Sunday, January 28, 2007
Accumulation: A Lot of Writing to Do
"What is Critique", Michel Foucault, 1978
Caribbean Discourse: Selected Essays, Edouard Glissant, 1989
Black Women Novelists and the Nationalist Aesthetic, Madhu Dubey, 1994
Every Woman I've Ever Loved: Lesbian Writers on their Mothers, Catherine Reid and Holly Iglesias eds , 1997
Remaking Eden: How Genetic Engineering and Cloning Will Transform the American Family, Lee M. Silver, 1998
Impossible Purities: Blackness, Femininity and Victorian Culture, Jennifer Brody, 1998
Black Women Writers and the American Neo-Slave Narrative: Femininity Unfettered, Elizabeth Ann Beaulieu, 1999
Giving and Account of Oneself, Judith Butler, 2005
"What is Critique: An Essay on Foucault's Virtue", Judith Butler, 2006
Crossing Waters, Crossing Worlds: The African Diaspora in Indian Country, Sharon Holland and Tiya Miles, 2006
When "Free" Means Losing Your Mother: The Collision of Child Welfare and the Incarceration of Women in New York State, 2006
Justice Now Statement Opposing Prison Expansion and Eugenics, 2007
Center for Genetics and Society (Egg Extraction and Sex Selection), 2007
a lot of writing to do. And when I finish writing this I will be more (behind) than when I started. Glissant makes me feel like I am underwater, crafting chains into words in a language I don't know. Breathing somehow. I have a lot of wrting to do and the only thing I do is make more. I am trying to explain the place where "put your hands on the hood of the car" becomes "throw your hands in the air" becomes "alexis. say something deep. we aint got much time." Deep is actually the right word. My hands are reconnecting with air, afraid of what it means to have fingers heavy enough to type this. At some point I must have raised my hand. My hands are being hailed before my knowledge with similar amounts of urgency, but different qualities of audience derived need. I am hearing the hails of haters, fame and family all at once. I insist the the last one be the loudest. I insist that the last one be the loudest. But I can't stop wanting the crowd to move and the haters (those who would make me stranger, those who would make me enemy) are persistant as hell. They are more likely to respond to this blog than you are.
Yeah. Hell is persistant. And deep and wet. Glissant quotes Walcott "The unity is submarine." Chain links thicker than my fingers ring me round as I sit here typing on this little banged up titanium computer. Daughterhood in the face of death is present for me like a stone necklace. I just sent the "layout" for the words (my fathers rhyming words, my grandparents hollowing names) to someone who will scratch them into stone and lay them on my chest. Will lay them on whatever's left. And this week I've been thinking about genetic futurity, about whether it really matters that I leave some genes here...in case those genetic heirs decide that they won't let my body fuel the ground and grow in the radioactive mess we're making. Lee Silver talks about genetic enhancement as a free market choice inevitable and normalizable for a privileged married set of somebodies (gay or not) who will make a new species in their attempt to escape class difference, a difference which he manages to completely cement and at the same time ignore throughout his interesting book. The Center for Genetics and Society would ask what about the source of these egg donations, what about the sexism that everyone is getting born into (they ask and I come in on the chorus) what about what we make? What about the way are using "reprogentics" already through sex selection and stem cell extraction to reproduce a way of being born that feels much like hate. And Justice Now would ask yes. What about the social conditions? What about the women in prison who are being sterlized..while "gender responsive" prison expansion passes through legislative bodies. What is it we are reproducing? Monsters, not in the sense of the green skinned photosynthesizing but in the sense of people who really refuse to see each other and continue to use each other. People who really think that we can become immune to each other or at least to death.
Judith Butler, who also came to visit this week (see my summary one day soon in the Women's Studies Newsletter) emphasizes in her essay on Foucault's talk on critique emphasizes the impossibility of this immunity. I wonder though if Butler and I think up and coming art historian Ignacio hinted at this during our seminar with her, maybe...I wonder what the power of discourse becomes for her and whether it does the universalizing thing that even Adorno says is violent because it can be (has to be) indifferent to the specific, to the human, to the now. I wonder how one (say this one) could address a need for specificity. Queen Karla this morning admitted wanting to ask Butler (while we were sharing how beautiful and personally salient we found Precarious Life and Giving and Account of Oneself) "how do you know?" Who is it that made you have to learn mourning in the way that resonates so deeply here. Not that she should be forced to write an autobiography...but to what extent am I called to do speak in the first person (something I just advised one of the Women's Studies Honors Thesis Writers to do this week). How much do I have to disclose? In what kind of way do I have to listen to myself? In what kind of way do I have to edit myself?
As you see the Women in Prison Project released a report last year with almost the same title as the Saidiya Hartman book that I spent almost the whole last entry on. Women in Prison Project, a reform organization (and a bright green copy of Rosa Luxembourg's "Reform or Revolution" glares into the corner of my eye. And I wonder if it shares the tactic that I find confusing or disturbing in Hartman...and empahsis on the child that makes the mother literally and the means of production more generally harder to see. I am not satisfied completely with the readability narrative that Dubey gives (why should black women writers be more Readable...why should access be granted yet....but then how can it not be? How I mean is readability something with a value that can be asked for from a reader and actually answered. But I am more dissatisfied with Beaulieu in a book deceptively subtitled "femininity unfettered" when it should be entitled femininity assumed to be a privilege an then not discussed. For next time I insist that I must be able to say what femininity is or can be since I haven't been able to find it. Brody as well talks about the "feminized" as I think some sort of violence and uses it in her title...but I want to ask her (and maybe I will tomorrow) what she means.
Alright. I am late as usual. Holler back that you don't hate me.