarrass myself by talking about how legitimately, not just “for a disney movie,” totally brilliant i think some lines are! i compare the existence of being a mermaid to the existence of being a teenager, as you can see by my title! FUN TIMES ALL AROUND, i tell ya! god, this writing like a realish person thing is scary! but fun too!!!
click that shit! or if you want to skip straight to my favorite part which is the end, oh fine here, because i love you:
The song is called “Part of Your World,” but in its first incarnation, there is no you – it’s that world, the land world, the adult world, the real world. Chloe frames the movie as presenting her with the choice between her father’s and her husband’s world, which is a fair reading; but I think it’s equally possible to view it as a choice between childhood and adulthood. Ariel (herself a liminal creature, half human half fish) is caught in between them, and her behavior reflects this: she puts on a cartoonishly sultry voice to coo at the statue of Eric that Flounder brings to her and immediately bursts into giggles; when Scuttle the seagull “helps” her “get dressed” by clumsily wrapping a sail around herself, she struts and preens the way little kids playing dress-up do. And, yeah, she does some stupid-ass things in the name of a ridiculous crush that feels like life-or-death. The movie would be way worse, I think, if we didn’t have that explicit reminder up front of her youth (much like Romeo and Juliet falls apart the second a production lets the audience forget that no, these characters aren’t old enough to know better, so be kind).
The scene right after her soliloquy in the cave is the one where she sees Eric and immediately goes all ♥_♥ for him, and then her world is set aflame. No, but really: lightning strikes the ship and it lights up, falling apart and necessitating Eric’s rescue. It’s terrifying and, when she sees him, beautiful; it burns like hell, painfully, but it’s ultimately worth it, if bittersweet – the last spoken line of the film is Ariel’s whispered, tearful “I love you, Daddy.” It’s like falling in love, or like growing up. It’s something kids start to itch for very young, and desire more intensely and explicitly as they approach adolescence. And it’s something Ariel wants the very first time we meet her, playing hooky, exploring on her own.
but, holy shit, people. the internet warned me it was bad, but i had NO IDEA HOW BAD IT WAS. it reached into realms of badness i honestly could never have conceived of on my own. it is, legitimately, the funniest thing i have read this month. BELOW, a selection of my favorite quotes (yeah yeah late to the party SHUT UP):
*I often think about driving off the side of freeway overpasses, just plunge Grandpa’s old blue boat through the cement guardrail: The sculpted barrier crumbling about me and Grandpa’s blue machine; a great moment of metallic explosion and heavy ripping and jerking and then release; a soft, slow dive of arcing color through the windshield, into a hard second of impact, just before the black. What an adventure lies behind one quick turn of the steering wheel. A great screaming, and then, slip away.
*Joe and I sit and stare at the wall of the building. The building is beige, but the shadows make it shadow-color.
*I don’t know what he thinks he is, or why he thinks he exists.
*He smiles with rotten teeth like busted shingles, all climbing over each other, and yellowing gray teeth next to shit-colored gums just don’t go together, and I think, Why don’t you get some braces motherfucker and brush those dang things, but I don’t really think about that too much because I’m thinking about something else, or at least getting ready to do something else, or already doing …
*…I look over at fat shit, and there is blood rolling out of a slice in his forehead, and some blood coming out of his mouth, and I think that it’s from the head gash until I see one of those teeth is now a black gap and he looks like a fat something-awful: hockey-player-pumpkin-cartoon-shithead…
*I laugh like crazy, a laughter that bubbles out like popcorn,
*Joe just looks at me with that stupid look, covered in flowing blood, going onto his shirt like ketchup randomness, so much messier and more random than I could ever plan.
*I wish I was Mexican, or Hebrew, I mean Jewish, I mean Israeli, or Mexican Jewish, or Mexican Jewish gay, because it can be so boring being you sometimes, and if you were the most special thing like that, it could be really great, but maybe some people say the same thing about you, and you want to tell those people: “No, you’re stupid, it’s no fun being me.”
*”Don’t call me puta, bitch!”
*…I like passing all of them, racing down the freeway, like a tunnel into the night, and racing but still being able to carry on a whole action scene with Joe, and I think it is like life, because I am racing, and time is pushing me forward and it’s not going to stop…
*like standing on the cloudy threshold of heaven and seeing something so bright and tantalizing and warmy-womby-feeling but not being able to enter, just feeling the heat a little on your face, and you want to cry and smile, but instead you just stare and you can’t do anything.
