Posted by: HAT | March 28, 2011

Back to Life

Gotta love 'em if you live with 'em?

Hi, Gang!

February was the cruelest month, and March was not really much better. I did apply for two jobs, after recuperating from HR and weathering the other mayhem and mortality that rocked our small world here. Think I am becoming addicted to sour mix. And then, there is the remarkable series of vignettes on Women’s [Church] History for Women’s History Month at that other blog.

Nevertheless, I haven’t been working hard enough.

Hopefully, all that is about to change.

First, there is this good advice from The Chronicle of Higher Education about Writing. I know it is good advice because the fraction of it that I have ever put into practice, however fitfully and temporarily, has helped me. So, back to two pages a day.

Second, there is this self-promotional review of Russell Jacoby’s Bloodlust (forthcoming). Jacoby’s idea strikes me as particularly interesting because of the gender implications, which he recognizes. I don’t think he works them out in a particularly interesting way here, but maybe he does more in the book. I wonder especially whether the thesis that minor differences are more deadly than enormous ones confirms the wisdom of Irigaray’s emphasis on sexual difference — make the difference bigger and brighter, not smaller and less visible. It also frames or positions “violence against women” as the longest-running civil war in the history of the human race. The deadliness of that war would be another bit of confirmation for Jacoby’s thesis. The Uncanny Valley would seem to be a related phenomenon.

I suspect Jacoby is right, or at least partly right, and I wonder whether the problem is not very much related to the issue of who is going to determine who ‘we” are and what “we” are going to go about working for and how “we” are going to live. If someone is so other as to be outside the charmed circle of “us,” what they do is their own business. It doesn’t affect “us.” But when differences are minor, and yet consequential — affecting how the living room will be decorated, or how the children will be educated, or whether you and I are sharing an experience of communion (I add, because of the deadliness of the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre and the 30 Years War, and thinking of my professor Chris Elwood’s book The Body Broken) — they are, as Number 1 Daughter says, “up in my grill.” Personal. Matters of my own identity. People get deeply and personally attached to their own identities, and to specific cherished versions of those; matters of identity seem like matters of life and death. And maybe it is not so difficult to see why: if I am “A Person of Refined Taste,” and my partner plants a pink flamingo on the lawn, my existence-as-such is threatened. Let enough threats of that nature go by, and “Person of Refined Taste” is dead, probably with a garden gnome as her ignominious headstone.

(OK, in truth, I am the one who likes the flamingoes. But I admire them from afar, out of solicitude for my partner’s longevity.)

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