Thursday, November 30, 2006

Why I Don't Write Poetry

Dear Professor G.,

I wish you hadn't said you liked my poetry and then denounced it in one visitation. You, in casual khaki, saying "This is very good," and then when I was almost convinced that, perhaps, I could say something, whispering. . . what was it exactly? Did you say that you would like to lie with me?

How to Debase a Person in Their Youth. Is that the title of the book you eventually wrote? You with a fine house on the lake, a wife, a wine cabinet, and a child almost as old as I was?

Tonight, when I look back over my shoulder, it is still with a twinge and with a notebook empty of the poems, good or bad that I might have written, had you not convinced me, that afternoon, that I was not a poet.

I was sorry when that placid little Alcyon Lake was mentioned in TITLE 33, CHAPTER 26, SUBCHAPTER III, § 1324 of that clean lakes act because the trends of water quality in that lake, including but not limited to, the nature and extent of pollution loading from point and nonpoint sources and the extent to which the use of lakes was impaired as a result of such pollution, particularly with respect to toxic pollution.

Had you thrown your other bodies there?


Monday, November 27, 2006

Reprise of This I Believe and Do Men Ever Write in Women's Voices

Dear Commenters,

The thing that I love most about blogs is the comments. But sometimes they get lost. So today I'm bringing two of them to the top in order that they not be shielded from consideration by their depth of position.

1. Response to This I Believe
Cate said...
In response to your question, I do like the pronoun in the creed. I just read the Creed again (not just for the second time), and the pronoun immediately made me think of a fluidity of the Spirit. It is not incarnate (although we could say it may incarnate) and need not conform to our categories of male and female which causes such distress sometimes. By this I do not mean that the Spirit is androgynous, but wholly both and something more.

Just thinking about the Spirit and "incarnate" and associated to the belief (doctrine?) of transubstantiation. In Catholicism, the communion host becomes the body and blood of Christ...So the Spirit is not incarnate but is transubstantiated, or "becomes substance" as She reveals herself through the witness of one being (Being?)to another. Just a thought.

As for the sin before forgiveness, perhaps the order is spiritually correct. Forgiveness becomes meaningful when we realize our sin. When we are able to see ourselves as sinners--as much as our defenses will allow--I think there is a qualitatve shift in what it means to forgive others.

2. Response to Do Men Ever Write in Women’s Voices?
Anne G G said...
Here are some thoughts from Virginia Woolf about men's treatment of women in novels, which perhaps explains in part why they haven't historically created female protagonists very often. I bring it out as a historical relic, not as a comment on the way the 21st century man might write. But I think it's useful; it's also very long:

"That perhaps accounts for some of the characteristics that I remember to have found here, I thought, taking down a new novel by Mr A, who is in the prime of life and very well thought of, apparently, by the reviewers. I opened it. Indeed, it was delightful to read a man’s writing again. It was so direct, so straightforward after the writing of women. It indicated such freedom of mind, such liberty of person, such confidence in himself. One had a sense of physical well–being in the presence of this well–nourished, well–educated, free mind, which had never been thwarted or opposed, but had had full liberty from birth to stretch itself in whatever way it liked. All this was admirable. But after reading a chapter or two a shadow seemed to lie across the page. it was a straight dark bar, a shadow shaped something like the letter ‘I’. One began dodging this way and that to catch a glimpse of the landscape behind it. Whether that was indeed a tree or a woman walking I was not quite sure. Back one was always hailed to the letter ‘I’. One began to be tired of ‘I’. Not but what this ‘I’ was a most respectable ‘I’; honest and logical; as hard as a nut, and polished for centuries by good teaching and good feeding. I respect and admire that ‘I’ from the bottom of my heart. But—here I turned a page or two, looking for something or other the worst of it is that in the shadow of the letter ‘I’ all is shapeless as mist. Is that a tree? No, it is a woman. But . . . she has not a bone in her body, I thought, watching Phoebe, for that was her name, coming across the beach. Then Alan got up and the shadow of Alan at once obliterated Phoebe. For Alan had views and Phoebe was quenched in the flood of his views. And then Alan, I thought, has passions; and here I turned page after page very fast, feeling that the crisis was approaching, and so it was. It took place on the beach under the sun. It was done very openly. It was done very vigorously. Nothing could have been more indecent. But . . . I had said ‘but’ too often. One cannot go on saying ‘but’. One must finish the sentence somehow, I rebuked myself. Shall I finish it, ‘But—I am bored!’ But why was I bored? Partly because of the dominance of the letter ‘I’ and the aridity, which, like the giant beech tree, it casts within its shade. Nothing can grow there."