GOD I WANT TO APOLOGIZE TO EVERY BAD WRITER I’VE EVER MADE FUN OF, TRULY I HAD NO IDEA THE DEPTHS OF TERRIBLENESS THAT WERE LIKE EVEN POSSIBLE.
ah, fuck, i am really, really genuinely sorry if my response came across that way - not in a “sorry you got offended” way but in a “really, that is not what i meant to imply and i’m sorry that i did” way.
like, the thing you say about me pulling out the you-can’t-have-a-good-time argument: that is really, really not what i think. that’s what i was trying to get at with the everyone-has-their-own-lines thing: everyone - myself very much included - has certain fucked up things or certain levels of fucked-up-ness that they can’t or won’t tolerate, and i definitely do not think that that means they’re like, fun-killers or whatever. i do honestly respect anyone’s decision (or just reaction) to be like, nope, this is a brand of degree of fucked-up-ness i can’t ignore, and i make that decision or have that reaction myself, not infrequently, and wouldn’t want to be judged for my inability to do so on such occasions. so, okay, sorry to maybe beat a dead horse at this point but i really want to be adamant, because i hate that attitude, that i absolutely did not intend to accuse you of being humorless or a stick in the mud or whatever, and wouldn’t pull that argument out on anyone critiquing an aspect of pop culture, and i am really sorry that i wound up making you feel that.
similarly, i am sorry that i made you feel like i don’t think your critique is warranted, because i do - it is hard for me to think of a situation in which i think pop culture critique is not warranted; i mean, a specific critique, obviously i might not agree with (though this one, i certainly do), but critiquing pop culture is something i definitely believe in the importance of, and i’m sorry if you felt like i was shutting you down - i don’t blame you if you are skeptical about this, but really, i didn’t think my response would be read that way, and if i had i would have rewritten it.
re: not acknowledging in my original post the fucked up aspects: i have a habit of assuming that anyone reading anything i write here is sort of able to put into context whatever it is i’m writing, so that in my head i feel like, having acknowledged these fucked up aspects in the past means that i’ve acknowledged them and people are aware of this. i kind of feel like this was more or less the case for a pretty long time, but i guess right now i am realizing it is not actually true anymore of all the people who follow me, which means i really need to learn to be more careful about making context explicit within a post such as the original post here. which - i guess this answers my question about whether in my planned post on her at feministe, i need to mention that also, this thing about her is true and fucked up; i don’t want to make it seem like i don’t care. so: that’s a thing i should have done, and will do more in the future.
re: if our roles were reversed - okay, so. my thought about this is that - well, first off, i did take you seriously but fucked up in conveying that, so: yes, if i thought someone were being flippant or brushing me off, i would be upset. i didn’t mean to do that, but duh intent doesn’t matter and i did, so: my bad for fucking that up.
as for the idea of whether i’d be upset if someone was all vocally excited about a thing i find fucked up… well: my thought is, if they acknowledged its fucked-upness, and the importance of acknowledging that fucked-upness, then i feel like, yeah, i would be okay with that. which, maybe this comes down to the fact that there are in fact a fair number of things i like that are fucked up or come from fucked up people. one of my favorite movies in the world is the pianist, directed by roman polanski. i do not think that the fact that he made this movie outweighs or makes up for the fact that he raped a child. if i had to pick between the universe we live in and one in which roman polanski went to fucking jail when he should have and this movie never existed, i would pick the latter without a second thought. and, again, i don’t blame anyone who can’t separate out the fact that he raped a child from his moviemaking, or for another example anyone who can’t separate michael jackson’s sexual abuse of children from his music.
okay but, FULL DISCLOSURE, i am trying actively right now not to respond defensively, because while obvs it’s not fun to get called out for hurting people, the thing i am actually bothered by is that i did, in fact, hurt you - and consciously, i feel like i am succeeding? but i want to be explicit about the fact that i am human and might be misjudging my own reactions to things. which doesn’t excuse it, which would be me fucking up if that’s going on, but - i guess i just want to acknowledge that i know that despite my best efforts to not make this about my feelings, because that is not at all what this is about, i may be doing that. i am trying not to, i hope i am not doing it, but like, if i’m being honest with myself, there is no guarantee.
