So I Don’t Forget.

“We are important and our lives are important, magnificent really, and their details are worthy to be recorded. This is how writers must think, this is how we must sit down with pen in hand. We were here; we are human beings; this is how we lived. Let it be known, the earth passed before us. Our details are important. Otherwise, if they are not, we can drop a bomb and it doesn’t matter. . . Recording the details of our lives is a stance against bombs with their mass ability to kill, against too much speed and efficiency. A writer must say yes to life, to all of life: the water glasses, the Kemp’s half-and-half, the ketchup on the counter. It is not a writer’s task to say, “It is dumb to live in a small town or to eat in a café when you can eat macrobiotic at home.” Our task is to say a holy yes to the real things of our life as they exist – the real truth of who we are: several pounds overweight, the gray, cold street outside, the Christmas tinsel in the showcase, the Jewish writer in the orange booth across from her blond friend who has black children. We must become writers who accept things as they are, come to love the details, and step forward with a yes on our lips so there can be no more noes in the world, noes that invalidate life and stop these details from continuing.”
― Natalie Goldberg, Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within

Thesis Re-Visited

[It’s] a popular notion, that it is exclusively suffering that produces good work, or insightful work.  I don’t think that’s the case. I think in a certain sense, it’s  a trigger, or a lever. But I think good work is produced in spite of suffering, and as a response, as a victory over suffering.

Leonard Cohen

I had the idea to read through my thesis, and post excerpts on my blog; I may still do that.  As always, I hesitate; I think that some of this work is of high quality, but I wonder how it will be received. I talked about my thesis and agonized over it for so long, that I’m not sure anything I could have created would have been worth the fuss I made about it. Then again, the only arbriter that really matters at the end of the day – my supervisor – gave me an A- on it. So I’m not really sure what I’m worried about in that regard. I suppose putting one’s work out there will always feel like an act of incredible vulnerability.

Reading my thesis in preparation for posting it reminds me of how far removed I am from the academic world; I admit that this reminder is somewhat disheartening. I’d have to read and study for months before I would become as well-versed in the theoretical language and literature as I was when I wrote the thesis. Furthermore, I don’t see myself having the opportunity to write something like that and become immersed in the acts of learning and creation anytime soon; I may not have an opportunity like that ever again.  I suppose my hesitation to post my thesis is borne from that sentiment as well, which isn’t exactly regret; I’ve just become aware that there’s a gap between where I am, and where I want to be, and I’d rather not think about it.  At the present time though, I’m a still a little too weary from the struggle to get through school to knit that yarn into motivation to go back.

Although there are ideas and passages in this piece that I wish I could have developed further, in some ways, that doesn’t really matter; what matters most to me about this work is that I finished it at all. I wrote it during a tumultuous time in my life, during which I was suffering from clinical depression and anxiety disorders. Hence, the Leonard Cohen quote above: this work is important to me for its merits as a piece of undergraduate-level scholarship, and because I see the completion of this project as a “victory over suffering.” I may always struggle with my mind, but this serves as a reminder that I can still (with a hell of a lot of effort, time, and support) complete the work I set out to do.

That’s what I’ll remember this piece for; this piece, with all of its glorious imperfection. Maybe one day I’ll regard the time of my life during which I wrote it as being “gloriously imperfect” as well.

——————————

After thinking and writing about it, I’ve decided to post excerpts from my thesis after all. These can be found on the following pages:

Dance Macabre: Women’s Experiences in Burlesque Excerpt 1 (Introductory Chapter)

Dance Macabre: Women’s Experiences in Burlesque  Excerpt 2 (Research Methods Chapter)

Feminist Philosophers

Suppose the problem really is in the environment, but you can medicate your child to help them cope. A lot of people may medicate themselves to help them through a bad situation. Facing an MRI in a closed machine (i.e., you’re in the clanging tunnel for possibly an hour)? Xanax can seem reasonable if you are claustrophobic. A wedding with your most difficult relatives? Maybe xanax there too, or a martini or whatever. How about a bad work situation? A pill a day to keep anger away?

For myself I’d say absolutely not in the last case (clarification added in light of comment one). For a healthy child with a poor school environment that makes concentration and learning really too hard? C/D unmedicated, A/B on pills. I feel fortunate not to have to decide this one. Some people do have tO choose between these alternatives:

CANTON, Ga. — When Dr…

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Feminist Philosophers

Here’s an intriguing answer: no one would play or produce works by women:

But the main reason, I think, that there were so few female composers during the glory centuries of classical music is that composers depend on performing musicians and ensembles to play their works, and until relatively recent times, musicians, ensembles and musical institutions were overwhelmingly male.

There were a significant number of female novelists, poets and painters in earlier times. But if you were a Jane Austen, you could sit at home and write your novels. As long as you found a sympathetic publisher, you could get your books distributed and be acknowledged. Compare this to the situation facing Clara Schumann, one of the most celebrated pianists of the 19th century. She was also a gifted composer, though she mostly wrote piano pieces, songs, chamber works: things that she and a circle of musician friends could perform…

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Feminist Philosophers

First, the good news: the feminist classic has been listed as one of 88 books that shaped America by the Library of Congress.

Now the bad news. They’re facing financial difficulties, and as a result have got in touch with us to spread the word. They’ve got some fabulous campaigns going, like Our Bodies Our Votes. So please do consider giving them whatever help you can (which you can do here).

(Thanks, S!)

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Feminist Philosophers

From here.

“As trans people become more visible, our stories have narrowed into a neat narrative arc: born in the wrong body, pushed to the brink of suicide/sanity/society, the agonized decision to begin hormone treatment/surgeries for the reward of ending up ourselves and looking “normal,” which ends in a lesson about the tenacity of the human spirit, triumph of believing in yourself.”

This “traditional” narrative is false for many (perhaps most) trans* people, including myself. But our, and their, stories aren’t typically told. Everyone’s transition story is markedly different, and I’d like our readers to understand that. So I hope that this article becomes widely shared, and deeply thought about.

The pervasiveness of the “traditional” narrative has health care implications for trans* persons. For example, doctors and mental health professionals (who are the primary gatekeepers to medical interventions) are often misinformed and expect to have patients tell them the “traditional…

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