Friday, November 17, 2006

French Socialist Leaders and Living in the Here and Now

Dear Segolene Royal,

“I am living intensely this moment of happiness,” you said of your nomination as Socialist Party candidate for President of France. Now that is a French way of saying it philosophically, isn't it? It makes me think of my current reading (Camus). But it also reminds me of my studies about my creed.

Likewise, it brings me to thinking of the following submission from a Letters-and-Surveys reader (thanks Cate) from an article entitled Psychology and Mysticism by Dr. Sandy Drob.

Drob says, "Almost all mystical traditions ask their adherents to be present in the here and now. They offer techniques and modes that move one away from both the future and the past and into the present moment." Interesting thought.

Later in the article he says, "Each person, place, thing or event that we encounter in life provides us with an opportunity, through wise, insightful, ethical, and compassionate acts, to liberate the sparks contained in the things or events we encounter. Further, these encounters provide us with an opportunity to liberate the sparks contained in our own souls, which are also imprisoned. Or, we can throw the world and self into further darkness, depending on how we comport ourselves." (He earlier identifies "sparks" as sparks of divinity.)

So, anyway Segolene, congratulations on your nomination. As a fellow socialist and feminist (all self-defined) I wish you success in your bid to become France's first female president!

Le jour de gloire est arrive!


Thursday, November 09, 2006

Do Men Ever Write in Women’s Voices? A Survey

What classic male authors have written in a female voice? Or failing that, name some fully developed female protagonists (not just a pastiche or caricature of a person) that have been created by male authors? Think of this as a meme. (Is that a correct use of this term?)


I’d like to have a list to take with me to the next meeting of my book club. The club is currently studying Camus’ Plague. The club started as the result of a conversation at the office about L’√Čtranger. We, two of us, decided to read and study another of Camus' classics. I put up a sign-up sheet in my office lunchroom inviting other participation, but no one else was interested in reading this particular book. What is wrong with these people? Is the choice not upbeat enough?

So we had our first meeting. As my husband would have predicted, it deteriorated to a discussion of feminism (not completely.) My husband says that I can start on any topic and eventually I will link it to feminism. It makes him really mad. (Not that he disagrees necessarily, but I think he’s bored hearing my same opinions over and over again.)

So, the feminist question that arose was, Do male writers ever write in a female voice, and if so, what are the best examples? Failing that, name the well developed female protagonists in classic literature penned by male authors. I know there are plenty of cardboard representations of women in literature written by men, but who are the fully developed female protagonists. Help me here!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

This I Believe

Dear Me,

I believe in God, creator, revealer of self and all and me, without whom I could not know or be known, upon whose reality, reality rests.

I believe in a holy goodness, common in its fundamentals, to all humankind, which in it's very existence illumines God and the path of being.

I believe in love as the first good, the summum bonum, of the universe and an inhaled breath, the global dance and the catching eyes. I believe that God is the fount or source of all Love, which though in human expression appears as in a mirror darkly, is in Godly presentation unquantifiable and incomprehensible.

I believe in Jesus Christ, God, Son, Savior, first born and bearing daughters and sons through sacrifice and substitution, incarnation and presence, mercy, embrace, and remembrance.

I believe in sin and the eternal damnation of all in me that rises up against the good and God and in the forgiveness of sin and triumph of justice.

I believe in the Holy Spirit and the populist work of that spirit revealing herself in the witness of one spiritual being to another, linking not just soul to soul or God to soul, but all to all.

I believe in the resurrection from death and both the life everlasting and the eternal now.

I believe in the mystery of all of this and that if I do not sometimes tuck away my "I believes" and replace them with I be, I do, I care, I love, I will, then faith itself may curl, become translucent, and fade away.