erm, and this is unfair maybe to talk about things i do like. so, okay, let’s think of a thing i don’t like… oh. well, lady gaga. the alejandro video pissed me right off, and offended me, and was sort of the final straw from “eeuugh can we please stop talking about lady gaga now” to “ugh just fuck lady gaga, entirely,” for me (see here, here, here, here, and here for details). but it doesn’t upset me that some people like it, or that some people find positive things along with the fucked up things in it to discuss.
which: i DO NOT want to imply that i think that because this doesn’t upset me, it shouldn’t upset you. and also, i guess i am not trying to make you respect me, because i don’t think you will, and i don’t want this to turn into like, give-me-kudos hour, or whatever. the reason i bring up my own semi-real-semi-hypothetical (once again, i used a real recent example to try and gauge whether this is in fact true of me, but i can’t claim that my success is assured because i tried) is because i guess i want to say that (i don’t think) i am perpetrating a double standard here, where other people’s concerns are invalid but mine are serious. i think everyone’s concerns are serious, and also i am okay with people enjoying things that are to some degree fucked up. i don’t think that the latter trumps the former. and i respect if you think my stance on this in general is fucked up. i guess i want to state that it is a stance in general, which i also do apply to people liking things i have a strong negative reaction to.
so OKAY WOW a better writer than i would probably be able to try and say what i am trying to say more clearly in half as many words, but i guess the main points are: in the future i will be more careful about referencing that things i am into are fucked up; i don’t think this is about you not being able to have a good time; i do think your critique was warranted and deserved to be taken seriously; i am sorry for being unwittingly flippant, because yes, if someone treated something i felt this way about with flippancy i would be upset; and also, if someone were enthusiastically into something i felt this way about, i would on the whole be okay with that; and i’m really sorry that i acted in a way to offend you (which again, i don’t mean like “sorry if you were offended, but…” because this is on me).
see, this i totally get.
i guess i would just say that if we (i really do mean this in a very general, we all can take the lesson, not specific or personal to you, way) want to talk about what we “love” about something/someone we should balance it with that recognition that there are people who have genuine critiques of it that we are not ignoring. i don’t mean stuff like “i love her music, and i realize other people think she is a talentless idiot and want to recognize that but…” because that’s just about opinions and whatever. but when we are talking about genuine f’d up-ed-ness.
like, Roman Polanski is a GOOD example! so i would talk about how much it meant to me to see his version of Macbeth in my senior year AP English class (which, did you know was funded by Hugh Hefner?). i mean, it rocked my world. and it is an example of very fine film-making. but yes, while speaking highly of that movie and how it influenced/affected me, i make note that Roman Polanski is a big jerk who has raped at least one underage girl, possibly more than one, and that Hugh Hefner just plain creeps me the hell out on multiple levels. i fully acknowledge the thoroughly legitimate critiques of them both. i would suggest that if you have a way to see Macbeth that does not put money into Polanski’s or Hefner’s pockets, you should take the opportunity. but also be cognizant of the men that put that movie together and let’s not give them a “pass” just because they are “talented” or whatever.
Lady Gaga… also an excellent example choice. i dislike her. well, dislike is actually too strong. i’ve only seen two videos and parts of a couple of interviews. let’s just say i am not impressed by her. i am not amused. i do not find her in any way original or interesting, and yes, i find her a bit problemmatic even but don’t know enough about her to really put my finger on it. like, the video for “Telephone”… really bugged me. but you know, that probably is at least partly that i am sick of glamorized versions of prison life being put out there. as someone who had a loved one in prison for 14 years, who recently died in prison, and knowing how truly horrifying prison life is/the issues of the Prison Industrial Complex/specifically in regards to POC, i don’t take that ish lightly. all that said, i know there are people who think Lady Gaga is really great… and that’s their business.
i guess my point isn’t “there is NOTHING positive that can be said” about people/situations/stuff in pop culture. but just that we should be careful when talking all gooey about celebs etc. to acknowledge that there are definite problems and legit critiques as well, and that we aren’t trying to ignore or silence or squash them.
in the same way, i think it’s important that critiques acknowledge the good in things too.
OKAY PHEW, i’m glad i managed to like, actually express what i feel this time around (lol @ me and my “writing” “skillz”). i think we are pretty much on a similar wavelength - i mean i agree with everything you said in your last post and everything here, and i’m relieved i managed to actually, um, say that, albeit majorly longwindedly, ha. especially i definitely agree that it’s important to acknowledge the fucked up aspects of things we like - i’m really grateful to have had this exchange, because it made me think about how now that, inexplicably and bizarrely, more than 250 people are following me, a fair number are quite newcomers, i can’t assume anymore that they and anyone else reading me are all aware of my opinions even when i don’t articulate them at the time; i can’t assume they read those couple times i did talk about the ke$ha feather headdress thing, and it’s not fair to expect them to have done so.
and, really, thank you for taking the time to have this conversation with me. i don’t want to make this like, all about My Learning Experience, since that was not even remotely the point of it, but, i dunno, i feel weird not thanking someone who gave me a learning experience, when they totes didn’t have to.
speaking of learning: no! i did not know hugh hefner funded roman polanski’s macbeth! well damn. that is in fact a pretty terrific movie (HILARIOUS 70s special effects with the dagger aside) - in particular i loved francesca annis’s wonderfully counterintuitive turn as lady macbeth.
i think it is really important to remember that one person’s “principle” or intellectual disagreement or stance or whatever is another person’s real hurt. like, a friend of mine trying to argue that educating people in a set of standard texts over valuing diversity and multiculturalism is, to her, making a claim in favor of what she sees as the more intellectually beneficial position (which i ALSO agree with), or in other words declaring her support for a principle.
but to me that really fucking stings to hear, because it upsets me that she can’t see how she’s essentially saying that she is okay with excluding or minimizing marginalized voices, including those of cultures to which many of the people the US is educating belong, and like - that legitimately is just hurtful to me, that she’s not even aware of that. like, i never was personally emotionally bothered by this, but in retrospect: i have read one latin@-written book for school, in my life (assigned, incidentally, by my awesome teacher i wrote about a while back). and it was the fucking house on fucking mango street which are you fucking joking me.
i mean, eighth grade, that’s appropriate. but nothing, in high school. how no one thought “hmm maybe a trimester of VERY MOSTLY white poets, a trimester of greek drama and shakespeare, and a trimester of woolf and austen is an eleventh-grade curriculum WORTH RECONSIDERING” is… not even remotely beyond me, but it upsets me that no one even mentioned at the time how messed up that was. (not even getting into the ex-friend who complained about reading ONE SHORT STORY by a japanese writer because she “didn’t see the point.”)
and like… yeah, she is anglo-american. yeah, this is personal for me in a way it isn’t for her. and it upsets me that she doesn’t see how she is effectively saying “i think it is more important to uphold the privileged status of my culture than to expose people to yours, even though THERE ARE A FUCKING LOT OF PEOPLE FROM YOUR CULTURE AND RELATED ONES IN THIS COUNTRY.”
and this is just one, very limited and minor example.
because how many times in my life have i heard: i don’t care about the way this aspect of our culture hurts you, and i don’t care about how the way i’m buying into it right now hurts you. a fair number. far less than many people less privileged or just less lucky than i. it fucking sucks. i don’t want to do that to people, especially when i basically think they are right or at least arguing in good faith a viable point. (like okay, if you are explaining to me how having sex with someone blackout drunk is not rape, probably i don’t care about your feelings at that point.)
it’s tempting on the internet to call any disagreement wank, or a flame war, or a shitstorm, and i mean - sometimes, that is warranted. sometimes, people are just saying stupid shit all around and the stephane lambiel test comes into play because no. but often, it is about real people, real feelings, real lives, real hurt. and i feel pretty strongly about not wanting to hurt anyone if i can avoid it (meaning, if it comes to like, compromising my own principles to avoid hurting someone, no i won’t do that; but this was not that case). like, it’s basically my life imperative. so.
“which - i’m not saying this is necessarily the right standard to hold. but it is pretty much the way i operate, i guess. which isn’t to say that it’s not important to sometimes bring serious-me (or serious other-people) to the entertainment world, but, man, i don’t have the energy to keep that at the forefront of my mind all the time; sometimes i need to compartmentalize, put it away temporarily. which not everyone has to, not everyone can for every thing - everyone has their own lines of what they can or cannot deal with, all of which are legitimate.
so - no, this doesn’t make up for anything. it’s a cool thing regarding a person i am majorly and frivolously celebrity-fond of, about whom i gush hyperbolically pretty often, because i am kind of a hyperbolic person? and because very nearly everything billed as entertainment in this fucked-up world has something fucked-up going on about it, and like, sometimes you want to talk about how lost hates non-white people and women, and other times you want to talk about how it is populated by super hot people and awesomely acted. or maybe you don’t! which is cool. but… yeah, i guess i don’t see a problem with people deciding sometimes to put aside the problematic aspects of something (as long as the are in fact aware of them, and of the fact that they’re doing it) and focus on the things they like. an admittedly self-serving point of view. but pretty much where i stand right now.”—
Isabel took a verbal beating from the person she was going back and forth with for saying this, and fell all over herself apologizing, but I gotta say I think she was right on. And despite having my own set of liberal/radical political and socio-political beliefs, I sometimes hate the community that centers around radical socio/political discussion. “Humorless” is a word thrown around a lot of times to try and distract from very real issues that are brought up in our day to day lives, but as a criticism of the radical political community, there is a grain of truth to it. And I’m not trying to say that Ke$ha wearing an Indian headdress during a TV appearance is funny; no, it’s obviously fucked up. But it’s also not a reason to completely invalidate any positive contributions she may have ever made to art, culture, or whatever, and it’s definitely not a reason to give someone else shit for continuing to listen to her music.
Maybe it’s not “humorless” that I’m even complaining about? Maybe ”killjoy” is more the word for it. What I’m talking about is the tendency within radical communities (both online and in reality) to guilt-trip people, and sometimes even shut them out completely, for enjoying something despite its problematic aspects. In my opinion, this sort of thing isn’t a black and white issue. We all have to evaluate positive and negative aspects of the art/culture/whatever we enjoy, and we all have to decide on our own whether the negatives outweigh the positives. Different people will have different lines of demarcation where that’s concerned, but if I like something that offends you, well, as long as I don’t force you to read it/listen to it/whatever, then I don’t see where I’m doing anything wrong by continuing to enjoy that thing. For example, I love the Rolling Stones, especially their 60s and early 70s work, and a lot of those songs have lyrics that are quite sexist. I recognize the sexism in those songs, I think it’s wrong and fucked up, I’m certainly not going to emulate it. What’s the problem, then, with my finding the songs worthy enough on their musical merits to listen to anyway? If I’m sitting in my room by myself listening to “Under My Thumb,” why is that anyone’s business but my own?
So yeah, that’s something that bugs me about the radical political and socio-political discussions that I see around tumblr. People guilt-trip each other over the movies they watch or the music they listen to and to me it just seems like holier-than-thou posturing. It’s especially frustrating to see it coming from people I agree with, because even if they are doing it in service of a political belief that I also hold, I can’t help but get mad, and think, “Damn, you’re being such an asshole about this.” But it’s hard to mount a counterpoint when someone’s arguing that something is sexist or whatever and you agree with them. So usually I end up saying nothing and scrolling past the discussion, trying to take my mind off it with Melvins mp3s or Lady Gaga photos or something. This time, though, I think I finally got my thoughts organized enough to explain my objection, and I hope I have done so clearly.
so, what i want to say about this is not so much about the substance of your addition but ALL ABOUT MEEEE~ ha ha WHAT A SURPRISE.
but i would like to clarify that - in my follow-up, i didn’t apologize for my opinions, nor did i change them. what i apologized for was hurting someone by giving the impression that i didn’t value their opinion, was dismissing them, was saying their critiques were unwarranted or less important than my heart-age of ke$ha, etc. i very strongly got the impression and believe that thingsimreading was coming from a place of good faith, and also a place where - i don’t want to put words in her mouth, but at the least, it struck me as less along the lines of that time someone decided that referring to vulvas as vaginas was killing feminism (which, SRSLY?) and more along the lines of reading something that stings, because it’s perpetuating systems of oppressions and resisting critiques of them.
or in other words: i wasn’t trying to convince anyone i was right; i wanted to clarify what i had said because i wanted to clarify that her impression that i didn’t care wasn’t true, admittedly (because i believe in full disclosure) partly because i don’t like being misunderstood, but primarily because, well, it fucking sucks to feel like you raised a legitimate objection and got shut down for harshing someone’s mellow, and i really hated that i had made someone feel like that.
or, super short version: i wasn’t backtracking, i was clarifying. and i wasn’t apologizing for what i think, i was apologizing for hurting someone else who had a legitimate and very important point.
plus, if you check out her follow-up, you’ll see that we are, i think (i hope i’m not putting words in her mouth) on a pretty similar wavelength regarding the principle of liking fucked-up shit, and i’m really grateful that this exchange has made me think more thoroughly about the importance of clarifying my own awareness of the importance of acknowledging fucked-up aspects of fucked-up things we like - because it’s not even exactly about intellectual integrity, or about trying to be all things to everyone, or whatever; it’s because an omission can be seen as a tacit endorsement, and in situations where very many people DO endorse the fucked up thing (like in this case: ALL THOSE PEOPLE IN FEATHER HEADDRESSES), i don’t think it’s an overreaction to assume that’s what’s going on, because - no one owes it to me, really, to give me the benefit of the doubt. if they want to, they can do that, but like - the same way i can’t afford, emotionally, to give dudes making conversation with me in public the benefit of the doubt, i don’t expect it of other people. because eventually, you just get burned too many times to make it worthwhile anymore. the same way i don’t get offended when people of color are like “i don’t trust white people” - sure, that sucks for some individual white people, but like, how can you ask someone to, who has come to a point where they no longer feel safe to do so? and frankly, to me it’s enough that she gave me enough benefit of the doubt to explain to me how she felt; i’m really grateful that she did.
My conclusions are: I have a reaaalllllyyyyy scattershot approach to these things. But. It is scattershot with intention. I can’t always articulate that intention—identify why I put a period where I do, or use italics for emphasizing some things, caps for others, and bold in yet a third situation—but it’s there. It has to do with rhythm or something, I guess? I write in pretty much the same rhythm I speak, or so I’ve been told, on multiple occasions. I meander, I shift between convoluted and lengthy sentences and short, choppy ones…I drift.
I don’t know. I didn’t say I was thinking articulately about these things. But I am thinking about them, and now you have seen my thoughts, such as they are.
They aren’t much, really.
me, also! at least on the internet. i mean, i feel sort of pretentious articulating this, but like - here, on tumblr, i don’t think of what i do as writing, for the most part. i think of it as talking, on the internet. that’s why, for example, i will leave in things like “but like” or “geez i don’t know! it’s a thing about like - well, let’s try a different tack” - things that are really about me thinking out loud. not 100% always (you could if you wanted to probably guess which posts get more actual thought), but.
i mean, i am EVEN MORE personally averse to me specifically doing poetry analysis than i am to doing fiction analysis, so not that i would ever attempt to argue this in a serious way, but - to me, a big part of what i like about e. e. cummings is that i feel like… that is maybe part of what he was doing sometimes as well. making his poems, even the formally structured ones, more like talking. it brings, or can bring, and in his case i think does, the writing somehow closer to us, or to me anyway - i find him a very intimate writer, in large part because of his disregard for traditional punctuation. and when he does things like put a semicolon between two words where it doesn’t belong, or a period instead of a comma, or no period, or whatever - i would never, ever, ever attempt to argue this in a paper, but for me, what happens there is that i can hear the pause, and to me there’s a real difference, almost tangible - i don’t really have a proper adjective for it, maybe palpable? - between the pause of a semicolon and the pause of a comma and the pause of a period. a different quality to the imposed silence.
so - i would never say i understand cummings, certainly not in a way i could argue, and maybe i am just projecting and he meant completely different and more conspicuously “intellectual” things. but i have always felt a real visceral kinship with cummings, like i “get” him and he and i would get each other, because to me what he is doing, often, is playing with sound, on paper. it just reads, to me, very automatically, very clearly often (even when i don’t get the meaning AT ALL), very obviously but in a way i could never put into words - so if someone were like, “i don’t get why he does this,” i could never really explain it in any specific instance, beyond “because it sounds different,” which makes no sense anyway.
so, yeah, not to compare myself to e. e. cummings, but there we have it.